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