How to File an IRS 501(c)(3) Complaint

29 October 2008

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the “Mormon” or LDS Church) has gone too far in promoting the 2008 California Proposition 8, which would claims to amend the California state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman in order to supersede a state supreme court opinion issued earlier this year. [Whether the proposition was a lawful amendment or a revision that cannot legally be made by a voter initiative remains an open question.]

Section 501(c)(3) of US Code Title 26, which governs tax-exempt organizations, reads (emphasis added):

(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

(The “otherwise provided” clause does not apply, as the LDS Church, being a church, is a disqualified entity as described in subsection (h).)

The LDS church, through inciting its members to donate time and means to support Proposition 8 (resulting in millions of dollars of cash contributions from its members and countless volunteer hours), and in-kind campaign contributions to a group that supports Proposition 8, has now made a substantial part of its activities attempting to influence legislation.

You can help! Send the IRS an official complaint about the LDS Church’s activities, either by email, fax or US Mail.

  1. Prepare a copy of the Official LDS Prop. 8 Letter read in all LDS churches in California on 29 June 2008.
  2. Prepare one or more other articles of your choice (you can use these links, or do your own research) showing the LDS Church’s substantial activities attempting to influence this legislation.
  3. Prepare this Pre-Filled IRS Form 13909 and add your personal information, or fill out a Blank IRS Form 13909 from scratch with the information in the pre-filled form (these links and an alternative filled form are copied below in RESOURCES.)
  4. Don’t forget to date your referral at the top and include your submitter information. If you are a member of the Church, you may wish to check the box marked “I am concerned that I might face retaliation or retribution if my identity is disclosed.”
  5. Send it to the IRS, either by:
    * Email: Prepare your documents as PDF’s or web links, and send your complaint form with supporting documentation to eoclass@irs.gov.
    * Fax: fax your documents to (214) 413-5415
    * Mail: mail your documents to
    IRS EO Classification
    Mail Code 4910DAL
    1100 Commerce Street
    Dallas TX 75242-1198


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RESOURCES:
Official IRS Complaint Process for Tax-Exempt Organizations
US Code Title 26, Section 501
Official LDS Prop. 8 Letter
List of LDS Entities (Source of Tax ID Number)

Information required for IRS Form 13909:
Name of Referred Organization: The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Street Address: 50 E. North Temple St., Salt Lake City UT 84150
Organization’s EIN: 23-7300405
For Section 4, see the Pre-Filled IRS Form 13909, or write your concerns in your own words. If your reader will not open that form, try the Alternative Pre-Filled 13909.


LDS Church violated California Fair Political Practices

15 July 2010

From California’s Fair Political Practices Commission:

When contributions of $1,000 or more are made during the final days of an election—the time between the last campaign report required to be filed and the end of the election—late contribution reports must be filed within 24 hours of making or receiving the “late” contribution. The following failed to file a late contribution report as required by law:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to timely report making late non-monetary contributions totaling $36,928 in connection with the November 4, 2008, General Election. $5,539 fine.


Californians Against Hate Files Official Complaint

13 November 2008

I do not endorse this complaint (I found at least one factual error — the “one trip” item — as I noted, the LDS Church later filed another in-kind contribution report for a second trip.) Still, it makes an interesting case, has useful links, and identifies significant LDS activity.


November 13, 2008

Chairman Ross Johnson
Fair Political Practices Commission
428 J Street, Suite 800
Sacramento, CA 95814

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Office of the Attorney General
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street Suite 230
SLC UT 84114-2320

Dear Chairman Johnson, Generals Brown & Shurtleff:

Today we filed a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah for not reporting various non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. # 1302592. The Mormon Church has been highly secretive about its massive involvement in the campaign, but we managed to piece together evidence of some of their more visible activities done directly to communicate with California voters, including:

Church organized phone banks from Utah and Idaho
Sending direct mail to voters
Transported people to California over several weekends
Used the LDS Press Office to send out multiple News Releases to promote their activities to nonmembers
Walked precincts
Ran a speakers bureau
Distributed thousands of lawn signs and other campaign material
Organized a “surge to election day”
Church leaders travel to California
Set up of very elaborate web sites
Produced at least 9 commercials and 4 other video broadcasts all in support of Prop 8
Conducted at least 2 satellite simulcasts over 5 Western states.

All of these unreported contributions by the Mormon Church were on top of its massive fund-raising effort; the largest ever undertaken on a social issue ballot initiative.

Under California Election Law organizations such as the Mormon Church are not required to report activities if they strictly constitute “member communication.” We will explain why we feel that the activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went far beyond “member communication,” and were instead specifically targeted at California’s 17 million voters. By not reporting any of these non monetary contributions, the Mormon Church violated the Political Reform Act.

The only mention of compliance was a news story stating that the Mormon Church reported a single non monetary contribution of $2078.00 for Church Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s travel expenses for one trip to California. Was there only one trip? Were no other Church officials traveling to California for such an important campaign?

The Mormon Church made the Yes on Prop 8 campaign a national priority beginning on June 20, 2008 when Church President David S. Monson sent his now famous letter to be read in every church building, where he said, “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment (Prop 8 ) by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman.” http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage This was their call to action, and was undoubtedly designed to get members to begin the outreach to nonmembers.

Two other organizations that were also involved in the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, reported substantial non monetary contributions. The National Organization for Marriage of Princeton, New Jersey reported 49 separate non monetary contributions between 02/01/08 and 4/16/08 totaling $210,634,75. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family of Colorado Springs, Colorado reported non monetary contributions between 12/7/07 and 10/15/08 of $83,790.00.

Phone Banks

On October 8, 2008 the Associated Press reported that “Mormons Recruit Out-of-State for Gay Marriage Ban. Mormons living outside California have been asked to volunteer for a telephone campaign to help pass a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.”

The Mormon Church announced one week before the November 4, 2008 election that it was canceling its phone centers in Utah established to call California voters. Were these in operation before they were canceled? What were the costs of these phone centers? How many calls were made to California voters from these massive call centers?

News reports said that students at BYU – Idaho in Rexford, Idaho were using a call center in that town every Thursday evening to call voters in California. This type of interstate phone network requires a lot of setup, supervision, voter sheets, scripts, training and the price of the calls. Call centers are used to communicate with nonmembers. Phone centers in place to contact nonmembers would constitute a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Gary Lawrence – State LDS Grassroots Director

Veteran political operative Gary Lawrence http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/CompanyDetail.aspx?CompanyID=55969576&cs=QHDVgcoxQ was based in Orange County, California. His title was State LDS Grassroots Director. Lawrence’s mission was to direct all Mormon activities in California (attached). He had a web site set up expressly for this purpose: http://yesonprop8.blogspot.com/2008/08/gary-lawrence-grass-roots-coordinator.html

Gary Lawrence’s operation had a timeline beginning on August 16, 2008 though election day of 12 Saturday precinct walks. All walkers were to be Mormons leading up to the election day surge of 100,000 Mormon volunteers and they went door-to-door to canvass nonmember voters. Was the Church actively involved in this massive recruitment? Here is a copy of the Mormon Organizational memo: http://wikileaks.org/leak/lds-proposition8-notes-2008.pdf

This directive from Church Elders Ballard, Christopheron & Clayton detail Church plans for yard signs, schedule, volunteers, out of state calling teams, speakers bureau and voter registration. More internet communications are available on this site: http://www.p8california.com/Job.html Did the Church participate financially in this massive voter outreach? If so, all of these voter communication activities to nonmembers constitute a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Saturday Rallies

These took place throughout California on the 3 Saturdays prior to the election. Thousands of yellow T-shirt clad Yes on 8 supporters were lined up for miles with signs in targeted areas of the state yelling, chanting and screaming at passing motorists. There were reports that these demonstrators were mostly Mormons, and that many were bussed in from Utah and surrounding states. We have heard that some of the busses had out of state license plates. Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants? No contributions were reported.

Satellite Broadcasts

It appears that the first satellite simulcast was on October 8, 2008 and was beamed to 5 Western states. Apostle Robert D. Hales led this broadcast on various aspects of the campaign, including how to deal with the issues and how to conduct yourself. http://www.meridianmagazine.com/churchupdate/081010prop8.html
Another satellite broadcast took place at a later date, and was led by Church Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton. It addressed the Church’s doctrine of marriage and participation in the Protect Marriage Coalition. Then the Newsroom of the Mormon Church issued a Press Release (attached) about this broadcast making it available to California voters and anyone with internet access. This video was not password protected and was promoted by the Church and available to nonmembers. Here is the press release about it as well as other Mormon activities: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8 Satellite broadcasts to hundreds of locations are very expensive, and by making it available to nonmembers, it is a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Multimedia Program

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared to have done a tremendous amount of work in this area. A very slick web site (attached) http://www.preservingmarriage.org/ was developed specifically for the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The title is “Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage.” This web site states that it is “An Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” c 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

PreservingMarriage.com is primarily a showcase for 9 separate Yes on Prop 8 commercials that are very professionally produced. They feature mostly young people talking about why same-sex marriage is wrong. There is an email update request box, and another to send feedback. The viewer is encouraged to share this site and “spread the word.” Site visits are not limited to just Mormons, and everyone is “invited to share these videos with others.” There is even a very prominent “Vote Yes on Prop 8, Support Traditional Marriage” banner on the home page. Certainly this web site was put in place to reach California voters. It is on the internet, and therefore available to all.

This web page on PreservingMarriage.com has 13 very professionally made commercials and videos: http://www.preservingmarriage.org/videos.html .

All of these commercials as well as their web site were clearly designed to communicate with the public. No contribution was reported.

Church Denial

On November 9, 2008 Don Eaton a spokesman for the Mormon Church was quoted on ABC – KGO Television stating, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put zero money in this (election).” When I personally spoke with him Monday, November 10, 2008 and asked him if the PreservingMarriage.com web site was sponsored by the Church, he quickly said that it was not, but was “a part of the campaign.”

In 1998, the Mormon Church directly contributed $1.1 million to ban same-sex marriages in Alaska and Hawaii, and received widespread criticism for that. So this year in California it appears that the Mormon Church was trying to avoid any direct contributions to Yes on Prop 8, and instead raised millions from its member families. That is legal, but all the money spent to communicate with nonmembers must be reported if it exceed $100. Clearly the Mormon Church has vastly exceeded that threshold.

We ask that the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorneys General of California and Utah immediately begin a full and thorough investigation of all campaign related activities undertaken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah to determine if there were any reporting violations.

Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this very important matter.

Sincerely,

Fred Karger
Founder / Campaign Manager
Californians Against Hate

http://californiansagainsthate.com/

619-592-2008


California’s Prop 8: LDS leader calls for healing the gay-marriage rift

11 November 2008

This article was published and removed from the Salt Lake Tribune website. It was replaced with a shorter article.

By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Launched: 11/06/2008 12:29:27 AM MST

Now that California voters have outlawed same-sex marriage, an LDS Church leader called Wednesday for members to heal rifts caused by the emotional campaign by treating each other with “civility, with respect and with love.”
“We hope that everyone would treat [each other] that way no matter which side of this issue they were on,” said Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Presidency of the Seventy.
Proposition 8 amends California’s constitution to define marriage as legal only between one man and one woman. It overturns a June ruling by the California Supreme Court striking a 2000 ban on such unions. Since then, some 18,000 gay and lesbian couples were married in California – among them couples from Utah.
Kate Kendell, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, said the center and the California attorney general believe those marriages will remain valid.
By Wednesday, three lawsuits asked the California Supreme Court to overturn the proposition, and two of them asked the court to block it from taking effect while legal cases are pending.
The lawsuits were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Unofficial returns show the measure passing with a 440,000 vote margin. But 3 million ballots remain uncounted, which Kendell said made the outcome too close to call.
“It’s a very steep climb back,” she said. “If tomorrow indicates that those ballots are from counties which voted overwhelmingly to defeat Prop 8, then we will have to look seriously at a possibility of making that climb.”
The LDS Church’s campaign to pass Proposition 8 was its most vigorous since the 1970s, when it helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.
Asked whether the LDS Church would engage in similar activism in the future, Clayton said, “It depends on the issue, and the time and what is going on.”
In a statement, the LDS Church said it does not object to domestic partnership or civil union legislation “as long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.”
As for Proposition 8, “we consider this to be a moral issue,” Clayton said. “We’re not anti-gay, we’re pro marriage between a man and a woman.”
But the outcome dismayed gay couples like Russ and Joe Baker-Gorringe, of Salt Lake City, who married religiously in Utah in 2007 and then were legally married in California in October.
“We would be the first to defend the LDS Church’s right not to perform or recognize our marriage,” Russ Baker-Gorringe said. “But it is morally wrong for any church to deny my church, which does believe in marriage equality, the right to marry who we love.”
An estimated $70 million was spent for and against the measure. Clayton said the LDS Church was “most grateful” for the “generous sum” contributed by its members. The church itself gave only indirect support – paying, for instance, for his hotel during trips to California.
Kendell said LDS Church members’ time and money were key to the effort against the proposition, and she respects that.
“What I find very painful and in some respects unforgivable is that the church would ally itself with the outright falsehoods and distortions of the Prop 8 campaign,” she said.
And the campaign proved divisive for many LDS Church members, some of whom were chastised by church leaders and other members for their opposition. Some said the church’s activism led them to a personal crisis of faith.
Clayton said he had no firsthand knowledge of such hostility, and advised members hurt or confused by the church’s involvement to seek counsel with their bishop to understand the doctrinal basis for the church’s position.
He also said any action regarding members who spoke out against the measure would be left to local church leaders’ discretion.
Morris Thurston, of Orange County, an LDS member who opposed the ballot initiative, said he received a lot of “feedback that was either outright hostile or self-righteous preaching” from strangers because of his moral concern about imposing religious beliefs on others.
Thurston’s hope is that Latter-day Saints on both sides of the issue “will reach out and try to embrace people who might not have agreed with them. It doesn’t mean we will change our minds about it, but it does mean we need to be brothers and sisters in the gospel.”
brooke@sltrib.com

* THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this report.


The “Right to a Mom and a Dad” Debate

11 November 2008

This blog is becoming my take on a collection of the arguments I’ve heard many times before. I’m grateful for your attention.

Many opponents of equal marriage (or supporters of “traditional marriage”, if you will) routinely argue that children do better in homes with a mom and a dad.  They then argue, on this basis, that same-sex marriage denies children a right to this ideal type of home, and should therefore be opposed.

This argument is fundamentally flawed for many reasons.  I illustrate a few here.

Not all homes with two opposite-sex parents are better for children. For the purposes of argument, let’s posit that opposite-sex parents are generally better (even though I haven’t been convinced by any “proof” of this.) That doesn’t mean that they always are. Just because Kelly has a mom and a dad doesn’t mean that that Kelly has better parents than Pat, who has two lesbian parents or Chris, who has a single father.  What if Kelly’s mother is an alcoholic and her father is abusive, while Pat’s mothers are both loving, educated women who work part-time so one can be at home all the time, and Chris’s father is a priest in the local church, and Chris’s grandmother lives in their home?

There aren’t enough “traditional” two-parent homes to go around. There are distressing numbers of orphans and children seeking permanent foster care placement.  It’s not as if these children are giving up homes with two loving opposite-sex parents to go to a home with two parents in a same-sex marriage.  There are more children who need loving homes than available loving homes.  According to UNICEF, in 2006, 143 million children in the developing world alone were orphans.  In the United States, a recent Health & Human Services AFCARS Report stated that 120,000 children were awaiting foster homes as of September 30, 2003.

Same-sex marriage strengthens same-sex relationships; if homosexuality is more accepted, gay people will be less likely to begin “traditional” marriages which often end in divorce. Lesbians and gay men don’t typically choose a way of life that will subject them to discrimination and attack; it’s clear that they don’t feel a lot of choice in the fact that they are attracted to members of the same sex.  I seriously doubt that lesbians and gay men would enter opposite-sex marriages because the same-sex option is closed to them.  They will enter into same-sex relationships anyway.  This creates further trouble when children are involved, because without marriage, the surviving parents have a much more difficult time keeping the family unit stable when a child’s biological parent dies.  How many “traditional” families  have been destroyed because one of the parents realizes that he or she is gay?  Normalizing same-sex relationships would help to eliminate such tragedies.

Granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples does not mean people will marry children or animals. Civil marriage is a civil contract that may only be undertaken by consenting adults.  Children and pets are not permitted to enter into any other legal contract, so there is no reasonable expectation that making marriage equal to all would lead to such marriages.  Some have argued that this would permit brothers and sisters to marry.  I say, so what?  If they are consenting adults of sound mind, they should be warned about the risks to their children, but let them do as they please.  Some have also argued that loosening marriage restrictions might lead to polygamy.  Due to the significant tax survivorship benefits of marriage, I think the government can successfully argue that marriage can only be between two people, in order to prevent abuse.  Groups of people would just get married in order to avoid the estate tax.  An aside: would the LDS Church have a problem with legalizing polygamy? Another aside: the animal rights initiative on the ballot got over 60% support; perhaps animal marriage rights would be easier to pass? Kidding….

We do not prohibit opposite-sex marriages between men and women who cannot reproduce. If the only concern were that marriage should be an institution that permits procreation, then the government would only allow “fertile” people to marry and require a fertility test in addition to blood and STI tests already required in many jurisdictions.  I also find this argument demeaning to the families of opposite-sex couples who elect to adopt children (for any reason), and to the marriages of older couples who find love and companionship with someone new after their first spouses have passed on.  Marriage is much richer than a path to procreation.

The “science” supporting the superiority of opposite-sex parents is not strong enough yet, and only serves as a distraction. As already illustrated, there are many situations in which two same-sex parents would be superior to opposite-sex parents, or one parent, or no parents. Claiming science proves that opposite-sex parents are better in general distracts us from what we should be thinking about: the welfare of a particular child. This is like citing Murry and Herrnstein’s work claiming that some races have greater intellectual capacity than others. Even if it’s true, it only serves to demean a large class of people. There are many same-sex couples who make fantastic parents for children in need, and that’s good enough for me.


Leaked LDS Prop 8 Memo: “The work depends on us”

11 November 2008

Recently, a page of lnternal LDS Notes on Prop 8 was released on the Internet.  In the first paragraph,

Elders Ballard, Christopherson [sic] & Clayton met last week with leaders of the Coalition for 2 hours. The brethren emphasized that there wasn’t much participation from non-LDS people. The work depends on us.

Elders Ballard and Christofferson are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, second only to the First Presidency in LDS Church hierarchy; Elder Clayton is a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.  These words are unequivocal: “there wasn’t much participation from non-LDS people.”

In addition to providing about half of the funding for ProtectMarriage.org, this memo makes clear that the LDS Church understood that its members were primarily responsible for the corresponding volunteer effort.  Moreover, Church officials at the highest levels were involved in organizing this volunteer effort.

Why are people singling out the LDS Church?  Because they were singular in their support for Prop 8.

Why does this have anything to do with tax-exempt status?  Because the IRS considers volunteer effort when determining whether an organization meets the “no substantial part” test.


Being “Tax-Exempt” Doesn’t Guarantee “Free Speech”

9 November 2008

A few weeks ago, 33 pastors, backed by the Alliance Defense Fund, decided to endorse candidates from the pulpit in direct contravention of 501(c)(3) laws.  Their argument?  Constitutionally protected free speech.

I’m seeing the same meme show up in comments.  Let’s get something straight: no law is telling any church what their leaders can or cannot say.  But tax laws restrict what kinds of things an organization can say in order to qualify for tax-exempt status.  If you want to have completely free speech, don’t ask the taxpayers for a handout in the form of tax exemptions.  The Treasury needs to remain impartial, particularly with respect to candidates for public office.

Another important reason for this rule is that the government wants to be sure that political contributions are always taxable.  Taken to an extreme, if pastors were allowed to endorse candidates and engage in any political discourse they liked, then candidates could set up shell churches, get 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and have their supporters donate to these churches and get a Schedule A charitable deduction for, you guessed it, a political contribution.  And one more thing — the church would be exempt from disclosure rules too.  The only way to prevent these abuses is to draw a bright line between tax-exempt organizations and influencing legislation and endorsing (or opposing) candidates.

Accepting tax-exempt status means that you tell the government — and the people — that your organization is going to act in the general welfare.  By applying for a tax exemption, your organization gives up the right to make certain forms of speech.  Want to say whatever you want?  Don’t be tax-exempt.  Want to be tax-exempt?  Leave politics out of the sermon.

Simple.


‘In’ But Not ‘Of’ the World

9 November 2008

I read all of your comments, but I don’t have time to respond to all of them.

A number of the comments have focused on how if same-sex marriage becomes normalized that children will learn about it in school, and point to evidence of individual educators in Massachusetts using legalized same-sex marriage to justify advancing a pro-gay agenda. Given the trajectory of gay rights and the increasing permissiveness of the media, I find it unlikely that children will be protected from learning about same-sex relationships by any law.

In fact, just because some parents find an activity morally objectionable does not mean that it is a good idea to make it illegal — especially when it involves taking away others’ rights.  There are many perfectly legal things in the world that children need their parents to teach them are wrong.  The obvious example of the failure to legally enforce a moral view of the majority is the constitutional amendment known as “prohibition”.  By any account, prohibition was an abject failure in eliminating alcohol use and abuse.

Indeed, there are many perfectly legal yet (to some) “morally objectionable” things in the world we live in.  Tobacco, alcohol, and pornography are legal for adults and widely accessible to children.  (In my Utah junior high school, I routinely encountered all three.)  Any child can turn on the TV or browse the Internet and hear profanity.  The “F-Bomb” is perfectly legal to say (if not broadcast.)

Making same-sex marriage illegal will not change the fact that millions of people belong to families with same-sex parents, and children are likely to hear about or meet these people, whether the parents are married or bound in a civil union.  If parents believe that same-sex marriage or same-sex relationships are immoral, then it is their duty to teach this to their children, just as Mormons have long taught their children that profanity, coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, fornication, and other perfectly legal things in the world are wrong.

When I visited potential colleges, one of my hosts thought it would be a good time to offer the visiting high school seniors beer and pornography.  The other guests in my room, football recruits, indulged with gusto.  My parents and church had taught me that these things were wrong, and, for the first time in my life actually pressured by friends to indulge, was prepared for it and politely declined.

It is not hard to teach a second grader that some children have two mommies.  In fact, if they live in many places, they will learn this from their peers without any assistance from the schools.  It is also not hard to teach a second grader that “some people believe it is OK for two women to get married, but our family does not believe that.”  One does it the same way one teaches a second grader that “some people believe it is OK to drink tea, or eat pork, or watch R-rated movies; our family does not.”  I read books about children drinking iced tea when I was a child, but I knew that it was something our family and church believed was wrong.

Finally, in a shout-out to my own parents, I think they did an exceptional job in raising me even if we disagree on the LDS Church’s stance on Proposition 8.  They taught me not only a set of particular guidelines for personal behavior as dictated by the LDS Church, but also how to think for myself and judge for myself what is right and wrong, based on the most fundamental principle of the Gospel: “love one another”.


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