About

I am a formerly faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Church”). I grew up in Utah, was an Eagle Scout, and attended one of the best colleges in the country outside of Utah.

I have never harbored ill will toward the Church, but I am deeply troubled at how the Church’s efforts were likely the deciding factor in California’s recent vote to take away the right to marry from same-sex couples.

I created this blog because I believe that the members of the Church are some of the most loving people I have ever known in my life, and that they are not well served by the recent decision of Church leaders to exhort members to donate of their “time and means” (i.e. money) to Proposition 8. Reading a letter with this exhortation in every church in California crossed a line — not only because of its political nature, but also because Joseph Smith, the Church’s founder, believed “in being subject to … magistrates” and in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Moreover, the Church struggled to practice marriage as it chose, free from government interference, for many of its early years. Has it forgotten its history?

I am also opposed to the precedent this sets if churches are allowed to use their tax-exempt influence to attempt to influence legislation in such a substantial way. This is a time when churches are testing boundaries; dozens of ministers endorsed John McCain in direct contravention of Federal law in this election. Church members following President Monson’s instructions donated over $20 million in support of Proposition 8. Some members allege that they were pressured into donating; reports have surfaced that church officials told members that their souls were in jeopardy if they did not participate in support of Proposition 8.  There is no question in my mind that this is substantial involvement, and that churches engaging in these activities are wrong.

But most of all, I am saddened by the fact that so many of my friends and colleagues now see the LDS Church as a force for division and hatred in the world, instead of the force for love and charity that I think better reflects the majority of the Church’s work. I take no joy in calling for such a drastic step to be taken, but neither can I stand idle while misunderstanding and injustice cloak themselves in the guise of “family values,” and time and money that could have been used to comfort the oppressed, feed the hungry or clothe the poor instead were diverted to perpetuate an injustice that shall, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned people, never survive my generation.


Miscellany

This blog is set to Mountain Standard Time (Salt Lake City).

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37 Responses to About

  1. Jane Mountcastle says:

    The only way blacks were admitted to the priesthood was that the church’s tax exempt status was threatened. Let’s just call this deja vu. A trip down bigoted memory lane.

  2. Chino Blanco says:

    Re: mormonsstoleourrights.com

    Hey,

    It’s one thing to push for financial transparency from churches that involve themselves in politics, but threatening to strip their tax-exempt status is massively counter-productive to what we’re trying to achieve.

    http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=6199

    [Editor: Federal law is explicit about religious organizations and involvement in politics. The LDS Church has, in my view, failed to obey, honor, and sustain the law as written in the Internal Revenue Code.]

  3. Bob says:

    Funny you bring up obeying the law and tolerance while people are rioting in the streets because they don’t like the law and making threats of slitting Mormon’s throats.

    [Editor: Those repugnant acts have nothing to do with me, my friends, or this blog. I am dismayed at some of the hateful backlash good people who supported Proposition 8, including many of my own relatives, have had to endure. Kindly do not conflate me with those who seek to do evil in the name of supporting marriage equality.]

  4. Californian says:

    Chino: I have to agree with Jane on this one. We have to stand up for ourselves now more than ever. What rich and powerful organizations understand is money. We need to counter their big action with our own in a way that they understand. If they in fact particpated in funding a political cause, they don’t deserve their tax-free status.

  5. Scott says:

    Non Profit’s are allowed to be involved with propositions. They just aren’t allowed to endorse candidates. The Church as an institution made no significant contributions.

    As for blacks–there is no evidence that any tax exempt status was threatened. Nor would there have been any grounds for it.

  6. Randy Martinsen says:

    Scott is not correct. I was in a leadership postion in the Church while attending BYU when the discrimination issue concerning the priesthood caused the leadership to change its position to save themselves from litigation that could end up taking away the Church’s tax exampt status. I was associated with then President Spencer W. Kimball, and Elder Ezra Taft Benson who told me of this pending law suit and their concerns.

    It was also in the late 70s that the Church was preaching to its members and funding efforts to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). If this amendment had been ratified, Prop 8 would have never been introduced. If you recall, 35 of the 38 required states ratified it back then. I believe Churches funding was largely responsible for its defeat.

    In my opinion, we can’t just focus on the Mormon Church – if you recall, funding from the Knights of Columbus (a non-profit Catholic Church arm) contributed heavily FOR Prop 8. I believe the answer is to get Congress to pass legislation that revokes the tax exempt status of ANY non-profit organization who contributes to any political office or any legislation. If we focus on just one Church we won’t get anywhere meaningful.

  7. Adam says:

    I think you are putting way too much emphasis on the LDS church. Do your research and I think you will find they were not the only institution that is tax-exempt that donated funds to these or other ballots.

    Furthermore the choosing was left to the whole state of California, what the people chose was what the people wanted, not what some church wanted. People are not as lame as you are leaving them to be displayed.

    You are suggesting that because someone (anyone) wrote a check in the name of the LDS church that the church themselves wrote the check. Can you prove the check was from the offices of the LDS Church? Who signed the check? Or was the check dispatched from a local representative, or member who acted without the knowledge of the church as a whole?

    I have seen what you have posted and it seems you are more concerned with the LDS church as a whole and possible are making up or mixing facts?

    Disclosure: I am a baptized member of the church who has been inactive for 10+ years.

  8. Tim Cole says:

    I doubt the leaders of the Church would talk casually about such important matters, such as the blacks being allowed to be ordained to the Priesthood, to posers such as Randy. What, you had a revelation on behalf of the Church?? Beware those who would push forward their agendas while falsely cloaked in alleged authority, familiarity, or “I just happened to be there” cover.

    The LDS church was under more pressure about this issue during the 20 years before 1978. There are too many instances to expound upon here.

    Anyway, fraternal and religious organizations have made their wishes known on moral, civil and family issues since the creation of this nation. So, what’s new here? Ever heard of a Political Action Committee (majority of whom are tax-exempt)? I didn’t see any LDS friends storming the streets, chanting death to gays, and defacing private property (activist queer churches could have been obvious targets) when Prop 22 was turned back, did I? Hit pigeons “flutter.” You’re fluttering.

  9. ryan says:

    In 1963, Boyd K. Packer told a very dear friend of mine that he “would rather see [him] dead of cancer tomorrow than to know [he] was gay.” He went on to say “Your entire spiritual life is at stake.” and proceeded to quote scripture at him. Packer never once looked up.

    To be as devout as my friend was and to have an experience like that when he was looking for help and guidance left this 18 year-old tortured, to say the least. These feelings of guilt and self-hatred culminated while he was on his mission trip in Brazil. A bottle of pills at his bedside and no reason to go on he was a moment away from suicide before, he says, God come over him and let him know he was OK and loved. It was that experience, God’s acceptance of him as he was, that kept him alive. It took 20 more years or so before he was finally able accept himself.

    He was brought up in the church and his family goes all the way back to the beginning. In fact, they know that he is gay but he still doesn’t want to tell them he’s now Episcopalian. That’s how deep the beliefs he was taught as a child run.

    I find it funny that one of the slogans for the “Yes on 8” bunch is “Activist Judges” when the LDS church (along with the Catholic Church) started this effort back in 1997. Sounds to me it’s more like “Activist Prophets.” Sources suggest that you can lay a lot of this anti-gay effort right at the fingertips of, none other than, Boyd K. Packer…now second in line from the top of the LDS church. That needs to be determined, mind you, but I say we should start looking there.

    I find all this unfortunate because the Mormons I know, individually, are such good people. I hate that their Brethern has, indeed, “led them astray.” We should not take any anger out on them, but rather the apparatus responsible. Don’t turn H8 into Hate.

  10. Diagoras says:

    I was born into the Mormon church, and have since had my membership records removed. I am disgusted that Mormons who were once victims of legislated hate, would turn and become the persecutors. It’s obvious that the Mormon chuch has become too wealthy and holds too much power.
    It’s high time that the Mormon chuch was brought up short for using its massive tax-free resources to oppress others. It’s time to change the IRS code to become even more strict about churches can and cannot do. It’s time we go MUCH further and make sure that legitimate religions are barred from participating in civil law in ANY way, since they don’t pay any taxes to society. If a church wants to be involved in politics, then it should be subject to the scrutiny that PACs are subject to. The current IRS policy of ignoring or hand-slapping churches must stop.
    I (and many others) are forming action groups to make IRS law much more strict, and penalties much more severe. I personally would like to see the Mormon church completely stripped of its tax-free status, and subject to a lot more government/societal scrutiny by the next election. I think we can do it, we’re mobilizing now.
    A word to church leaders: your freedom to oppress will soon be over. You’ve sown the wind — now you’ll reap the whirlwind.

  11. goldstein says:

    thought some might find this interesting.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/3/15369/3779/711/651188

  12. Jon LiveReal says:

    It is sad the Mormons and black community voted so heavily against gay rights. I guess they forgot about inter-racial marriage we all fought for not so long ago. The gay community needs to try to get in better with some of these big black reverends such as the Rev. Wrights in California who might be able to close the gap some.

  13. song says:

    I find it hilarious how Mormons are whining about being ‘picked on’, pointing fingers, saying that they’re not the only church who supported Prop 8. Now they’re finally getting a taste of what it’s like being singled out and persecuted, and finding it doesn’t taste so good. Mormons– don’t worry, we’ll get to those other churches too, just like you’d get to take away more of other people’s rights if you are left unchecked.

  14. Matt says:

    To the last comment… Mormons are used to being picked on and singled-out. We had to leave the United States of America in the 1840’s because people were kiling us.

    [Editor: And one of the major reasons for the anti-Mormon sentiment was their nontraditional marriage practices that were not “one man and one woman”. This is one of my chief complaints about the current LDS lobbying to “protect marriage”.]

    You people have singled-out the “Mormon Church” not because we are the only ones opposed to gay-marriage, but because we are the group that requires the least work; there is already some negativity in the public opinion of the Mormon chruch, thus making outcry easier to obtain.

    [Editor: That may be true for others, but not for me. I am focusing on the LDS Church because 1) I know it well, and used to love it; 2) I am upset by the hypocrisy of its position here; and 3) the LDS Church provided the majority of funds and volunteer time to support Prop. 8. Each of these is unique to the Church.]

    Good-luck with the tax exempt issue, you are going to need it. The Mormon church did not endorse a political candidate and the only took action on proposition 8 because it was an issue of morality that flies directly in the face of our doctrine. What’s next for you people? Are you going to try and make it illegal for churches to teach moral doctrine, because it might influence the members to vote one way or the other? Are going to make it illegal for religious people to vote? Why should my freedom of speech be limited because I am Mormon? I am outraged by the amount of hate and bigotry being levied by people that are supposed to be working for equal rights. Don’t you think it is a liitle bit ironic? Why don’t attack the state of California? There are millions of other people there that also voted “Yes.” Why is there not the same backlash? Oh yeah, because they are not an easy target.

    [Editor: The State of California remained neutral on the issue. As above the LDS Church is being heavily targeted because they provided the majority of funds and volunteer time for the Yes on 8 campaign.]

  15. song says:

    Mmm, ya, every xian church revels in their own persecution complex. When your basic right to self fulfillment and actualization is taken away under law, then I’ll listen.

  16. Dave says:

    The American Family Association sent DVDs to hundreds (probably thousands) of churches across California urging pastors and their members to get involved by visiting protectmarriage.org.

    Are you aware of any movement to have the AFA’s tax status revoked? I would hope that all these organizations that stepped over the line should be held accountable by having their tax exempt status revoked.

    [Editor: I did not know about this. The AFA may have filed a 501(h) election for this purpose — it’s not a church — so more work would need to be done to understand exactly what was going on. Moreover, these kinds of activities might be protected as “voter education” in a way that directly commanding church members to give of their “time and means” to support a ballot initiative is not.]

  17. Brett says:

    The attack on the LDS Church is making me scratch my head. Is the GLBT community looking for a scapegoat to blame for the loss in California? I agree with an earlier post. Going after a tax exempt status of a church is very counter productive and unlikely. Do you honestly think the LDS Churches vast access to legal council would have allowed them to take a stand like this if there way any jeapordy? The one sided attact of the LDS Church is also counterproductive. Why do they only
    protest the LDS Church and not protest the other religions in the “coalition”? Exit poles show that 70% of black voters in CA voted No. Why is no other organization or other individual groups even being mentioned? I think it is offensive to protest and deface any religous edifice or building, which has been done. It only worsens the cause.

    They protest the money that individual members donated to prop 8 as if money was the factor that decided the result. If that where true than Prop 8 would have failed since more money was spent by the opponents of prop 8 than those that support it. The money donations by LDS members is a red herring.

    My only criticism of the LDS Church involvement in the Prop 8 is not that they had a right to encourage members in encouraging the passage of Prop 8, but that the need was probably completely unnecessary. How many times has the gay marriage issue come up in elections and gay marriage has been rejected by voters? What happened in the 2004 elections. Fox News in 2004 reported

    “The amendments won, often by huge margins, in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Idaho, Ohio, Utah and Oregon — the one state where gay-rights activists hoped to prevail. The bans won by a 3-to-1 margin in Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, 3-to-2 in Ohio, and 6-to-1 in Mississippi.”

    Outside of Utah, can one say that LDS played an important role in gay marriage being defeated? Of course not because Gay Marriage is simply not popular. The general population rejects it and I have enough confidence in the people of California on this issue that they would have rejected it as well without any LDS Church encouragement. Prop 8 won by about 500,000 votes. This suggests that even if every LDS voter in California did not even vote on Nov 4th that Prop 8 STILL would have passed.

    Unfortunatly we lost because the majority of the population does not support our our cause. And, unfortunatly, the actions that are being taken are hurting the cause further. We need to get over the gay marriage. Let the religious institution keep that. We need to work and strengthen domestic partnerships, which will be our version of marriage. And, officially, the LDS Church has officially said that support equal rights for GLBT communites. Just, not for redefining the definition of marriage.

  18. lds501c3 says:

    Brett, thanks for your thoughtful comments. A few reactions:

    First, one can actually say that the LDS Church played an important role in opposing equal marriage, as they did in California when the Knight Initiative went to voters a decade ago.

    Second, the majority of CA did not support Prop. 8 in early polling. Only after the LDS Church and others donated millions of dollars to pay for misleading advertising did the polling begin to shift. Moreover, the vast donations to oppose Prop. 8 did not begin coming in until after the Church and her allies began acting in full force to get Prop. 8 passed. The Church letter went to California bishops at the end of June; polling in mid-June showed double-digit margins AGAINST Prop. 8.

    Finally, shall we settle for “different but equal”? Shall we permit injustice to endure because we believe that what we have is good enough? I agree that we should be glad of domestic partnerships, but until couples can say they are “married”, just the same as a man and a woman, they are not equal, and their relationships do not command the same respect from the state.

    (I have said before that I would be fine with a law that eliminated marriage entirely as a state function and left that to religions, and that all state-sanctioned unions would be identical civil unions. That would also be equal.)

  19. tyster says:

    You do have the freedom to express your view. However – it is helpful to keep views factual and not emotional.

    The Mormon church was asked to join the Measure 8 support coalition by other churches\faiths (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc). Are you targeting them also? Plus – some churches\faiths were strong opponents to Measure 8 – do they also have tax exempt status (i.e. 501c)?

    Many are calling for separation of church and state. But they forget to take a holistic, non-emotional view to the situation. Even worse – some who state they oppose hate are in turn lashing out via property defacing, hateful arguments, hateful rallies, and more. Rather ironic and self defeating. (I have seen a few promote peaceful rallies or “sit-in/love-in” rallies – kudos to them to realizing the correct approach to expressing their concern and raising their voice correctly.)

    Even as I finish this note – I realize you have control to approve\deny comments posted. You will likely cover up such voice of reason – assuming that I’m a Measure 8 supporter or member of the Mormon church. That would be an emotional and unfortunate action in support of your position.

  20. Gunk says:

    This isn’t necessarily targeted towards the editor of this blog, but more towards the posters on here. According to the FBI, hate crimes directed at sexual orientation are about equal to hate crimes committed against religious beliefs. The stat is similar for California. So, I think the Mormons are very familiar with the taste of being “singled out,” or at least as familiar with it as homosexuals are.

    Many Mormons in California prefer not to be “open” about their religious beliefs because of the backlash. You don’t see national television shows and nationally distributed movies mocking homosexuality, but you do see such TV shows mocking Mormons winning awards. Gay activists wouldn’t think twice about standing outside a Jewish synagogue with signs reading “Jews are Wrong & Unfair,” but it’s completely justifiable and necessary to stand outside a Mormon temple with signs reading “Mormons are Wrong & Unfair.”

    You accuse Mormons of hypocrisy, look at yourself.

  21. song says:

    The reason you don’t see major media mocking homosexuality is that people are finally beginning to come around to the fact that homosexuality is not a choice; it is a natural biological state, and much scientific evidence supports that conclusion. Homosexuality is about as funny as being 6 feet tall, or having olive skin. Mormonism, however, IS a choice (assuming one has not been completely indoctrinated). There is NO scientific evidence supporting those Golden Plates®. It is really silly when you think about it.

  22. Harvey Schmaltz says:

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  23. Matt says:

    The reason people don’t mock homosexuals has nothing to do with whether homosexuality is a choice. People make fun of “little people” (those with dawrfism) all the time, and everyone knows they did not choose that “life-style.” A more likely cause is that people who are opposed to homosexuality are not willing to stand up to the hatred and venom that comes from the “all-accepting” and “enlightened” gay community when one makes a comment against them. The Mormon church is facing that right now. I, for one, am tired of a community that makes up a small segment of the population trying to tell everyone else what is right and wrong. I am proud of my church for taking a stand for what is right. I’ll face the fury with them.

    Just because I am unwilling to compromise my standards does not make me a bigot; it does not mean a hate anyone. It means I have a spine and I am not willing to back-down just because you say I must. You want to attack me with “buzz words” like “intolerant” and “bigot.” What does that even mean? I am unwilling to tolerate something I know to be wrong?

    If I wanted to pass a law that allowed prayer in school, the backlash would be unprecidented. Is that intolerance? The defeat of such a movement would be heralded as a great victory for civil rights, all the while, crushing my right to pray in public.

    One other thing, You’re right, being Mormon is a choice, and it is a good choice. Being gay is also a choice. You may be right; there might be a gene that leads one to be attracted to people of the same sex, but that does not mean you no longer have a choice. Just because that may be your natural tendancy, does not mean you must choose to behave that way. Such a line of thought would reduce man to nothing but an animal, driven only by natural instinct. It is the natural instinct of straight men to be attracted to women. Does that mean that I must sleep with every woman I find attractive? Does that make cheating on my spouse is right, because it is in my nature? No. I still have a choice, and so do you.

    [Editor: I agree with that. And I think that men and women everywhere should have the free agency to cheat on their spouse if they choose to, even if we both agree that it’s wrong. So, given that people have a choice, should the government enforce the “right” choice, or should it allow everyone to choose whom they wish to engage in sexual relations with, and whom they wish to marry? If the government wishes to regulate those things, then why not protect marriage by making adultery illegal?]

  24. song says:

    Matt:
    Your arguments are about as specious as an Anthropology degree from BYU.

    1)People do not make fun of “‘little people’ all the time”. No one I know does, save for one acquaintance who is a dwarf, and good-naturedly jokes about her condition from time to time. I can’t recall anything in the media in recent decades that does otherwise, because dwarfism is about as funny as being 6 feet tall, having olive-colored skin, or being homosexual. Maybe things are different in your culture.

    2)Your use of the word ‘choice’ infers something different from mine. You’re apparently assuming that homosexuality is somehow inherently evil; somehow the “wrong choice”. It is not. Being homosexual, AND acting on it, is not any more evil than being 6 feet tall, being a dwarf, or being hetero and acting on it, for that matter. There is no “right choice;” there is no one true way.

    Mormonism, on the other hand, is a highly profitable and tax-exempt, multinational corporation, chartered on superstition, that claims as “humanitarian aid” it’s PR to gain converts. That is so hilarious, it’s sad.

  25. Nicole Neroulias says:

    I would like to talk to the author of this blog for a story I’m writing for Religion News Service. Please contact me. Thank you.

  26. David says:

    And your solution is to Tax the entire Mormon Church? Tax the very people you refer as “some of the most loving people I have ever known in my life”?

    How does that accomplish anything?

  27. Michelle says:

    Maybe it will make those “loving people” and their “loving leaders” (i.e. Boyd Packard – why do people even listen to the evil he spews) think twice before they shove their version of “love” down anyone else’s throat. If Prop 8 is what they consider “love” then I’ll take a pass and do without, thanks.

  28. sierrarancher says:

    Can you give instructions as to how to file a similar complaint to the California Franchise Tax Board. I assume the Church of LDS pays no taxes in California either. Ironic that gay Californians, who were just stripped of a right, pay taxes and the Mormon church does not.

  29. Bill Giles says:

    Just want to say congratulations to Miss Carrie Prejean for standing up for her beliefs and personal rights. The story I read about how she was being pressured by the pageant committee is sickening to say the least.
    Carry on Carrie~1

  30. Heron says:

    Joseph Smith said we believe “in being subject to … magistrates” and in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”, but he did not say we have to sit idly by while our moral standards are whittled away by popular opinion.

    In fact, he specifically warned that decaying moral standards inevitably lead to the ruin of society! I’m sure you’ll remember the “pride cycle” in the Book of Mormon… Shouldn’t I attempt to prevent that cycle from continuing in my own country?

    More generally, how is it “wrong” for the LDS Church to warn its members about something that, according to its own teachings, will lead to the destruction of society?

    Being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates does not mean we should allow those rulers to compromise our moral standards. A statement on Proposition 8 read in sacrament meeting is no different from if the Church were to distribute a statement against (for example) legalizing marijuana.

    The fact that an issue has political ramifications – or that it is resolved through political channels – does not mean the Church must not say a word about it, and it does not mean it should be penalized for attempting to protect society from destruction.

  31. consider signing the petition for full financial transparency in the LDS Church:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/2915spar/petition.html

  32. […] on their push to get a constitutional amendment passed in California banning same-sex marriage. One blogger pushing for the I.R.S. to step in, sympathetic to the church, wrote: “I have never harbored ill […]

  33. Willie Masters says:

    I want to thank you for publishing the church’s tax ID number. As a youth group leader in the church, we get group discounts at places if we have the tax ID number and I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere else!

  34. JS says:

    is there any way to contact you by email? reporter working on a story. thanks!

  35. tweet now says:

    I have been surfing on-line greater than three hours nowadays, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It?s pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content material as you did, the internet can be much more helpful than ever before.

  36. “This blog is set to Mountain Standard Time (Salt Lake City).”
    more like Mountain Meadows Massacre Standard Time 😉

  37. Daniel says:

    You don’t support marriage equality. Marriage was given to us by God, defined by God, and is a covenant between man and God. You are helping to destroy marriage and bring about further abominations before The Lord God of Heaven. This is probably one of the only decent things to ever come of the LDS church and here you are actively supporting EVIL and trying to destroy the only decent message out of the Mormon church. Your knee will bow, your tongue will confess all before The Lord, Jesus, The Christ one day. May he open your eyes to truth before it’s too late and you are tossed into the pit. If you suffer from homosexuality you need deliverance because you are being led by demonic forces. There is no communion that light can have with darkness. The unrighteous shall NOT inherit the Kingdom of God and this includes homosexuals. Seek deliverance, seek The Lord, quit trying to bolster pure evil.

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