Pictures at a Demonstration

Last night, thousands of people gathered in the cold across from the Church office building in Salt Lake City for a hastily organized demonstration. While I do not know who organized it or how it came together, I do know that Thursday night text messages flew along networks announcing the rally and march for the next day. One, from a former student who was forwarding it arrived late at night and woke me from my sleep.

Jacob Whipple, of Salt Lake City, had planned, according to the press, to marry his boyfriend in California in April. He was angry at the passage of Proposition 8 and networked with Equality Utah and perhaps the Center to organize a march. Not only text messages announced the upcoming event, the press was informed and Friday they filled the airwaves with the upcoming event.

I thought maybe a couple of hundred people might show up, in what would be a large demonstration for Salt Lake. After all, this is a city and state that eschews public protest as an act of abnormal people. I was wrong. Contrary to my expectations from living in this city and attending many demonstrations for almost two decades somewhere between two thousand and five thousand people showed up. They kept coming.

At the rally it was almost impossible to hear what speakers such as former Salt Lake City mayor and former Latter-day Saint Rocky Anderson said, or what three members of the state legislature spoke. The electronics were not powerful enough to carry their words to the enormous and growing crowd milling around City Creek Park, greeting friends, looking at each others signs, and commenting on how amazing the size of the crowd was.

One could feel a consciousness arising and a solidarity appearing as status quos were left behind. People who did not know one another were speaking to each other. There were lots of Gay women and men, to be sure, but there were elderly couples with their adult children and sometimes even grandchildren, as well as young couples with a child or two in strollers and people with signs saying “straight but not narrow”. The diversity of the crowd struck me.

It seemed the demonstration had drawn a cross section of the city’s LDS population that was troubled by the Church’s militancy on Gay marriage. This was not a crowd of outsiders, but ordinary Utahns, with very few exceptions.

I did hear, barely, Jacob Whipple comment over his weak microphone about how long the Latter-day Saint gay community had languished in apathy while letting others fight their battles. He thanked the Church, in true testimony fashion, for causing people to come together to stand up for themselves, before asking people to respect property and stay either on the sidewalk or, where the police indicated, march in the streets.

With that the crowd began to slowly pour, like thick Utah honey, from the park onto North Temple Street. Besides a myriad of signs with slogans varying from citations of scripture to wry comments on polygamy, people began walking and chanting. They said “ separate Church and state” and “what do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now!” “Yes we can! Yes we can!” Over and over like a recitation of prayer. At times the chants would stop and people would take pictures of each other, and the lighted temple as backdrop for the signs flowing past.

The police had not cleared North Temple of traffic and so the demonstrators flowed through cars stopped on the street. North and South Bound traffic on State Street could not proceed for maybe fifteen to twenty minutes as the horde of demonstrators passed. Some drivers honked their horns in solidarity with the marchers, others opened their windows to shake hands of marchers passing by, while other’s sat stony faced and grim.

At the Church office building, suited men sat grim faced guarding property boundaries. Some six children stood by the building’s faded white walls and sang “I am a child of God”. The marchers could have sung along. They know the words and melody. Certainly the phrase graced a number of signs. But they did not. Inside and outside were defined by that song that instead of a song of hope became a weapon thrown against brothers and sisters by children.

One marcher said about the kids’ singing “Eek, I remember that, and it is not a good memory” s he referred to being raised Latter-day Saint and struggling to accept himself and his sexuality.

The marchers circled temple square, with its gates locked, and its gray wall hunkered down protectively. They marched peacefully, although the fifty or so counter demonstrators were surrounded by the massive march. Around them people would stop to exchange taunts of “bigot”, as police stood by. But I saw no altercations.

On the north side of the Church’s two block campus, a blond boy, maybe eight years old sat on a post and led the crowd in a chant of “separate Church and state”. After a while, he stopped and said “this is my little sister” as he introduced a smaller blond girl, held by a man next to him, with a woman standing close.

The Church released a statement defending its democratic rights and disingenuously claiming it was unfair that it was “singled out” from a “broad coalition” of religious groups supporting Proposition 8.

Nevertheless, this was not only not a crowd that could have voted in California, it was not a crowd of the general populace. It was a horde of mostly Mormons. The issue was in house. They were protesting their Church’s stand on homosexuality, and its political engagement.

On the southeast side of temple square, near where the marker that sets the 00 mark for the valley’s system of coordinates, a man started chanting “this is what democracy looks like”. The crowd picked up the chant and roared it at the Church. Prop 8 was defeated, but a movement seems to have been born within the Church.

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    This sign was from the LA protest, but I got a kick out of it.

    Thanks for the description of what went on in SLC, David.

  2. It was a horde of mostly Mormons.

    If that is true, then we may be entering interesting times. Are you sure about this, David?

    There is much to regret here, so very much.

  3. david knowlton says:

    Ronan, the answer obviously depends on the definition of “Mormon”. My sense, from being there, is that the crowd was composed, mostly, of people formed in the Church and with deep experiences in it. I did not check temple recommends, nor do I know how active people are. But, I think my point is made by the scattering of demonstrators who were calling on people to resign their membership. If the crowd were not composed mostly of Latter-day Saints, what would there be to resign?

  4. I must admit I am dreading questions from co-workers and neighbors about this subject. I will not turn my back on the church but how do I explain that I personally have a different opinion without seeming to do that?

  5. Random reactions, while waiting for a soccer game to start:

    But they did not. Inside and outside were defined by that song that instead of a song of hope became a weapon thrown against brothers and sisters by children.

    This is an obvious allusion to the Proclamation on the Family.

    This was not a crowd of outsiders, but ordinary Utahns, with very few exceptions.

    Methinks the average Utahn, based on voting patterns, would (a) not have supported Prop 8 and (b) not participated in the rally. Perhaps these were average Salt Lakers. Even outsiders to Utah recognize that SLC is not like the rest of Utah (in fact, I think many of the Olympic organizers went to great lengths to trumpet that).

  6. david knowlton says:

    Queuno, methinks that families of Gay people, not to mention Gay people themselves, are found in all strata of Utah society.

    The issue of sexuality crosses all other boundaries including those of the Church.

    These were not average Salt Lakers; I bet most were not from Salt Lake, in that they were not heavily people of color. They were suburbanites and looked like any one else in Mormon Utah. Who knows, most of them were even probably Republican. But they broke their own norms and came out and demonstrated. That is what to me is amazing.

    Some days ago Latter-day Saint mothers of Gay Children organized a candlelight vigil in Salt Lake, but this demonstration dwarfed the attendance at that important event.

    It is important to see how this movement is developing within Mormonism’s ranks. The Church’s membership is not a monolith.

  7. From those who remember, how much does this resemble the post-ERA failure?

  8. Thomas Parkin says:

    Nora,

    I find that relatively simple, declarative, factual sentences can ease my mind – especially if they are just long enough that they don’t lend themselves to chanting. For instance: “Many Mormons, including me, regret or reject the church’s position but still want to associate with everything we find good in the church.”

    Or, for me, “I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is _sacred._ That means it is something of vital importance, and that diminishment of it’s centrality has had and will have further profound consequences. Unfortunately, that means I believe we must in a meaningful way continue to distinguish between two sex and same sex relationships. Just because I think you’re wrong doesn’t mean I reject you. I find myself wrong about many things. I sometimes wish I thought I was wrong about this.”

    I might also say something like this: “I personally think that the church would live with same-sex marriage but for its fear that, in the long term, our ability to freely practice our religion will be curtailed. If the SSM side would take these concerns seriously, and work with us to write into laws explicit protections, that might go a long way to bringing us together on the issue. Certainly it would do more than creating scenes outside our sacred buildings, eh?”

    ~

    ~

  9. I have sympathy for both sides. As a Californian who endured an earlier proposition, I was surprised and uncomfortable with the church involvement until I realized this was about my ward family standing exposed out on that street corner. David, the movement within the church may really consist of those like me who stood shoulder to shoulder with their people who are under fire for exercising their right to participate in the political process. I am still conflicted on this issue but I am not conflicted on who I stand with. It is a mistake to underestimate the life changing event this was for California Mormons who endured the abuse and who reaped the real life consequences (which may just be starting). I will not be unhappy to see all people share in marriage. But I am shocked by the rage and ugliness against a group of voters that overwhelms any other aspect of this. I think it is a mistake to try to equate a fun event of shouting and sign waving targeting a religion with what happened and is happening to the Saints in California. I discovered something about myself and I will never be the same. When I am pushed, I will stand with my people. Because there are two legitimate sides to this that deserve understanding, I believe it is a fateful miscalculation to underestimate what has happened in the hearts and minds of the masses who actually participated in this and what will happen as that circle is widened through a campaign of recrimination.

  10. I have followed this debate for many months with great interest. Now, in the aftermath, I continue to have the following questions:

    What is the position of those that oppose the Church’s stance and activities with regard to Prop 8? Is it that 1) the Church’s views are wrong (that government should allow/recognize/encourage same-sex marriage)? or 2) the Church’s strong, public support of the pro-Prop 8 movement was wrong?

    If the answer is that the Church’s view is simply wrong, is it the contention of those who don’t agree with the Church that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve just got this one wrong? Are they miguided in characterizing this as one of the most significant matters of our day? Perhaps more bluntly, do those who oppose the Church’s view still sustain these men as prophets, seers, and revelators? If so, how does this square with such individuals’ opposition to — and sometimes active protestations against — the express counsel and guidance of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve regarding this issue?

    If the answer is disagreement with the Church’s tactics, that strikes me as a bit of a different issue. But I don’t think protestors are mounting temple walls waiving flags simply because of the Church’s tactics.

  11. I want to comment on this post and I am going to title it: The Face of Courage. The following comment was left on my blog by a gay follower of Christ. We don’t hear from men like this very often. In my estimation he is a hero and I think the Savior has a crown of righteousness in store for him (D&C 25:15).

    “Jared, your post is so very true. As a single gay LDS convert living the “law of celibacy” I have found that the ONLY way I can remain active is to constantly nourish my testimony through the deeper communion experienced through personal regular prayer, consistent scripture study, regular temple attendance and constant seeking of further light and knowledge. I do not have the luxury of a “social activity testimony” or “straight patriarchal family testimony” where I would be supported and carried along by reason of “fitting the mold”.”

  12. david knowlton says:

    Juliann, you make an important point about the experience of members in California, particularly when they disagreed with the Church’s stance.

    It is not and will not be the same as the experience of Utahns. Like you, I think the choice of standing with the Church is an important experience for people who do so. I know, personally, I have thought many times, recently, about how one can disagree and yet keep ones temple covenants. But I write as someone who lives in Utah.

    WMP, protestors did not “mount temple walls”. They marched by the side of them. The demonstration was peaceful and respectful of private property. However people’s relationship with the Church walls–including the issue of what it means to think of the brethren as prophets–is a deeply intimate one. Part of what the protestors were calling for was for that to be recognized. They were not only calling for equality within the nation–i.e. in marriage laws–but for equality within the Church–i.e. an acceptance that homosexuality is not a moral issue but an ontological one.

    The protest within the Church is complex and hence fascinating. I do not think the Utah protest can fit within the same frames of reference and understanding as the Los Angeles protests, simply because it is one within Mormonism that, while it has connections with external entanglements, is still one of an ongoing disagreement within a community.

  13. Thomas Parkin says:

    I want to add a ‘me, too’ post to amplify what you’ve written, Jared. I’m not Gay, but have always found this man’s statement to be true in my life. I’m not so enamored of the culture of the church – it is far from a place where I naturally fit in. I always recall Pres Benson’s words “Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day …”

    ~

  14. david knowlton says:

    Jared, you share one face of Mormon life, the struggle for testimony. But there is another, the loss of testimony because of Church action and the struggle for legitimacy within a community that defines having a testimony as silence and acquiescence.

  15. Thomas Parkin says:

    David,

    That reads to me like a distinction without a difference.

    ~

  16. One simply does not effect change in the Church through protest, banner-waving, marches, negotiations, or social pressure. If these marchers think so, they have absorbed much more of a non-Mormon mindset, both in framing this purely as a civil-rights issue and in how (and whether) the Church can and does change.

  17. I would like to know how leaving graffiti on church property is showing respect of private property? It is probably cleaned up by now by those grim faced security guards (which included my husband).

  18. “Perhaps more bluntly, do those who oppose the Church’s view still sustain these men as prophets, seers, and revelators? If so, how does this square with such individuals’ opposition to — and sometimes active protestations against — the express counsel and guidance of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve regarding this issue?”

    Easy, WMP: “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.”

  19. Ben,

    I think that the target of the protests is not the Church at all. The Church is not amenable to being lobbied. The protests seem geared toward marginalizing the Church as a political force (to the extent there is an overarching strategy here–so far I have yet to see more than just raw emotion).

  20. kleermaker says:

    “I am shocked by the rage and ugliness against a group of voters that overwhelms any other aspect of this.”

    Outraged is understandable, albeit ridiculous, but shocked? If the Mormon Church had just played a significant role in amending a state’s constitution such that inter-racial marriages would not be recognised (and existing inter-racial marriages might be invalidated) would you be shocked and outraged if those affected lashed back at those they perceived to have been responsible? I don’t think so. And while I don’t expect you to agree with the analogy, please understand that those directly affected see the parallel and feel similarly.

    Make no mistake, this vote was about taking away something that had recently been legally defined as a civil right. You clearly find it an inappropriate one. But please don’t be so naive as to think you can take something of that magnitude away and then feign surprise at the reaction.

  21. #14 David,

    My experience is that when one applies “The Doctrine of Christ” they will be given the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you know, this is also referred to as a “mighty change”. Those who receive this gift and remain true to it are never the same thereafter. Those who only understand it on an intellectual level and never go beyond that remain in their natural condition and are tossed about about the winds of doctrine and politics.

    I encourage all LDS to “experience” the gospel and by so doing become alive in Christ.

  22. “The Church released a statement defending its democratic rights and disingenuously claiming it was unfair that it was “singled out” from a “broad coalition” of religious groups supporting Proposition 8.”

    How ironic considering that here in California Mormons are taking credit for the passing of Prop 8.

  23. David, do you know anything about earlier protest marches in Utah? I don’t remember anything this large in my lifetime (and I’m a native Utahn). I’m just curious if this is the largest ever.

  24. OMG GRAFFITI!

  25. I disagree with your position on this. I am tired of this topic.

  26. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I am tired of this topic.”

    lol!

    Sadly, it isn’t going away. I have studiously avoided it for weeks and weeks. But I think now my thoughts are finally clear on the matter. (Maybe my grammar will follow.)

    ~

  27. I thought it was a great night. Sen. Scott McCoy and Reps. Jackie Biskupski and Christine Johnson all spoke powerfully and sensibly. I’m hoping their speeches show up somewhere online soon.

    One of my favorite signs:

    http://flickr.com/photos/bigbrownhouse/3012112192/

    David, I have to challenge the assertion that “These were not average Salt Lakers; I bet most were not from Salt Lake, in that they were not heavily people of color. They were suburbanites and looked like any one else in Mormon Utah. Who knows, most of them were even probably Republican.”

    My impression was that the crowd was largely comprised of familiar liberal Salt Lake locals, not suburban Republicans. I’m sure there were some, but mostly Republicans?

  28. Apostates.

    That is the word for these people, and I don’t care how offended you all are by my pointing out this obvious fact.

    Those members who attempt to change Church policy through public pressure and demonstrations are apostates who have sided with the enemies of the Church.

    These protesters are no different from the apostates in the Kirkland period who decried Joseph Smith as a fallen prophet and sought to impose their wisdom on God’s church.

    Many of those men were leaders in the church, but they decided that they should run things, not Joseph the Prophet, and so they fell away, and allied themselves with the enemies of the Church.

    Juliann has also made a good point. This has moved far beyond the debate over gay marriage. This is now a tribal conflict. The Gays vs the Mormons, and it is the gays who have decided to make it so. Why? Two reasons:

    1: Mormons are far more vulnerable then other supporters of Prop 8. Mormons are a small minority. Mormons are not granted the suspect class status that other minority groups are. Mormons are unpopular with many groups, including other religions who were our allies on Prop8.

    2: Mormons are overwhelmingly supportive of Prop 8, and are a small part of the electorate. There is a large minority of Catholics, for example, that voted against Prop 8. If the Catholic church was to be attacked it might shift as much as 10% of the electorate back to opposing gay marriage. With Mormons however, the benefits of having a scapegoat outweighs the cost of alienating the few liberal Mormon voters.

    No doubt many are saying that this is not an us vs them situation- but I tell you it already is. Church buildings in California have already been vandalized. The protesters in Salt Lake may not have climbed the Temple walls, but they did in LA. Chants included “Tax Them, Tax Them!” and “Tax the Cult”. Consider the last anti-Prop 8 Ad, which was designed to generate rage against Mormons.

    I have also seen disturbing videos of the protesters in LA. These are videos proudly posted by the protesters. They are disturbingly violent. I watched as a police line was breached by one man, then two more, and then a clump of six. The crowd started screaming in support of the men, and you could see the tension rising. The crowd swelling against the police line, and the fear of the police officers, one of whom even took a few swings at the crowd with his baton. I’ve seen mobs form before (even been attacked by one once) and that crowd was very close. If just another dozen men had burst through the police line, the whole crowd would have attacked them and the police would have been overwhelmed.

    Will it all die down in a few weeks as people cool down? Perhaps- but not if apostates keep encouraging these protesters into thinking that they are getting somewhere, and that all they need to do is keep up the pressure.

  29. I think we often see what we expect and want to see, and I think that tendency is just as strong on both sides of any issue. I think that tendency is relevant to almost every aspect of this issue – and every discussion I have read anywhere about it.

  30. Eric Russell says:

    I managed to get back to visit Salt Lake City recently. Took a little time to see my old friend Tommy. Still lives there. What with all his church obligations and all. Although he does do a good deal of traveling round the world. Wish I could travel like that. I haven’t been able to get around all that much seeing as how my hemorrhoids never can leave me alone. Glad to see old Tommy again though. Good man, he.

    We had ourselves a nice conversation. I still remember when we were teenagers attending West High School. We talked about that day I got caught chewing gum in class. Set the teacher off in a tizzy. Why, you wouldn’t of thought she seen anybody chewing gum in all her life, much less in class. It happened all the time in class, truth be told. I know it cause I’d seen it. Abigail Jorgensen slipped a piece every morning. In any case, I ended up down at the principle’s office all afternoon. After school Tommy comes by and tells me what assignments I had missed. He really didn’t have to do that seeing as how I really wasn’t interested in doing them anyhow. But it was awful nice of him. I told him I still remembered it.

    Then we got to talking of more somber things. The way the world has gotten nowadays. I think we are all of us ill prepared for what is to come and I don’t care what shape it takes. If you had told us back in the day that there’d be people protesting in the streets of our own Salt Lake for to men to marry each other, we straight up wouldn’t have believed you. And if you had told us it was our own grandchildren? Well, all of that is signs and wonders but it don’t tell you how it got that way. And it don’t tell you nothin about how it’s fixin to get, neither.

    Tommy started talking about something in the scriptures and I asked him did they say anything about dudes hitching up with each other and he said not in so many words there wasn’t. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or not. You know, I wake up sometimes way in the night and I know certain as death that there aint nothin short of the second comin of Christ that can slow this train. I don’t know what is the use of me layin awake over it. But I do.

    Eventually I had to go. That is to say, I didn’t really have nowhere to go, it was Tommy that had to go. I swear for the life of me I do not understand how he keeps at it after all these years. I tire myself out just using the john. So we said our farewells. Hopefully not for the last time. Before I walked out the door I stopped and turned around. I looked to him and told him, I said, you can’t stop what’s comin. Ain’t all waitin on you. That’s vanity.

  31. Thank you, Thomas. Your words captured most of my feelings.

  32. Thank you Eric- I enjoyed that.

  33. It’s worth pointing out that the original protest, and the much larger one, occurred on Tuesday at the ballot box when 52% of Californians protested against the California Supreme Court and made it clear that they wanted marriage to remain how it’s always been: between man and woman.

    The reactionary protests that have followed are dwarfed by that huge expression of support for traditional marriage.

  34. Narrator you said “How ironic considering that here in California Mormons are taking credit for the passing of Prop 8.” Do you have any documentation of this? I think Mormons should take credit if they are being handed credit but I have not seen it. I have not even seen the customary celebratory exhilaration after a hard fought political win short of one email that was in poor taste. It is sad. The whole thing is just sad. So many seem to forget that Mormons who supported Prop 8 have gay family and friends that they love dearly.

  35. Protestors always like to believe and point out that their co-protestors look like normal people. All it means is that they didn’t come straight from Burning Man, but rather stopped to shower and shift clothes. That’s why I try not to draw lessons from what protestors look like when what they are actually doing is instructive enough: marching in open protest of the considered counsel of prophets of God.

  36. #12–

    I have seen photographic depictions of protestors mounting the walls surrounding the Los Angeles Temple. Are these not “temple walls?”

    In any event, I’m not sure anyone has actually addressed my questions. I realize it may be an intimate question, but the issue of whether or not those who have opposed the Church’s stance nonetheless think of the brethren as prophets is precisely the one for which I sought insight/clarification.

  37. Yes, nice summary of the events … but “militancy”? You call the LDS support of a political issue “militant” when there was no suggestion of violence or aggression or threats. But the media reports how gays upset at the outcome of Proposition 8 react with an outpouring of anger and threats and all you do is ooze sympathy for the sort of scapegoating they are directing at Mormons. Are you on the payroll, Mr. Knowlton, or just living in that liberal fog where facts never quite penetrate?

    Try this secular appraisal of recent events for an alternative view of things.

  38. Juliann,

    If my experience here in California for the two months preceding the vote is indicative of anything, it shows that Mormons were already accepted credit for its potential passing before votes were even cast. Two weeks ago my stake president came and was telling everyone how it was the Church that was driving the effort and how at meetings for this every other group in the ‘coalition’ was saying the LDS Church’s efforts were so very crucial. Testimony meetings at the beginning of the month and Sunday meetings turned pep rallies were full of Mormons taking credit for the efforts.

    I will be very surprised if tomorrow’s meetings in California do not offer similar claims of credit for the passing of Prop 8.

    If there hadn’t been such a strong backlash, I speculate that the Church would have officially taken some credit as well… though I guess I could be wrong about this last bit.

  39. Wow, Eric, that’s the longest and weirdest comment I’ve ever seen you make. I’m getting some No Country for Old Men vibes.

    David,
    It’s possible that the crowd was largely comprised of average Joe Republican Utahns. But it’s also possible that it was mostly made up of some of the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who were hostile to the Church before any of the prop 8 stuff. Without more evidence than your guesses I would hesitate to point to this as evidence of a burgeoning movement among rank-and-file Mormons.

  40. #34

    I realize it may be an intimate question, but the issue of whether or not those who have opposed the Church’s stance nonetheless think of the brethren as prophets is precisely the one for which I sought insight/clarification.

    I do believe them to be prophets… though as Joseph put it, prophets only when acting as such. The difficult question is of course of knowing when they are acting as prophets. As any short inquiry of Church history will show, our history is full of occasions when our leaders were just wrong on various issues. I think that is ultimately why God wants us to have and exercise our own rationality, agency, and personal revelation – three of the greatest gifts we have.

  41. I’ll believe that the LDS Church isn’t being unfairly singled out when I see protests outside some of the black Churches in L.A.

  42. WMP, it’s easy. It’s about the church imposing it’s morality on those that do not believe, in essence taking away free agency. It’s not about the church marrying gays, just simply allowing them to be married in whatever way they wish. As for the seers,revelators and all that. Remember the church has been wrong about marriage, interracial relationships, civil rights, adam god theory and other things.

    Also for those saying the church is being unjustly singled out. According to studies mormons gave 4 out of evey 5 dollars that were given to prop 8. So at least mathematically 80% of the backlash should be theirs.

  43. Mark Brown says:

    Did the church make the difference in the prop 8 campaign, or didn’t it? More than half the money, and almost all the volunteers, came from LDS sources. In this effort, as in many other efforts the church undertakes, we were punching far above our weight class. So I agree that it is a little disingenuous for us now to modestly pretend that we were just a little cog in a big machine. It cannot be disputed that the LDS people and money made the difference. If we really believe in what we did, what is wrong with being proud of it? That fact that we are not willing to step up and be proud of that tells me a lot.

    Tom (39),

    Dave’s link in comment 35 says that black churches are being picketed too.

  44. Thanks, narrator. I appreciate the response.

    So (even though you didn’t say it expressly) your view is that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve just didn’t get it right on this one? The Lord, in fact, has no problem with society accepting and normalizing gay marriage? Was the Proclamation wrong?

  45. Mark,
    Actually if you follow the link from Volokh it’s clear that the incident with the N-word was during the picketing of the L.A. Temple. There is no mention of picketing of black churches.

  46. Kleermaker,
    I’m with you. If the Church is going to wield political influence, it must accept the consequences, whether from Salt Lake liberal Mormons or from suburbanite, for some reason more legitimate, Mormons.
    WMP,
    I guess I can find a way to reconcile my spiritual belief in the Book of Mormon with this decision, despite the fact that I can’t fathom how two guys getting married in California or anywhere endanger my temple marriage to my wife. Personally, I have found the TV remote and my wife’s inexplicable driving speeds to present a clearer threat. Regardless, I can accept that I am not the source of revelation from Christ and that perhaps I am wrong on this. My only wish is that the Church would spend some of its political capital on other, perhaps more palatable, issues. Here’s a random list of ten:
    1. Religious freedom in Russia and other parts of Eurasia
    2. The right to education for all children, everywhere
    3. 3rd world debt relief
    4. Religious plurality in the Middle East
    5. Disaster relief
    6. My personal favorite, the Book of Mormon injunction that there be no poor among us.
    Wouldn’t a strong public stand on such issues negate attempts to pigeon-hole the Church as a bigoted, right-wing sect?

  47. WMP, fwiw, that topic has been hashed out ad nauseum on many other threads on many blogs for many years. That type of simple Yes/No doesn’t include any room for discussion, which is what blogs like this are created to do.

  48. David,

    Thanks for the synopsis. I really find this amazing. . . . And inspiring.

    I have to wonder: Did Prop 8 proponents expect the thousands of gay and lesbian couples who wed over the past several months, and the thousands who planned to marry in the coming months, and their thousands of supporters, to just throw up their hands and say, “Well, it was fun while it lasted” if Prop 8 passed?

    This isn’t going to be over soon.

  49. Why is it that an ecclesiastical organization (of human beings) cannot make it’s voice heard in the social-political arena but an activist organization (of human beings) can? Why is it immoral for the church to get involved in politics–especially when it has made it clear that its purpose for doing so is based in morality?

    I’ve heard the argument again, and again that the church’s position is rather hypocritical because of it’s polygamous past. But if the tables were turned and the church found it self in the position of promoting a broader definition of marriage in order to reinstate polygamy the gay activists would be all for it–considering it a step forward in stretching the conventional bounders of marriage. There would be no concern at all over the idea of an ecclesiastical organization turning politically activist.

  50. Narrator, I understand that there was a lot of rah rah rhetoric but I disagree with you that is taking credit because revving up the troops is standard practice in any political battle. Also, we need to remember that the life of a Mormon is largely a local affair that depends on who is in charge of day to day events at any given time in your local area. My pre-election experience was that we expected Prop 8 to lose. The polls gave No an edge, thus there was no credit to take. I would be interested in any public expression because I agree with Mark that we should be willing to take credit.

  51. Mark Brown says:

    Tom,

    Oops, you’re right. I read too quickly, and I appreciate the correction.

  52. Why is there this seeming unwillingness to acknowledge the majority? Yes perhaps we (the Mormons) gave the pro Prop 8 the edge they needed to win, but I certainly hope that “taking credit” doesn’t mean taking *all* the credit.

    Also, I’m a little befuddled over the idea of a laser-like-focused activist group blaming another organization (with it’s own intense focus and all) for swaying the public.

  53. david knowlton says:

    Paula # 23, it was certainly one of the largest demonstrations I have seen in Salt Lake, but it was dwarfed by the immigration March May 1, 2006. There were an estimated 40,000 people at that march. It was amazing.

    Of course, I grew up as an LDS boy going to demonstrations and marching in them. My father was an activist. And in Bolivia I see, and sometimes march, in many. They fascinate me as part of the civil discourse of society.

    I think the Church is well within its rights to take a stand on issues. There is of course a cost to any action. Part of it is the reaction and part is the creation of internal dissension.

    If people wish to take action then they look foolish and naive when either of the two, reaction and dissension, happen.

    While I did see some of the Salt Lake liberals, including me, I saw many, many people who did not fit that label, including people who graduated from BYU and who were talking about their Church activity.

  54. Steve M, there was no expectation that opponents of Prop 8 would walk away. I think fighting SSM is a losing battle and I’ll bet most proponents would agree. But I did expect that the tactics would change. I expected some self-evaluation after a badly run campaign second only to McCain. I expect them to change minds and hearts and they don’t have to change many. But they continue to demonstrate that they have no understanding of the opposition as evidenced by the surprise over the black vote. Add the disdain, mean spiritedness and vulgarity to that and I find the behavior not only noxiously counterproductive but well, uninspired. You can only give people the middle finger for so long before they completely shut you off. That is not metaphorical, either. The middle finger accompanied by obscenities was ubiquitous throughout. There is a window of opportunity to break down stereotypes and they are throwing trash through it.

  55. david knowlton says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say they look foolish and naive WHEN THEY WINE, because reaction and dissension happen.

  56. Ray,

    I appreciate your thoughts (and have generally during my time reading the ‘nacle). If you could point me to a thread addressing this issue specifically within the context of Prop 8 I would appreciate it.

    I’ll be quiet now.

  57. Thomas, you are right, It isn,t going away. David, the ontological argument is definitely not definitive, and due the concept of a spectrum of attraction is mainly disproven by common sense. And in any case, even if it were a proven ontological difference, this does not make it not a moral issue any more than any other action that is deemed a moral issue is not a moral issue when people have an ontological inclination towards it. If anything, you are arguing for some sort of moral disability, and nothing else.

  58. The irony of comment 53.

  59. david knowlton says:

    Matt, I am not arguing, but explaining what people feel. I certainly realize the issue is way more complex than is presented in most polemics. Nevertheless, people feel what they feel, and they desire acceptance for what they feel is an essential part of themselves. Again, I am reporting and not arguing.

  60. The irony of comment 53. I mean seriously because a protest in SLC is nothing but one big whine when the reaction and disension from the homosexual agenda happened. I am officially now calling you a hypocrite.

  61. David re “I am not arguing but reporting” sure, me either. The difference is I am reporting facts and not bullshit.

  62. david knowlton says:

    But, you see Matt, I am not wining or complaining about anything. Hypocrite? I am afraid that is probably true of me as a human being, as it likely is of you, despite my best intentions otherwise.

    Notice, in 53, by implication I am criticising opponents to Church participation as well Church wines about being targeted.

    That is politics. Writing about politics can also lead one to being called a hypocrite. Cool. That’s the way this cookie (politics) crumbles. No wines here.

  63. Yes I regret that last comment.

  64. Tom #39 – protests at black churches would have been more likely had they (the black churches) been the ones to rally most of Prop 8’s funding.

    It’s hardly sincere of the church to encourage her members – under Prophetic Pretense – to hit the streets, make phone calls, and donate all they possibly could in time and resources, spend months in meetings speaking of the evils of SSM and doing all else they could to push the ballot measure – then claim they are being persecuted for simply pulling a lever or two in the sacred space of the ballot booth. Right….the church is no different than the average voter.

  65. David, I am apparantly not in a civil mood today. I want to apologize and bow out.

  66. david knowlton says:

    re 59, Matt W. I am not really sure what you are getting at here, but the difference between facts and BS is either in the eye of the beholder or in some external guarantee.

    If you are saying that what people feel is BS, well that may be true from an external point of view. It does not stop them, however, from being vividly felt and motivating action.

    Whether homosexuality is a kind of being, an adjective describing a behavior, or a culture, does not stop many people I know and have spoken with from hoping and praying for an acceptance from a Church that raised them and which they love. Love can so easily turn to hate. And for many it does. But underlying hatred and anger is still the desire for love and acceptance.

  67. david knowlton says:

    Matt W. No problem. I apologize for any offense I might have given you and look forward to more conversation another time.

  68. Thanks for the info David. I don’t live in Utah anymore.I”m in California, where we had our own huge immigration marches that same day, so I suppose I missed any news about Utah’s.

  69. There is some question begging going on. First, there is an assumption that a church should have limits on what activities it can legally encourage its members to engage in. Who made that rule? Second, the implication that the members didn’t do this by choice is offensive. I have become engaged in local political battles because I was encouraged without experiencing anything near the inner turmoil this caused me. Many, many more members sat this one out than contributed and that is obvious from checking the website listing donations by city. Give credit (or discredit) where it is due. The church didn’t stand on that corner or write that check. I DID.

  70. Juliann:

    First, there is an assumption that a church should have limits on what activities it can legally encourage its members to engage in.

    I don’t think anyone is saying that. The Church has a right to choose to encourage members to get involved in a particular political issue. But as we are reminded over and over again, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. The Church can use it’s first amendment rights to speak out against an issue that it cares about. But our first amendment rights do not act as an insulation against criticism.

  71. Juliann,
    Would you have written check or stood on that corner without the church’s encouragement? If so, would you say that such a turn-out would have occurred without it?
    As regards your first comment, I would point out that at least in my experience, church leaders have adamantly and clearly preached that its members should engage in politics, but that the organization itself would remain neutral. Perhaps this is a misunderstanding on my part. What do you think?

  72. david knowlton says:

    One slippery category is that of the Church. It both means the body of the members and the Corporation of the First Presidency. The latter did not write the checks, as Juliann noted. However the Church, in the form of its members did. The semantic ambiguity is built into the notion of Church and makes this conversation difficult.

  73. blt, it’s a misunderstanding on your part. The Church does not endorse candidates in any election, and it does not endorse a particular party. There are Democrats and Republicans among the GA’s and apostles and prophets – and probably some who are neither.

    Otoh, the Church has spoken out without ambiguity on many political issues it feels are moral in nature. Nearly all churches to that. There is no conflict between those two arenas.

    Fwiw, I agree that we should not be surprised by criticism and anger. Some of out own were terrible examples and fed the anger and bitterness. All else considered, I just wish there was an attempt at a deeper level of love and understanding, but perhaps all we can do is strive for that within ourselves and hope our example empowers and touches others.

  74. Ray,
    Isn’t that pretty much the same thing, in many instances, as endorsing a candidate? Especially since the church seems to take very few political stances, doesn’t this put pressure on some members to narrow their political priorities down to one or two (usually social) issues at the cost of ignoring others (usually economic)? Doesn’t this both lower the bar for what makes a church member a good citizen and indirectly, if nearly transparently, endorse candidates?

  75. Would I have gotten involved without encouragement? Of course not. There isn’t one political campaign I have gotten into without encouragement! That is how coalitions are built. I am trying to make two points here to focus this discussion. First, this was a political battle no different than any other in tactics. Second, it is easy to rail against an impersonal church. It is time to start saying it directly to ME as the real culprit. We had the courage of our convictions (for differing reasons perhaps) now others need to have the courage of theirs and stop seeking safe shelter behind denigrating “the church”. Perhaps then there can be communication leading to more understanding.

  76. Juliann,
    Good point.

  77. One slippery category is that of the Church. It both means the body of the members and the Corporation of the First Presidency.

    The former is an increasingly archaic usage outside of ecclesiological circles, while the latter distinction is necessary to have a coherent discussion about legal issues.

    The distinction between “the church” and “the members” is particularly germane here because (unlike in some Protestant denominations) there is no pretense that church leaders represent the members. Quite the opposite. The members are supposed to represent the leaders who are supposed to represent God.

    If the members disagree with the leadership, the latter have no ecclesiastical obligation to change their position. So whenever there is a significant division the semantics of the term “Church” always passes to the those who actually set church policy and away from those who do not. Any other situation would be the biggest revolution in Church affairs since Joseph Smith.

  78. Juliann,

    According to my Stake President, the Church leadership in Salt Lake made quota’s for each stake to raise based on the incomes of those within the stake. My Stake President (of the Laverne Stake) was proud to announce that we had far exceeded the $64,000 quota allotted to us.

    In the state broadcast in October, Elders Ballard, Cook, and Whitney said that every young single adult should be donating 3 hours a week for Prop 8 as well as utilizing the internet and social networking to support Prop 8 (a big mistake in my view as most Latter-day Saints were far too ignorant and naive to enter into a pluralistic discussion).

    Hours were spent in Sunday meetings pushing and encouraging members to donate to and volunteer for Prop 8.

    I know for a fact that many members were pulled aside and asked privately to make large donations.

    I know for a fact that many members were released from their callings and had their temple recommends suspended for opposing Prop 8.

    And in all of this there was STRONG rhetoric from the Quorum of the 12 to the local leadership implying to members (rightly or wrongly) that not supporting Prop 8 was going directly against the will of God.

    This was not some simple encouragement. The Church cannot act like it was just some simple part of a coalition. When the Church’s pressure and super-presence resulted in 80% of the funds and an even higher percentage of the volunteers, it deserves and ought to be the focus of the opposition criticism.

  79. For those LDS Bloggers are challenging the wisdom of Proposition 8, consider the following:

    California Exit polls showed that of people who stated that they attend church weekly, about 85% voted in favor of Prop 8. 85% of those who never go to church voted No. The vote was split for people who attend church occassionally.

    That would give you an idea of how many California LDS supported Prop 8. And this is after 6 weeks of intense TV and radio commercials produce by both sides and every major newspaper in California recommending a No vote. Also there was a very heated debate raging in the Letters to the Editor section of those newspapers. Many of the “conversvative” big name talk show hosts were also promoting the No Vote.

    This is after many of us followed the council of church leaders and engaged in dialogue with our neighbors and co-workers on the issue. We had doors slammed in our faces as people told us they didn’t want a yard sign.

    This is after many of us watched both our labor unions (teachers, nurses, electricians) and employers (Google, Yahoo, PG&E, etc) make major endorsements and donations to the No side.

    We saw before the vote all of the blog postings on the liberal websites and their arguments, rants, ravings, etc. A lot of us took this issue seriously and did a lot of research. To be ready to preach on the subject we had to be prepared, knowledgeable and able to identify with those points that resonated most strongly with us.

    Voting Yes on 8 was not an easy decision. Tougher still has coming up with the courage to actively support it in the face of all the opposition listed above.

    I don’t know if anyone is following the demise of the American Episcopalian church? But they are suffering from both schism and overall drop attendance over the issue of accepting gay married clergy. I follow one blog called VirtueOnline where they claim to be Orthodox Anglicans but are very disgusted at all the pictures of their clergy dancing with the people in very immodest settings (to say the least) in those “Pride” parades.

    Here in California we have a history of restricting rights of the minority when we determine that there is a distinct benefit to the majority. One example that I’m proud of is that we have much tougher anti-smoking laws here than in Utah. Our laws prohibit smoking in all public indoor places and at any park or beach.

    Another example is on Tuesday, San Diego passed an ordinance (Prop D by 2/3’s vote) banning booze at all beaches. Even though the majority enjoy an occasionaly beverage, the crime that attended open drunkeness at the beach was way too much.

    We had started supporting this when the polls should it losing easily by over 17%. I personally was convinced it would fail and maybe the Lord wanted us to declare the truth to degenerate world similarly to Samuel the Lamanite. (Did he successfully convince his listeners to change their attitudes?)

    Several modern day LDS leaders have prophesied that in the last days, the church would be challenged by issues that would cause the very elect to abandon their faith. I kind of surprised that one of those issues would be SSM.

  80. #78 – Our stake too surpassed its fund raising quota and we were told to stop fund raising several weeks early. Even while the Evengelicals were still aggresively pushing their crowds to get their quota.

  81. When the Church’s pressure and super-presence resulted in 80% of the funds and an even higher percentage of the volunteers, it deserves and ought to be the focus of the opposition criticism.

    Ignoring the message and attacking the messenger is not a very well thought out political strategy. The Church should be criticized for being effective? And not only effective, but effective with involvement far within the legally recognized bounds for tax exempt organizations?

  82. True, the Church itself did not donate overtly to the campaign (other than the couple of thousand dollars it reported as an inkind contribution). But the Church acted as, in effect, a chief fundraiser for the effort. (And, I might add, it acted as a chief fundraiser in Arizona.)

    Perhaps some would have spent the same time and made the same contribution of funds without the assignment by Church leaders. But I have spoken to individuals who told me they engaged in lots of canvasing and phone calling because they were asked (“assigned”) to do so by Church leaders.

    True, the efforts and contributions for proposition 8 were “voluntary”, but, from what I can see, they were “voluntary” in the same sense as the efforts at the cannery and bishop’s storehouse and contributions to fast offerings are voluntary. I have spoken to individuals who declined to contribute to Proposition 8, even when repeatedly asked by their bishop, and who felt that they were perceived as potentially “apostate” for declining. And, in Arizona, I know at least one person who only voted for our marriage proposition only because she understood it was her duty to do so; after having read the Church’s more conciliatory statement after the election acknowledging that members could have voted against the proposition because of their personal exeriences, she now regrets having votged for it.

    Had the Catholic Church or white evangelical or black evangelical churches mobilized in the same way, using their lines of authority and fundraising (rather than just “encouragement”), I suspect they would be the targets of protest.

    There was nothing unlawful, per se, in the Church’s acting as a chief fundraiser and organizer for Proposition 8; there is nothing unlawful, per se, in our LGBT brothers and sisters and sympathizers targeting protests at a chief fundraiser and organizer for Proposition 8.

    That being said, I mourn for my brothers and sisters in California who bear the brunt of the protests and opprobrium described above. I do think the Church in California will continue to shrink, as it has over the last few years, perhaps with an acceleration of departures.

    With respect to WMP’s question above, my concern relates to the Church’s “tactics”, not its position, per se, on gay marriage.

    I do sustain the Brethren. I suspect that they knew that by the Church’s acting as a chief fundraiser and organizer, it would become a natural target and that the Church institutionally or its members individually might become seen as homophobic. I assume that in deciding to take as prominent a role, using the full force of the Church’s organization and risking the consequences, the Brethren determined that it was worth the consequences to do so. And if that was their determination, my job as a member, I suppose, is to say “amen.”

  83. 80%?

    I think not.

    And until I hear differently from family and friends in California, I’m going take what narrator has said about the local LDS leadership with giant granules of salt.

  84. “There is some question begging going on. First, there is an assumption that a church should have limits on what activities it can legally encourage its members to engage in. Who made that rule?”

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that members of the church and its leadership have the right to participate in politics, generally. But while religious principles (like thou shalt not steal) will inevitably meld into our societal framework, my sense is that the LDS Church’s Proclamation, for example, cannot be the only reason we make laws for which the rest of the non-mormon society will be responsible to live by. Laws, amendments to Constitutions, and restrictions on certain classes of people must have a secular premise – lest we risk violating the principles that protect us all from tyranny. In the end, such a seperation allows us, as Mormons, to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience. So the test for me is secular benefit of Prop 8….and I never found one that held up.

  85. “…my sense is that the LDS Church’s Proclamation, for example, cannot be the only reason we make laws for which the rest of the non-mormon society will be responsible to live by.”

    Unless they (the non-mormon’s) agree with it and vote it in.

  86. #25 “I disagree with your position on this. I am tired of this topic.”

    I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

  87. Jack, so tyranny of the majority then….

    I suspect we’ll see whether the courts will agree.

  88. Ignoring the message and attacking the messenger is not a very well thought out political strategy. The Church should be criticized for being effective? And not only effective, but effective with involvement far within the legally recognized bounds for tax exempt organizations?

    I don’t think anyone is denying that what the Church and its members did was well within their legal rights. It was perfectly legal. But legality is not the same as morality. For me, the question is whether the Church should have done what it did.

    But given that the Church chose to get involved, and that it was extremely effective in passing Prop 8–moreso than any other group involved, by a long shot–I don’t think it can credibly play the “Why are you singling us out?” card now that the gay community is upset.

  89. OK, Juliann, I’ll say it: you should be ashamed. Someday you will be.

  90. Kevin Barney says:

    Speaking of pictures, look at the top picture at this blog.

  91. Whoa, Ann–Juliann kind of invited that with her “say it to ME”, but we’d like things to stay within the bounds of our comment policies. So, Juliann, please don’t take it as people’s refusal to directly address you if all other similar comments are deleted. Perhaps you’d like to provide an e-mail address? ;)

  92. david knowlton says:

    As I think more about Church involvement in the campaign against Prop 8 I am reminded of the anticlericalism that arose in much of the Catholic world in response to the religion’s role in society and government. It seems to me that anticlericalism is a natural response to the involvement of not only the LDS Church but other Churches as well in political issues. Following Stark, Mauss, and others, one could argue that conservative religions draw members and get strengthened by the boundaries they build with mainstream society. But the anticlericalism can also weaken them and transform their position within society. They and their position within society can become the political issue. Perhaps this is why many gay activists are less than thrilled that the LDS Church has become an issue.

    One more point. The Anglican Church in the US has lost congregations but I think it has also gained members because of its moral-religious stance on Gay issues. I was fascinated to read Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish’s responses on the concern, for example, that were posted on the diocese’s website. (I have not checked to see if they are still there).

    I think the correlation between religious attendance and voting on this issue, as well as on the election of Obama, shows, perhaps, the shifting place of religion in the US and, perhaps, increasing secularity in our society.

  93. #90 – that pic is both eerie and ironic.

  94. And probably heavily photoshopped.

  95. Nahh…it’s gotta be real. If you look close, you can actually see a sniper behind the Angel Moroni ready in case anyone gets over the walls and past the riot police.

  96. I think the smokiness of it has to do with it being taken from the other side of the temple fence, although photoshopping is a distinct possibility.

  97. Why would it be photoshopped? In any case, it matches news reports and eyewitness accounts of the scene, including one email account I read from a temple worker.

  98. Mark Brown says:

    Definitely ‘shopped. The policemen have no shadows. Wait, maybe they’re the three (or four) Nephites.

  99. Kristine, I think it is important that people address the real problem and the problem is people like me. I am quite willing to stand as proxy for all of us who voted the “wrong” way. I may change my mind, Ann. I am open to that. But I will never be ashamed because I think there is an understandable reason to vote yes just as I think there is a understandable reason to vote no. Until you can allow for that you will get nowhere with your approach. While running an errand today, I heard yet another comment from a shocked (yes, shocked) non-Mormon expressing disgust over the treatment of Mormons. It isn’t an effective strategy and it certainly is not a teaching tool.

  100. I don’t think anyone is denying that what the Church and its members did was well within their legal rights. It was perfectly legal. But legality is not the same as morality. For me, the question is whether the Church should have done what it did.

    Demonstrations usually work best when they are targeted at the people who are both easily persuadable and in a position to change the policy in question. On this issue, the Church leadership is neither. That makes the episode look like an exercise in demonstration by intimidation, which is just as likely to backfire as win converts to one’s cause.

  101. Juliann, I tend to think you’re wrong, actually, and that most people would have expected most members to vote as you did. I think that they really are perturbed by the Church’s tactics more than by individual members’ convictions. In any case, BCC won’t be the place where particular church members get personally attacked for their views, if we can possibly prevent it.

  102. “Church’s militancy on Gay marriage”

    Since when is earnestness “militancy.” You claim to be giving “just the facts, ma’am” but editorializing like this destroys your credibility.

    “the crowd began to slowly pour, like thick Utah honey,”

    I wonder if the splitting of infinitives is a heritable trait, or a learned one. In either case, if you’re thinking of that think honey from Cox’s, it’s Idaho honey.

    “They said “ separate Church and state” and “what do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now!” “Yes we can! Yes we can!” Over and over like a recitation of prayer.”

    This description unfortunately conjures up for me the only scriptural injunction I remember that includes “pray” and “repetition” in the same sentence.

    “At the Church office building, suited men sat grim faced guarding property boundaries.”

    You’d look grim too if you had been forced to miss you dinner and a relaxed evening at home for this.

    “The marchers circled temple square, with its gates locked, and its gray wall hunkered down protectively.”

    Was the wall any different that night than any other?

    “The Church released a statement defending its democratic rights and disingenuously claiming it was unfair that it was “singled out” from a “broad coalition” of religious groups supporting Proposition 8.”

    That is perhaps a lesser error than (disingenously or otherwise) assuming that the protests against the Church will not have a more substantial effect than you suppose.

    Others have pointed out how the anti-LDS attacks during the Republican primary effectively opened the way to the current protests. Unwittingly, perhaps, these protesters are furthering the work that those attackers so ignobly advanced.

  103. Mark Brown says:

    Unfortunately, Mark B., I expect that our “friends” in this broad coalition will continue to let us take the heat, just as they let us do all the heavy lifting during the campaign. A press release here and there by one or two other churches doesn’t help much.

    I’m not going to hold my breath while I wait for them to do anything useful to help.

  104. david knowlton says:

    Mark B.,

    On split infinitives, I will plead guilty. It is my dialect, although it may not work for school marms and most editors. But language is as language is used. One can argue the grammar. And I can always benefit from editing. LOL.

    My piece was written from within the demonstration and was attempting to catch some of the tone. Facts do not have to be completely devoid of tone nor even perspective.

    The honey I was referring to was Utahn and was from the farmer’s market in Salt Lake. In fact, the honey was from bees in the Salt Lake Valley.

    For me, the word militant accurately states the Church’s action, in that it is militating strongly and took unusual action to promote its position. Evidently for some people that word carries other connotations and may be too strong. However I will stand by my usage. I further think I cand efend it analytically.

    Recitation of prayer, not repetition, was my point. But you may be on point in your scriptural assertion from within LDS readings.

    Grim? I meant much of what you are alluding to.

    However, I disagree strongly that the demonstration was anti-LDS for most involved. Opposition to Church action from within the fold is not the same thing as Anti-LDS. I think that distinction is crucial.

    Neverthelss, the demonstrations are anti-LDS for other people and other demonstrators, undoubtedly. Furthermore there is an effort to discredit them by painting them as such.

    Movements and demonstrations are complex events involving multiple references and divergent ideas and associations. At the demonstration I was stuck by how many people were LDS, as I explained above. For me, the internal nature of the demonstration is the story.

    Undoubtedly there were other stories.

  105. Thanks for the report, David! I’ve found this conversation informative and fascinating. Because the topic is of such interest, I sincerely apologize in advance for my threadjack:

    Split infinitives are, in fact, a learned trait. The practice arose in Middle English, following the loss of infintive-forming morphemes that had characterized Old English, but it only became widespread in Modern English; beginning in the 19th century a parade of meddlesome prescriptivists launched an absurd attack against the usage, apparently unaware that historically the infinitive is best understood as the bare naked verb. Parallel prepositional phrases involving verbs, such as “at play,” survive in English to this day, illustrating the prepositional nature of the word “to” in the so-called “infinitive.” (Consider the word “ado,” originally the phrase “at do,” and patterned after infinitive phrases in Old Norse that somewhat arbitrarily relied on the preposition “at” rather than “to” as in English.) Hence, there’s no such thing as a true split infinitive in English, and no good reason to avoid so-called “cleft infinitives,” which, now that adverbs generally precede verbs, often serve as a necessary means of disambiguation.

  106. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for that, K. I’m always annoyed at overprescrptive attacks on split infinitives.

  107. david knowlton says:

    I love lingistics.

    This conversation should go to Kevin’s post now on Prop 8 etc. On split infinitives I am cool with it continuing here. LOL.

  108. Mark Brown says:

    Kiskilili, remember, we’re Mormons and we’ll not tolerate any bare naked verbs around here. Who knows how they might conjugate?

  109. Which is exactly why we should support “split infinitives”–the more modestly our verbs are dressed, the better. ;) (Well, as long as they’re not wearing fine-twined linens.)

  110. I’m left to wonder whether my quip about split infinitives falls into Kevin’s doghouse reserved for overprescriptive attacks.

    As to split infinitives, I’m firmly with Richard Mitchell (the Underground Grammarian):

    Once we came to see that the splitting of the infinitive was a matter, like the celibacy of the clergy, not of doctrine but of discipline, we never bothered with another split infinitive. What for?

  111. Nigel, my retarded cousin is one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. Thank you for the compliment.

  112. david knowlton says:

    Historically you are wrong Nigel. And, as my father used to always say, this is my Church too. I think it is wrong to just get out because you disagree. It is also important to keep diversity alive within the religious community. Literalism in understanding the teachings of leaders, including prophets, is only one approach. There are others.

    Please note, however, I and maybe one or two other posters marched in the demo. The rest of the posters did not.

    So I take your invitation and comment to be about me. Maybe I am retarded to struggle with the Church. But I will leave that determination up to God. And it is my choice whether to stay or leave. You have no say in that, no matter how retarded you might think I am.

    By the way, on a more interesting note since I do not find comparative retarded-ness very interesting, there are religious communities where religion is a kind of democracy. Even Mormonism has some notion of that.

    The political theory of internal governance once the Church moves into secular, officially democratic spheres may well become a different question. I would love to think this issue through and invite you to as well, although I was really loving split infinitives and my backwoods dialect.

  113. So ………… if anyone wants to come to England to participate in a civil partnership… You are welcome here…

  114. Where is the Nigel comment? He must have said something fairly odd to have elicited these responses.

  115. David, thank you for this post. Beautifully written. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m so troubled by all of this.

  116. KUED in the Salt Lake City area showed The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming tonight. What a delightful comedy about the chaos that ensued when a Soviet submarine accidentally run aground near a small New England town. In 1966 when the movie came out, relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were anything but frivolous. Yet a person who lived during those years cannot watch the movie and fail to recognize in themselves failings in the paranoia.

    I wanted P8 to fail. I studied the issues out like no other issue in a long, long time. Then I prayed about it. My heart and the spirit told me I should oppose it, although I had no vote. Many apparently didn’t share my experience; in fact I have no doubt their studies and prayers led them the other direction. It wouldn’t be the first time in my lifetime that that happened. I lived through the sixties and seventies and, on my birthday in 1978, I rejoiced over the lifting of the priesthood ban, another stand by the brethren during the time leading up until that date I did not agree with.

    Thanks, David, for your report and for marching in dissent. I wish I had had your courage and energy to have done it. Were it not for the feelings of heart and whisperings of spirit to the contrary related to SSM, coupled with what I consider good sense, reason, and intellect, I would follow the brethren. Instead, I believe in following Christ and the Spirit.

    I ride, like Juanita Brooks suggested, with the outfit, but tend to the fringe. It seems safer there than the middle if there’s a stampede or a veering off course. The leaders lead, but the terrain is rugged out there, and predicting the proper way is no easy matter and no sure thing. Each member is responsible for his/her own salvation and exhalation. So I try to use sense, reason, and intellect–all endowments of a loving Father—as well as my heart and the Spirit.

    At times I yell and shout and in the extreme even curse or make some threat when I think we’ve veered off or are approaching a drop-off, but usually my voice and actions have little or no impact or only a blow that causes something entirely different than what I had wanted. Sometimes I see that I was wrong. I try to remain alert and to know my direction. I am amenable to changing directions from where I wanted to head. The brethren run the Church, both in a legal sense and due to their unflagging examples of devotion, service, sacrifice, and calling. I have found following them almost always leads me to feed and water. However, the way I intend to head is though Jesus Christ regardless of the way they go.

    Bottom line seems to be that we need to ride on together, respecting each other, at times yelling and shouting and at rare times cursing and threatening, at other times heeding yells and shouts and curses and threats, but in any case not straying from the herd or forcing others away.

  117. First, David, YOU ROCK!

    Second, to continue Kishkilli’s threadjack, English freely split infinitive, unaware there was a problem (duh, “to be”–in English an infinitive is two words, thus available for splitting) until, in a specific year, 1762, Robert Lowth wrote “A Short Introduction to English Grammar” which declared them (due, most likely to the then-current British fascination with Latin) off-limits. It’s a totally fake rule; English got its grammar late, and the grammarians got it wrong.

    End Threadjack.

    Did I mention, David, what high esteem I hold you in? There, I voilated another Lowth-invented rule.

  118. “[I]nfinitive” should, of course, be “infinitives;” can’t blame an 18th century scholar/churchman for that one. Darn.

  119. Oh, perhaps a substantive comment. Now that the Mormon church has come out officially for domestic partnerships, perhaps repealing prop. 3, passed in 2004, which forbid any hint of such, would, perhaps, be a way to start to heal. Perhaps, even passing a law in Utah allowing domestic partnerships might be even a more healing moment. A girl can dream.

  120. djinn: And when the Church is done passing domestic partnership laws in Utah, it will begin lobbying restrictive abortion regimes to allow exceptions for rape and incest.

    Good luck with that!

  121. So, the church is being disingenuous when it says it’s fine with civil unions? Would they do that?

  122. After such a successful event in Salt Lake, I wonder how many protests we’ll be seeing throughout the rest of Utah in the coming weeks? Apparently, there’s another being planned for this evening at 6:30 at the Weber State University LDS Institute of Religion in Ogden.

  123. Intellectually, one can only sustain the orthodox position if one assumes that gays are not fully human or somehow defective. Unfortunately, biology contradicts that notion.

    The Church is correct in asserting the freedom for the organization and its members. However, our liberty ends where it begins to take away the liberty of others.

    Democracy is no license to discriminate minorities. The founding fathers referred to that as the tyranny of the majority.

    If the brethren only spend two hours in the Harold B. Lee Library, they would learn that same gender attraction is a natural phenomenon, which includes species ranging from insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals, including all the primates.

    The brethren would also learn that homosexuality is not any more problematic than heterosexuality. Sexuality is a challenge, to be sure, but sexual orientation does not exacerbate these problems in any observable way.

    The brethren have tradition on their side but facts are a stubborn thing. In a free environment, this conflict cannot end any better than a struggle in favor of flat earth geography.

    If one believes in God the creator then the creation is His most awesome revelation. Ignoring the scientific consensus in favor of debunked tradition puts short term political success ahead of long term self-interest, to say nothing of the suffering that we are causing our children and neighbors.

    As disciples of Christ, we have an obligation to tend to the wounded in the gutters of society. The Savior formulated that obligation to illustrate the meaning of neighborly love, which is the very essence of Christianity.

    There is no other commitment that can suspend neighborliness without compromising our discipleship.

  124. Steve Evans says:

    Also, Chino Blanco — we don’t like BCC to be used as a podium for announcing protests and such plans. Please stop it.

  125. 110:

    I’m left to wonder whether my quip about split infinitives falls into Kevin’s doghouse reserved for overprescriptive attacks.

    Only the gods know why grammar “quips” aren’t particularly witty or clever, and they’re not telling.

  126. What, Steve, BCC is reserved for glorying such protests ex post facto, but not announcing them ex ante?

  127. Steve Evans says:

    LOL

  128. BCC’s editorial position is, apparently, that vocal protests against the counsel of church leaders is praiseworthy and of good report. But promoting or organizing them is totally inappropriate. Got that, Chino Blanco?

  129. david knowlton says:

    gst, I do not think this article “glorifies” a protest of a “Church” policy. I might have an opinion, but the piece’s perspective is to narrate that members of the Church came out and did a demonstration. To my mind that is very different than either promoting or glorifying. I realize many other members will find the demonstration inappropriate and offensive, since for many it is unacceptable to speak publicly against policies and actions of the brethren. Nevertheless, the fact that people did speak out, I think, deserves being reported.

    I and my reporting are not BCC. If I violated the policy by posting this then Steve is welcome to take it down or to publicly tell me so. Those are his rights when speaking for BCC.

    Nevertheless, I think the distinctions I made above are very important. Not all members, even members in good standing agreed with what happened in California and, since that was a political action, they are exercising their political rights to speak out. Their religious obligations remain a different question that is best addressed, it seems to me between them and the Lord.

    To Chino, it will indeed be interesting to see if the protests continue. California saw tens of thousands of people protesting yesterday, and some of the protests were at Catholic venues. Others are, evidently, happening today. Those are political issues, to be sure, that are not per se, germane for BCC. But I think the participation of Latter-day Saints in them is germane.

  130. “On the north side of the Church’s two block campus, a blond boy, maybe eight years old sat on a post and led the crowd in a chant of ‘separate Church and state’. After a while, he stopped and said ‘this is my little sister’ as he introduced a smaller blond girl, held by a man next to him, with a woman standing close.”

    This is a pernicious practice. People ought to leave their kids ought of politics. The overt political indoctrination of your kids is foolish and probably harmful. If it’s important to you that your kids share your politics (and I’m not sure why it should be), rest assured that if they respect you, they’ll give your views a fair hearing as adults.

    This is why I didn’t take my kids with me to waive signs or hang flyers in favor of Prop 8 (which I did by myself). My kids have more important things to do.

    My discussions with them that come closest to politics are general vanilla civics lessons, like explaining what an election is, and teaching them to respect the president, whether or not their dad voted for him.

  131. gst, what about dressing them up in the uniforms of your favorite world leaders?

  132. David, maybe you’re not glorifying the protest. But you’re clearly quite pleased with yourself and the other members in good standing that on this instance stood to vocally reject the considered counsel of prophets of God.

  133. Steve, that’s cool.

  134. I wouldn’t overstate things though (#132).

  135. Which part am I overstating? How pleased David is? Or am I overstating the calling of our church leaders? Or do I overstate how much thought they gave to Prop 8?

  136. gst,

    The overt [religious] indoctrination of your kids is foolish and probably harmful.

    ?

    Not that I’d take my kids either, but from a church that has two hours of Primary a week, I’m not sure we’re ones to talk. If indeed religious and political indoctrination are similar beasts.

  137. Researcher says:

    This is a pernicious practice. People ought to leave their kids ought of politics. The overt political indoctrination of your kids is foolish and probably harmful.

    I’ve also heard from many people that you shouldn’t indoctrinate your children into your religion. Let them grow up untainted from religion and then when they are old enough they can educate themselves and make their own choices.

    Doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop taking them to church.

    (I also take my kids when I go to vote. I also take them, each year without fail, to a large, local political event. It is between Saturday sessions of conference in October and we wouldn’t miss it for the world although we only get to be there for an hour and a half due to the conference schedule.)

  138. Researcher says:

    Whoops. Ronan already said it.

  139. I’m a conservative, so for me, politics isn’t religion.

  140. Peter LLC says:

    Politics isn’t everything. (long pause) It’s the only thing!

  141. david knowlton says:

    gst, while I would love to clam those children, I cannot. They are not mine. There were many children at the demonstration; it seems many parents do not agree with you. I know my parents did not. As a result I grew up going to demonstrations many years ago, but I have not had the privilege of continuing my father’s practice. I also think politics are very important and that it is wise to raise children with a sense of the issues–not indoctrinate them.

    GST, you also mistake my feelings when you say I am pleased with myself. If you want to meet and get to know me, then maybe you could make such statements. But from my prose… you are mistaken.

  142. #139. Yes but indoctrination is indoctrination.

  143. david knowlton says:

    I suppose socialization, whether to religion or politics or both, is a kind of indoctrination. I would rather say inculcate, bit that word is seldom used in English. I personally would hope that people teach children to think deeply and raise good questions. That kind of indoctrination rather than strict partisan or religious loyalty seems most important to me. Furthermore, if you practice that yourself, then it is strongly likely your children will follow after you. The more partisan kind socialization seems to me to be inherently weak and leads to a rigid but fragile commitment.

  144. Hellmut: I don’t think that indoctrination of children is inappropriate. I just think politics is an inappropriate concern for children.

    David: I would enjoy meeting and getting to know you, I’m sure. Sorry if I misread your post.

  145. D. Fletcher says:

    I’m really happy to know about the protest. I’m also happy to report that my Stake President’s talk in Stake Conference was so thrilling and moving that I won’t be exiting the Church, not this year, anyway.

    But I am still ashamed of my Church leaders in SLC and California, for prompting members to cough up time and money in a political campaign where the Church has no place being.

    Let people live the way they want! Let them marry who they want!

  146. gst – except this was not a political issue, but a ‘moral issue’ as the Church has repeatedly reminded us.

    It is odd that you would disapprove of No-on-8’ers bringing their children to rallies, yet would approve (I’m assuming) of LDS parents taking their children to Church every week where they are taught that homosexuality and gay marriage are wrong.

    This can’t be a political issue when it’s convenient for your argument and a moral issue when it’s not.

  147. Careful, D.: if you turn this into a demonstration, Steve will kick you out.

    Sandra, if there’s a ballot involved, then it’s politics.

  148. D. Fletcher says:

    Steve won’t kick me out, because he knows I love him.

  149. This is a pernicious practice. People ought to leave their kids ought of politics.

    I remember reading something along those lines in the D&C. It may deal with a different issue, but seems relevant:
    We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

  150. Weird. I was best friends with Jacob Whipple back in high school in North Carolina. He moved with his family to Charlotte midway through high school and I never heard from him again…until I saw these articles.

  151. david knowlton says:

    Small world, no James?

    The quote Mike G references was prominently displayed on a number of placards at the demonstration, as were other quotes from LDS scripture.

  152. I find it interesting that many here, while believing that they have a deep, nuanced understanding of the issues involved, assume that the leaders of the church do not; that they haven’t had years upon years of dealing with this issue where it hits home: Individuals dealing with revealed truth and their acceptance or rejection of it. Numbers being what they are, there are certainly those in the Church’s leadership with gay children and grandchildren–do you think they don’t wrestle with what their stance ought to be?
    Do you think that any of the Church’s support happened on a whim? Do you think any of it would have happened without the unanimous support of the Council of the Twelve?
    I was downtown during the protest, taking my wife to Baxter’s American for their last night in business. I watched (waiting for my wife’s train) at the Temple Square TRAX stop, as Lonnie Pursifull, the infamous street preacher, unloaded his car with brochures and banners, and wondered whose side he was on, or if he were only there to egg both sides toward a confrontation. I wonder how many anti-Mormon protesters got the impression Lonnie was LDS. I also wonder how many pro-gay marriage advocates got the impression the anti-Mormons actually support their cause.

  153. Mikel Borg says:

    David, thank you for your commentary. I am quite torn. I have started attending church again after many years. This time with my son Gabriel. I find the church’s support of the constitution and its equal protection clause, and the churches actions to be somwhat in conflict. I greatly admire you and your work, and I always have since we met in Austin. Keep it up. What should I do? Get my son into the church, I know others are leaving in protest. This is a tough situation. Be careful, I ave always respected and admired you. Good Luck. Thanks for standing up when others couldn’t.

  154. david knowlton says:

    Hi Mikel,

    I would love to talk with you. If you get this write to me via the Utah Valley University we mail address. (it is available on the university’s web page).

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