Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stoning Mormons for standing up for their values

Large crowds of Anti-Prop 8 demonstrators have been protesting outside of The Oakland CA Temple and other CA temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the past few weeks.

Stoning Mormons for standing up for their values by funding Prop. 8
Dennis Wyatt
Managing Editor
Mantica Bulletin

The scariest thing about Proposition 8 isn't what passage or failure to pass the measure will do. It is the unrelenting attack on Mormons for having the courage to not just espouse their beliefs and values but to put their money where their principles are.

Mormons - unlike Catholics and others who are contributing to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 on Tuesday's California ballot - are getting the Full Monty.

One such effort is the web site ran by those opposing Proposition 8 who are against the concept of marriage being strictly between a man and a woman. The site lists the name and hometown of every Mormon who has contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign.

The site is used by the Daily Kos - it definitely isn't a conservative blog - as part of a campaign to look into the personal lives of those Mormons backing the measure. It has led to incidents such in San Jose where the Sundstrom family that exercised their right to donate to the campaign had two women parked in front of their home in a SUV that had "bigots live here" painted on the windshield.

In the early going, those adamantly opposed to Proposition 8 attacked all religious groups that had contributed money including the Catholic Church. But as the election draws closer, they are showing their true bias and denouncing only Mormons.

Anti-Prop. 8 groups have taken to calling for the denouncing of the church for supporting a measure that basically reflects their values. Gee, is anyone denouncing the opponents of Prop. 8 who fund that campaign for their actions reflecting their values?

There have been efforts afoot to have the IRS delve into the church's tax status.

The Mormons haven't crossed the line. Even so, separation of church and state in the context of this nation's founding wasn't to prevent churches from being active in politics but to keep the state from creating a church such as Henry VIII did when he created the Church of England because the Pope wouldn't change the tenets of the Catholic faith to fit his decrees.

Its not a good idea to have a government in control of secular and spiritual thoughts unless, of course, you loved the old USSR model. The only way those two can work in concert is to suppress the idea of individual freedoms. And when you're doing that, you can't just take away the right of religious freedom to make it work.

Even so, it's a free country. Those who oppose Proposition 8 are free to harass and do what they want as long as they don't cross the line. The goal of their campaign, obviously, is to make people fearful of expressing their views and doing so in the public arena that counts - elections.

Lecturing the Mormon Church, though, about the importance of the separation of church and state is like lecturing Jews about the dangers of totalitarian regimes.

The Mormons are historically the most persecuted religion in the United States.

What brought down the wrath of Congress to pass a law going after the Mormons? Yes, polygamy was part of it but when push came to shove it was the entire faith that irked the powers that be.

The Mormons had been chased from New York and Illinois.

The church's Relief Society - long before it was the fashion -campaigned for women's rights. In 1870, Utah became the first state to give women the right to vote. The Mormon faith blossomed with one important caveat - not all Mormons by far were polygamists.

Congress in 1882 passed the Edmunds Act to outlaw cohabitation with more than one woman. President Arthur sent federal agents to Utah. In clear violation of the U.S. constitutional law forbidding de facto laws, all Mormons who practiced polygamy were disenfranchised, stripped of the right to vote and many jailed. Idaho in 1885 put in effect a loyalty oath requiring all residents to swear they opposed polygamy or any organization that taught it in order to vote to effectively disenfranchise all Mormons even if they didn't practice polygamy.

Congress in 1887 passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act to break up the Mormon Church and seize all of its property. It required loyalty oaths from local officials, which kept even Mormons not practicing polygamy from holding office, and gave the government the say in what textbooks could be allowed in classrooms.

Many thousands of Mormons were imprisoned.

Congress sent the U.S. Army to attack the Mormons. Why? Because 140 non-Mormon settlers - many who had abused local Indians - were massacred by the Indians at Mountain Meadows. Newspapers urged the government to invade Utah on the false assumption the Mormons were behind the attack.

Yes, the Mormon Church excommunicates gays.

Mormons in the 19th century - and by many today - aren't cut slack for their faith and are painted with a wide brush. The church has never advocated the stoning of gays. And under Proposition 8, they are expressing their belief marriage is between a man and a woman. It is the church's right as to the status of the openly gay in their own church. It's call free association. It's called freedom of religion

Branding Mormons for the practice of polygamy that was abandoned over a hundred years ago by all but a handful of fringe former church members who believe they're the true Mormons makes them an easy target in the mind of some.

It is no different, however, than those who bash gays on old premises and prejudices.

Unless the highest court in this land or Congress itself makes it clear that it isn't the case, the issue of defining a marriage is a right reserved to the states.

Bashing the Mormons for doing what is clearly legal within the framework of the laws of this land - campaigning to protect a marriage as they define it - is just plain wrong.

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