Jesurgislac’s Journal

November 8, 2008

The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot: reprise

About a week before the election, Orson Scott Card posted a lengthy whine about how it was so unfair that his gay friends wanted him to treat them as equals and as friends, and people were being so mean to him just because he was campaigning – as a Mormon in North Carolina – to take away civil rights for a group of people in California. Why couldn’t these people be kind to him? Tolerate his intolerance? (The awful self-pity of the self-righteous bigot.)

I thought this was just Card being a whiner – his other posts against equal marriage and religious freedom have included self-pitying references to how outrageous it is that people actually call him a homophobe for his open support of anti-gay discrimination and legal persecution of LGBT people.

But now it appears that the leadership of the LDS Church has taken to whining about how people reacted to their bigoted campaign against equal marriage in California:

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

What, everyone should just have ignored that infamous letter from First Presidency urging the membership of the Church in California to campaign for Proposition 8? Funny, I hear that bishops who tried to be low-key in their response to that letter were being criticised by church leadership for not making their political campaign strong enough. If you don’t want to be singled out for speaking up, the solution is simple: don’t speak up.

More hypocrisy:

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

Yes. But just voting for Proposition 8 wasn’t what that letter from the First Presidency was all about. Most of the funding to support the “Yes on 8” campaign came from outside California. It’s reported that the majority of it came from LDS members, who had been urged by their church leadership to support Proposition 8. In June, the First Presidency wrote:

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

That is a clear call to campaign against religious freedom in California, and against the freedom to marry. Not just to vote against it. Churches which campaign politically lose their tax-exempt status: this was a political campaign conducted by the LDS church. Trying to reduce down to LDS members just voting is a lie.

And again:

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

In the New Statesman article (also linked to above), a bishop called Robert Bennion would deliberately take members of his congregation off church property in order to discuss what they might do to support Proposition 8.

“So far I’ve worked very hard to keep this whole thing at arm’s length,” Bennion said. “I see this as purely a political endeavor, which is why I don’t allow any campaigning during church time or on church property. In my mind, it’s possible to be in favor of Proposition 8 without being anti-homosexual.”
While Bennion’s Switzerland impression may seem like on good idea on paper, in reality he’s taken the one position that would make him a target for both sides. His superiors within the church, for example, have repeatedly requested that he get more involved in the issue, but their phone calls are easily ignored and Bennion himself can’t help but smile when the click of a button sends their emails from his inbox to the trash can.

Honour to Bennion for trying to keep a “sacred place of worship” separate from the political campaigning demanded by his church leadership, but it’s clear Bennion was an exception, not the rule, and an exception that came under attack from church leadership. If you base a political campaign in a church, you have no moral grounds for asking political protesters to stay away from your church.

The whine from the LDS finishes with the following piece of stunning hypocrisy:

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

This from the church that funded a campaign consisting wholly and entirely of disrespect, incivility, vilification, harrassment, and lies.

Why be such whiners? I suspect it’s a symptom of privilege. (Sadly, I think another example of this is the white/racist reaction blaming the success of Proposition 8 on the “black vote” – see this journal entry for a breakdown of the issues, a numbers breakdown, and of course Pam’s House Blend.) You complain about not being treated with respect when you are absolutely accustomed to being immune from criticism from that source. One Mormon man was complaining in an earlier thread that after he’d posted a long comment calling me an infected, inferior, abusive creature not deserving of equal rights, I wasn’t being as polite to him as he evidently felt he deserved…

Update: from the demo in Salt Lake City which the LDS church took exception to: “Let us all call for greater love, better understanding, dignity and respect toward all — regardless of race, regardless of faith or lack of faith, and regardless of sexual orientation.” In that article from the Mormon Times, by the way, the author Jared Page blandly lies that “the church did not contribute directly to the campaign”.


  1. I’m curious where you draw the line. Clearly you want all religions to sanction same sex marriage. Clearly religions believing homosexual behaviors are wrong, are not going to be a friend to that cause. “Marriage,” to them, when it needs defining, will not be changed from it’s current, long-standing definition.

    The more I see this gridlock, and the pain it is causing all sides, the more I become resigned to having things work the way they work in some countries. “Civil unions” performed by the government; “marriages” performed by churches, and of no legal import, like baptisms, confirmations.

    Now that push has come to shove with this issue, it’s unlikely to be resolved by any compromise (and obviously, the above scenario would be a compromise on both sides).

    Comment by anitanap — November 9, 2008 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  2. Clearly you want all religions to sanction same sex marriage.

    Good grief. Where on earth do you get that from? I have said, all along, consistently, that I support freedom of religion and freedom of belief. Unlike you, I do not want the state to enforce any religious belief on others by law. That includes religious beliefs about marriage – as I have made clear all along. You want the state to enforce your religious beliefs about marriage on people who do not share them: I disagree with this position.

    The more I see this gridlock, and the pain it is causing all sides, the more I become resigned to having things work the way they work in some countries. “Civil unions” performed by the government; “marriages” performed by churches, and of no legal import, like baptisms, confirmations.

    Unfortunately, as we see in the US, this doesn’t prevent churches from campaigning against the civil marriages performed by the government. Civil marriage is an institution older than the United States of America: a couple are legally wed in the US if and only if they do so before a representative of the government. The religious marriage performed by the church is of no legal import: if the couple wish it to be a legal wedding too, they must obtain a license from the government and have the religious functionary be licenced by the government to be the government’s representative and legally wed them by government authority. This can happen during a religious service, but in the US, the religious service does not constitute legal marriage.

    As we’ve just seen in California, Florida, and Arkansas, and in other states in the US in previous elections, this separation of church and state does not prevent churches campaigning to prevent couples not of their faith from having civil marriages recognised by the state.

    Whether the LDS Church ever recognises same-sex marriage is not a matter for the state to intervene in. I suspect they never will, and that’s kind of sad for all the lesbian and gay Mormons who must choose between their church community and their family – and I do care about those people, and their families, because I do think it’s – at the very least – sad when a church decides to uphold homophobia as a central religious value. (I’ve written more about this in earlier posts – What I Like About Christianity and You cannot invite someone halfway in, for example.)

    My sadness at Christian churches declaring that for them homophobia is the central value of Christianity does not mean I think that the state ought to enforce religious recognition of same-sex marriage on any church! That would be a clear contradiction of what I’ve said all along: I support religious freedom/freedom of belief.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 9, 2008 @ 7:21 am | Reply

  3. This rhetorical ploy has its origins with the Ku Klux Klan and was picked up by other Christian Right hate groups. They actually are saying that it is “intolerant” to fight back against intolerance.

    Comment by libhomo — November 9, 2008 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  4. My dear brothers and sisters of Utah, my name is Eric. I live in SLC and would like to ask you a favor. I grew up and was raised as a faithful member of the LDS church. I attended nursery, primary, served several leadership position in young mens, and was eventually married in the Salt Lake Temple. I’m struggling with an adjustable mortgage and the economy’s toll on my job. I am also bisexual.

    Many of my neighbors, and I’m sure many of you, felt confusion, and perhaps misapprehension at the massive protest around Temple Square pushing for “Gay Rights.” Please, I ask that you try to understand what’s going on, and why feelings and emotions are so high on this topic. What we are asking for is not a lessening of the value of traditional marriage. We are not asking for you to change your beliefs. We are not asking the LDS or any other church to change its doctrine. We are not even asking you to agree with our beliefs. What we are asking for, is the possibility of being equal citizens, of enjoying the same privileges and civil rights that everyone else has. We are asking that you believe with us that “We the people” means all of us.

    There has been a lot of discussion that if same sex marriage was legalized, a church could be sued if it refuses to perform the marriages, but that same concern existed during the civil rights movement, and that never happened.

    We don’t hate any church, and we love each and every one of our neighbors here in this great state. Please, recognize that we have the same feelings that you do. We want to be able to express our love for each other in the same way that husbands and wives everywhere do. America has come a long way in such a short time. We recognized that women are equal to men, that people of color are in no way lesser citizens. We recognized that there is nothing wrong with interracial marriage. But there are still steps to take, we haven’t perfected it yet!

    We have to come together, right now, as a common people; and say once and for all that we are all equal, that every human being in this beautiful world should enjoy the same rights as everyone else. That no one is better than his neighbors. Please, stand with us. Our rights are your rights.

    With all my love,
    Eric E.

    **Copies of this letter have been sent to all local SLC news outlets, as well as to President Monson of the LDS church. PLEASE!! Copy the link to this page down and share it with EVERYONE that you can think of. Together, we can work for a better tomorrow! The link is:

    Comment by ethingtoneric — November 9, 2008 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  5. No church has to SANCTION equal marriage. Here in Canada, where equal marriage is legal and (*gasp*) our country is! still! functional! — no church that does not wish to perform equal marriages is ever forced to do so. And no church that teaches against homosexuality is ever required to stop teaching it.

    But under the law — which, incidentally, is a secular institution, meaning that every person is protected against any religious group trying to put its religious teachings into law — all citizens are to be treated equally no matter what religion they profess. And marriage to the person of their choice is a right of EVERY CITIZEN. Period.

    We in Canada stand here as a happy, blatant, stick-our-tongue-out, undeniable contradiction to every single stupid lie taught about equal marriage, by every single stupid church and every single stupid church member. Just look north. IT’S ALL LIES.

    Comment by kashicat — November 10, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  6. Not just Canada, Kashicat – any other country in the world with equal marriage. The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, or South Africa – or indeed the state of Massachusetts, California while it was legal, now Connecticut…

    Fred at Slacktivist refers to these people as the Liars for Christ…

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 14, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

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