Comments 24

  1. Yeah, the video is pretty bogus. The problem isn’t whether the video is factual — as even those against Prop 8 will see it as exaggerated hyperbole — the problem is that such “humor” usually highlights an accepted perception.

    Mormons have always walked the public-perception tightrope of being simultanously weird/peculiar/insular and respectful/upright/honest/successful/all-American. We wear funny underwear, knock on doors, are prudish about sex and alcohol, and have some bizarre theological beliefs, but we’re also model neighbors, co-workers, and really really good at television reality shows.

    Now instead of Steve Young, Donnie & Marie, and Mitt Romney, I’m afraid Prop 8 has helped reframe Outsider’s perception of Mormons as sign-waving and money-giving bigots and zealots. No amount of “Family… isn’t it about time?” commercials can reverse that perception, at least not for the foreseeable future.

  2. 1-Politics is a dirty business. If the church is going to get involved in politics, it has to expect this sort of thing.

    2-I’ve witnessed something similar. On my mission, we were teaching someone who was finding it difficult to stop smoking. We dropped in unannounced one day and found that she had just purchased a large amount of tobacco. My companion went through the house on a ‘search and destroy’ crusade. She was shocked, screaming for him to stop. I was a new missionary and didn’t know what to do. The video clearly represents an extreme position, but it isn’t completely rediculous. And yes–this lady was later baptized.

  3. I agree with Bill on his #1. At the same time it is all very sad, and it does make me feel defensive. Given that I am against Prop 8, ads like this make me feel like I have NOWHERE that is comfortable. I can’t wait until this dies down for at least a little while.

  4. What I find sad is that this video is now a call to arms for Mormons to defend themselves, as opposed to having the vote be about the issue. It will really be a shame if there are some progressive Mormons who would have voted No change their vote in defense of their own church.

    Matt is correct that the damage has already been done. The church did what they did, and Mormons responded the way they did. Whether the proposition passes or fails, Mormons will have to endure this image in the public eye.

    Another sad aspect of this situation is that I have seen ZERO empathy from Mormons in favor of the marriage propositions. Every conversation is completely void of understanding about how the other side feels. This video could be seen as a voice crying out to communicate how they feel, but it will probably not be taken that way.

  5. Well, this TV spot was Joseph Goebbels-style propaganda, pure and simple. You’d think they would have put Brad Pitt’s money to better use.

    Living in California and having to hear about this campaign every day has taken its toll on some of us. I’m for the passing of the proposition, but I’m tired of the ad nauseum in the church meetings– especially in the testimonies. Thank goodness it ends today. For now, anyway.

  6. I wonder if the first presidency knew this would happen in some way and then deliberately became involved to show members, and the world, where we (church) stand on homosexuality.

    Lots of active and good members are moving towards a general acceptance of homosexuality especially if the relationship is stable and loving. But the 1st presidency, with involvement in Prop 8, is saying out load: No, we just don’t agree with homosexuality and especially gay marriage.

  7. Among Mormons, I don’t think this ad will change much. I suspect that most LDS Prop 8 opponents are, frankly, already accustomed to hearing (and sometimes agreeing with) outside criticisms of their leadership. The progressive Mormons I know pride themselves on how “secure” they are in their beliefs, and I doubt this will really faze them. As for LDS Prop 8 supporters, most of them are already angry because they think (rightly or wrongly) that the gay rights lobby is out to force them and their children to drink from the cup of the beast. I don’t think the ad will translate into a real increase of Prop-8-supporting-Mormons showing up at the polls.

    Among non-Mormons, reaction will depend on the viewer’s individual experience with Church members and the degree to which they can visualize the Mormons they know actually acting like those two “missionaries”. I knew missionaries who acted like those Bill describes, but always in third-world countries. I don’t think it’s common practice in the US–if it is, Prop 8 is in serious trouble.

    Had the ad run back in July and explicitly referred the viewer to Mormonsfor8, I think it might have had a decent shot at crippling the Yes-On-8 fundraising efforts. It would have been desperate and cheap, but effective. But now, released a day before the election, it’s just desperate and cheap.

  8. Here’s a Huffington Post article about this new wave of LDS response to the ad.

    I consider a “progressive Mormon” to be a currently-active Mormon who is looking to make progress towards acceptance and tolerance of other people. This whole business is plainly about being intentionally intolerant in order to make being gay so uncomfortable that future generations will not choose it (lots of flaws in the premise). Love the sinner and hate the sin. “Love” for the sinner in this case is to discipline them into choosing the lifestyle that will be better for them in an afterlife that has been defined by the same people who said polygamy was also better for you in that afterlife.

  9. A couple of points of clarification. The video is an internet video and not a TV ad as some seem to think. Also Brad PItt donated his money to Equality For All, the organization that is leading the No on 8 efforts here in CA. Equality For All and the other main groups working with them have been very respectful of the views of different religious groups and I know this from first hand experience. They have created no materials or TV ads that address the issue of religion. Equality For All is, without question, against this kind of video. I have been working with them for the past few months as it has been a very positive experience. They are about building a no on 8 consensus, not attacking anyone’s religious views.

    Carlos writes:
    “I wonder if the first presidency knew this would happen in some way and then deliberately became involved to show members, and the world, where we (church) stand on homosexuality.”

    If only this were the case. The fact is that the fullness of the Church’s official position on homosexuality is NOT getting out. And that is a problem.

  10. The video is an internet video and not a TV ad as some seem to think

    Incorrect, as per the Huffington Post article Clay cited:

    In the meantime, Dante and David Atkins, brothers and netroots activists, created an ad that shows the effect the Mormon Church seeks to have on people’s lives in California which the Courage Campaign Issues Committee is running on CNN and MSNBC in select markets of California on Election Day

    This whole business is plainly about being intentionally intolerant in order to make being gay so uncomfortable that future generations will not choose it (lots of flaws in the premise).

    You really think that’s all this is about?

  11. #14: “You really think that’s all this is about?”

    Pretty much. Amidst all the ways I differ with LDS orthodoxy, I do NOT look at the church in a conspiratorial sense. I don’t believe the Brethren are deliberately orchestrating some kind of political power-play or anything like that. I think they truly care about the good of humanity in the context of their understanding of God’s laws and the plan of salvation. In that world-view, LDS children are susceptible to the temptation of homosexuality and experimentation may lead to full adoption of the lifestyle – similar to many other types of sins. This is a possibility that is just too much for them to allow quietly. I think the acknowledgment of the “born gay” person is a source of stress for them, and I think they really are moved to compassion for those people. But they measure the cost of allowing their lifestyle to receive equal status in society, and they accept the calculated risk of ostracizing them.

    It is the same calculated risk the church takes when they excommunicate a member. They do it with the hope that the discipline will be a catalyst towards repentance, although it is extremely painful for them in the process. A primary difference here is that the church has stepped outside the jurisdiction of those people who have voluntarily accepted the terms of membership, and they are trying to exercise their moral authority on the nation itself (because the nation is governed by a system which can be used as a vehicle for such).

    In total fairness and a genuine effort to understand their motivations, I believe that is the foundation of it all.

  12. Matt – “what is behind the rhetoric?” It depends on who is spouting off. Two people could say essentially the same thing but be coming from different places. What is dangerous is when the rhetoric is fearmongering(either side of the argument). What else is dangerous is when individuals haven’t examined their motives to even understand what is behind their own rhetoric.

  13. Matt – sorry to comment twice on the same thing. I will only add that Joe Vogel said it better than I have in his article ‘A Mormon’s Lament: Church is on the Wrong Side of History Again with Proposition 8’: “Hate and intolerance perpetuates hate and intolerance whether it is directed at gays or Mormons.”

  14. Hi Clay–

    I suppose that could be part of it, though I’m inclined to think it’s more a defensive action against a culture that the church leadership sees as becoming both a) increasingly hostile to its definition of sin and b) increasingly willing to foist its own norms on nonconforming religious denominations.

  15. I thought is was a good comeback to the blackmail letter sent to businesses who contributed $10,000 or more to No on Prop 8 demanding equal donations for Yes on 8 or they would “expose” them to the public. The letter was signed by one Mormon leader of the Yes campaign and was sent from the “broad-based coalition” that the church is so proud to be a part of.

    That said, I don’t believe any network will carry the ad, regardless of internet claims.

  16. I hit “post” too early–

    I also wonder whether it’s an issue of the Church’s wanting to go “on record” for some future purpose.

    For example, my understanding is that we were able to get recognition in Russia after the fall of the Iron Curtain because we were able to document our presence there prior to the rise of the Bolsheviks. I think our authorization for the Jerusalem Center was also partially rooted in the our ability to prove the presence of LDS missionaries in the Holy Land during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Perhaps a hundred years down the road we’ll see some sort of law that only religious institutions (churches, universities, etc) that were on the record opposing gay marriage before a certain timeframe may continue to “discriminate” against non-celibate gays.

  17. I thought is was a good comeback to the blackmail letter sent to businesses who contributed $10,000 or more to No on Prop 8 demanding equal donations for Yes on 8 or they would “expose” them to the public. The letter was signed by one Mormon leader of the Yes campaign and was sent from the “broad-based coalition” that the church is so proud to be a part of.

    Which itself, arguably, was a comeback to Mormonsfor8.com (which, I note, has belatedly begun redacting the surnames of identified Mormon donors).

    That’s the problem. Everyone sees the need to “top” the opposition’s latest antic.

  18. The Church of Latter Gay Hate bought Prop 8 with their tens of millions of dollars spreading discrimination against Gay people. And now, the Mormons want “civility”. They wont get it until we get our full civil rights. The Mormons who just about singlehandedly funded and pushed this travesty and it will be remembered. We will make the ERA fights seem tame by comparison. By the way, on the total hypocrisy watch, the Mormon leadership said that they don’t oppose civil unions. So the Mormon church would SUPPORT state sponsored civil unions for Gays and Lesbians in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada? I call BS. Up next, boycotts of any company recruiting at BYU, BYU-Idaho, and BYU-Hawaii (because non-celebate Gays cannot be students there – and therefore special recruiting there automatically is discriminatory). And we’ll put the repeal of California’s “Mormon” Law on every ballot until it is repealed.

  19. Erase Latter Gay Hate…Repeal Prop 8!

    Now I guess you Mormons can keep honoring the name of a polygamist (Brigham Young) and can continue to marry your dead grandparents.

    Seriously, why do you Mormons continue to celebrate a polygamist who married young girls 50 years younger than himself? Shouldn’t y’all change the name of BYU to honor someone else?

    I’m calling the General Authorities a pack of liars vis a vis their statement regarding Mormon support of CA style civil unions for Gays. Here’s the only way that the General Authorities aren’t ALL a bunch of liars…. Pass CA style civil unions in Idaho and Utah. With the VOCAL support of the Mormon authorities.

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