Saturday, November 8, 2008

LDS newsroom meme

Here's a new meme. You start with the text of the LDS Church's newsroom release about a protest march on Temple Square, and you insert a few paragraphs of your choice after each of theirs.

Thanks to Scot, Craig and Abelard for tagging me. Everyone else, consider yourself tagged!

Here goes:

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.

Anyone who has kids recognizes this opening gambit instantly. Translation: "I was just being so good and minding my business and those meanies came up and started pointing at me." The kids have been fighting and the instigator of the fight knows that consequences are on the way. The instigator therefore puts up a smoke screen to preemptively establish victimhood. This always has two parts: a profession of one's own virtue plus an accusation of unfair treatment. It would be funnier if we were talking about eight year olds instead of an esteemed religious organization.

In other words, the first paragraph of this press release warms things up with a massive denial of responsibility. It also gets bonus points for two extremely slippery uses of the passive voice in the first sentence. Do you think this press release might be trying to-- I don't know-- evade something?

The next paragraph does not disappoint:

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.

Whoa!!! This is an amazing sleight of hand. "Voting" is a straw man. No one is complaining about voting or free speech.

I'm sorry to have to spell this out. What happened is that the LDS Church exercised powerful religious authority over its members to produce over 50% of all funds and the lion's share (nearly all) of the labor hours used to campaign against marriage equality in California. The Church owns Proposition 8. It was bought and paid for with cash and thousands upon thousands of hours of its members, who were "volunteers" only in the same sense as home teachers and payers of tithing.

Let me repeat. For better or for worse, now and forever, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears primary responsibility for providing the majority of funds and the overwhelming majority of labor hours used in the Yes on 8 campaign. Period. This is the Mormon Church's amendment.

Voting or free speech on the part of individual Mormons is a red herring. The issue is about the nature of and the consequences of the LDS Church's political exercise of ecclesiastical power. Reports from California tell us that specific quotas were given to individual wards and stakes for money and volunteer hours. This is a case of the pulpit being used for political ends, not a grass-roots political movement. The Church used "priesthood keys" to run a full-blown political campaign and is now trying to say that it didn't.

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.

Translation, "we're sacred and that means we are off limits."


If you exercise your right to participate in the political process, you can't claim that you are above it all whenever it's convenient. You can't suddenly hide behind sanctity. You are a political actor and will be held accountable for what you say and do in the public sphere.

"Target" is one of the magic words that establish victim status. I can't decide if this is offensive or pathetic or both.

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 final paragraph shows chutzpah or possibly a complete lack of self-knowledge. The Yes on 8 campaign used dishonorable tactics-- outright lies, bizarre speculation of potential future religious persecution, "save our children " appeals, etc. It was disgraceful by even the low standards of modern political discourse. Now is not the time to feign innocence.

This paragraph, by the way, implies an accusation that the Temple Square protesters were being uncivil or worse. This accusation is false. From the reports I've read, the protest was extremely civil and entirely proper.

So there you have it, a press release that probably reveals more than its author intended. It's a transparent example of trying to avoid accountability for one's actions.


Chedner said...

"No one is complaining about voting or free speech."

Whereas one of the main complaints on Proposition 8's side was specifically concerning the checks and balances set in place within our government to protect minorities from discriminating majorities.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but WHO is really complaining about the way our government is set up here??

Carter Niven said...

People need to be reminded that faithful Mormons have covenanted (some on pain of death):

"You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the Law of Consecration as contained in this, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion."

Faithful Mormons have to do what their church tells them to. Those that don't follow get excommunicated and shunned by the community.

Steven B said...

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.

The church has just orchestrated a campaign to legally marginalize a significant portion of the citizens in the most populated state in the union, written discrimination into the state constitution, and possibly dissolved 18,000 marriages.

And they reduce this to a simple debate?

MoHoHawaii said...

Chedner: I've noticed this too. Religious fundamentalists tend to complain about the system whenever things don't go their way. I don't see them complaining about 'activist judges' in the many cases that deliver the goods for churches. Sheesh!

Carter: I don't have an opinion on whether the temple covenant for obedience to Church authority is a good thing or not. It's none of my business, really. However, this does make the Church's claim that its members were acting on the impulses of the own consciences rather suspect.

Steven: I like what Chanson wrote: Given the erroneous information put out by the “yes on 8″ campaign, this statement is shockingly disingenuous. The claim that they would like to debate this subject in “a spirit of mutual respect and civility” is equally disingenuous. All of their rhetorical games are calculated to break down the common understanding of reality that makes civil discourse possible. This entire press release is designed to polarize.