Another “Faith Promoting” Hoax is Circulating

Nick Literski Mormon 90 Comments

In the last few days, a story has begun to circulate widely among many LDS members, which claims to be the testimony of an assistant matron at the Los Angeles California Temple.  Here is the story, as it has been publicized by e-mail and blogs:

Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 6:16 PM

My dear family, brothers and sisters, friends and leaders:

My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His tender mercies and mighty miracles in our behalf. I just have to share this with you.
As most of you know, I am a Temple ordinance worker and work the morning shift in the LA Temple every Saturday. Today, I had the priviledge oftranslating sister Martz-the new assistant Matron’s-message during our devotional. She started like this “The prophet Joseph Smith said that no unhallowed hand would be able to stop this Work from progressing. These past few weeks when mobs have combined and armies have gathered against the saints, the Lord has protected His house”. She went on to say that those, like her, who were inside the Temple when mobs were surrounding it, did not realize how scary and terrifying this looked on TV to the rest of us, because inside the House of the Lord all was calm and there was peace abundant.
After Proposition 8 passed, the Temple began receiving threatening calls and mail from those opposing it. They were warned that more than 5000 people would come to the Temple and burn it to the ground, and stop its work.
The first Thursday when the mob came, the new LA Temple President called the Salt Lake City Temple Offices for instructions. He was instructed to call the local police and to insure the safety of those attending the Temple by closing the gates. The assistant Matron said today, that it was a tender mercy from the Lord that the mob chose that Thursday to come since they had only one person coming to receive his own endowment that day, which he received in time to leave before trouble started.
The LAPD and the FBI responded quickly to the Temple Presidency’s summons and patroled the grounds and kept the mob from entering the same. Most of them had never been there before and expressed their surprise at how beautiful and peaceful all around was. They were invited to come back during the Christmas season to see the lights and they promised they would.
On Thursday, November 13th, sister Campbell, a secretary in the Temple, was opening the mail and upon opening a large manila envelope found inside a smaller one. When she opened this one, a white powder flew all around her desk. She thought this could be related to the demonstrators and feared the worst-ANTHRAX. She contacted the President, who in turn called the Salt Lake City Temple office again for instructions.
The FBI, the LAPD, and even the SWAT teams were once again in the grounds to investigate, and the Temple once again had to close from around 11:30 AM to 5PM. They closed the gates and were instructed to keep all the people there wherever they were found at the time. Those in the parking lot had to remain in the parking lot. Those entering the Temple had to remain in the first floor and those already upstairs were taken to the Celestial Room.
Then, the miracles began to happen: A brother serving as a recorder that day is a Microbiologist by profession and used to deal with hazardous substances every day. He was the first to say the white powder in the envelope was only talc, and put every one at ease. Then the sister coordinator upstairs was impressed to call upstairs to the sealing area, and said “They said we can’t go down but no one said we can’t go up, and I have many people in the Celestial room with their ceremonial clothes on ready to work. Could they do some sealings?” As it happened, there were four sealers present that day and they ran four sealing sessions non stop while the Temple was closed.
Downstairs, someone else thought to invite those in the Lobby to do some initiatories, which they promptly did for all those hours too, brothers  and sisters alike. Among those waiting in the parking lot there was a large group of young men and women with their leaders who had come to do Baptisms for the dead, and who waited patiently all those hours and decided when the Temple was reopened to go ahead and fulfill their assignment instead of driving back home.
The Temple reopened in time for the 5:30 PM session. The next day when recording the ordinances, they discovered that they had performed 2000 sacred ordinances on Thursday, only one less than the day before when three stakes had been visiting the Temple. Once again the assistant matron reminded us of the words of the prophet Joseph Smith, “No unhallowed hand can stop the Work from progressing…”.
But, this is not all, a prophecy was fulfilled also. When the new LA Temple President was set apart by President Uchdorft of the First Presidency, he received a blessing and these words were pronounced:  “The time has come for the LA Temple to come out of obscurity and become an Ensign for Righteousness to the world under your Presidency.” The pictures of the Temple have been shown on TV, newspapers and the internet, not only in this country but worldwide. People of other faiths have called and sent letters to the Temple thanking the Church for defending marriage and protecting the family, and commenting how impressed they are by how beautiful and majestic the Temple looks.
One minister of an African American church, who by his own admission had harbored ill feelings against the mormons before said “I am impressed by your integrity and Christ like behavior, and even if I am not ready to consider you my brothers and sisters in Christ, we can be first cousins!”. I asked the assistant matron if I could share her comments and she said to go ahead.
I can only add my own testimony that I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the power and authority of God on earth. God Lives and Jesus, His only Begotten Son and our Savior is coming soon to redeem His people. I am grateful to know this and I pray we stand firm, steadfast and immobile while the prophecies of the signs before His Coming are fulfilled. “Be not afraid, only believe” He has said, and also ” What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” I testify that this is true and testify it in the Holy Name of Whom I strive to serve, even Jesus Christ. Be faithful and safe is my humble prayer.
Your sister in Christ, Patricia H. Arnazzi
When I read this story, a few things made me suspicious—and not just from any “disbelief in miracles” standpoint.  First, since when does the Federal Bureau of Investigation respond along with local police, just to guard against a protest, when no illegal act has yet been reported?  Published photos show LAPD in riot gear, but I haven’t seen any photos of FBI agents there for the protest.  Second, given how the LDS church has responded to the protests in general, I’d truly be amazed if they didn’t publicize an actual threat of 5,000 people coming to “burn the temple to the ground.”  Third, while I understand there are protocol issues involved, does a temple president really need to call Salt Lake City before contacting law enforcement about a potential anthrax delivery?
So, I did a little digging, and it didn’t take long.  I pulled up the Associated Press article on the Los Angeles Temple “white powder” scare, at
and I found this important detail:
“The temple in the Westwood area of Los Angeles was evacuated before a hazardous materials crew determined the envelope’s contents were not toxic, said FBI spokesman Jason Pack.” 
The fact that the Los Angeles Temple was evacuated before the hazmat crew did their work, demonstrates that the above “faith promoting” story isn’t just a little off on details, but fundamentally fraudulent.
Friends don’t let friends spread false stories to all their fellow church membes (and more), no matter how “faith promoting” they appear to be.  Even the LDS general authorities have had to intervene with similarly “faith promoting” stories, to declare that they are unequivocably false. 

 

Comments

comments

Comments 90

  1. Thats very nice of you of tell about yourself and your family members. Almost every one has faith in God and that they believe in him. What all happens is all according to God. No one must or can make fun of him.

  2. Nick,

    This story was circulating in one of the Yahoo! Groups and I read it and wondered if someone had taken creative license and invented this “faith-promoting” story.

    While I do believe Heavenly Father hears the prayers of those who ask for assistance in times of need, this, clearly story was an attempt to once again, show, Mormons as victims and how God is on their side.

  3. Wouldn’t it also be very odd for someone who’s a trained microbiologist to tell people not to worry about something that might be anthrax? Seems to me he’d be more likely to tell everyone to get out of there.

  4. Gosh, Paula, he was in the temple. And, he’s a trained microbiologist. I’m sure that even without any testing equipment, supplies, etc. he could use his “spiritual eyes” to determine that it wasn’t anthrax. Gee, whiz, you have to have a little faith. Every good scientist I know would react exactly that way (if in the temple using his spiritual eyes.)

  5. Suspicious, yes, but AP stories have gotten it wrong before. It’s a pretty easy leap from “closed” to “evacuated”, especially for a reporter looking for a good story. And this is a third-hand account, apparently translated from another language.

    Of course, all this could be resolved relatively easily by simply calling the LA temple at (310)474-5569, and asking them whether ordinance work continued during the closure.

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    JimD, I’d really be interested in hearing your report after the fact, if you want to make that phone call. Not being an LDS member, I’m the wrong person to do it. Ultimately, however, the LDS church has refused to provide ordinance data to historians, etc., so I can’t imagine that any staff at the LA Temple would provide that kind of information to some stranger on the telephone.

    Personally, I’m willing to be shown that the FBI statement is in error. Given the level of traffic we get on Mormon Matters, I’m hoping we get comments from someone who was actually there at the time (not second hand stories), and can give their personal observations!

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    #3: Wouldn’t it also be very odd for someone who’s a trained microbiologist to tell people not to worry about something that might be anthrax?

    Paula, you’re absolutely right. Taking your idea a bit further, let’s recognize that it took two or three days for the FBI, with perhaps the best crime laboratories in the country, to give an official report that the substance was “harmless,” and not anthrax. Does it really make sense that a (most-likely-retired) microbiologist would be able to make such a determination on the spot, without access to any equipment for testing?

  8. As a former member once consumed with the need to feel persecuted like the “early Saints”, the tone of this faith-promoting rumor churned my stomach. Repeatedly calling demonstrators “the mob” and feeling threatened that the temple would be “burned to the ground” is down-right ludicrous. And let us not forget that the lion’s share of early anti-Mormon sentiment was brought upon the Mormons as retaliation to their own uncivil actions. Those who forget (or bury and deny) their history are condemned to repeat it….

  9. Nick, you’re doing a good job! Keep it up.

    As always these things have degrees of truth and facts. Although I was not there I know out of years of service that this sister’s story contains fatal flaws. Did the FBI respond? Most likely yes and they were probably called by LAPD’s protocol not anyone at the temple and most likely only one or two field agents.

    Perhaps the most damning is the suggestion that people inside the temple were allowed to move up, down or sideways and continue working. If this was anything more than a publicity stunt on behalf of SLC or the LA temple than the temple would have been evacuated immediately. Anthrax is as I understand it very easily spread via the air circulation system and a thimble full is all that’s needed to contaminate the City of New York.

    Regardless, the church officials have gone out of their way to fulfill by man the prophecy of God. Someone in the temple presidencies office has the LA Times in their speed dial and Church HQ has the Associated Press in a similar manner. The Temple has been featured in the news media; let’s not forget Bozo the Security Guard at the Gates blocking the delivery of a petition. Heck, that story provided a walking tour of the grounds, complete with the Stake house.

    In my little world, the call from the temple to SL went something like “Hello, Church Headquarters, can I have the Director of the Martyr Department…. Thank you, I’ll hold. Hello, President Martyr, this is the LA Temple calling…….. Do you have anything better than this for the 5 o’clock news?

    My opinion!

  10. Nick said: ““The temple in the Westwood area of Los Angeles was evacuated before a hazardous materials crew determined the envelope’s contents were not toxic, said FBI spokesman Jason Pack.”
    The fact that the Los Angeles Temple was evacuated before the hazmat crew did their work, demonstrates that the above “faith promoting” story isn’t just a little off on details, but fundamentally fraudulent.”

    Really?

    The conclusion of this post is a perfect example of the type of narrative fallacy that Bruce was writing about last week. Nick has made such a strong, absolute, certain conclusion (i.e., that the story is “fundamentally fraudulent”), and based on what? That one news reporter said that an FBI spokesman said (double hearsay) _____ about just one of dozens of details in the story?

    But let’s look closely at the allegedly damning detail that the temple was evacuated There are other possibilities:

    1. The news reporter could have unintentionally misquoted the FBI spokesman. (It happens, ask someone who’s ever been quoted by a reporter).
    2. The FBI spokesman could have been ill-informed. (Was this FBI spokesman someone who was actually physically present at the site, or was he just some arm-chaired desk jockey sitting in an “FBI Spokesman’s” office in Maryland, relying on what he remembered others had told him? Is the haz mat crew even under the jurisdiction and control of the FBI, or is it operated by another agency that might be more informed about what actually happened? The article doesn’t tell us.)
    3. Even if the FBI spokesman was actually present at the scene, he could have honestly thought the temple was empty when the haz mat crew made its determination, but was unaware of the temple workers in the upper floors of the temple who were continuing to do temple work”.
    4. The article is vague about what “evacuated before a hazardous materials crew determined,” and how long that “evacuation” took. It’s possible that such an evacuation lasted only 5 minutes, if it was obviously talc like the “Microbiologist” in the story had already said. If so, it’s entirely possible that the building was evacuated for 5 minutes, but how does that disprove anything in the story above?

    Also, wouldn’t you want to hear reports from others who were at the temple that day to verify the details in the story above before making such an absolute, certain conclusion that it is “fundamentally fraudulent”? Is the one statement of double-hearsay above really sufficient to nullify the entire story? Is such an absolute, certain conclusion (i.e., that the story is “fundamentally fraudulent”) really merited when it is based on so very little presumed “information”?

    I guess it is if you want it to be.

  11. Y’all need to read your Bibles! What does the Good Book say about bad people? Well, here it goes–

    ” ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 18:22

    Heck, them butch Bettys, He-Shes, and chicken boys couldn’t have got within ten inches of the temple without stones whizzin’ past their ears. It just ain’t kosher!

  12. It does not matter if the “facts” of the story are true it not. The story is another stunning example of how some in the Church will always have a completely distorted view of the Church. This is evident in the tone and language of the text. The “facts” were details poured into a ready made narrative of Mormon persecution. This emphasis on Mormon persecution does a brilliant job of deflecting attention from the issues that are actually germane. In this instance, the Church’s long standing ability to find religious justification for the biases of its leaders.

  13. I would give the writer a break about the FBI. If you google “FBI Los Angeles Temple”, you come across a LA times article that the FBI was on the scene for investigating the white powder. Even if the FBI was not there when the “mob” was outside, officials from those agencies are not always readily identified by bystanders and it may have been an honest mistake. The microbiologist determining that the powder was talc is more suspicious to me. However, even the statement “he was the first to say the white powder in the envelop was talc” could be interpreted as he was the first to ‘suggest’ or ‘theorize’ the possibility the white powder was talc. Such an explanation as a ‘microbiologist’ could have been reassuring to those who were worried that they had been exposed to anthrax. The bottom line to me is that you shouldn’t use email for delivery of messages like this.

  14. I guess this post brought out a bunch of the Church H8ers. I was very skeptical when I saw the email and I have seen nothing that either substantiates it or refutes it for that matter but I presume it to be untrue.

    However, I cannot jump to the conclusions that Nick has because he chose a single news report to draw his biased conclusions. Much like MoBetta (#10) has stated there are conflicting news reports about what occurred when the powder was discovered in the mail. We have the story Nick posted that originating from Associated Press and used by a number of different news outlets throughout the country. There is also A Deseret News report (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,705262822,00.html?pg=2) which states the ‘grounds” were evaluated but does not address the temple itself. There was also a story on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27727558/) that said the church blamed the incident on gay activists, which is not true.

    What is true is that there were massive demonstrations against the church held in various cities because the electorate of California voted YES. These so-called peaceful demonstrated blames the Church and its members for that. If you watch the videos on YouTube you will see mob-like behaviors in addition to the hate, foul language and vitriol that come from these “peaceful” demonstrated. At LA, you can see an act of violence against someone who had a Pro-8 sign on his car.

    so, yes, the email is probably a hoax, the backlash against the Church because the 30th state rejected Gay marriage is not. You may not like the word “Mob,” but in some cases it fits the situation very well.

  15. Mobs have violent intentions, Jeff. Gates and walls will not keep them out and never have in the past. If these people outside of the LA temple were part of a mob, there would have been damage to physical property and the guards would have been physically assaulted at the very least.

    Mobs create their own law vigilante-like. They don’t ask for a peaceful permit.

  16. John N. (14), a brilliant and hilarious response. That type of conclusion jumping (if she can’t spell Uchtdorf, she obviously isn’t even a Mormon!) is exactly what I’m talking about. Big, strong, absolute conclusions based on extremely little, nit-picky details.

  17. 15. Jeff

    But you have to admit the way this account is written sounds like it was lifted from the writings of early Saints in the History of the Church.

    If you compare these protests to others (specifically recent immigration and civil rights protests) I don’t think it was as bad as you state. For the most part law enforcement controlled the protests and the temple was never in jeapordy of being “burned down” by any “mob.”

  18. “Mobs have violent intentions, Jeff.”

    Does vandalism count as a form of violence? Were any progressive Mormons out there bothered by the fact that the mob scrawled the words “Bigots” and “Liars” in big letters on the outside wall of the LA temple? Or are we to turn a blind eye to that vandalism, offer some rationalizations and justifications for those who did it, and then mock all the outraged Mormons for having an “unwarranted persecution complex”?

    Frankly, the one thing that has astounded me throughout the post-Prop. 8 ordeal is the unwillingness of anti-Prop-8 Mormons to stand up for their Church and to publicly denounce the vandalism and similar acts that their political allies have directed at the Mormons. They were all too eager to be vocal and criticize the Church and to use the internet to “out” Mormon donors to Prop. 8, but when their political allies started chanting “F*ck the Mormons” and vandalizing Church property, the silence of the anti-Prop-8 Mormons was deafening.

  19. Capt,

    As I stated, I beleive the email to be a hoax. it was written in a dramatic style whether it be true or not. Never said the Temple was in danger, but again, look at the You Tube videos, they speak for themselves.

    John,

    I said “mob-like behaviors.” Do I think some would have burnt the Temple down if given a chance. I would say yes. And what do you say about the guy they tired to beat up? And why no protest in front of the Catholic Churches? There are certainly more of those than Mormon Temples.

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    #19: Were any progressive Mormons out there bothered by the fact that the mob scrawled the words “Bigots” and “Liars” in big letters on the outside wall of the LA temple?

    Actually, YES. On November 7, 2008, Peter Danzig (yes, THAT Peter Danzig) contacted the President of the Los Angeles Temple by telephone, and offered to personally pay for the costs of cleanup for vandalism which he heard had taken place at the Los Angeles Temple during the protest (which amounted to someone writing “Bigots” on the outer fence wall, in lipstick). According to Peter, the temple president declined the offer, stating that the cleanup cost less than $100.00. Additionally, Peter reports that the temple president told him the protesters otherwise “were very well behaved and there had been a very few people who were problems.” The temple president thanked Peter for his offer, and wished him deity’s blessings.

    The above story was reported to me by Peter Danzig on November 7, 2008, and I have accurately conveyed his report. Of course, Peter has visited this blog from time to time, so I’m sure he’ll correct me with his first-hand comments, in the event that I have reported his experience inaccurately.

  21. “Frankly, the one thing that has astounded me throughout the post-Prop. 8 ordeal is the unwillingness of anti-Prop-8 Mormons to stand up for their Church and to publicly denounce the vandalism and similar acts that their political allies have directed at the Mormons”

    “I believe the silence you are hearing from anti-Prop-8 Mormons is the sound of a respectful “I told you so.””

    captainmelody and others,

    I’ve been staying out of this, but I have agree with Mo Betta on this. I also find it very disturbing that when illegal activities are done against Mormons in this situation that some people treat it like it was somehow deserved. But you can never “deserve” illegal activities if we are to live in a society ruled by laws.

    I’m not against the protests in the slightest. They are part of the needed political process to hammer out compromises.

    I am against intolerance in legal forms (bigoted language or use of mocking stereotypes, for example), though I think it’s necessary for us to leave it legal for a good many reasons. So I’ll simply say I disagree with much of the language used even if I’m in favor of allowing them to say it (and take the negative and positive consequences of such actions.) It would be proper and consistent if others denounced this but I’m not holding my breath.

    But when we are dealing with white powder and vandalization, it’s really inappropriate to not condemn it or worse to treat it like it’s deserved.

    A while back I wrote a post in which I explained my sincere attempt to define what “tolerance” is. In that post I mentioned that I was disturbed by what I see as “one way tolerance” where “tolerance” becomes a weapon of intolerance.

    Captain, I think post #20 walks that line. We can’t pick and choose what forms of tolerance are “legit” and which aren’t without becoming ourselves intolerant. We must be personally either concerned about tolerance across the board or the word loses all meaning and boils down to becoming a weapon to further our own views while silencing others.

    The real litmus test of tolerance isn’t if you are protecting those who it’s popular to protect or that is your political ally. No, the real test is if you are speaking up for a group that you don’t particularly like or that you strongly disagree with.

    So Mo Betta’s point is valid. There is nothing “respectful” about staying silent towards illegal activities like this. Heck, you shouldn’t be staying silent over legal forms of intolerance that were used by the protesters.

    I’m afraid most of the anti-Prop 8 failed on the tolerance test on this one. We did get a few denouncements of the illegal activities that took place, for which I’m glad. Actually, I only saw one, and it was carefully couched to still blame the Church for claiming the white powder was sent by gay people (something that the Church never actually said.) But for that one, I saw another 20 or so that boiled down to “how unfortunate that the LDS church brought this on itself” or “I told you so.” Mo Betta is right to call this out and those that haven’t spoken up against such activities already have discovered an unfortunate truth about their own ability to be consistently tolerant.

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    #21:
    Do I think some would have burnt the Temple down if given a chance. I would say yes.

    Jeff, I’m sure any large group of people will have at least one nutjob. To be perfectly honest, I’m sure we’ve both seen extreme rhetoric from certain LDS members, who “given the chance,” would commit an act of arson against a GLBT community center, or some similar building associated with gay rights advocates. It would be quite wrong for either of us to broadly classify either “the protesters” or “the LDS” as would-be arsonists.

    And what do you say about the guy they tired to beat up?

    I say any “guy they tired [sic] to beat up” should make a police report, with all possible information which would assist law enforcement in locating and arresting the person or persons who allegedly attacked him. If such person or persons are found and arrested, I say they should be prosecuted for their violation of the civil law.

    What do you say about the Polynesian LDS members who cursed at and assaulted anti-Prop-8 protesters at that time?
    http://www.latimes.com/video/?slug=la-me-protest7-2008nov07-vid

    And why no protest in front of the Catholic Churches? There are certainly more of those than Mormon Temples.

    Google this, Jeff, and you’ll find out that there were, in fact, protests in front of Catholic churches, as well as evangelical churches.

  23. “On November 7, 2008, Peter Danzig (yes, THAT Peter Danzig) contacted the President of the Los Angeles Temple by telephone, and offered to personally pay for the costs of cleanup for vandalism”

    Seems strange that he would be singled out when I would suspect many people called with the same offer. Also, why would he when he voluntarily excused himself from the church. Not sayin’ he didn’t, only that it is strange.

  24. #23 As someone who was a spokes person for the No on 8 side I did not publicly criticizes the lies promoted by the Church in the run up to the election nor have I denounced the minor vandalism at the temple after the election. Both are regrettable, but they have nothing to do with my public message on prop. 8, so I don’t talk about them when speaking to the media.

  25. I agree with you, Nick, that every group has nut jobs. Yes, without the rule of law, someone would have burnt down the temple. But then that was true prior to Prop 8 as well.

    I, for one, am very glad to here that Peter made this offer. It shows that he is really trying to be consistent. As I mentioned in my post, I believe “consistency” and “tolerance” are effectively synonyms.

    I do hope that, in the future, we will see people denouncing legal intolerance also and denounce things like that Mormon Missionary ad. (Though I’m fully in favor of keeping things like that legal, even if they are intolerant and detestable.)

    Jeff, Nick is right that other Churches had protestors as well. But Nick, you owe it to Jeff to acknowledge that the Mormons were singled out way more than other groups. Whether this was ‘appropriate’ or not, considering the Mormon’s tide changing efforts, is a matter of opinion.

    Nick, honest question for you: Have you, to date, on the bloggernacle, condemned the legal activities that happened against the LDS Church over Prop 8? It would seem a bit strange to nit pick an email like the above as “fundamentally fraudulent” but to stay silent on illegal activities. Knowing you, you have probably already denounced it by now. You’re usually pretty quick about such things.

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    #29:
    Seems strange that he would be singled out when I would suspect many people called with the same offer.

    It’s entirely possible, Jeff, that others made similar offers. I just don’t happen to know about the others. I only know about Peter making the offer, because he shared that information directly with me and others.

    Also, why would he when he voluntarily excused himself from the church.

    From what he stated, he was deeply distressed that any of the protesters would resort to illegal acts, and he felt such activities would ultimately harm any efforts to help Proposition 8 supporters understand our point of view. He wanted to make an affirmative statement, to be clear that most opponents of Proposition 8 rejected the use of vandalism, etc., so he made that call, and then shared the experience with others. That doesn’t surprise me really, given his willingness to be equally public with his own resignation from membership. He’s obviously not one to “keep under the radar.”

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    #32
    I do hope that, in the future, we will see people denouncing legal intolerance also and denounce things like that Mormon Missionary ad.

    For what it’s worth, Bruce, my first awareness of the “missionary” ad was via a message from a very vocal LDS Proposition 8 opponent, who was absolutely cringing over the ad.

    But Nick, you owe it to Jeff to acknowledge that the Mormons were singled out way more than other groups.

    Oh, absolutely, Bruce! If my wording suggested that Catholic and evangelical churches received just as many protesters as LDS buildings, then that was an unintentional failure on my part to communicate clearly.

    Nick, honest question for you: Have you, to date, on the bloggernacle, condemned the legal activities that happened against the LDS Church over Prop 8?

    I have done this probably in excess of twenty times in the bloggernacle, Bruce, not to mention many times in e-mail groups I participate in, and other forums, both virtual and “real life.” Can I be lazy and not spend the Googling time to track them all down and paste them here? 🙂

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    #33:
    “and wished him deity’s blessings” rather than “God’s blessing” … seems unusual for a temple president…

    Stephen, the temple president used the word you suggest, according to Peter. You’ll notice I didn’t put “deity’s” in quotes. If you notice throughout the bloggernacle, I almost always use “deity,” rather than “G_d.” I know it’s idiosyncratic, but for me it reflects an odd combination of (a) personal disinclination to believe in an individual, personal supreme being, and (b) respect for whatever or whoever that honorific name-title truly reflects.

  29. I hate mass-distributed e-mails of supposedly sacred experiences – on too many levels and for too many reasons to list here. In their own way, the can be as damaging as protests turned ugly – and I am more disappointed in them than in the protests. Enough said.

    The discussion has been fascinating and, thankfully, generally civil. Ones like this always will bring out a nut job or two, just like the protests and anti-protest complaints, but it’s been great to read the comments and feel the underpinning cordiality and civility. That is so rare, and I appreciate it.

  30. Nick, I left a comment earlier today with a link to this comment from someone at Beetle Blogger:

    i was actually in the temple when they closed down temple square. it was actually quite delightful because it gave me an excuse to stay an extra 30 min.

    i never felt nervous or scared. no one else did either. we were all quite happy for the extra time to pray and meditate.

    My comment seems to be lost in moderation. The comment indicates that, at least at the Salt Lake temple, the temple patrons remained in the temple until the treat subsided.

  31. Nick,

    Other Churches were indeed targeted. The Saddleback church for one and the Knights of Columbus got a white power envelope as well (not that we established who might have sent them). But clearly, the main target has been the LDS Church. I can’t see how you can dispute that. The irony being that California was just another in long line of states 9 29 to be exact0 that have enacted legislation against SSM. So, why all the fuss when California did the same thing?

  32. Jeff, I think that was the golden question in the minds of those who questioned the Church’s endorsement of Proposition 8 but silence on the legislation in Canada and other jurisdictions. Why all the fuss when California did the same thing as so many other jurisdictions that recognized same sex rights? I think the answer is a question of power, and although successful in the numbers has now devolved into a martyr complex. It is an ugly episode in church history and entirely unfortunate for all people affected.

  33. As I said 29 states have already passed those laws AGAINST SSM. The church was active in Hawaii and California the first time around. the fact is there is not the support across the country for SSM. Whether the church participates or not.

  34. Post
    Author

    #39:
    But clearly, the main target has been the LDS Church. I can’t see how you can dispute that.

    Jeff, I never have disputed that. In fact, I think it’s to be expected, given the disproportionate level of support which LDS members gave to get Proposition 8 passed.

    You asked in #21 why nobody was protesting in front of Catholic churches, and I informed you that Proposition 8 opponents were, in fact, protesting in front of Catholic churches. Why would you twist that, trying to make it appear that I claimed the LDS church wasn’t the most prominent target of the protests?

  35. Post
    Author

    #39:
    The irony being that California was just another in long line of states 9 29 to be exact0 that have enacted legislation against SSM. So, why all the fuss when California did the same thing?

    Jeff, California did not, in fact, do “the same thing.” In every other state you refer to, voters passed initiatives before there was any access to marriage equality in those states. Proposition 8, on the other hand, eliminated a legal right, which already existed in the state of California.

    Now, I understand that evangelicals and their ilk want to stick their fingers in their ears, scream “la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you!”, and make believe that same sex couples never had the right to legally recognized civil marriage in California, but that doesn’t make their fantasy true. Just because someone’s religion disapproves of a legally recognized right, doesn’t magically erase that legal recognition. When Proposition 8 supporters aired advertisements claiming that Proposition 8 did not eliminate any rights for gays and lesbians, that was a legal falsehood, regardless of whether any church accepted the fact that gay and lesbian couples had an existing right to civil marriage. A church can decide, as a matter of doctrine, that all cows have five legs, Jeff, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Now, back when I was an undergraduate sociology major, one of my professors made an interesting (though admittedly not universal) point. He discussed how revolutions/revolts/uprisings generally don’t occur among people we would consider “oppressed.” Rather, these movements primarily occur when a group of people lose a right or benefit, which they already had. The protests which have followed the passage of Proposition 8 illustrate that pattern rather well. In states where gays and lesbians have never had equal rights to civil marriage, legislation or initiatives didn’t trigger this kind of response. In California, however, gays and lesbiand did have equal rights to civil marriage, from June to November of 2008. When Proposition 8 was passed, this existing legal right was taken away from them, and it has triggered an uprising. The same kind of reaction was triggered among gays and lesbians in other parts of the United States, because the legal recognition in California gave hope to gays and lesbians in other parts of the country, and that hope was subsequently taken from them.

    Really, Jeff, notwithstanding all the rhetoric of “we’re not taking anything away from gays and lesbians,” that is exactly what Proposition 8 did, and that is what made things so different in California, bringing a very different response from that in other states.

  36. Nick,

    It is true that Gays were temporarily given the right to marry by a court in defiance of the will of the people of California as expressed by Proposition 22. Because of a legal loophole. As a result, Prop 8 was placed on the ballot as a constitutional amendment to once again express the will of the people that the courts cannot overturn.

    In each instance of the legalization of gay marriage in Mass and Conn, it has been done by the court and not by an express will of the people of that state. So my comment about a majority of people being against SSM remains true. A lot of people don’t really care either way.

  37. Oh, and another thing, Nick. Rights are given and taken away all the time. Assault weapons bans, speed limit changes, hunting restrictions, the Patriot Act, tax law changes, National Park access, Travel restrictions. So, it is not that unusual.

  38. Frankly, the one thing that has astounded me throughout the post-Prop. 8 ordeal is the unwillingness of anti-Prop-8 Mormons to stand up for their Church and to publicly denounce the vandalism and similar acts that their political allies have directed at the Mormons

    Well, not all opposition is public. Not all public opposition is most effective either. I will just say from a somewhat insider’s perspective that there has been a good amount of debate and voicing of opposition to anger, vandalism, and violence inside the activist community. Just because you aren’t seeing it happen in show form doesn’t mean that there aren’t those in the community who are working for real peace.

    Do I think some would have burnt the Temple down if given a chance. I would say yes.

    At Thanksgiving dinner, the topic came up that there was going to be a candlelight vigil (aka “a mob” ;-)) at the park across the street from the Mesa Temple during the Christmas light opening ceremony. A relative literally suggested that it would be convenient if a bomb went off in that park during that vigil. None of the other TBM relatives in the conversation “spoke out” against that idea.

    There are extreme people in any group. There are insane people in most groups. There are also mostly-normal people who react with passion and don’t really consider the consequences until later.

  39. 24. Bruce

    My position on the Church’s choice to support Proposition 8 has more to do with personal beliefs than tolerance. The Church has every right to participate in the political process of passing Proposition 8. I am sure there are rules and regulations that they must follow, but I am not too concerned with them. If Church leadership felt that the passing of Proposition 8 was vital to preserving the sanctity of marriage then kudos to them for their efforts.

    I am anti-Proposition-8 because I feel that homosexuals should have the opportunity to marry. Also, I do not feel that the government should have authority to define marriage. And if the government can define marriage the back and forth of court decisions and political propositions legalizing then banning it need to stop.

    Seriously, I think many advocates of Proposition 8 in the Church are using these protests (and blowing them EXTREMELY, and I mean EXTREMELY out of proportion) to throw a pity party and deflect the accusations of intolerance. The truth is the LDS Church is intolerant to gay marriage. Rather then tolerate it, they are willing to get involved in the political process to prevent it. There is nothing wrong with that. But grow some gonads and deal with the consequences of that choice.

  40. “At Thanksgiving dinner, the topic came up that there was going to be a candlelight vigil (aka “a mob” ;-)) at the park across the street from the Mesa Temple during the Christmas light opening ceremony. A relative literally suggested that it would be convenient if a bomb went off in that park during that vigil. None of the other TBM relatives in the conversation “spoke out” against that idea.’

    That’s unfortunate. I expect much better of members. “As I have loved you……”

  41. “The truth is the LDS Church is intolerant to gay marriage.”

    Hello? It goes against a basic religious tenet shared with most religions around the world. It is the fall out from the legalization of SSM that has the Church concerned, not the marriage issue by itself.

  42. Nick says: “I have done this probably in excess of twenty times in the bloggernacle, Bruce, not to mention many times in e-mail groups I participate in, and other forums, both virtual and “real life.” Can I be lazy and not spend the Googling time to track them all down and paste them here?”

    Nick, no worries. I believe you. Actually, I was making a point, but not to you in this case. I trusted I’d get the answer I wanted here.

    I suspect that some of the “pain” Mo Betta feels over your post is really the very same “pain” your post suggests in the first place.

    When it comes right down to it, we’re not so good at being tolerant. It’s hard to do.

    If someone just sees your post, like Mo Betta did, but without realizing that you’ve, in the past, also said things against the intolerance of “the other side” it really does seem like you are being unfair. All they are going to see is someone getting bent out of shape over a FPR email that, to be honest, was rather mild for the most part and very reticent in it’s claims of miracles, all while ignoring the obvious elephant, that someone did something shameful and illegal.

    But that *isn’t* the real story, is it? The real truth is that you’ve been a lot more balanced in this regard. Yet there is an illusion of that view and it’s very real.

    Mo Betta calls you on it, to some degree. I think he’s at least partially correct. You are jumping to conclusions when you claim fraudulence. This is a word that specifically means intentional deception. Now for all I know this email was an intentional deception. But at this point in time you really haven’t produced any evidence to suggest that. Mo Betta is right that the best possible explain (at least with the minimal info we have in this post) is that this is a well intentioned but misinformed (or at least partially misinformed) email.

    (As per my recent posts, actually, all “eye witness accounts” suffer from this same problem. We freely intermix what we really saw and what we are told by source we believe we can trust as if we saw it all. This is perfectly normal and is ultimately the problem of history. If this email can be proclaimed “fraudulent” merely be showing it has a fact wrong, then all of history is “fraudulent” by the same logic. So this is why I feel this claim is ultimately inappropriate at this time — though perhaps it will be proven later.)

    I think we’d do well to back off both sides. Nick isn’t just nitpicking, he’s right. This email is factually wrong and, more to the point, it’s intolerant because it freely equates the peaceful protesters outside to a “mob” and comingles them with the person that sent the anthrax scare letter.

    But Mo Betta is right too. You are coming on too strong by claiming fraud (at least at this time) and you are failing to bring up that at least part of this email is completely accurate — someone did perform a hateful and repugnant act against the Mormons at that temple.

    And while I’m mentioning all of this, let me add one more thing. I only really noticed that intolerance in the email once Nick (and others here) mentioned it. And only after sleeping on it.

    In short, I was intolerant for not seeing it myself right away and jumping in.

    So we are all, here, guilty to some degree of intolerance. I think that is the reality of being human. Our emotions take us and we really can’t see that we are demanding fairness that we aren’t giving. Myself included.

    I hope, Nick, you won’t take this as a rebuke or anything. It’s just an honest observation I thought worth bring up and I am just as guilty as anyone.

  43. “But grow some gonads and deal with the consequences of that choice.”

    Captain, I sure hope you can see the difference between protesting an illegal act and a pity party. I sure hope you can tell the difference between “dealing with the consequences of a choice” and the immorality of illegal acts compared to legal ones we dislike. I really hope you can tell the difference because your response to me didn’t indicate it at all and left me wondering.

  44. “So, did anyone call the LA Temple and ask about the email? Just curious.”

    That would spoil the fun.

    I think there are and were “acts of hate” on both sides of this issue, and I think that is unfortunate. I also think it is just as unfortunate to call anyone who opposed or is now protesting the Church’s extraordinary efforts (which far surpassed the efforts of any other Church) a “mob” as it is to call anyone who favors differentiating same sex unions from heterosexual marriage a “bigot.” I think there are individuals or groups who may be “bigots” and “mobs” on both sides, but I think the escalation of name calling is not helpful to anyone.

    And I think the email, which I also received, contributes to the escalation.

  45. I sure hope you can tell the difference between “dealing with the consequences of a choice” and the immorality of illegal acts compared to legal ones we dislike.

    I think there is also such a thing as an immoral act that is also legal. The law can be manipulated to condone the immoral. Certainly if Prop 8 had failed we would be hearing that incessantly.

  46. “I think there is also such a thing as an immoral act that is also legal. The law can be manipulated to condone the immoral.”

    Clay, this is, sort of, the point I made back at #24.

    I believe there are three groups we are dealing with here (on both sides). We are comingling these groups. (“We” meant only in the generic sense.)

    Group 1: Those guilty of Intolerance level 1 — they are breaking the law and should be put in jail.
    Group 2: Those guilty of Intolerance level 2 — they are not breaking the law, they are just being immoral. But we shouldn’t outlaw this immorality.
    Group 3: Those not guilty of intolerance at all.

    If I might give examples:
    Anti Prop 8
    Group 1 is those that sent the white powder
    Group 2 is those that made the “Mormon Missionary commercial” or those in the protests that said bigoted things or hinted as violence
    Group 3 is the rest of the people in the protest

    Pro Prop 8
    Group 1 is those that commited violence (as Nick described)
    Group 2 is the person that wrote this email
    Group 3 is the average Prop 8 supporter that helped get it passed.

    Legal maniuplation is really a separate issue, and I’m not going address it at this time. I fully accept that Clay honestly believes the pro prop 8 crowd somehow manipulated the law and that I disagree with him on that.

    But by claiming legal manipulation, we are noe comingling the groups above. I fear the end result is that it allows us to view the Pro Prop 8 group as bad people so that we can be intolerant of them.

    Clay is right about one thing, though. The Pro Prop 8 group certainly did feel that law, in the courts, had been manipulated. Again, it *is* possible to manipulate laws, so I’ll just say it’s a legimate concern to raise but I’m not sure we should be using it as the basis for who is “worthy” of our tolerance.

    (Side Note: That charge is not aimed at an entire group of people, just 5 judges. So let’s at least admit there is a difference there. Such a charge — in and of itself, anyhow — is not an attempt to demonize the other group as a whole.)

    In the end, though, we have to default back to the law because we have little choice if we are going to be serious about being tolerant. It’s too easy to emotionally charge a group as manipulating the laws and thus demonize them and make them unworthy of our tolerance. This is, of course, the way intolerance is spread.

    So personally I think it makes more sense to use the law as the basis for discussion. If you break the law, you are different than if you don’t. So groups 2 and 3 are nothing similar to group 1 in that regard.

    The difference between group 2 and 3 are perhaps a bit murkier, but I think genrally pretty obvious.

  47. “I think there are and were “acts of hate” on both sides of this issue”

    We know of the so-called acts of hate on the Anti-8 side, those are well-documented. But just what acts of hate were perpetrated by the Pro-8 side? Not doubting that something happened, but I am not aware of specific acts of hate. A vote for the proposition, BTW, is not an act of hate or bigoted IMHO.

    I know some have said that the “Church” lied about Prop 8 but I am at a loss about that as well.

  48. One clarification, I am not accusing Clay of demonizing pro Prop 8ers. I am merely pointing out that claims of legal manipulation are easily available to start down that road to justify any form of intolerance.

    So while legal manipulation is always a possiblity, we must bear in mind three things:

    1. When someone disagrees with the law it is almost always legal manipulation in their eyes.
    2. We aren’t capable of being fair in the case of #1
    3. That’s why the legal process exists.

    Tolerance starts with ourselves, not others. We are either going to act in a tolerant way towards those we disagree with or we are going excuse our intolerance as justified in this case. The first is the definition of tolerance, the second the definition of intolerance.

  49. 49. Jeff Spector

    My point was the Church is intolerant to same sex marriage. Many homosexuals are intolerant of a Church contributing to a proposition against same sex marriage. So both parties are intolerant. I am intolerant of roaches living in my house. Who cares?

  50. 51. Bruce

    What are these illegal acts you speak of? My point is you (Bruce, you specifically in this case) continue to exaggerate these protests against the Church. You can analyze things to death and go in the mental circles you enjoy, but you are still simply exaggerating reality.

    I can’t help but laugh at what you call bigotry, hatred, etc.

    The white powder being mailed is the only truly hateful act I feel was committed. And we don’t even know who sent it. We could assume that it was a homosexual organization but wouldn’t that be part of the narrative fallacy that you speak so much about?

  51. Jeff: “Rights are given and taken away all the time. Assault weapons bans, speed limit changes, hunting restrictions, the Patriot Act, tax law changes, National Park access, Travel restrictions. So, it is not that unusual.”

    So now the right to marriage, the “foundation of society,” is equivalent to purchasing a hunting license or being permitted to enter a National Park. Why should gay and lesbians be upset? It’s just another civil right like the ability to travel.

    Is this just denial, or have church members really bought the lie that Californians were simply voting on state policy comparable to tax law or speed limits?

  52. Captain says: “What are these illegal acts you speak of?”

    Captain, you seem to have lost the thread of this conversation, so I’m going to remind everyone. It was Mo Betta stating:

    “Frankly, the one thing that has astounded me throughout the post-Prop. 8 ordeal is the unwillingness of anti-Prop-8 Mormons to stand up for their Church and to publicly denounce the vandalism and similar acts that their political allies have directed at the Mormons”

    And your response was:

    “I believe the silence you are hearing from anti-Prop-8 Mormons is the sound of a respectful “I told you so.””

    We are discussing if staying silent over anthrax scares and graffiti on temple walls is respectful or tolerant. I am saying it isn’t. I do not want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me you are saying it is tolerant and respectful and that Mormons that complain over such illegal acts are just being martyrs and throwing a pity party for themselves and that laugh at them for even calling such acts hatred and bigotry.

    This is probably not what you are saying, but honestly, Captain, you are currently coming across like that.

    You are right that we can’t assume it was “a homosexual organization” that sent the fake anthrax, but I’ve never assumed that. I did, in post #55 use it as an example of intolerance on behalf of anti-Prop 8ers (which is NOT a “homosexual organization” as you said) and I probably shouldn’t have. But I hope you did catch that I wasn’t trying to make an accusation there, I was just using an example of tolerance vs. intolerance using the relevant examples at hand. Frankly, it’s intolerance regardless of who sent it and I was right to be shocked that you said (or seemed to say) that staying silent over it was somehow a respectful “I told you so.”

    Just one more point. Ask yourself honestly how you might have reacted differently if you suspected the white powder came from Nazis instead of anti-Prop 8ers. Would you have been so reticent? Would you have been calling it pity parties? I would suggest that you are assuming it’s an anti-Prop 8er or you would have spoken out directly against it immediately.

    Captain, I tend to come down hard on people, and I don’t mean to. I know there is a good chance you are going to explode over what I just wrote but I hope not. I’m honestly trying to communicate here and explain an alternate point of view while doing my best (but probably failing) to be fair in how I go about it. It is my desire to only ask for “fairness” that I intend to give back.

    If it’s okay, let me go on and share a couple of things about how I differ from your point of view:

    “My point was the Church is intolerant to same sex marriage. Many homosexuals are intolerant of a Church contributing to a proposition against same sex marriage. So both parties are intolerant. I am intolerant of roaches living in my house. Who cares?”

    The concern I have with the way you are choosing to define “intolerance” is that it makes the word meaningless. Please take a look at my article where I tried to define it in a useful way, at least for myself. (http://mormonmatters.org/2008/09/05/what-is-tolerance/)

    If “intolerance” simply means “I disagree with you,” which is what you seem to be saying, just how useful a word is it?

    I would suggest that the Church is NOT intolerant of same sex marriage, they are merely opposed to it. I would suggest that homosexuals are NOT intolerant of the LDS Church either, merely opposed to it.

    On the other hand, I would suggest that whoever sent the white powder, put graffiti on the wall, wrote the above email, or made the LDS Missionary commercial are being intolerant. (Though those last two are different in degree from the first two as I explain in my article.) I see danger in not making the type of separation but instead boiling “intolerance” down to “I disagree with you.”

    And yes, I analyze things. I do not apologize for that in the slightest.

  53. I never thought of the missionary ad a being intolerant (of Mormons). I saw it as a counter to the pro-8 “framing of the debate” as merely defining marriage for the state. The missionary ad responded by showing a same-sex couple actually being stripped of their marriage. And by the Mormons, no less. The ad was aimed to demonstrate vividly what Proposition 8 would effectually do to real families.

    Having said that, I suspect that, even though the LDS church played a major role in the campaign, Mormons were chosen for the ad to play on the public’s general unfavorable view and fear of Mormons.

  54. “Having said that, I suspect that, even though the LDS church played a major role in the campaign, Mormons were chosen for the ad to play on the public’s general unfavorable view and fear of Mormons.”

    That’s the part that made it intolerance.

  55. Bruce, I think you are overusing the word “intolerance” now.

    – fake anthrax = intolerance, hateful, etc.
    – violence and shouting into the faces of Mormons leaving the temple = intolerance, hateful
    – Meridian articles, Sacrament talks, testimonies, emails which equate gay marriage as our war in heaven and those who support it are like Lucifers followers = intolerant, hateful, etc.

    But there are other things which I wouldn’t call intolerant, but more aptly just exaggerated and divisive. These are things which can be understood given the strong feelings people have but they will not lead to peaceful resolution.

    – ad with missionaries invading the lesbians’ house = divisive (This is really what gays feel, but Mormons don’t seem to make much effort at empathy for that. It really is used now as the punch at the pity party.)
    – Emails like the one this post is about, and similar stories shared anecdotally = divisive (creates an us vs. them attitude and increases the persecution complex)
    – the way the sidebar news on this site has been inundated with the most sensational links to stories for the purpose of making all opponents of Prop 8 look bad, and Mormons look like victims = divisive

  56. 63. Bruce

    Are you serious? You truly feel the missionary ad was a form of intolerance? Sometimes I think you disect and analyze things only to the point that they fit your paradigm.

  57. 61. Bruce

    When I said that the silence is a respectful “I told you so” I meant this –

    When the Church got involved in Proposition 8 many of those against the proposition for various reasons predicted that the public backlash to their involvement would be strong. They knew that the Church would be criticized and mocked. They knew what most know – politics are ugly and when you get involved you should be prepared for the ugliness.

    Now that those predictions have come to pass I do not feel a need or duty to stand up against the public backlash and protests. I didn’t make the decision to support and help fund activities to get the proposition passed. The Church made the decision and they can deal with the consequences.

    If there were truly illegal activities and unwarranted violence to the extent that you and many others have insinuated I would stand up for the Church. But the bottom line is my opinion (as well as many others that did not support Prop 8) is that you are blowing it out of proportion and being easily offended. If you think the missionary ad is a form of intolerance then your tolerance threshold is very low.

  58. “You truly feel the missionary ad was a form of intolerance?”

    The missionary ad, while hilarious in its complete absurdity, was a strawman created and beat down by the Anti-8 campaign. But was, in fact, a true reflection of how the anti-8 campaign viewed the participation of Mormons in the campaign.

    I saw it as a view of right wing religious nut jobs, masquerading as Mormon Missionaries, who might actually do something like that and then blame Mormon missionaries for the very act.

  59. “Are you serious? You truly feel the missionary ad was a form of intolerance? Sometimes I think you disect and analyze things only to the point that they fit your paradigm.”

    Yes, I’m serious. Please read my post I gave a link for. The missionary ad clearly fits “intolerance” as I have defined that word. You are free to agree or disagree with my definition, of course, but I am honestly trying to come up with a consistent definition. My concern, of course, is that without thinking this through you and everyone will analyzing things only to the point where they fit your paradigm and thus tolerance will become intolerance. I hope I’m not falling into that trap myself, but it’s always a possibility. My sincere attempt to define tolerance and put it out there for others to comment on was one of my ways to try my best to avoid that trap.

    Clay,

    I see your point, to some degree. Sometimes “intolerance” is obvious (such as breaking the law, so long as we can agree the law is fair.) And other times maybe it’s not so obvious.

    We seem to agree on the three examples you first give, so no point discussing those further.

    Let’s look at the rest.

    “ad with missionaries invading the lesbians’ house = divisive.(This is really what gays feel… Emails like the one this post is about…”

    I can see why you might feel this way. A fair question is how do you personally define intolerance vs. divisiveness? I have gone out of my way to give a long definition and explain how I look at it.

    The reason I feel this is intolerance rather than simple divisiveness is, as stated in #63, it played to certain stereotypes about Mormons and did so in a way that was no factually accurate. I see real potential for harm here for the same reasons a commercial making fun of homosexual stereotypes would have real potential for harm. It’s that potential for harm that, in my mind, makes it intolerance. I can’t really say much more than that because, of course, you are free to define things any way you please. I am just encouraging you to do so in a consistent (i.e. fair and tolerant) way.

    I feel this is intolerance for the very same reason I don’t see calling peaceful protesters at a temple “a mob” as mere divisiveness. I’m uncomfortable with equating a protest to a mob while mingling them in the same breath with a person that should be in jail for the anthrax scare. So I’m being consistent at least. You mark both as not being intolerance, so you are being consistent also. This suggests that we might merely have a different definition and we are ‘both right.’

    By the way, I’m not sure I’d use the word “divisiveness” as you are saying. To me this suggests that the solution is for us to all just get along, presumably by everyone we disagree with agreeing with us and forsaking their own points of view. This misses the point that there is no way to come together without either tyranny or compromise.

    I’d call it a legitimate point of disagreement that needs to be hammered out politically, hopefully via compromise and tolerance rather than tyranny.

    “the way the sidebar news on this site has been inundated with the most sensational links to stories for the purpose of making all opponents of Prop 8 look bad, and Mormons look like victims = divisive”

    I agree with you that this isn’t intolerance in any way shape or form. It is, in fact, part of the political process of bring up issues. I disagree with you that this is somehow avoiding a peaceful resolution. This is, frankly, a necessary part of finding a peaceful resolution.

    The truth is that both sides not only do this (put out their side of the story while ignoring the other side of the debate) but they have to for the political process to work as it currently exists. I would hope that whoever is doing this is able to understand the other side of the issue even if they disagree with it. But having disagreed, they have a right and duty to put out their side of the story for people to integrate as they choose. (By the way, it’s not me doing it.)

  60. “If there were truly illegal activities and unwarranted violence to the extent that you and many others have insinuated I would stand up for the Church.”

    Thank you. I wish you would and would continue to.

    “When the Church got involved in Proposition 8 many of those against the proposition for various reasons predicted that the public backlash to their involvement would be strong”

    The church predicted that too.

    “Now that those predictions have come to pass I do not feel a need or duty to stand up against the [tolerant] public backlash and protests”

    I have never asked you to. Please point to me where I did. This is either a misunderstanding of what I said or a strawman. My question to you was specific to illegal activities and why staying silent about them was okay in your mind. You have now admitted they aren’t. But that *was* the original question Mo Betta put out that you responded to. (See #19 and #20.)

    “you are blowing it out of proportion and being easily offended… If you think the missionary ad is a form of intolerance then your tolerance threshold is very low”

    I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you on this. I have no idea how you determine what is or isn’t tolerance, so for all I know, you might be like Clay, able to find a way to consistently see this as tolerant. Or you might just be inconsistent. (An interesting question is if you see equating a peaceful protest to a mob and an anthrax scare as potentially harmful and intolerant.)

    Hopefully my full explanation of why I do see it as intolerance — and make no mistake, that is exactly how I see it — is clear even if you wish to disagree with me or define “tolerance” in a different way.

    Captain, thank you for the conversation. I appreciate the tone it ended on. I have to get back to work. 🙂

  61. Clay,

    One other thing… I’m not sure I entirely see “hate” and “intolerance” as synonyms. I think bigotry and intolerance are pretty much synonyms, but there are hateful forms of bigotry and others not specifically rooted in hate, just bad upbringing, misinformation, self aggrandizement, etc.

    So this might change the equation you are suggesting a bit. The first two on your list were hate. The third, probably not, though clearly intolerance because the writers would object to equivalent treament and see it as unfair. The missionary ad, I think hate, yes, but it’s debatable. You are suggesting it’s done out of fear rather than hate. Certainly a posibility. The email above, not hate most likely, but (imo) intolerance because the writer would object to equivalent treatment and see it as unfair. The side bar, probably not hate. And I do not object to equivalent treatment that’s happened right here on Mormon Matters. I think such “tactics” are completely fair when done by both sides.

  62. In other words, Clay, what I’m trying to say is that I seem to equate “tolerance” to “fair play” (i.e. doing to others what you are okay with others doing to you) while you might be equating it to “hate.” This might be a legitimate way to differently define the term. Certainly the word gets used both ways.

  63. I’ve been trying hard to follow the lines of reasoning offered, so let me just make sure I’ve got this straight:

    1. If a Mormon complains about persecution, tell the Mormon he/she is imagining things, fabricating stories, exaggerating, and has a persecution complex. When the Mormon produces evidence in the form of news reports that substantiate that vandalism of Mormon churches, Anthrax scares, “Mormon scum” chants, etc., are actually being directed at the Mormons, tell the Mormon he/she is being “divisive” by even bringing up such reports, and is unfairly trying to discredit all proponents of SSM. (Somehow it’s not divisive for news outlets to report the vandalism, Anthrax scares, etc., but somehow it’s divisive for Mormons to point out those news reports to rebut their opponents argument that Mormons have no reason to feel persecuted.)
    OR
    2. If forced to acknowledge the vandalism, hate speech, Anthrax scares, etc. directed at the Mormons, tell the Mormons “I told you so”, as if Mormons deserve to be subjected to vandalism, hate speech, Anthrax scares, etc. for exercising their rights to participate legally in a democratic election. (The message: everyone has the right to donate millions of dollars and man-hours to political causes in which they strongly believe, and most importantly, to feel free from intimidation, harassment, vandalism, Anthrax scares, etc. for doing so, EXCEPT those who disagree with my political bedfellows.)
    OR
    3. When Mormons complain about being unfairly singled out by the vandalism, hate speech, etc., tell them, “Well, see there, now you know how gays feel. You should have tried harder to understand and empathize with them.” This is the one that really confuses me. For some reason, a gay man like Elton John isn’t being a hateful bigot when he says it’s wrong for gays to fight for SSM, and it’s OK for over 70% of African Americans to reject the idea that denying gays the “right to marry” is a discriminatory deprivation of civil rights, but if you’re a Mormon and you don’t embrace SSM (like Elton John and 70% of African Americans), then it must be because you’re an intolerant, hateful, bigoted, and haven’t shown enough empathy.

    Elton John, gay non-supporter of SSM = Not a bigot.
    Mormon non-supporter of SSM = Total bigot.

    Huh?

  64. “Elton John, gay non-supporter of SSM = Not a bigot.” Well, most of what I’ve read indicates that the GLBT community consider Elton John’s statement as out of touch with the GLBT community. He’s been labelled a self-loathing sell-out and far worse, depending on who is commenting. I don’t think he’s really getting a pass, FWIW.

  65. Hawk, the point about Elton John is that there are valid reasons not to support SSM that are not related to hatred, bigotry, lack of empathy, etc. Or in other words, one does not have to be a hateful bigot to believe two people shouldn’t be able to be married.

    Most people don’t think polygamists should be able to marry, and I don’t think that means most people HATE polygamists.

    What gets lost too often in the debate over SSM is that we’re not talking about the equality of straight and gay people. We’re talking about whether a homosexual union is equal to a heterosexual union. That’s why polygamy isn’t allowed. It’s not that we believe a polygamist is any less of a person. We simply believe a polygamist union is not as beneficial for society as a monogamous union.

    Bottom line: you don’t have to hate people to believe certain types of propose unions shouldn’t receive the legal label of “marriage.” Elton John is just one example of thousands of non-homophobic, non-hating, non-bigoted people who don’t support SSM.

  66. Post
    Author

    #62:
    Having said that, I suspect that, even though the LDS church played a major role in the campaign, Mormons were chosen for the ad to play on the public’s general unfavorable view and fear of Mormons.

    I really have to disagree, and to be honest, I think the above conclusion is the manifestation of an all-too-common persecution complex. LDS were targeted in the ad, precisely because it was already well known that LDS members had provided between 40% and 80% (depending on which reporting source) of the financial contributions, and the lion’s share of the volunteerism, to support Proposition 8. If the Episcopalians had contributed such a large portion of the support, the ad would have depicted Episcopalians.

    More importantly, if the McDonalds Corporation had provided the majority of support in promoting Proposition 8, I guarantee that you would have seen protests outside the McDonald’s HQ, as well as outside McDonald’s restaurants throughout the country. This is one reason why it rings hollow when LDS members cry “religious persecution” and “we’re being singled out” in regard to the protests (laying aside, for the moment, the illegal actions, which are a different problem). The missionary ad, the protests, etc., aren’t about anti-religious sentiment, or anti-LDS sentiment. Proposition 8 opponents aren’t “picking a weak target.” Rather, they are directing the protests against the single largest proponent of Proposition 8—the one that even the evangelical (read “anti-LDS”) American Family Association gives credit to as the key to Proposition 8’s passage.

  67. “When the Church got involved in Proposition 8 many of those against the proposition for various reasons predicted that the public backlash to their involvement would be strong”

    Captain, there is no “public” backlash. There is only the backlash of a subset of people who are mad that they lost an election and chose to be vocal about it. Which public are you referring to?

  68. #75 “I really have to disagree, and to be honest, I think the above conclusion is the manifestation of an all-too-common persecution complex.”

    I agree with your entire comment, and must confess that my speculation that the ad preyed on public fears of Mormonism was entirely without foundation. Nowhere have the creators of the ad intimated such an agenda. Their position is clear, in their own words:

    Is it a step too far? Hardly. The Mormon Church has been invading California households for months with its lies about a bigoted ballot measure that would take people’s rights away. It’s just too bad we couldn’t have had this ad out sooner. The ad is called “Home Invasion”, and that’s really what the LDS Church has been doing for the last several months with their deceitful and despicable lies about Proposition 8.

    Remember, though, that there are a number of wonderful LDS members out there. About 700 people, most of them LDS members, held a candlelight vigil in Salt Lake City last night in opposition to Prop 8. This is not about religion or religious affiliation: it is about the hateful actions of the Church Leadership and some of its most hateful members.

    http://www.calitics.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=7398

  69. #77 – I have to call BS on that quote. The ad singled out one group among MANY that supported Prop 8 – and it singled out the one that the makers thought would rile up the electorate the most. It was an obvious political calculation – a scare tactic meant to get people’s butts in the booths, because the creators panicked when they realized they might actually lose.

    As disgusting as I thought the ad was, I also thought it was stupid timing and a dumb move politically. If the campaign had been better organized and less complacent, that ad would have aired weeks earlier – with more general follow-up ads playing up emotional hot-button issues up until election day. Prop 8 opponents generally thought they had the vote sewed up, and they didn’t campaign like they needed to campaign. They screwed up.

    Frankly, the worst part of the whole thing for those who opposed Prop 8 and lost is that few seem to be studying WHY and HOW they lost. (Obviously, I’m not privy to such discussions; hence, the use of “seem”.) It’s easy to blame those who beat you; it’s much harder to debrief and figure out what you did or didn’t do that might have produced a win. If all the energy is focused on blaming the winners, and if that leads to actions that only reinforce concerns and fears and stereotypes, what appears to be a situation where it “should” be a victory next time around might end up being another loss.

  70. Post
    Author

    The ad singled out one group among MANY that supported Prop 8 – and it singled out the one that the makers thought would rile up the electorate the most.

    Ray, you’re far too intelligent to engage in this sort of self-victimization and feigned ignorance of the disproportionate impact which LDS members (under the direction of Mr. Monson) had on the support of Proposition 8. You’re also too honest to engage in this, so I’m honestly puzzled to see you do it.

    Prop 8 opponents generally thought they had the vote sewed up, and they didn’t campaign like they needed to campaign. They screwed up.

    Absolutely. While the initial poll data looked as if Proposition 8 would fail, opponents of the measure clearly overestimated the fundamental fairness and goodwill of the California electorate.

    Frankly, the worst part of the whole thing for those who opposed Prop 8 and lost is that few seem to be studying WHY and HOW they lost. (Obviously, I’m not privy to such discussions; hence, the use of “seem”.)

    Oh, there’s plenty of that. In fact, you’ve already alluded to the biggest failure that has been discussed among opponents of Proposition 8. The “No on 8” campaign was primarily headed by gays and lesbians who believed sitting quietly in the corner and being “good boys and girls” would eventually lead everyone—including even the most hardened bigots—to come to their senses and hand out equality on a silver platter. These “leaders” focused so much on consensus-building, that they actively worked to PREVENT same-sex couples from being shown in any of their television ads, etc., lest the actual IMAGES of gay and lesbian couples may have “put off” heterosexual voters. In hindsight at least, this was a ridiculous (and curiously self-hating) strategy.

    This past week, I had the pleasure of viewing “Milk,” the new film documenting the life and activism of Harvey Milk. I had also read his biography recently. Of note, the film ultimately centers on how Harvey Milk led an overwhelmingly successful campaign against “Proposition 6,” a voter initiative which proposed to ban all homosexuals and “supporters of homosexuals” from working in any public school in California.

    I was strongly impressed during the film with how directly opposite Harvey Milk’s tactics were, compared to the present “No on 8” campaign. Milk openly derided gay activists who wanted to avoid “offending” voters by “pushing themselves” publicly. Instead, Milk called upon all gays and lesbians in California to come out of the closet to their family, friends, co-workers, etc. In his speeches and training meetings, he often told his hearers, They’ll vote for us two to one, if they know one of us!” As a result, churches and even conservative figures like then-governor Ronald Reagan actually spoke out against Proposition 6. In the end, Harvey Milk was right. While Proposition 6 had started with polls showing a clear victory, it finally failed, with 67% of the vote against it.

  71. Post
    Author

    Ray, my first comment in #78 is perhaps too strident and personal. I truly am surprised at what you said, but I also have a great deal of respect for you, as a man who tries to live with fairness and integrity.

  72. Nick,

    “Ray, you’re far too intelligent to engage in this sort of self-victimization.”

    One of the things I find most curious is that you and a number of people on this blog keep accusing the LDS of self-victimization and a persecution complex and all sorts of rhetoric along those lines. I’ve yet to see anyone who is defending the LDS position claim to be a victim. Most are merely pointing out that the LDS church and its members are receiving the lion’s-share of the wrath of the losers on Prop 8. Which is true. Others have received it as well, but not in proportion to the percentage of the overall electorate who voted for prop 8.

    “While the initial poll data looked as if Proposition 8 would fail, opponents of the measure clearly overestimated the fundamental fairness and goodwill of the California electorate.”

    Did you ever think that the people just aren’t ready to grant gays the right to marry in the same way as a man and woman? 29 other states voted the same way. Polling data is meaningless when the election results speak for themselves in 30 states.

  73. Post
    Author

    Most are merely pointing out that the LDS church and its members are receiving the lion’s-share of the wrath of the losers on Prop 8.

    In other words, most are suggesting that the LDS church is being victimized.

    Others have received it as well, but not in proportion to the percentage of the overall electorate who voted for prop 8.

    Rather, they’ve received it more in proportion to the percentage of cash and volunteer hours they contributed toward passing Proposition 8.

  74. “In other words, most are suggesting that the LDS church is being victimized.”

    You are the one who keeps keep using the word “victim.” I prefer target. The Church AND some of its individual members were specifically targeted.

  75. “…curiously self-hating…”

    Nick, its not really that curious. Self-hate is the whole point of things like Prop 8. If gays were given equal treatment (i.e. their marriage given equal status) then people might be happy being gay. Homosexuality might be seen as a viable option for happiness for our children. Opponents of gay rights are afraid that if our children observe a world where gay people are equal and happy they would be more likely to choose to be gay themselves. This is what drives the fear of children being taught in Social Studies that gay families are another legitimate formation of a family.

    The way you combat this is to make it so that being gay continues to carry a burden of shame. You should feel always like a sinner. You should hate the sin in yourself so much that you choose to be straight, or to be celibate and lonely for your mortal life. Self-hate is used against you for your own good, just like excommunication.

  76. 69. Bruce

    I have never asked you to. Please point to me where I did. This is either a misunderstanding of what I said or a strawman. My question to you was specific to illegal activities and why staying silent about them was okay in your mind. You have now admitted they aren’t. But that *was* the original question Mo Betta put out that you responded to. (See #19 and #20.)

    I don’t know if I’m making sense anymore, but I will try…

    In regards to the illegal acts of mailing white powder to resemble anthrax and writing graffiti on the temple wall I do not condone that. However, I do not feel these illegal acts represent the majority of homosexuals who are protesting the Church’s involvment in supporting the proposition.

    If someone were to ask me what I specifically think about the anthrax hoax and the graffiti I would say that is it tragic that people turn to violence and malice in an effort to be heard. But if I were asked how I feel about the protests in general I would say that I support homosexuals getting out to have their voice heard. I would also mention that when the Church became involved I anticipated that there would be consequences such as this.

    I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you on this. I have no idea how you determine what is or isn’t tolerance, so for all I know, you might be like Clay, able to find a way to consistently see this as tolerant. Or you might just be inconsistent. (An interesting question is if you see equating a peaceful protest to a mob and an anthrax scare as potentially harmful and intolerant.)

    Tolerant or intolerant? That is the question. All I am trying to say is I believe that there is a lot overreaction on the part of some members. I would not describe a group of people protesting as a mob. I would not describe the anthrax scare as intollerent, but as illegal, wrong and potentially harmful.

  77. I think the moment the LDS Church sponsored such a calculated attack [and today gays are now learning how LDS were instrumental with other States’ “One man One woman” Constitutional Amendments] they simply cannot hide inside their Temples and scream victim.

    I completely believe that any religious person has the right to free speech but you also must realize you have to take the fallout after you speak.

    Why are the gays not going after the Catholic Church, Evangelical Church or even the Orthodox Jews who funded this bigotry disguised as marriage protection? Well I think it’s because of LDS’ history of being persecuted that makes this an interesting Hollywood story. [sorry for the pun.]

    I think the gay community was shocked to have a new oppressor out front.

    We already know where the other groups stand on this issue, but now it’s clear the Mormon Church has a big rifle’s cross hair target on our backs. I cannot help scratching my head after reading all the leaked LDS memo’s, personal LDS blogs, and news reports. Why all the calculated hate from the Mormons? To protect Tradition Marriage? Not to bore you, but I could propose about a dozen other propositions that would protect Traditional Marriage better than Prop 8 ever will. Let’s start with divorce, adultery and my favorite modernity.

    Lastly, as an organizer of the current protests both regionally in the Midwest where I live and nationally when I travel; nothing has been more helpful than the current climate to get the American LGBTQ community mobilized. I think the movement has been on PAUSE since the 1970’s when AIDS wiped out a large portion of the leaders. And for the Midwest, well let’s just say the only time you can get a Missouri “Red State” redneck on board with a screaming Blue State queer is when you say, “hey let’s storm the Mormon castle.” There is a deep seed out here in the heartland that Mormons are basically Scientology folks with brighter teeth. [Sorry I am just trying to paint the current picture I am experiencing.]

    I actually thank the LDS Church for exposing their deep rooted bigotry [perceived] and hate filled religion.

    Now for the Hollywood movie ending, already I am reading about high level Mormon Church leaders’ gay children speak out and even LDS members leaving the Church over this matter. Next [like we saw in the Catholic and Evangelical Churches] we will see LDS leaders [themselves] who are closeted gays get caught in front of the entire world to see their hypocrisy. When this happens, the film will have a traditional Hollywood ending.

    My other thoughts – keep your LDS Church out of my Constitution.

  78. “we will see LDS leaders [themselves] who are closeted gays get caught in front of the entire world to see their hypocrisy. When this happens, the film will have a traditional Hollywood ending.” The one reason I think this is unlikely is that the LDS church is led by a gerontocracy. If these guys were in closets, it would have happened before they got to the level they are. In fact, there have been some seventies who left the church for various issues that one might call closeted behavior (although I’m not aware of a specific homosexual example–there probably is at least one). To imagine that one of the FP or 12 will ‘come out of the closet’ is just wishful thinking on the part of the gay community.

    While Nick’s example shows some of the hyperbolic tendency among some members to conflate all criticism into a religious war, the fact remains that the majority of LDS people are not bigoted and do not discuss homosexuality (or heterosexuality) at church pretty much ever. Topics like charity and service are the norm, at least in my experience.

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