Interview with BYU student Cary Crall

On Tuesday, BYU’s student newspaper, the Daily Universe, published a letter to the editor from pre-med student Cary Crall about Prop. 8 and the ensuing Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. Crall noted that many of the arguments that were used during the campaign were never even presented at trial, and those that were presented did not stand up to Judge Walker’s scrutiny. Crall’s letter concludes that, “The real reason [for supporting Prop. 8] is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment.” His letter has since been removed from the Daily Universe website (the above link is to google cache), with this explanation:

The Daily Universe made an independent decision to remove the student viewpoint titled “Defending Proposition 8” after being alerted by various readers that the content of the editorial was offensive. The publication of this viewpoint was not intended to offend, but after further review we recognized that it contained offensive content.

This is consistent with policy that The Daily Universe has, on rare occasions, exercised in the past.

(post updated to include text of the explanation)

I was initially very impressed that BYU students would print Crall’s letter in the DU, because I thought it was a great display of BYU’s intellectual freedom, and BYU’s confidence that the actions of the church and its members can withstand thoughtful examination. The situation has changed, but I remain impressed that the letter was at least initially published, and may yet be re-published by DU. My understanding of his letter is that it doesn’t criticize the church for having gotten involved, rather it is just criticizing the merits of some arguments that were presented during the course of the campaign (as, for example, Morris Thurston’s analysis of the “6 Consequences” does).

I’m pleased that Cary Crall has agreed to talk with me about his experiences as a young person living in California and at BYU during Prop. 8, as well as the latest on the situation with his letter. Our interview is below.

CYNTHIA: Welcome.

CARY: Thanks for the interview. I hope it gets my letter greater readership.

CYNTHIA: What has the reaction been to your letter? Has anything surprised you?

CARY: The reaction to my letter has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. This in and of itself is the biggest surprise. It seemed to resonate with a lot of people outside of the immediate BYU community. These people were not my intended audience but they have given me an outpouring of support. For the moment, I feel like the attractive girl in the class on Valentine’s Day. Thursday, the Daily Universe has its next round of letters to the editor published. I expect to take some hits at that time.

It also surprised me that the Daily Universe faculty chose to take my letter down from the website. In my opinion, there is nothing in it that goes against the Honor Code or the teachings of the LDS church. If so, this was certainly not my intent. I had been receiving a lot of positive feedback from former church members who said that they were impressed with BYU and the Daily Universe for being willing to publish my letter. They took it as a positive sign as to the health of freedom of expression in the church. Obviously, taking the article down reversed this perception.

CYNTHIA: How was it living in California, then attending BYU, during Prop. 8?

CARY: I returned from my mission in early July of 2008. My first family home evening activity in my singles’ ward was a hybrid political rally/Sunday school lesson where my duty to support Prop 8 was compared to Captain Moroni’s duty to uphold the title of liberty in the Book of Mormon. This was hard for me to swallow along with most of the other things I heard about Prop 8 in a church setting and the ensuing months were some of the most difficult of my life.

Leaving California to BYU did not make things better. Prop 8, while certainly not the only thing discussed on campus at this time, was alluded to often, at church, in classes, and in casual conversation. I often was apprehensive about sharing my opinion, although I found many students and even some faculty on campus who either shared similar viewpoints or who were respectful of my perspective. BYU has many independent thinkers who apply high levels of scrutiny to their own opinions as well as those of their religious leaders. To me, they make that university very special. However, the dominant culture at the school is not one that fosters frank discussion of viewpoints that differ from those of orthodox Mormonism. One must tread carefully.

Simultaneously at this time, I was dealing with trying to defend the actions of my church to many of my friends back home who were not of my faith. I found myself half-heartedly repeating some of the anti-gay marriage arguments I had read in pamphlets given to me at church meetings. I felt myself losing integrity and self-respect. I wondered why God would ever want me to do things against my own rationality and conscience. This brought me to thoughts of Abraham standing over his bound son, Nephi over a drunken Laban. I struggled with my faith in the wisdom of the Abrahamic test. I still struggle with this today.

CYNTHIA: How did your feelings evolve after the Prop. 8 campaign was over?

CARY: When Prop 8 passed, I was shocked. I never really thought it had a chance. This was an important consolation to me as I dealt with my church’s involvement in the campaign. Now the reality of what my church had helped to do was undeniable. I tried to thank God in prayer for what had happened. I felt it was my duty. Instead, all I could do was cry.

In Sean Penn’s Oscar acceptance speech for his role portraying deceased gay activist Harvey Milk, he said, “I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.” This comment pierced me to the core. It slapped me in the face. It changed my mind about how public I was going to be with my views.

Reading Judge Walker’s decision was the fuel I needed to finally finish one of the 7 letters I had begun on the issue of gay marriage, but had never completed. That decision has fire in it. I will be interested to see how the appeals go. If new information is presented that contradicts my viewpoint, I will gladly change my mind.

CYNTHIA: Why was your letter pulled from the Daily Universe website?

CARY: In an e-mail correspondence with an editor at the Daily Universe, I was informed that my letter had been pulled because there were some concerns about the letter and it was pulled from the web while being reviewed. The editor was not present at the meeting in which the concerns were expressed so she does not know what they are. She said the future of the letter on the web is in the hands of BYU faculty. I was also relieved to hear that she was not being disciplined for any of her involvement. I myself have not been contacted by BYU for any questions or discipline. I trust that if I am, they will have my best interest in mind and things will turn out just fine.

CYNTHIA: Other thoughts?

CARY: I respect BYU. It has been a wonderful place for me to study and grow. Some of this growth has come in the form of conscientiously evaluating the public actions of my church. I love the LDS church. It has helped mold me into a confident and loving person. It’s tenets make up the core of my belief system. I hope that one day, gays and lesbians will be able to feel the love and respect from LDS church members that our leaders have so often called for. Until then, I think I’m going to keep talking about it.

Commenting note:

This is always a contentious topic on the blog. I hope BCC commenters can extend great courtesy to our guest, even when disagreeing with him. As someone who also lived in California during Prop. 8, I can testify to what an incredibly difficult time that frenzied campaign season was for individuals, families and wards.

On the flip side, please refrain from pointless trashing of BYU. We don’t have their final word on this yet. I think it would be great if we could have a positive outpouring of support for BYU to re-publish the letter, coming from LDS and BYU alums.

Bottom line: Keep it classy.

Update:
The following coverage of this elsewhere is also worth reading:
USU SHAFT: BYU censors letter to the editor critical of Prop 8
Joanna Brooks at Religious Dispatches: Everyone Should Know the Story of Cary Crall
Paul Rolly at the SL Tribune: At BYU, now you see it, now you don’t

Comments

  1. I think Cary’s beef is summed up with this statement in the letter “These arguments [put forth in court by defenders of prop 8] were not found worthy of the standards for finding facts set up by our judicial system.”

    The judicial system hasn’t worked its way through the process yet. Just one member of it. I’m curious if the writer would have put forth an editorial with the same sentence against the arguments opposed to prop 8? This seems to me the legal-humanistic equivalent of saying, “because the prophet said so” only now we say, “because a judge said so”. Don’t you think a different judge could have outlined 100 pages of fact finding against the pro-gay marriage side? Legal questions are never cut and dry, which is why we have so many lawyers and why it’s always a costly role of the dice.

    Not a very persuasive argument.

  2. Fantastic interview. I look forward hearing everyone’s thoughts about it, and I hope it’s more civil a discussion than what occurred at my blog (USU SHAFT).

  3. *look forward TO…

  4. Chris, I think you make good points. I certainly think that a lot of the points in Cary’s letter were debatable (as all opinion pieces are), and moreover I personally don’t agree with every little thing he wrote. I’m sure subsequent letters to the DU will do a good job of pointing out various overstatements or flaws or what have you. But, frankly, the standard of rigor in the DU letters section is more on the level of, “makes a cogent enough argument to start a conversation” than “contains an utterly unassailable argument.” Cary’s letter is (much) more than qualified to make the cut.

    I think it would be better for the DU to facilitate a conversation about this, than to just pull the letter because some anonymous people were “offended.” (Then again, if the bloggernacle is any indication, facilitating a civil conversation about this topic is pretty impossible.)

  5. Thanks, Cynthia.

    Cary,

    You rock.

  6. Chris, proponents of prop 8 almost unanimously agree that the defense put forward a very weak case. The expert witnesses were a complete embarrassment, and their arguments didn’t stand up to scrutiny. As David Boies, counsel for the plaintiffs has explained, it is one thing to make a speech in front of a room full of people who already agree with you. It is another thing to be cross-examined in court, under oath.

    It isn’t fair to blame an incredibly incompetent defense on judge Walker. After all, he didn’t force 4 of the 6 witnesses to withdraw on the first day of the trial. They did it on their own, because they realized the arguments they were about to make would be exposed as stupid.

  7. Chris, read Morris Thurston’s analysis that is linked in the post.

  8. Thanks for this interview. It just so happened that I was on BYU campus the day it was published (very rare being that I live in the UK), and I was both surprised and impressed that this letter was included. I am sad to hear it was then removed from the website, but I guess we should relish in small victories. Voices like Cary Crall’s are among those that give me hope for my generation of church members. I hope we continue to develop more freedom of expression and thinking in our community.

  9. It would be interesting to see how many people who participated in the whole Prop 8 thing felt the same way as presented in the letter – people who weren’t really personally behind the push but did it out of a sense of duty because the “prophet said so”.

    I think this attitude is far more prevalent in the Church than we care to admit – largely because of the strictly hierarchal nature of the Church. Why couldn’t my daughter attend EFY this summer if she had more than one pair of earrings (she doesn’t BTW)? Because the “prophet said so”. There are many things that we do, not because of any rational reason behind them or even because they said it was from God, but just because some leader told us to do it.

  10. Mark,

    Have you read thru the recent opinion of the Texas appellate court upholding the Texas ban on SSM?

    http://www.dallasvoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Gay.Divorce.pdf

  11. This is what surprises me about the negative reaction to Cary’s letter. He claims that much of the LDS involvement in prop 8 was due to our willingness to follow priesthood leaders in faith and obedience. That can often be a very good thing, in my opinion, so I can’t understand why people get their noses out of joint when he points out the obvious. What’s not to like, people?

  12. How could the letter have been considered offensive to BYU students? Were they offended by the suggestion that there are no real compelling scientific or sociological reasons that experts were willing to own up to under oath and under cross-examination and so the reasons for supporting Prop 8 boiled down to “following the prophet”? I find it amazing that BYU students would find that offensive — isn’t following the prophet considered a virtue?

  13. Excellent comment, John. I agree the claims of “offense” were puzzling. Perhaps those students need to pay closer attention to general conference.

    When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

    In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.

  14. For those of us who missed the letter, can we find it somewhere else on the web?

  15. @14: first link at the very top of the post is to a google cache copy of the letter. There is also a PDF of the print layout version here (oddly, still on DU’s website since one particular piece can’t be removed).

  16. “I hope that one day, gays and lesbians will be able to feel the love and respect from LDS church members that our leaders have so often called for.”

    I agree that we can make strides within the Church, but I don’t think it will do much for the public. I think the impasse is that many will equate “feeling love and respect” with “LDS leadership allowing gay sealings” or something equivalent.

    I know several active LDS gay men who are married and have children. (One of them spoke at our Stake Conference in the last year and addressed this topic.) They feel loved and respected. But the anti-prop 8 folks have no respect for THEIR decision to live that way, or for any religious teaching that suggests any difference between heterosexual and homosexual marriage. Anything less than full equivalency will be denounced and mislabled as “hate” and “homophobia.”

  17. interesting. but isn’t the premise of his entire argument flawed? the church wasn’t defending prop 8 in court, so to cast blame at the feet of the church for the legal strategy persued in court is misguided IMO.

  18. Latter-day Guy says:

    Kudos to Cary for writing that letter. When people abandon fairly reasonable religious arguments* for their civic actions, and instead substitute specious legal arguments, it sends a somewhat troubling message regarding the way they view their faith.

    [*And they are reasonable, even though I happen to disagree with them.]

    Then again, if the bloggernacle is any indication, facilitating a civil conversation about this topic is pretty impossible.

    In the DU’s opinion pages, attempting to conduct a civil conversation on any topic is just another Pyrrhic victory of hope over experience. If they aren’t publishing articles referring to girls in tank-tops as “pornography,” they’re publishing articles condemning the Cougarettes for setting their sluttish gyrations to the strains of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It’s like holding a wresting tournament in a septic tank: even if you win, you’re still covered in sh*t.

  19. me,

    #17,

    the church wasn’t defending prop 8 in court, so to cast blame at the feet of the church for the legal strategy persued in court is misguided IMO.

    I think Cary’s point is, why didn’t the church defend prop 8 in court? Why did the church spend all that effort in one arena of battle, but not in another, one that probably will carry more weight in the long run? Personally I’ve always wondered why such the effort in California from the church but not in any other state, or any other country that has proceeded forward on this same topic.

  20. I’m actually saddened that BYU journalism students (and the rest of the student body as well) are learning from this example: That if something in a newspaper offends you, you can complain and have it stricken from the record.

    That is a dangerous and scary place and says little about the importance of carrying on discourse and debate with civility and respect. If our society cannot find ways to express, examine, challenge and change opinions, it will not succeed as a democracy.

    Crall’s letter was succinct and not particularly accusatory. There are hundreds of Mormons whose ultimate answer for support of Prop 8 was either “I don’t understand it, but the Prophet must have a better picture/more insight into the future than I do” or “The Prophet will never lead us astray and the righteous are regularly called to make tough choices and decisions. That’s how we separate the wheat from the tares.”

  21. I also wondered what was offensive about saying that church members were deliberately following the prophet! Upon further reflection, though, I think the matter that may have caused offense is the implication that the prophet’s call to take a particular position was seemingly not supported by any quantifiable wrongs. It’s the implication that the prophet’s directive was baseless. (I don’t agree with this. I think it’s wholly within the purview of the prophet’s role to clarify doctrinal issues and not have to support them with empirical evidence.)

    Anyhow, I think the letter is excellent in that it raises interesting questions and is a useful tool for us as we work through what it means to follow the prophet even when we don’t understand. Five bucks says BYU re-posts it.

  22. So many things that Sean Penn has said have pierced me to the core. E.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZQwnJTPh-M

  23. I think Cary’s point is, why didn’t the church defend prop 8 in court? Why did the church spend all that effort in one arena of battle, but not in another, one that probably will carry more weight in the long run? Personally I’ve always wondered why such the effort in California from the church but not in any other state, or any other country that has proceeded forward on this same topic.

    Because the Church, in my opinion, doesn’t care about the legality as much as they care about the right to say that it’s wrong. Plus, I think it was a perfect Zion’s Camp for Californian members and leaders… It’s a teaching moment, as they say…

  24. they’re publishing articles condemning the Cougarettes for setting their sluttish gyrations to the strains of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

    Ummm … can we get that broadcast on KBYU? Because I might seriously consider signing up for it if I could…

  25. Mark Brown says:

    queuno, # 22,

    But that is exactly Cary’s point. The reasons ProtectMarriage cited and which we tried to hide behind weren’t the real reasons. Why is it considered offensive to say so?

  26. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Re #17,
    If you look at the defendants on the case (http://www.scribd.com/doc/35374462/California-Prop-8-Ruling-August-2010) you will see that among those listed as defendants is ProtectMarriage.com which was the public entity that members of the Church were encouraged to show their support through. So yes, the LDS Church itself was not defending in court, but the very organization that the LDS Church identified by name as the public organization to support was.

  27. Nick Literski says:

    I would disagree with the assumption that the LDS church had nothing to do with the defense efforts in the recent federal trial over Proposition 8. Documents have been leaked, after all, showing that the lead attorney for “ProtectMarriage.com” worked directly with LDS leadership during the earlier anti-gay Prop 22, even to the point of getting LDS general authority approval of the proposed language (especially since the same letters indicate that he was relying on them to pay the costs of circulating petitions, etc.). Those were among the approximately 1500 LDS documents filed as evidence in the recent federal trial.

    Judge Walker’s analysis of ProtectMarriage.com’s claims made it clear that he considered their various in-court excuses unsupportable, and determined that the initiative was essentially based on a particular religious viewpoint against gays and/or same-sex marriage. Mr. Crall’s letter to the DU made the same point that Judge Walker made—that the excuses given in court were shams, and the only “real” reason was religious disapproval of same-sex marriage. In the case of LDS, this “real” reason took the particular form of “because the prophet says so.”

  28. Nick Literski says:

    (Sorry, I hit “submit” too soon.)

    Essentially, the letter was likely taken down because it represented a religious person admitting that support for the initiative was essentially limited to religious disapproval of gays and/or same-sex marriage. It demonstrated Judge Walker’s point, and thus worked against the legal arguments being made by ProtectMarriage.com attorneys (who are very likely being paid with LDS money, just as they have been earlier).

  29. think the matter that may have caused offense is the implication that the prophet’s call to take a particular position was seemingly not supported by any quantifiable wrongs.

    That’s my thought as well. This interview would reinforce that this was indeed the underlying message he was getting out. The letter feels a bit condescending to me, as though those who support Prop 8 checked their minds at the door. Sure, there are Church members who only supported it because of the Church leaders’ counsel, but there are also hundreds who gave it careful consideration and a lot of thought and I think there are valid concerns that aren’t acknowledged in arguments like Cary’s.

    But I don’t know that it warranted being pulled from the newspaper. One of the greatest tragedies of this whole situation to me is the lack of dialogue and it’s got to start somewhere (although this letter didn’t really seem to invite dialogue, but what letters to the editor do, I suppose).

    I imagine we’ll see letters that swing to the other extreme in response to Cary’s letter, and that will be unfortunate as well.

  30. Mark Brown says:

    michelle, I’ll agree with you that the letter might be more effective if it had made allowance for the many LDS who would have supported prop 8 anyway, regardless of church involvement.

  31. Plus, I think it was a perfect Zion’s Camp for Californian members and leaders…

    From the CES manual: “Zion’s Camp failed to help the Missouri Saints regain their lands and was marred by some dissension, apostasy, and unfavorable publicity.”

    Sounds about right.

  32. What was the upside of Zion’s Camp?

  33. Re MikeS
    “It would be interesting to see how many people who participated in the whole Prop 8 thing felt the same way as presented in the letter – people who weren’t really personally behind the push but did it out of a sense of duty because the “prophet said so”.”

    Count me in this crowd. I started out on the normal crusade to pass Prop 8. However, I started to wonder about the arguments from the “No on 8″ side. As I investigated them, I found that there were exaggerations, half-truths, fear-mongering, etc. on both sides. I started this process too late, however, and when the vote came around I voted “yes” out of pure duty because I felt the prophet wanted me to, even though had I voted my conscience, I would have voted “no.”

    While my view of SSM is in a libertarian vein (would rather see the gov’t get out of the business of regulating marriage altogether), I would most certainly not vote “yes” if I had to do it over again.

    I also really like #20 LRC’s point. Apparently if you are offended it is sufficient to prevent an opinion from being expressed. But only to a point, since I know many liberals at BYU who are regularly “offended” at some conservative nonsense purported as church doctrine.

  34. IIRC, every member of the original 12 had been a participant in Zions Camp, which was basically a big training and proving exercise.

  35. Latter-day Guy says:

    Queuno, see here.

    michelle,

    I imagine we’ll see letters that swing to the other extreme in response to Cary’s letter, and that will be unfortunate as well.

    Care to guess whose letters won’t be removed from the site?

  36. Not the original 12, queuno. Many of them had already left by the time of Zion’s Camp. But a number of future Church leaders participated in the failed expedition.

  37. Judge Walker is gay and ruled in favor of gay marriage. Yawn.

  38. Latter-day Guy says:

    The letter feels a bit condescending to me, as though those who support Prop 8 checked their minds at the door.

    Read #33, michelle. I suspect many LDS folk participated out of duty, even against their better judgment. How is that different from checking your mind and/or conscience at the door?

  39. Latter-day Guy says:

    37, So he should have recused himself? Had the judge been a Mormon or a Catholic, should he have done likewise?

  40. #37,

    so the only dispassionate judge on this issue would have been… an atheist? Oh wait, he too would have some bias. Maybe a Buddhist.

  41. #17: me, I think others have pointed it out already, but the entity members were directed to write their checks to and do their volunteering through was ProtectMarriage.com, and notice they are listed as Defendant-Intervenors, in other words, they were in the group responsible for the defense.

    #38: That seems a little harshly stated given you’re talking about a fellow commenter in this thread (jmb275) who chose to bare his story to us.

    #39. Incidentally, one of the judges on the appeals court panel where this is now being heard is LDS (Jay Bybee), and IIRC there was a second but I’m not finding his/her name right now.

  42. “Judge Walker is gay and ruled in favor of gay marriage. Yawn.”

    I don’t get this. Might we likewise say:
    “Mormon prophet says Mormonism is true. Yawn.”

    Or perhaps:
    “Author of Book of Mormon claims it’s the most correct book on earth. Yawn.”

    Re #38
    Yep, that was what I was going to say. I certainly believe (and know of) some Mormons who voted “yes” because they believed the arguments were valid (after all, I did for quite a while), but the pressure to follow the prophet is VERY daunting. To do otherwise is considered intellectual narcissism.

  43. Latter-day Guy says:

    40, No, some Buddhists aren’t fond of homosexuality either. Basically the only truly disinterested judge would have to be an agnostic bisexual.

  44. Latter-day Guy says:

    Cynthia, can I assume “#33″ in comment #41 was actually referring to my #38? In any case, I meant no insult to jmb275. As he says, there is tremendous pressure involved. Abdicating one’s own judgment is not only common, it’s frequently encouraged.

  45. No offense taken. I will be the first to acknowledge, that yes, in retrospect, I checked my mind at the door, and placed my faith ahead of it (for better or worse).

    I certainly hope that acting on faith in the prophet sometimes reaps good results, but there are plenty of instances when it does not. As a result of all of this I try to more selectively determine what I should and should not do based on my own personal revelation. I know many would call this intellectual narcissism, but I call it good sense!!

  46. Oh, right, thanks L-dG. Fixed. Glad to see we’re all still friends. Carry on.

  47. I agree that many of the slippery slope arguments put forth by pro-prop 8 supporters are weak and generally agree with those who oppose prop 8 that the main justification for prop 8 was religious disapproval of same-sex marriage.

    That doesn’t mean that support for prop 8 simply amounts to “because the prophet said so”. Rather, it could mean that (i) I support religious disapproval of same-sex marriage and (ii) the prophet concurs. Either due to libertarian leanings or a strong belief in church and state, many Mormons dance around (i), but at least it’s honest, whereas pretending to understand the science of attraction and inevitable ramifications of legalizing SSM is less so.

  48. Latter-day Guy (35) – That’s just simply awesome.

    Brad (36) – Thanks. I was going off some random synaptic process that told me that. I will make sure those cells are immediately killed.

  49. Upside to Zion’s camp was Brigham Young and all 12 of the Apostles were called from that group, along with most of the first quorum of the 70. I think they spent about 60 or more days together the entire time, pretty much all day and night. So it was a great teaching and foundational laying experience for the group.

    If we had the prophet or apostles in close proximity rubbing shoulders and teaching and uplifting the members in the process of the prop 8 “camp” then perhaps it would be similar. I don’t think prop 8 could be called so much Zion’s camp unless you just want to compare that it was a failure in its stated purpose, but strengthened some people in the process. Of course, poetic licensing fees are pretty cheap.

  50. Fantastic letter to the editor, Cary! It really got to the core of the issues around Prop 8. I reached the same conclusion during October 2008: the only reason I have to support Prop 8 is because the leaders of the church told me to. I find no legitimate reason beyond that. All the same, I don’t think my conclusion makes me any less worthy as a member of the church than anyone else. Cary’s letter ought to be republished on the Daily Universe website as a sign of good faith by BYU and the editors. Intellectual freedom is, indeed, cherished at BYU, and this is their chance to show it.

  51. (not that I’d say this was a complete failure yet though)

  52. I just wonder how many stake presidents will be in called in California over the next 25 years who were stridently opposed to Prop 8, right or not…

  53. FWIW: The official story (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=7dc44eac7a31c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD#footnote1) is that nine of the original Twelve and all of the original Seventy were Zion’s Camp alumni. Those quorums were organized in Feb 1835; Zion’s Camp was summer of the previous year.

    Also, if you read Crall’s version on the USU Shaft site (complete with the parts the Universe redacted before printing), I think it becomes pretty obvious that Crall was painting this as bald blind obedience, not a faith-building Zion’s Camp-like experience.

  54. I suspect many LDS folk participated out of duty, even against their better judgment. How is that different from checking your mind and/or conscience at the door?

    I already acknowledged that some made the decision based on the prophets’ position, but there are also many who had other reasons for supporting Prop. 8.

  55. Being conflicted in following the prophet or our own urges is a tough place to be. However, the decision is important for our spiritual well being. To go against the prophet can lead to a hardened heart, whereas a softening of the heart can be the reward for swallowing our will.

    I’m sure many will find disagreement with what I’ve written above. That’s ok, conflict can be productive, but when it turns into contention then it invites evil, as in the adversary.

    The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to help us see things the way the Lord does. This is accomplished by repentance when necessary.

    If we attempt to bargain with the Lord regarding the 10 commandments we’ll have a tough road to travel as a church member. If, on the other hand, we acknowledge that the 10 commandments are indeed the truth but honestly tell the Lord in humility we don’t always keep them, and ask for His help so we can, we’ll find our way.

    I’ve found that swallowing my will, although a long ways from easy, has lead to acquiring the Holy Ghost and the manifestations of the Spirit.

    The Lord invites us to be perfect, but doesn’t expect this to happen overnight; that takes a life time and much more.

    For some, Prop 8/following the prophet is just another of the many obstacles to be encountered on the path to eternal life.

  56. I was the one who brought up Zions Camp. I never implied that Cary Crall believes this. I was pretty clear, I thought, in my comment, that it was my own idea.

  57. JimD, thanks for the link.

    I was struck by this paragraph: In 1835 the Prophet organized the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of the Seventy. Significantly, nine of the original Twelve and all of the Seventy had marched with Zion’s Camp. The Prophet commented: “Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize His kingdom … unless He took [leaders] from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.” 12

    Maybe God doesn’t care so much about the legality of SSM … but he wants leaders who would support efforts to stop it, even though they are doomed?

    It’s not outside the realm of possibility…

  58. Jared,

    #55,

    The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to help us see things the way the Lord does.

    I thought the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ was to save souls, and not just a matter of having us “see things the way the Lord does.” Besides which, as I have studied the scriptures, I haven’t seen anywhere where the Lord Himself has delved into this matter.

  59. If we take the twelfth Article of Faith (“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”) seriously and subjectively believe that passing Prop 8 violated the U.S. Constitution, can we still ethically justify voting for it only out of a sense of duty to sustain the prophet? What is the proper course of action when we view the prophet’s dictates to be at odds with our understanding of the law?

  60. Interestingly, his wasn’t the only letter pulled. I submitted a rebuttal ( it basically made the case that “I did it because God said so” argument is lame.) The Daily Universe people who received my email so that they would publish it in the next issue, and it never did get published. So, to be fair my very pro-church editorial was also passed over for publication, as was I’m sure all of the other responses, since the only thing that issue talked about was skirt lengths.

  61. Technically, Jared (55), following the prophet was supporting the ordinance, not opposing SSM. And technically, supporting Prop 8 only applied to a very tiny subset of the Church membership.

    I was never asked to support Prop 8 by my priesthood leadership. (I also don’t live in Texas or Utah.)

  62. I was never asked to support Prop 8 by my priesthood leadership.

    Neither was I and I live in Utah. FWIW.

  63. Interesting. Today’s batch of letters to the editor contains the standard fare:

    Melodramatic moralizing about mundane matters:

    I am always amazed at the ignorance behind individuals who assume no responsibility for their own actions. Every semester of every year students are whining, complaining and otherwise looking for ways out of their own incompetence in being the “victim” of another parking ticket.

    Futile righteous indignation about a longstanding administrative policy that will never change:

    I am a devout member of the Church and attend Brigham Young University with pride. I am proud to call myself a Cougar and always will be, but when I have no money left because I am forced to pay heinous rental bills, I am a bit disappointed in the housing policies of BYU.

    And the obligatory Female Skin Menace outrage:

    Letter: Skirts too short
    Sisters, have you lost your sense of dignity? Integrity?

    We all signed the Honor Code, which includes the Dress and Grooming Standards. Perhaps some of you have forgotten what some of those standards are? …

    It’s appalling to me, and to many other guys, because it doesn’t say much of you and your character. Beyond that, I wonder how you girls are going to appropriately fit temple garments under those shorts and skirts.

    All this drivel and no responses (substantive or otherwise) to Cary’s letter. That’s very disappointing. I’ve been very, very pleased with the level of civility and substance that has been exhibited throughout this thread. So far, DU has missed out on being part of a discussion like this. I hope they reinstate Cary’s letter and host several responses to it on Tuesday (I assume they’ve received some but are holding them pending the outcome of Cary’s letter).

  64. I was EQP in Idaho at the time (and an employee of BYU-Idaho). I was told to get volunteers from my quorum (five I think was the number) who would participate in a phone bank calling people in CA about Prop. 8. The plan was later scrapped. I have the quorum secretary call people.

    When I got the phone call, I almost vomited.

  65. For some, Prop 8/following the prophet is just another of the many obstacles to be encountered on the path to eternal life.

    Indeed, Jared.

  66. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I’ve been very, very pleased with the level of civility and substance that has been throughout this thread.”

    Possibly we’re just too exhausted to rise to any acrimony. I know I am.

  67. #20 LRC: “I’m actually saddened that BYU journalism students (and the rest of the student body as well) are learning from this example: That if something in a newspaper offends you, you can complain and have it stricken from the record…”

    There is good precedence for this. JS didn’t like what a newspaper was printing about him, so instead of just pulling down the issue, he destroyed the whole printing press. And at the end of the day, the consequences of that act were probably worse than letting it go to print.

  68. Steve Evans says:

    Wait, didn’t we ban Jared like a year ago?!

  69. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 68
    No, only his brother.

  70. Cynthia L. says:

    Har!

  71. I live in Arizona, and during ward council meeting was asked to participate in a phone calling campaign to invite all ward members to support the Prophet with their vote on prop 8. This did NOT sit well with me, so without much time to think it all through I simply declined to participate in the phone calling effort. When my Bishop asked why during the meeting I said something like “it just doesn’t feel right to me. I wouldn’t want some government official calling my home regarding his stand on any of my personal religious decisions, and I am extremely uncomfortable with the church being this directly involved in its member’s politics.”

    Two of the more vocal members of the ward council immediately attacked me for “going against the Prophet”, but much to my Bishop’s credit–he calmed them down by saying he supported and respected my right to excuse myself from the telephone campaign effort. As far as I know, the ward list was divvied up and the calls were made. I think my home was skipped.

    I am one of the members who wound up voting against my own conscience in an effort to support the Prophet. I am conflicted about this decision still today, and I am not sure how I would handle it tomorrow. I am filled with cognitive dissonance about a lot of stuff these days, though. In fact the only thing I am certain about is that I will never participate in any effort to sway church members in the voting booth by using a ‘leadership’ position to anchor my opinion. Yuck.

  72. (In AZ the issue was actually titled prop 102–but it was essentially the same as prop 8.)

  73. Brad #36,

    Nope. The Zion’s Camp expedition was dispanded on July 25, 1834.

    The original 12 members of the Quorum of the 12 weren’t recommended by the three witnesses until February 14, 1835.

  74. Yeah, I definitely screwed up the chronology there, Ben. The larger point, which still stands, though was that it wasn’t so much the strength of the original 12 that signified something special about ZC as the presence in the camp of a number of prominent future leaders who may or may not have been a part of the first group of 12.

  75. Mark Brown says:

    The problem with thinking of Zion’s camp as a training exercise for future leaders is that the camp also included several people who later became bitter apostates. We could just as easily say that ZC was a training exercise for anti-Mo’s.

  76. The BYU web server is acting up (perhaps unusually heavy traffic). In case it becomes unavailable, the text of DU’s explanation for the censorship is as follows:

    Statement on Viewpoint
    Wed, 09/08/2010 – 16:02

    The Daily Universe made an independent decision to remove the student viewpoint titled “Defending Proposition 8” after being alerted by various readers that the content of the editorial was offensive. The publication of this viewpoint was not intended to offend, but after further review we recognized that it contained offensive content.

    This is consistent with policy that The Daily Universe has, on rare occasions, exercised in the past.

  77. Whiskey.
    Tango.
    Codswallop.

    If that is all it takes, then I think 10-15 people from the bloggernacle should be called to serve on a committee with the sole task of complaining about offensive material in each and every letter to the editor published in the DU.

  78. “I’ve always wondered why such the effort in California from the church but not in any other state, or any other country that has proceeded forward on this same topic.”

    Exactly. SSM was passed in Canada’s parliament a few years ago. We were given a flyer on only one occaision in Priesthood opening excersises to contact our local MP and express our opinion on the issue. That was it. Similar to the direction we get to take the opportunity to vote every time there is an election.

    I didn’t understand the lengths the Church went to to “save” California, while in Canada there was little effort or expense put forth. Maybe all us Canucks are too far gone already and not worth saving. I could buy that.

  79. Is it really that difficult to understand why the Church would pick and choose where it would fight these battles? I see this question tossed around, and I think if you sat down and thought critically about it for 30 seconds, you could come up with a host of explanations.

  80. “Upside to Zion’s camp was Brigham Young and all 12 of the Apostles were called from that group, along with most of the first quorum of the 70. I think they spent about 60 or more days together the entire time, pretty much all day and night. So it was a great teaching and foundational laying experience for the group.”

    And that’s why we’ve been going on Scout camps ever since. Nothing trains a future Stake President like setting up a dome tent, eating a half burned half raw tin foil dinner, and throwing cans of insect repelent into a fire. Nothing.

  81. No duh, Scott B.

  82. Morris Thurston. He’s the guy who represented, and credentialed himself to readers as being a “professor of law at BYU.” And then when I called BYU at the time, they confirmed (as did he to me in an e-mail the same day) that he was a part-time adjunct professor living in Southern California. Mrrrrrr. Oh, and regardless of how you feel about prop 8, his analysis in his 6 consequences is flawed in many respects–not the least of which was his incomplete and misleading analysis of the Education Code. Just sayin’ . . .

  83. Scott,

    Are you suggesting that the church makes a, forgive the phrase, political calculation in which battles it chooses to fight? Why exactly pick this fight in California but not in Massachusetts, or as our friendly Canuck notes, Canada? Proportionally, are there not an equal amount of Mormons in Canada as there are in California? Why not defend in Spain or Denmark? Are the reasons that they were not going to pick a fight in those regions because it would affect the growth of the church? Would not the growth of the church also be affected in California? What is so different about California that they don’t think church growth could be affected? Or were they thinking that they had enough “block votes” to affect change? What does this say about a future church when Mormons have more members? What is the likelihood that the church adopts, as it did during the 1830s and 1840s, a block party approach toward politics?

  84. No duh?

    You do realize that I was being critical of you, right?

  85. Massachusetts doesn’t have nearly the membership base distributed throughout the state that California has. Is it true that Canada has the same per capita Mormons as California? That would surprise me.

  86. No Scott B., we don’t learn about critiscm in Canadian schools, we avoid hurting each others feelings that way. We do learn a little bit about sarcasm though, helps us forget about winter.

    Obviously there are numerous explainations to my question, I was more looking for an excuse to make a joke at Canada’s expense.

    As for one of a host of explainations, would you agree or disagree that while there may be a valid theological argument against SSM, the reaction in California was intensified by a Church culture/America-centric attitude of “not in my backyard, this is the Promised Land” type of thinking? I’m not saying this is what I think, just asking (again, poor Canada, I guess the Promised Land ends at the 49th).

  87. If that is all it takes, then I think 10-15 people from the bloggernacle should be called to serve on a committee with the sole task of complaining about offensive material in each and every letter to the editor published in the DU.

    YES!

  88. Cynthia, I don’t know, but I believe Southern California has as many Californians as there are Canadians in all of Canada.

  89. Eric–everyplace that Morris Thurston was actually the author, he said he was an adjunct professor. Some folks who reprinted his work, including mormonlawyers.com, left out the word “adjunct.” That is not his fault.

  90. The idea that Morris Thurston has any motivation to pad his resume is ridiculous. He’s a retired senior partner with one of the top firms in the world.

  91. Cynthia,

    Sorry, I was wrong. California has 750,000 members and Canada has 170,000 members.

  92. As for one of a host of explainations, would you agree or disagree that while there may be a valid theological argument against SSM, the reaction in California was intensified by a Church culture/America-centric attitude of “not in my backyard, this is the Promised Land” type of thinking? I’m not saying this is what I think, just asking (again, poor Canada, I guess the Promised Land ends at the 49th).

    I would agree that it was intensified by American political culture, but not so much of the “not in my backyard” sort, since the Church has not picked up the same level of activity in other US states–Maine and Massachusetts–where this was a ballot issue.

    To me, the overwhelmingly obvious reason that the Church did what it did in California, and hasn’t elsewhere, is simply numbers. The Prop 8 campaign (as a person who lives in SoCal) required a ton of hours and a ton of money, and without a large absolute number of people willing to contribute, it’s simply a wasted effort. Trying to swing a vote the same way in Massachusetts would have been an utter waste of time and money, and the fact that the Church recognized that is not befuddling to me, but it would have been had they tried.

  93. Cynthia L. says:

    Yeah, at the risk of being indelicate, California not only has many members, well geographically-distributed members, and good concentration of members, it also has many really, really wealthy and moderately wealthy members. Just sayin. If you’re running a campaign, that’s important.

  94. Re Morris Thurston–

    Eric S, I love you brother, but you knock him, and I knock you. A better man and a more gracious host to some of the greatest Mormon Studies events in the Church you’ll never find.

    In fact, you should come with me to the next M-E meeting–next week, I believe, with Jana Riess speaking on Twibles!

  95. Cynthia,
    It’s not just that, even–California also has a sufficiently even balance of liberal and conservative voters that influencing an election was possible for _both_ sides.

    To summarize:

    California = Lots of Members + Lots of Money + Favorable Political Demographics + High Publicity/Trend Setting = No Brainer

  96. a random John says:

    The situation in MA was very different as there was no voter proposition. That said, members did participate in protests and were encouraged to do so in church.

  97. #95: Agreed. It wasn’t clear, but the “Yeah,” at the beginning of my comment was supposed to indicate total agreement with your previous comment.

  98. SSM was passed in Canada’s parliament a few years ago.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, it was not up for actual vote by the people, which makes it very different in my mind.

  99. [Eric, I've put your comment into a pending mode that makes it visible to Kristine, to whom it was addressed. It was by FAR the longest comment in this thread, and only tangential to the discussion. I don't want to be sidetracked, and that is the only reason for removing it (not offensiveness, etc). Thanks.]

  100. Re: 98

    Yeah, those Canadian parliaments are a travesty of democracy.

  101. 85, 90, 92.

    “To me, the overwhelmingly obvious reason that the Church did what it did in California”…

    is for the benefit of billions of potential LDS members, globally. These people within the two most populated nations in the world and also those of the islamic world have little to no tolerance for homosexuality. They are scratching their heads wondering why we’re spending so much effort debating whether or not gays and lesbians can get married. To them it’s No homosexuality. No homosexual acts. Homosexual marriage is a non-starter. And the most vociferous organization in favor of their pov is the LDS Church.

    Granted we’re miles away from making a dent within their borders in terms of recruitment. But we’ve got a small and growing presence. Just a conjecture.

  102. Morris Thurston says:

    Great post, Cynthia. Could I ask you to please change the link to my commentary in the body of your post to this link? It is a PDF of the commentary that contains the original formatting. The version you linked to is almost impossible to read and omits some important things.

    Thank you Kristine (#89), Cynthia (#90) and Scott B. (#95) for your supporting comments. My original commentary identified me as (among other things) an Adjunct Professor at BYU Law School, which is how I am listed on the official law school site. Among the various definitions of adjunct are “assistant” and “a person working at … a university without having full or permanent status.” I certainly never intended to misrepresent my status there. In later postings, however, I decided to drop the mention of my BYU faculty affiliation altogether, not because it wasn’t true, but because it had nothing to do with the opinions expressed in my commentary. This was done at my own initiative; nobody at BYU requested me to do so.

    I applaud Cary for having the courage to speak his mind in the DU. It seems obvious that it was taken down not because a few students objected to it, but because people in authority objected to it. Of course, the DU can’t publish letters in response to Cary’s piece, even if they are critical, because, having been stricken, it is as if it never happened. This is the irony of censorship—it almost never works like you intend it. One would think these lessons had been learned as far back as the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor.

  103. Morris Thurston says:

    Lots of excellent comments in this thread. A couple prompt these comments:

    #21 said “I think it’s wholly within the purview of the prophet’s role to clarify doctrinal issues and not have to support them with empirical evidence.”

    I agree, but is that what was done with regard to Prop 8? A talk in General Conference about homosexuality would have clarified doctrinal issues, but does the call to support a political campaign to deny gays and lesbians (even those who aren’t members of our Church) the right to marry the person of their choosing constitute “clarifying a doctrinal issue?”

    #23 said “The Church, in my opinion, doesn’t care about the legality as much as they care about the right to say that it’s wrong.”

    Try telling that to the thousands of California Church members who gave thousands of dollars and countless hours of time, some of whom in the process alienated friends, family and fellow ward members, and who effectively drove away many of our gay brothers and sisters who were still trying to find a place in the umbrella of Mormonism. A simple statement that the Church supported Prop 8 would have established the Church’s right to say that gay marriage is wrong. I think the Church cared very much about winning in California.

  104. I am very impressed by Cary’s letter and his willingness to speak his mind even though he may face criticism for it. However, I feel really bad for him. I do not believe he is being absolutely open about his feelings regarding BYU and the church. He is speaking out about prop 8 and the reasons people supported it, But he is very careful to stop short of speaking out against BYU or the church. Obviously he has seen what happens to BYU students when they speak out against BYU or the church and dare to have an original thought that conflicts with the church. Just look at Chad Hardy’s story. Chad had completed his degree, and was just waiting to be able to walk across the stage and get his diploma. But because he dared to go against the church, and exercise his right to free speech, he was excommunicated, and BYU now refuses to give him his diploma until he returns to the church. (Most of us would call that ransom, or extortion) Chad is still very successful evven without his official diploma from BYU. However, since Cary is a pre-med student, I believe he realizes that he needs the diploma in order to continue his post-graduate education, and is therefore having to censor himself somewhat. I’m willing to bet that once he has that diploma in hand, he will have ALOT more to say about BYU and the LDS church. I look forward to hearing what his real, un-oppressed viewpoint is.

  105. Although I have no idea about what Cary will do after he graduates, plenty of people (including many here) agree with Cary’s letter without feeling the need to “have ALOT more to say about BYU and the LDS church.”

  106. Reading comments like these:
    “The Prop 8 campaign (as a person who lives in SoCal) required a ton of hours and a ton of money, and without a large absolute number of people willing to contribute, it’s simply a wasted effort.”
    and
    “A simple statement that the Church supported Prop 8 would have established the Church’s right to say that gay marriage is wrong. I think the Church cared very much about winning in California.”
    makes me wonder… if the church recognizes that defeating SSM amendments is a losing battle nation-wide, why care so much about California? Because they can win there? But then, what’s the point? It doesn’t seem like it’s really about protecting marriage if there is the implicit recognition that they can only protect it in a handful of states where there is the money and support… Is it only about flexing political muscle?

    That being said, I heard that there was quite a bit of a push for the amendment in Hawaii several years ago from the church…

  107. Enna,
    Losing nationwide is not the strategic implication of what i said. Rather, the idea was that, by winning in a massively populous and highly public, traditionally liberal leaning state, the proponents would send a message that would deter other voter initiatives in other states.

    Whether or not that proves to be the outcome or a viable strategy long term is a different question, of course.

  108. re: 101

    Are you referring to China there, Zhen?

  109. It is interesting. The prophet says do a certain thing and then numerous assumptions are made. Assumptions about what exactly is a sin, what the consequences of sin must look like, how we must react to a sin…how consequences of sin must be easilly identifiable, how certain sins rank and which consequences are most important. Why do we make so many assumptions? Why do we expect to understand what God means? Why do we do what the prophet says, then expect to be supported in the worlds way? The church has done things in other states, but not in every state the issue comes up and there isn’t this church wide announcement to go all out. So what did the prophet’s call for help in prop 8 really mean?

    Interesting thoughts.

  110. Thank you Cynthia & Cary. I appreciate your comments and the great way of addressing this issue. It is important!!

  111. If you agree with Cary’s letter. Then you must not find it offensive, or even see how anyone else could find it offensive. You would then have to agree that BYU was not be truthful about the reasons for removing it from their website. Afterall, it isn’t offensive like they claim it is. This leaves only one explanation. They are once again censoring anyone who dares speak out contrary to what they have said. They are preventing people from hearing both sides of the argument, because they know they are on the wrong side. Anyone with intelligence can keep following this line of logic to the undeniable fact. BYU and The Church have something to hide, and they will go to any length to try to keep it hidden. If you can’t reach this conclussion, then their efforts have been succcessful on you. But people who have learned to think for themselves see right through this.

  112. anon for this one says:

    LDG said in 38: “I suspect many LDS folk participated out of duty, even against their better judgment. How is that different from checking your mind and/or conscience at the door?”

    It’s an interesting question. How you you feel about the story recited in Moses 5:4-6?

  113. “But people who have learned to think for themselves see right through this.”

    I have long since learned that those who claim to think for themselves…are full of crap.

  114. Chris H: Said “I have long since learned that those who claim to think for themselves…are full of crap.”

    I have long since learned that those who think that people who think for themselves are “full of crap” only think so because they have been told to think that by someone else, and they are incapable of thinking for themselves. Good argument by the way. Apparently you subscribe to the theory of, “If I have nothing intelligent to say, I’ll just say you’re full of crap.”

  115. I did say anything about those who think for themselves…only those who CLAIM to think for themselves.

    I do not support Prop. 8. However, acting as though all who disagree with you either fools or have been fooled is pretty tacky.

    “Anyone with intelligence…” can see that you are a prick.

  116. Chris H., take five.

    Keith, unfortunately your #111 has exceeded our server’s capacity for both spelling errors and bullshit. You’re in the mod queue.

  117. Having a cooking…and calming down.

  118. So someone accuses BYU of censoring, and in response you censor them? Do you people not see what you are doing?! If you were in the right, you would no need to censor individual thought. Keith did not swear or use profane language. In fact, the very person who says he is putting him in the mod queue is the one who swore. Isn’t that what you should be censoring, and not someone who presents an opposing view? All you are doing is showing your true colors, and proving that even YOU know that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

  119. @Chris- Calling people full of crap and pricks only shows that you have no intelligent argument to make, so you stoop to insults. You are only hurting your credibility. Not anyone else’s.

  120. Bridget,

    People around here know I have not credibility. That is part of why Steve sent me to time out…and also why I am heading back to timeout.

  121. Bridget, Keith didn’t land in the mod queue for presenting an opposing view, he got there for presenting a stupid view, and then being arrogant about. You should also consider yourself warned.

  122. So someone accuses BYU of censoring, and in response you censor them? Do you people not see what you are doing?! If you were in the right, you would no need to censor individual thought. Keith did not swear or use profane language. In fact, the very person who says he is putting him in the mod queue is the one who swore. Isn’t that what you should be censoring, and not someone who presents an opposing view? All you are doing is showing your true colors, and proving that even YOU know that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    Yes, we are truly hypocrites, all. The world is so unfair, and BCC is in that world. (Not “of it” though…)

    Bye, Bridget.

  123. “What is the likelihood that the church adopts, as it did during the 1830s and 1840s, a block party approach toward politics?”

    I don’t think this is directly comparable. In the 1830’s you had Joseph Smith acting as political leader in addition to religious leader. I don’t remember exactly, but I don’t believe Joseph was aligned with any of the national political parties. Later (though I think after the Saints moved west) the Republican party’s main platform was overturning “the twin relics of barbarism–slavery and polygamy.” When the party itself is vocally against a group it’s not surprising that group would adopt the other party’s politics.

    FWIW, as someone who recently moved to Southern California, I already feel like the church is politically homogeneous. I miss the relative diversity of central Indiana.

  124. The best part is that Bridget and Keith are from the same IP.

  125. @Steve, You’re right, we are. Because he is my husband. I have nothing to hide. I am not ashamed of my viewpoint nor that of my husband, and neither of us feels a need to silence opposing viewpoints. Because you all are destroying your own credibility without any help from Keith or myself. If you were secure in your opinion, you too would feel no need to censor opposing views, and then call them stupid and arrogant. And “anyone with intelligence” can see this. So warn me all you want. Every time you post something about Keith and I, you should how truly ignorant you really are.

  126. *show

  127. Love it when that happens. Anyone seen Ed Enochs lately? We miss that fine young man around here.

  128. For Morris Thurston and apologies for a possible threadjack,

    What has been the reaction from fellow members of the Church to your commentary? I’m on the other side of the country and only follow this via the bloggernacle and the experiences I’ve read are like what’s on this thread-all over the place. I don’t doubt any of them and am not at all suprised people had very different experiences. I’m just curious how your commentary was received among the members.

    By the way, not a word was said about Prop 8 here beyond collective sighs of relief we did not have to deal with it and nobody was asked-at Church- to do a single thing, e.g. work a phone bank, donate, write a letter etc.

  129. 108. India, China, and the Islamic world. For example, recent (8/30) news states “China is a growing and developing nation, and for the church to have a relationship with China so the church can grow and flower there is wonderful,” said Elder Donald Keyes, of Uintah, an Area Seventy for the church.

    http://www.standard.net/topics/religion/2010/08/30/lds-church-china-reach-agreement

    The fight in CA is highly visible for the church worldwide. The negative publicity we’ve received from Americans and Europeans is small beans compared to the potential positive effects from vast majority of the world.

  130. Basically, Cary, I understand that the only solid reason you voted for Prop 8 was because you were told to do so by a religious authority, whom you consider to be a prophet. And what about the Establishment and Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment to our beloved Constitution? It sure seems to me that “the Elders of Israel”, rather than saving the Constitution as it “hangs by a thread” (as prophesied – see http://www.ldslastdays.com/default.aspx?page=pscthread.htm), are instead blindly hacking away at it because they were told to. This deeply saddens me.

  131. sorry about that. i’m making a horrible habit of double posting everywhere i go. please remove 129?

  132. In Sean Penn’s Oscar acceptance speech for his role portraying deceased gay activist Harvey Milk, he said, “I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

    I didn’t watch the Oscars, but this hits home on a personal level for me too. Overall my grandparents didn’t build a relationship with any of their grandkids, and, sadly, one of the few things I remember about my grandfather (who’s now dead) was all the awful stuff he used to say about the “niggers”.

  133. Zhen,
    If I understand correctly, your premise is that being the standard-bearer in the fight against gays in America today will help missionary work in China tomorrow.

    Interesting notion.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-02/24/content_9492137.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_China

  134. “SSM was passed in Canada’s parliament a few years ago.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, it was not up for actual vote by the people, which makes it very different in my mind”

    Good point. We lost our handguns and got universal health care the same way. Win some, lose some I guess.

  135. 133. Based upon the rhetoric of leadership in this Church, yes. Missionary work (growth) is LDS church’s bread and butter. Missionary work is to Church as innovation is to capitalism.

    Majority of China is rural and not cosmopolitan. What you’re seeing is not representative of traditional cultural norms. These sticky cultural norms. Only recently is homosexuality made not a crime in India: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/5721979/India-overturns-148-year-old-law-banning-homosexuality.html

    But again, majority Indians are not cosmopolitan like you.

    And neither of these nation states are anywhere near discussing homosexual marriage. With respect to prop 8 and gay rights, I can’t be the only one saying there’s an outside world, outside of west hollywood, outside of california?

  136. Zhen, I think you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions. There are large parts of the Asian world where polygamy is A-OK, but the church isn’t going to change its position in an effort to gain converts there. Sometimes we just need to do what is right, and let the consequence follow.

  137. With recognition that this premise requires more research, I’m not jumping into anything. Polygamy is A-ok for the rich in Asian worlds. It’s a status symbol for the males to say they can afford to keep more than one family. Not applicable to the poor that Church typically recruits.

    It’s how the church wants to sell itself in missionary work and they could use the narrative of traditional family values ie. our presence in UN NGOs, teaming up with Muslim states over family values.

    And it’s well-established the church has changed its position in effort to stave off its own destruction. Church is better off keeping its nuclear family, one man one woman stance in the long run.

  138. enough threadjack. I agree with cynthia. I always thought the DU was a joke, so kudos for posting the letter in the first place, but EPIC FAIL for removal. By BYU faculty. My teachers. Such a disappointment.

  139. Yes, enough on the international/China threadjack. Thanks, Zhen.

  140. OK back to the original post. Since I never leave West Hollywood and am unfamiliar with other cultures, sometimes it’s hard for me to understand events like the removal of Crall’s letter from the Daily Universe.

    Is BYU culture really so homogeneous that people find his letter “offensive” enough to require retraction? I’m being serious here, since I have never been to Provo. From an outsider’s perspective, it is a bit jaw-dropping to hear that that particular letter would warrant censorship. It seemed rather benign to me.

  141. Mike, what happened to your planned trip to Provo? We had a rockin itinerary set up for you.

    I don’t think “offended” is the right word. That’s just the boilerplate/go-to word for a negative emotion. I’m sure it shocked people. I’m sure there were lots of gasps of “inappropriate.” Some people may indeed have been offended by Cary’s suggestion that there were “real reasons,” apart from the stated reasons, for example, if they have yet to really process that most of the arguments were objectively unfounded (e.g., temples will be forced to perform gay marriages).

  142. I think that at BYU, there are people who disagree with the Church on this issue. However, to speak out on gay marriage, and particularly the role of the Church in Prop.8 would appear to many to challenging the Church. This would be viewed as a no no.

  143. Zhen, surely “BYU faculty” in this case means “a faculty member or two with oversight of the DU,” not “all the faculty at BYU.”

    I wouldn’t be so disappointed if I were you.

  144. I think we should applaud the student editors for being willing to print the letter in the first place.

  145. Maybe they are not so worried about the possible offensiveness of the letter (because, really, it was a polite statement of opinion), but more about having a huge letters-to-the-editor war erupt on campus. It’s definitely a hot-button issue.

  146. I don’t think the DU is averse to letters-to-the-editor wars. It regularly hosts contentious and acrimonious and tedious discussions about how many centimeters a woman’s dress can be above the knee before she is considered pornography.

    see here: http://universe.byu.edu/node/10467

  147. Well, maybe they just don’t want an interesting letters-to-the-editor war.

  148. Yes, as any veteran of The Great Messenger Bag Strap War of ’95-’04 can attest, the DU is hardly averse to contentious debates full of casting aspersions on fellow students and their motives.

  149. As much as anything, I think this little drama indicates how this topic is still too sensitive for us to even talk about.

  150. Ah yes, the messenger bags. I’d forgotten about that. I think it would be tougher for people to laugh off arguments about prop 8, though.

  151. but we’re talking about it Mark.

  152. Well, we’re kind of talking about it, but not so much. What we’re really doing is talking about talking about or not talking about it.

  153. I imagine Crall’s letter hit a nerve because it tacitly identifies and brings together a set of difficult truths.
    1. Church leaders directed members to mobilize against Prop 8. This was a motive (though perhaps not the sole motive) for many members. But by itself the will of the Prophet, of course, cannot suffice to enshrine a civil law. So: one needs legal arguments.
    2. There were arguments to support Prop 8 disseminated in the campaign, but the lawyers for Prop 8 did not use and defend those arguments in court.
    3. The arguments Prop 8 lawyers DID use were deemed unsupportable. They didn’t meet standards of evidence.

    If you’re a Mormon who sacrificed time, money, and maybe family harmony or your conscience to support Prop 8, you’re left high and dry. Whatever wisdom or truth might have been behind Church leaders wish to see SSM defeated, (so far) that wisdom has no relevance to the standards, protocols, and principles we use to determine civil law.

    In other words, unless the Church leaders’ will (#1) can translate into arguments that can prevail in courts (which they haven’t as per #2 and #3), then there’s only one conclusion: as far as courts go, what Church leaders believe regarding gay marriage is beside the point.

    On this matter, Mormon truths and doctrines just don’t belong in a civil court. This is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow, both for members (who gave so much) and for leaders (who didn’t see their position pass standards of evidence). And, read correctly, Crall’s letter boxes you in so that you can’t dodge this conclusion.

    Crall’s words aren’t “offensive,” they are discomfiting, deeply so.

  154. I haven’t heard any cogent reasoning on pro Prop 8 sentiments until I read Ross Douthat’s essays. This is just the first, in following posts he proceeds to respond to criticisms to the points he makes. Before I read Douthat I felt like I was simply being asked to blindly follow the prophet because all the reasonings I heard didn’t resonate intellectually or morally to me.

    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/were-all-marriage-ideologues/

  155. Latter-day Guy says:

    How you you feel about the story recited in Moses 5:4-6?

    Well, anon, that depends. Did Adam feel deeply uncomfortable about the moral implications of animal sacrifice? Did participating in it force him to violate his conscience? How did he receive God’s instructions? Was the revelation personal, mediated through angelic messengers, or did it come from good, inspired, but manifestly fallible mortals like himself? The answers to these questions make a difference for me in navigating the issue.

    Do I think the Brethren want blind obedience? No, I think the Brethren want obedience. Full stop. Open-eyed and thoughtful obedience when possible, but blind will do in a pinch.

    For me, well, sometimes I just can’t see my way to trimming my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.

    It seems obvious that it was taken down not because a few students objected to it, but because people in authority objected to it. Of course, the DU can’t publish letters in response to Cary’s piece, even if they are critical, because, having been stricken, it is as if it never happened.

    Amen, amen, and amen.

  156. Morris Thurston is a treasure.

  157. By the way, Bro. Thurston, I’ve updated the link in the original post to the one you suggested. Thanks. I apologize for the delay.

  158. Here I am pointing out that we’re not really talking substantively about this, and along comes nancy (#153) in the very next comment proving me wrong. Thanks a lot, nancy.

  159. anon for this one says:

    Did Adam feel deeply uncomfortable about the moral implications of animal sacrifice? Did participating in it force him to violate his conscience? How did he receive God’s instructions? Was the revelation personal, mediated through angelic messengers, or did it come from good, inspired, but manifestly fallible mortals like himself? The answers to these questions make a difference for me in navigating the issue.

    All fair points, and I hoped you would call them out. Let me then refine the inquiry somewhat. What standard of direction / revelation / commandment (i.e., Prophet over the pulpit with the lead-in, ‘Thus sayeth the Lord…'; personal visitation from an angel; etc) would have been sufficient for you to vote yes on 8, despite the apparent violation of your personal conscience?

    For me, well, sometimes I just can’t see my way to trimming my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.

    An interesting way to present your position, given the historical path of the issue. You can appreciate, no doubt, that many might view the opposite – i.e., that the pro-SSM side was “this year’s fashion”.

  160. I can’t get the DU’s website to load right now, but are the web versions of viewpoint columns open for comments?

    If so, maybe BYU simply decided it had neither the resources nor the will to moderate the type of on-line discussion that is now taking place here instead.

    (But at least the DU could have been up front about it)

  161. Morris Thurston says:

    Responding to #128 rcb: I received a number of negative emails concerning my commentary on Prop 8, but I also received about an equal number thanking me for it. Those who know me well understood that I wasn’t trying to hurt the Church but merely protect it from disseminating misleading propaganda. While there were a few LDS lawyers who purported to debunk my commentary, the newspapers and true legal experts agreed with my analysis. I was very transparent about my opinions—I sent them directly to Church headquarters and to my bishop and stake president. However, during the Prop 8 campaign it was very uncomfortable for everyone who had reservations about it and most either sat in silence or just avoided coming to meetings where they were being compared to Satan’s minions.

    Here’s an excerpt from one email that will give you a flavor of some of the opposition I received: “Your over-educated arrogance is inexcusable, pompous, and frankly, adversarial! Obviously you have chosen your side, and it is not God’s! Do not claim to be an active member of the Mormon faith while carrying on so mindlessly.… What good have you done? Have you forwarded the Prophets call or played Pontius Pilate and attempted to destroy him?”

    I expect Cary will receive comparable personal attacks.

  162. I also want to thank nancy for her comment # 153.

  163. Latter-day Guy says:

    What … would have been sufficient for you to vote yes on 8, despite the apparent violation of your personal conscience?

    Interesting questions. I suppose, for me, an angelic visitation would have been pretty convincing! However, personal revelation that resonated with the instruction to support Prop 8 would also have done the trick. Perhaps if I had any part to play in the actual events, such revelation would have been forthcoming (I don’t live in CA or participate in any CA politics whatsoever). As it is, I just felt really, really sick over the whole thing; that feeling that only grew with time. I cannot deny that this was augmented by the fact that the inspired counsel on the subject of homosexuality has been almost comically inconsistent within the Church. Talk followed talk, and pamphlet followed pamphlet, claiming to explain the Lord’s position on the genesis of same-sex attraction and how it could be resolved. To date, they’ve all been insufficient (far too kind a word) at best, and resulted in disaster far, far too often (whether as shattered marriages, or the long, bloody procession of one suicide after another). Only in the past decade, really, have the Brethren had the chutzpa to say “I don’t know” when it comes to homosexuality––and, even then, it’s been inconsistent (for instance, the Oaks and Wickman “interview” that was basically agnostic when it came to treatments intended to “cure” homosexual attraction, while the more recent talk by Hafen––at Evergreen?––claimed a 40% “cure” rate!).

    You can appreciate, no doubt, that many might view the opposite – i.e., that the pro-SSM side was “this year’s fashion”.

    Of course. The Lillian Hellman quote was actually made with the aforementioned LDS inconsistencies in mind.

  164. But Cary didn’t even say that he opposed Prop 8. One could argue that’s implicit in his letter, but I’m not so sure. You really think people will accuse him of being as satanic as you, Morris? :)

    Well, hopefully he’ll show up here (Cary that is, not Satan) and update us himself.

  165. well said, Nancy.

  166. Morris Thurston says:

    Re #164. Well, I never said in my commentary that I opposed Prop 8; merely that I was opposed to using misleading handouts in the campaign. That is the humor in the response I quoted. She assumed I was attempting to destroy the Church when I was merely trying to save it from its overzealous local campaign managers. :)

  167. 143. I’ve made it too easy for you all to pin me as the annoying troll with nothing substantial to add to the conversation. Yes, byu faculty is not all faculty. I’ll assume you weren’t being patronizing but perhaps merely pointing out that you may be byu faculty, as well. Perhaps.

    153. “If you’re a Mormon who sacrificed time, money, and maybe family harmony or your conscience to support Prop 8, you’re left high and dry. Whatever wisdom or truth might have been behind Church leaders wish to see SSM defeated, (so far) that wisdom has no relevance to the standards, protocols, and principles we use to determine civil law.”

    Can you blame that Mormon for being cynical? Where I once thought the corporate model of the church was merely an enlightened vessel for advancing good will towards men around the globe, now it appears to me Mormonism is more about the bottom-line: growth. The global growth explanation is how I deal with it.

  168. A bit of background that others might find interesting . .

    A few years ago I was involved in a ballot proposition that the church was heavily involved in (not gay marriage).

    In that effort, the arguments used by the campaign were generated by political consultants/focus groups/polls. The church provided bodies and dollars. The church leadership was pretty hands off except emphasizing it was an issue important to them, encouraging key members to participate and providing supportive letters/conference talks.

    I wonder if that is what happened in California with Prop 8. The church wanted to fight it and put up dollars and people. Consultants were hired and developed arguments that thought would be persuasive (but, maybe, not well grounded). Thus, the disconnect when the court battle ensued.

  169. “Your over-educated arrogance is inexcusable, pompous, and frankly, adversarial! Obviously you have chosen your side, and it is not God’s! Do not claim to be an active member of the Mormon faith while carrying on so mindlessly.… What good have you done? Have you forwarded the Prophets call or played Pontius Pilate and attempted to destroy him?”

    Is this like being “an affront to God”?

  170. I wonder if that is what happened in California with Prop 8. The church wanted to fight it and put up dollars and people. Consultants were hired and developed arguments that thought would be persuasive (but, maybe, not well grounded). Thus, the disconnect when the court battle ensued.

    I’m afraid not, Steve. The arguments, regardless of where they originated, were advanced by Church leaders involved in the campaign at all levels, top to bottom. Church members who worked on the campaign were actively encouraged by priesthood leaders to promote such arguments in conversations with undecided voters.

  171. This was my comment: 153. “If you’re a Mormon who sacrificed time, money, and maybe family harmony or your conscience to support Prop 8, you’re left high and dry. Whatever wisdom or truth might have been behind Church leaders wish to see SSM defeated, (so far) that wisdom has no relevance to the standards, protocols, and principles we use to determine civil law.”

    To which Zhen responded: “Can you blame that Mormon for being cynical? Where I once thought the corporate model of the church was merely an enlightened vessel for advancing good will towards men around the globe, now it appears to me Mormonism is more about the bottom-line: growth. The global growth explanation is how I deal with it.”

    For what it’s worth, although the cynical Mormons have my sympathy, I’ve found that cynics usually have a good deal of resilience. They find their way, on their own terms, which tends to foster a robust participation in the ups and downs of life.

    In contrast, what cuts to the heart for me are those Mormons who agonize but finally obey and put their faith in church leaders above all else. The trust given to leaders is sacred, indeed. And when the brethren say they are “humbled” to be called, this trust should be (and I’m sure is) the reason.

    But did the leaders betray this trust when they directed members to sacrifice so much for this legal campaign? It sure seems that way to me. I’m a Utah Mormon and BYU grad but my path has led me outside of the church, so I’m not really one who can best judge. But I still “get” Mormonism and love many Mormons; I usually feel more protective of the culture than critical.

    But the Prop 8 campaign has been a turning point. Because many of the people closest to me are gay, I feel wounded (not to mention “offended”) by what the church has done. But even more than what I feel for the gay people in my life, I feel deeply for Mormons who want to be decent, open-hearted, and humble toward the rights of fellow citizens. Mormons who really believe in equality under the law. Mormons who know their sons, sisters, and friends who are gay are just not disordered or confused people. Mormons who know all of this but who have also pledged themselves to this church, to its members and leaders. Those Mormons have had to discount so much of their own knowledge, conscience, and experience (things that are also the basis of their faith in Mormonism) to support the brethren.

    And it just doesn’t seem to me (albeit a relative outsider) that the brethren have met the seriousness of this trust. Did they study the matter with open minds and hearts? Did they seek knowledge from many sources? Did they listen closely to the voices of gay Mormons and their family members? Even if they received eternal truths about gender and sexuality, did they adequately weigh the questions of what is proper for earthly laws and legal doctrines in the US?

    As a lapsed Mormon, I don’t face the same dilemmas as active Mormons. But Prop 8 managed to bring a Mormon dilemma into my secular existence. Should I wound many Mormon loved ones by taking my name for the rolls of the church, or should I remain counted among Mormons and give tacit support to an organization that has violated the rights of gay loved ones–and millions of gays and lesbians who have never sought to harm or restrict Mormons.

    Sorry for the treatise, but even in my secularized life, Crall’s letter struck a nerve in me, too.

  172. Brad —

    But, where did the local leaders get their arguments? In the campaign I was involved with, the campaign generated the points and local leaders then shared them with congregations.

    I specifically remember a conference talk that was delivered by a very prominent general authority. He laid out a scriptural basis but most of his key points came from materials generated by folks on the campaign side. I wrote some of arguments/language he used.

  173. Since I never leave West Hollywood and am unfamiliar with other cultures, sometimes it’s hard for me to understand events like the removal of Crall’s letter from the Daily Universe. — I thought you had moved to Hawaii?

    #172 — interesting.

  174. I know, Steve. But even if the arguments did originate on the political/consulting side (which they almost certainly did), they were appropriated, sponsored, promoted, and disseminated under the banner of official priesthood leadership. It’s not as if leaders just said “get involved, support the initiative, etc.” They said “support Prop 8 and get others to or else [insert 6 Arguments claim of choice].”

  175. Brad,

    I think we are both splitting hairs. I’m not disagreeing with what you are writing.

    My point was that these points don’t derive from any revelatory activity but from a desire to follow the advice of hired political experts.

  176. Right. I don’t think we’re disagreeing either. But I just wanted to clarify how the formal sponsorship and promotion of the claims in question can complicate the division between revelatory and political/consultant-driven in the eyes of most Church members. So the fact that the arguments in question were either not deemed worthy of defense in a courtroom or were eviscerated by the ruling (and the experts who advanced them thoroughly embarrassed) can have really problematic implications for Church members who chose to participate in the campaign, in no small part due to their drinking of the proverbial koolaid, regardless of where they originally came from. Most Church members will view an LDS Newsroom piece that advances questionable sociological claims from poorly regarded academics as a Revealed (if implicit), divine approval of the claims in question.

  177. Nancy, I enjoyed the treatise. Couldn’t agree with you more.

  178. re: 173
    I have no idea where you got that idea. This summer I did move 2 miles east to Hollywood proper (next to WeHo), but that’s like going from Sodom to Gomorrah. (End tangent)

  179. Nancy, thank you for contributing with such disarming honesty and clarity. I’m not in the same place as you, but your insight into the issues and heartbreak for believing members is right on the money.

    I’ve often thought that if I were ever a Bishop (ha!) I would be afraid to ever even open my mouth, knowing the weight many would put on my words. That responsibility, and how it played out during the campaign (at all levels, down to local bishops) is so important for us to contemplate and talk about.

  180. I lived through the whole prop 8 ordeal in a YSA ward in California. In the end, I can definitely sympathize with what Crall wrote because in the end, that’s the ONLY reason prop 8 got a yes vote out of me.

    Regarding the 6 points memo, I don’t know who wrote it but I know it was ready at least shortly after the Church announced it was getting involved. I know of a Patriarch in a neighboring stake who was some kind of district court judge going from ward to ward with the stake president in that stake using the 6 points as an outline for his talks in sacrament meeting before the document was actually released by the campaign. He was later featured on a local news broadcast right before the election forwarding the same arguments. Personally, those arguments didnt work for me and really made me question their whole campaign.

    So later on, I was talking to a High Councilor in my stake who was invovled in the campaign and I brought up all the issues with the 6 points (aided of course by Morris Thurston’s document). His reply was that the Brethren had the legal department in Salt Lake go over the arguments and they okayed them for usage by members in acting for the campaign and usage during meetings. So in this brother’s mind, because the Church’s legal department okayed them they were absolutely true no matter how obviously flawed those arguments were. I think that was the mindset of many. Nevermind the fact that gay marriage isnt legal in New Jersey, that the education code speaks of “committed relationships” which domestic partnerships already fall under, or that the Catholic adoption agency was receiving public funds to operate (among other arguments). Because the Church okayed the usage of this document, if prop 8 failed we would lose our federal income tax exemption, their children would be taught about gay marriage in schools (when, btw, they dont seem to teach about marriage at all), and LDS Family Services’ adoption services would be shut down for being discriminatory. We were comparing apples to oranges in the most obvious ways but refused to accept the possibility that these arguments were flawed because Salt Lake okayed them.

    As a side note, I find it particularly amusing that in light of the passage of prop 8 members here get upset that we were targeted in the aftermath for getting it passed. My ward had two officially sanctioned parties to celebrate prop 8 passing (one was an FHE and the other was a dance). If we were so willing to own it then, why are they trying to hard to distance themselves from it now? I cant remember how many FHEs we had turned into everyone getting together to have a baked goods potluck and man the call centers from our cell phones. (The weight of large portions of the volunteer aspects of the campaign were more heavily tossed onto YSAs than families from my understanding.) Stake Presidents were calling members into their offices to “challenge” them to give more money. Usually these donations were in the range of thousands of dollars, but I know of one family that reluctantly gave 500. Regardless of how you feel about prop 8 this is what happened in California, and this is how the Church ran the campaign. This is why the LGBT community blames us for it.

  181. I wonder if the saints had these same kind of discussions when the Word of Wisdom was presented. We don’t always know the big picture of why we are being asked to do some of the things we are asked to do. When a prophet tells us to do something, I think we better check our opinions at the door and do it.
    Proposition 8 is a complex, tip of the iceberg issue that we may not understand for years, decades or ever. It was the battle ground the Lord chose for this issue. Who is not going to stand and fight when asked to? I think it is just like the wheat and the tares. You might want to decide which one you are because you can’t be both.

  182. ssbf,

    That is certainly one way to look at it, but that isn’t how the general authorities look at it. According to Elder Clayton who led the church’s prop 8 efforts in California, a member’s choice to participate or not had no bearing on worthiness.

    I suggest we all follow the Brethren when it comes to making this a worthiness issue.

  183. I’d be shocked if the church’s legal counsel ever reviewed anything. I really suspect this was driven by a small group of political consultants in California. Unfortunately, at the local level, everything was perceived as church-created.

    Because the church doesn’t jump into politics that often, I don’t think church leaders know how to do these things with any degree of finesse.

    The brethren are pretty naive when it comes to political matters. I know they rely heavily on hired lobbyists and senior political folks to advise them on most things. I wonder if that process, for some reason, didn’t work as well on Prop 8.

    I wonder if one issue is that there is a lack of GAs with a political background. President Faust had been a state legislator. President Tanner had been in the Canadian Parliament. Right now I can’t think of anyone in senior leadership who has ever held political office.

  184. Nothing to do with the topic of the post, but I just want to thank Cynthia for a post that caused Mike(nolonger)inWeHo to write #178. Will someone please remember to nominate that comment for a Niblet when BCC hosts next year?

  185. ssbf,

    #181,

    I wonder if the saints had these same kind of discussions when the Word of Wisdom was presented.

    The Word of Wisdom? Which wasn’t even a commandment when it was first revealed? Which also did not affect a wholly separate group from the Mormons? If Prop 8 only had bearing on the lives of Mormons who have accepted the Gospel, you’d have a point. But Prop 8 was about restricting the lives of people who never accepted our morals or standards. I cannot abide by that kind of force upon those who do not believe as we do.

  186. Well ssbf, it depends on what era of saints when it comes to the Word of Wisdom because Joseph Smith himself didn’t even follow it. It wasn’t a worthiness issue until the ’20s. Do I suspect many saints were suspect when President Grant made all alcohol forbidden under the WoW when beer is specifically allowed by the scripture itself? Yeah. Even I kind of wonder about that one today, but ultimately, as Mark Brown stated, our participation in prop 8 held no bearing on our worthiness.

    Steve, I have to admit that in saying what I said in regards to the legal department I am only relaying what I heard and it’s secondhand. Regardless, I think we got swindled into putting forth those arguments and I knew a number of members who were very much pro prop 8 who felt like the coalition was using us like pawns.

  187. Well, my prediction in #4 “[I]f the bloggernacle is any indication, facilitating a civil conversation about this topic is pretty impossible,” has turned out to be spectacularly wrong. This was an outstanding discussion. Thank you to all our commenters. I encourage you to contact the Daily Universe and other newspapers in the area (Provo Herald, for example) to express support for reinstating the letter and reaffirming journalistic values at BYU.

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