Saturday, November 8, 2008

Money Talks, Gay Marriage Walks

Yesterday, the LDS Church issued the following statement

It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election.

Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States — that of free expression and voting.

While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.

Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

Is it wrong for the Church to be singled out? Perhaps, but it's hardly a surprise. Many parties acted together to defeat Prop 8 but the player getting the most credit is the LDS Church. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Church has been recognized as the entity that bankrolled the campaign. Although contributions were  made by individual members, they were made in response to a plea from the Church. As such I don’t think it is unreasonable to characterize those donations as coming from the Church. That money allowed for an active media campaign that helped get the measure passed. Is it a leap therefore to credit the Church with its passage? Whether you think so or not, the Church has been given the credit and will have to deal with the fallout.

Last night there was a protest march in downtown Salt Lake by those who oppose the Church’s position on Gay marriage. Although it was planned at the last minute, two or three thousand people showed up. The march was big news here and all the TV stations covered as well as the Tribune and the Deseret News. It’s hard to say if the losing side is just blowing off steam or if this is the start of concerted efforts to target the Church but I don't think its a one time occurance.

While the march was going on, I attended a Church event. I discussed the protest with a few people and saw others talking about it. Attending the event was an apostle. As I saw him from a distance, I wondered if the protest was on his mind. Apparently it was because as he walked past me, I couldn’t help but hear him mention the protest to a colleague.

This makes me wonder what impact such events have on the Brethren who make decisions at the very highest levels of the Church. Did the protest cause them to re-evaluate their position?  Of course I don’t know the answer to that but it seems unlikely. These men have the conviction that God is behind them 100% and that those who disagree are best misguided and at worst under evil influence. As far as influencing publice opinion, perhaps public protests help the gay rights, but as a way to influence LDS authorities, it probably isn't going to work.