Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A letter from my friend Steve to his Parents and the Mormon Church

Dear Father, Mother and the Elders of my former Church,

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined a coalition which has not just supported, but actually filed a brief with the California Supreme Court defending the established definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman. *(Source:1). First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to Church leaders in California to be read to all congregations on 29 June 2008: In the letter the Church states its intention to participate with the coalition to see that California Proposition 8 passes. They fail to mention the church is not just supporting but part of the coalition and that the legislation they are supporting was drafted and submitted by the coalition. The letter then directs Local Church leaders to provide political propaganda and how to get the Church members involved in passing their legislation. “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.” *(Souce:5)

I do not mind if the Church does not wish to condone Gay’s within their organization although I am astonished that they would participate in suppressing other groups and religions the right and dignity of marriage. It is a sad day when “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” violates their own teachings and joins with other organizations to initiate legislation that promotes intolerance, separatism, bigotry and the oppression of one group over another. As a Baptized Mormon I am a little uncomfortable telling you that I am ashamed of the Mormon Church and that its members including my extended family; would participate in and condone this type of behavior as acceptable.

Elder Wickman and others from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in conjunction with the Church’s Public Affairs staff have confirmed the Church’s stand by filing a brief to the California Supreme Court as well as their Coalition to defeat bills and other propositions that were in support of Gay Marriage. “ELDER WICKMAN: One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. “ *(Source:2) They even comment as to their role and intent on formally changing the Constitution of the United States… clearly defining this a Political Concern.
It should be noted that there are mainstream churches that do marry gay men and the actions being taken by the Mormon Church and others will tread upon those religion’s beliefs and its rights under the law. This is a direct violation of the churches foundational rules and principles set forth on August 17, 1835 within section 134 paragraph 9 of ‘The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints’. “We do not believe it just to amingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” *(Source:3).

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is out to protect their future image by sowing the seeds of intolerance and bigotry into our laws thus stifling tolerance within the United States. Elder David A. Bednar a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expresses one of the reasons the church is getting involved is a fear of future public opinions should Gays be granted civil rights. Specifically he references fear of fines or sanctions against the church should some future action be brought against the church should its views on Gays fail to remain popular with society. *(Source:4). You could say the church learned their lesson when African Americans gained civil liberties. The only difference between now and when the church would not accept African Americans; is that the church is out to change laws to reinforce today’s bigotry so they will not have to live through a time when society once again may become more tolerant than the church itself. Can you imagine the difficulty in converting new members including those in non Caucasian countries when society knew the church was racist and actively discriminating and not allowing African Americans to hold the priesthood? Now the Mormon Church is telling members that it’s ok to encourage the Government to with-hold marriage from Gays, because some states created a compromise called a ‘Civil Union’ which has the same rights as being married without letting them marry. Tell me how that is any different than when the government told Blacks they cannot drink from the White drinking fountain, that there was an equal but separate drinking fountain for them. Similar but separate laws for any specific group over another only serve to rob our fellow brothers and citizens of dignity and respect. At the cost of reinforcing bigoted, discriminatory, intolerant and separatist feelings within our society.

The psychological influence a religious organization / church has over its members is quite significant. Statements by the Church are often acted upon by its members as though God himself commanded it. I do not know about you but I refuse to believe that bigotry and intolerance is a trait God would practice or wish to be made into Law. These laws are flat out discriminatory. Making it unlawful for another church to marry two men. The audacity and self-righteousness of it. Any organization that perpetuates self supremacy and the superiority of their thoughts and beliefs at the expense of another’s, are no better than the Nazi’s were prior to the rise of Hitler. Do you think Germans had this deep unsatisfied desire to commit genocide and kill all the Gay and Jewish people they could possibly shove into ovens? Of course not. They were merely raised within a self-righteous society that promoted suppressing other groups and religions, a society where separatism and bigotry was considered righteous and just. Intolerance paves the way for people like Hitler to justify radical supremacist ideals by capitalizing on the intolerance while promoting hate and bigotry towards that group as a means to overcome anything and everything wrong with the world.

I was raised Christian and taught love and respect for others. I find these actions to be specifically un-Christian and damaging to God’s name and works. Actions like these are those that cause people to lose faith. I feel in these actions by the Mormon Church reinforce a thought process and behavior that represents the worst of mankind. Something I thought was on the verge of becoming an historical reference as something overcome during the spiritual growth of mankind.
I do not mind if you are Mormon. I do not mind if the Mormon Church does not wish to allow Gays to hold the priesthood, nor to join their family in heaven. Although I do not want there to be any confusion in the fact that your tithing is profiting a church that supports intolerant and separatist coalitions which are determined to prevent civil liberties for those who are unlike them. I am hurt to admit I find this to be a hateful act on behalf of my families loved and trusted religion “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.


Steve Kelly

*Source:1 (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/church-joins-other-faith-groups-in-defense-of-traditional-marriage
*Source:2 (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction)
*Source:3 (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/134)
*Source:4 (http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/media/mediaplayer.swf?media=http://broadcast.lds.org/newsroom/video/flv/bednar_edit02_150k.flv&type=FLV)
*Source:5 (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage).
1.) Anti-Gay Civil Liberties Coalition Members: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined with the California Catholic Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of American” *(source:1)
2.) Additional Un-sited Information regarding the LDS church and Same Sex Marriage, including Proposition 8. Reference:1 (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8).