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Documentary Attempts To Lift The Curtain On Prop 8

Audio

Aired 6/22/10

A new documentary, "8: The Mormon Proposition," focuses on individuals and families impacted by Prop 8. We speak to filmmaker Steven Greenstreet. Closing arguments in the Prop 8 Marriage trial took place last week. A ruling is expected this summer.

Event Info

"8: The Mormon Proposition" is playing in San Diego through June 29 at the Gaslamp Stadium Theater.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): Closing arguments took place last week in the trial to determine if California's Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution. Prop 8, of course, was approved by state voters 52 to 48% in November of 2008, and it changed the California Constitution to ban same sex marriage. Earlier that same year, the California Supreme Court had just approved same sex marriage. The fight in support of Prop 8 had some very heavy hitters behind it; conservative organizations, especially religious conservatives, worked hard to overturn same-sex marriage in California. And according to a new documentary, one organization in particular seems to have pulled out all the stops to make sure the anti-gay marriage ban was approved by voters. That organization is the Mormon Church. The documentary is called "8: The Mormon Proposition." Joining me now to talk about the premise of this new film is one of its directors, Steven Greenstreet, and welcome to These Days.

STEVEN GREENSTREET (Documentary Director): Yeah, hi, thanks for having me.

CAVANAUGH: You’re very welcome. We’re inviting our listeners to join the conversation. Have you been following the federal Prop 8 trial in San Francisco. If you voted for Prop 8, tell us if advertising or promotion made a difference in your vote. You can join us with your questions and your comments. Our number is 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Let me ask you that question first, Steven. Have you been following the federal Prop 8 trial in San Francisco?

GREENSTREET: Yeah, no, not only have I been following it but the characters in our documentary have been out there in California following it, some of them from the courtroom itself and Tweeting and texting and Facebooking from the actual event. So we’ve, yeah, definitely been keeping an eye on it.

CAVANAUGH: Now why did you decide to make the film, "8: The Mormon Proposition?"

GREENSTREET: Well, I, you know, I grew up Mormon myself and served a Mormon mission and my co-director Reed Cowan, actually he started making a film about homeless youth in and around Salt Lake City who had been kicked out of their homes because they had come out to their parents, their Mormon parents, as gay. And then when Proposition 8 started bubbling out in California, we kind of expanded our view because we saw the politics of what was happening in California trickle down culturally to these kids being kicked out of their homes. And so we decided that A) the church that we had grown up in, we saw a complete lack of all the ethics that we had grown up being taught about love and charity and family. And so we decided to turn the camera on the church that we grew up with.

CAVANAUGH: Why did you decide to call it "8: The Mormon proposition?" When did it occur to you guys that this proposition was so heavily backed by the Mormon Church?

GREENSTREET: Well, we knew from the get-go. You know, voters went to the ballot box in California thinking that a coalition of organizations were behind this but we knew that the man behind the curtain was really the Mormon Church and that this is not the first state that they have done this in. When we got ahold of 1500 internal documents, faxes, e-mails, from the Mormon Church through a source that we had at Church Archives, and we saw in print signatures of Mormon leaders of how they had planned all of this, how they were going to dump tons of money into this, how they were going to invite the Catholics, “Focus On the Family,” evangelical churches, and how they were going to use these churches to front this campaign for them but they were really going to stand in the background and run the whole campaign.

CAVANAUGH: And how did you get ahold of these secret documents?

GREENSTREET: Fred Karger, who is our lead political analyst and he’s the political analyst that filed the complaint against the Mormon Church to the Fair Political Practices Commission for underreporting their funds, a source sought him out and gave him a call during his investigation and met him in a bar kind of anonymously and had a box full of documents that he passed over to him. And we, in turn, were able to access those documents and use them in the film actually to kind of help inform voters of what’s really going on behind the scenes.

CAVANAUGH: Now at least one of the results of some of that documentation was that on – just earlier this month, the California Ethics Commission found that the Mormon Church was guilty of 13 counts of late reporting on Prop 8 campaign donations and fined the church nearly $6,000.00. Tell us a little bit more about what that was about.

GREENSTREET: Right, and so the church initially, right from the gate, told the public we have – our 501(c)(3), our organization, has donated zero dollars to Proposition 8. And people like us and people like Fred Karger and people in the kind of political pulse knew that was a lie. And so they started some steam and then they retracted their statement, said, well, we’ve only donated just over $2,000.00 on some hotels and a plane ticket. Fred Karger submitted the complaints to the Fair Political Practices Commission and kept pushing them and pushing them because religions do not have to open their financial books. And so little by little they started to admit more and more and more and more money until, ultimately, I think it evened out around $200,000.00. And then the Fair Political Practices Commission, beyond that, found 13 more counts of under-reported and late-reported funds.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Steven Greenstreet. He is one of the directors of "8: The Mormon Proposition." It’s a new documentary that’s playing in San Diego. And I want to let everyone know that we did contact the Mormon Church to participate in this program. We were sent a message that the church respectfully declined to participate but they also sent us a statement on "8: The Mormon Proposition." They say, we have not seen "8: The Mormon Proposition," however, judging from the trailer and background material online, it appears that accuracy and truth are rare commodities in this film. Clearly, anyone looking for balance and thoughtful discussion of a serious topic will need to look elsewhere. And that’s signed Buddy Blankenfeld, Media Manager, Public Affairs Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And let’s take a call from Dan, calling us from Point Loma. Good morning, Dan. Welcome to These Days.

DAN (Caller, Point Loma): Oh, thank you. I had – I just wanted them to address or to talk about the way that the proposition itself was even worded, that it was worded anti-intuitively, that you had to vote no if you wanted the bill to go – if you wanted it to go forward. And you had to vote yes – You know, it was kind of backwards that way. And I think it was done that way deliberately to help confuse and mislead voters almost to the point of being fraudulent.

CAVANAUGH: So what you’re talking about is a yes on Prop 8 was against gay marriage.

DAN: Right.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

DAN: And if you wanted it to go – and people that I talked to who wanted – who supported gay marriage, said, oh, yes, I voted yes for that because I believe in that.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

DAN: And I’m like, well, you – either you didn’t read it or you were confused because you just killed it.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

DAN: And I think that that was – it seems like that’s a normal thing to do when you’re going against the social norm, to kind of flip the vote – the wording around to catch that number of voters who were either not clear or voting in haste and…

GREENSTREET: Right.

DAN: …not being clear.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you. Thank you for that. Steven, you want to comment?

GREENSTREET: Yeah, definitely, you know, polling after Proposition 8 showed exactly what he just said, that voters thought that yes meant no, and no meant yes. And even now, I’ve done some screenings across the country where people would stand up and say I couldn’t understand why you would vote no on this because I’m for gay marriage. And we had to like correct them…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

GREENSTREET: …saying like, no, actually like yes meant against, you know, same sex marriages. So people still to this day are still kind of confused about it. You know, in the documents that we acquired from internal church headquarters, the words verbatim of Proposition 8 were actually drafted years and years ago at Brigham Young by a lawyer at Brigham Young University, these documents show. And it is very clear that, you know, one of the intentions was one of confusion with the wording itself. So it’s definitely a really good point.

CAVANAUGH: In addition to the campaign donations that the Mormon Church actually made towards Prop 8, your documentary also says that there were a lot of church activists and activities involved in support and that the total amount that can be traced to the church and supporters is more like in the tens of millions.

GREENSTREET: It is. Seventy-one – Mormons make up 2% of the California population but donated up to 71% of the $40-plus million raised.

CAVANAUGH: I see.

GREENSTREET: So, yeah, it was tens of millions of dollars. And having grown up Mormon, I know that there is no distinction and no separation between the church as a 501(c)(3) and the membership. It doesn’t have a paid clergy, unlike some churches. Bishops, stake presidents, leaders, are not paid. It’s all – They’re all kind of one big family. And I understand, having grown up myself, that when your leader asks you to write a check, there’s an extremely, extremely strong pressure, social pressure, to do that. So that’s ultimately what happened in a lot of cases.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. John is calling from Escondido. Good morning, John. Welcome to These Days.

JOHN (Caller, Escondido): Hi. I missed a little bit of your conversation so I hope I don’t say – am not (audio dropout) as other guests. But I’m not Mormon. I did vote for Proposition 8. I don’t have any problem with the participation of the Mormon Church. Honestly, I think that the guest is really asserting that something was fixed here. I think that the wishes of the voters were shown by the vote that they cast.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, thank you for that, John. And, indeed, Steven, what is wrong about people getting very, you know, who are forcefully in favor of a certain proposition spending a lot of money on it?

GREENSTREET: Well, is John still there?

CAVANAUGH: Is John still on the line with us?

JOHN: Yes.

GREENSTREET: Hey, John, so you said you voted for Proposition 8, so essentially against gay marriage.

JOHN: Correct.

GREENSTREET: And why did you vote for it?

JOHN: I just – I think that traditionally – Hey, how you doing?

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

JOHN: Traditionally – Yeah, I’m sorry. I’m distracted. You guys, good luck with your conversation. Thanks.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, well, John didn’t want to stay with us. But let me…

GREENSTREET: Okay.

CAVANAUGH: …if I can, Steven, go back to my question and…

GREENSTREET: Okay.

CAVANAUGH: …that is, what is essentially wrong with a lot of people who support Prop 8 giving a lot of money to it?

GREENSTREET: Well, you know, I really wish John could’ve stayed on and explained why he voted for it because I would’ve – that would’ve probably guided me to how I would answer that question.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

GREENSTREET: But, basically, if you look at the campaign that the church funded and ran in California, it was a campaign of misinformation and lies. When you run campaign pamphlets and commercials that say if Proposition 8 doesn’t pass—meaning gays can marry—religions will be forced to change their rules and change their laws and you won’t be able to practice your religion as you should and will be forced to have gay marriages in our chapels, kids – your kids are in danger, literal, imminent danger if Proposition 8 does not pass. And it was all of this fear mongering and false information, that adoption services – that adoption services would have to shut down because, you know, to – because gays would suddenly be allowed to adopt. And everybody, you know, the kids – And this is – All of this money, it’s okay to spend money and churches are allowed to spend money on issue-related campaigns but you’ve got to know where the money’s coming from and you’ve got to know the truth about where it’s being spent. And none of that really happened in Proposition 8 until months and months after the election. So this is a hurried campaign of misinformation and lies and I really feel that a lot of voters went to the ballot box not knowing the proper information.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Marci is calling us from Encinitas. Good morning, Marci, and welcome to These Days.

MARCI (Caller, Encinitas): Thank you. I just have a comment to make. I wanted to state that I was brought up LDS, as well as your guest, and my family is also LDS. I do not practice anymore. But when that whole debate was going on, it caused quite – family discussions in the home. I mean, everyone against it, and me and my more liberal sisters for the gay marriage. And our point was like the – like your guest says, we were brought up with these morals to accept and love and be a certain type of person and here my family was so angry and bitter towards the whole gay marriage. Like these people are in love and why does that bother you so much? It’s just – it was just like a conflict of, like your guest says, it’s the way you were brought up. It’s just almost hypocritical and that was just my comment. And it did cause a lot of division to the point where we didn’t go and spend time with my family because it was always such a heated debate and they were very – and I don’t – And also another thing that was also a problem. I had another friend who was tied up in the Mormon Church with a Bishop and left the church because at that point they were really I don’t want to say forceful but passing out signs to put up on your lawns for…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

MARCI: …you know, the agenda, Proposition 8, and I just thought that – I mean, if you’re paying money into the church, I didn’t know it went to political – to political…

GREENSTREET: Umm-hmm.

MARCI: …issues. I thought it went to helping other members in the church for the Deseret Industries…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

MARCI: …and the canneries and all that kind…

GREENSTREET: Umm-hmm.

MARCI: …of stuff. I didn’t know that was part of what you’re giving your tithing for.

CAVANAUGH: Marci, thank you.

MARCI: And I’ll take my comment off the air.

CAVANAUGH: I appreciate it. Thank you very much. And what’s your comment to that, Steven?

GREENSTREET: Yeah, I was sent out as a missionary to knock on doors and one of the main messages that we taught was about family and the unity of family and the importance of family and keeping the family together. And this is the message that I taught and yet, you know, ten years later I see that same church go into California and, in many cases, rip families apart. I mean, Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, the two – the main couple in our film, who gets married, you know, they’re – come from Mormon families and their families were ripped apart. Their, you know, Tyler’s mother had to watch her child go – be told that he’s a second class citizen, be stripped of his rights, be told that his love is not valid, that he is not valid, that his emotions are not valid. And it’s a horrible thing to watch a mother cry as she watches her child go through such hell. And to see the church that I grew up in be the root cause of that was really, as the caller said, kind of hypocritical.

CAVANAUGH: And my last question to you, Steven, how is this documentary playing for Mormon audiences?

GREENSTREET: Well, we screened, you know, we premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the heart of Mormon Utah.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

GREENSTREET: And we had – we were – We were kind of apprehensive of how it’d be received. Mormons did come to the screening and we had Mormon – active Mormons stand up afterwards with everybody else and in tears and emotionally affected because the film – you can’t judge the film before you see it, as the LDS church has done. They say that it’s full of lies but we haven’t seen it. The Mormons who have come and seen our film, they stand up and they say what can I do? I don’t like knowing that I directly or indirectly helped ruin people’s lives essentially, and ripped families apart. And the conversation has been one of common ground and one of unity. This is not an anti-Mormon film. This is not a anti-religion film. It’s a pro-democracy film and a pro-family film. And those are common ground issues that I think even the most devout Mormon can agree with.

CAVANAUGH: Steven, I want to thank you so much for speaking with us today.

GREENSTREET: Thank you so much for having me.

CAVANAUGH: Steven Greenstreet and Reed Cowan are the directors of a new documentary called "8: The Mormon Proposition." It’s playing at the Gaslamp Stadium Theater in San Diego through June 29th. There were a lot of people who called we couldn’t get on the air. Please, go online with your comments, KPBS.org/thesedays. Coming up, what your libido reveals about your life. That’s as These Days continues here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'KelvinJeuneauSD'

KelvinJeuneauSD | June 22, 2010 at 10:24 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I support prop 8, I support families.

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Avatar for user 'Hisa'

Hisa | June 22, 2010 at 10:37 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

The Mormon neighbor across the street was campaigning 14 hours a day for Proposition 8. When I parked my car on their side of the road due to lack of space, it started a feud, due to my No on 8 bumper sticker. I do recall that the Mormons were against miscegenation (mixed raced marriages) until recently. I am not Gay, but I grew up in San Francisco, and the often the best teachers I had were. I am not Christian but I know that Jesus taught "Do not judge, lest thou be judged."

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | June 22, 2010 at 11:02 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Prop 8 is just another fine example of what religion does to people. The money, time, and energy spent in oppressing a segment of the population based on a lot of nonsense. Remember, the Mormons and the Catholic Church were a big part of the machine for pushing the fear and lies in favor of this Prop.

Think about that, the Catholic Church, a bastion of pedophilia and torture championing family values? The Book of Mormon, a book written by an illiterate with racist beliefs whose group later went on to practice polygamy until the government finally got on their case.

When do we grow up and stop believing in fairy tales and deal with reality? If you want to support families then figure out how to prevent the nearly 50% of heterosexual marriages that don't work out and then leave children split between two parents.

My guess is that if you look at it without the ridiculous bias of a book of fairy tales, you'll logically come to the conclusion that homosexuals getting married is not a threat to Hetero marriage or families. By the way, Sodom was later made drunk by his daughters who then fornicated with him. Great family values in that book!

I support families and I support equality for all tax paying Americans. I do not support a man having carnal knowledge with his daughters, being racist, or taking advantage of little children.

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Avatar for user 'janejanebobane'

janejanebobane | June 22, 2010 at 11:07 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Several points I want to make:
1) comments were made that the wording of the prop was confusing, therefore it passed because people didn't know what they were voting for. That is a leap to justify the props success. To take that stand means that the majority of voters would have to be misinformed and have voted opposite to what their intention was --- and I don't buy that.

2) the guest accused Prop 8 supporters of "lying and scare tactics" to get the Prop passed. NPR documents "...the rights of gay couples have consistently trumped the rights of religious groups..."
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340
Read the facts. I'd say the guest was lying about the real truth of what's happening.

Lastly, emotional pleas about hurting feelings and families are persuasive, but the bottom line is this: those that disagree with gay marriage are standing up for God's laws and morals, regardless of how it hurts people's feelings. THAT is the true divide of the issue. You either stand for MAN or you stand for GOD.

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Avatar for user 'TJinSD'

TJinSD | June 22, 2010 at 11:21 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

My dad is Mormon, and I know for a fact that they were given "assignments" to go out and campaign. They were instructed to call as many people as they could and given quotas for the number of calls they were supposed to make each day, and were given a script to memorize the arguments they were supposed to put forth during the phone calls.

When I calmly told my dad why I thought Prop 8 was discriminatory and based on fear of people that are different from us, he responded with the arguments from the script. His main fear, prompted by what the church was saying, was that if Gay marriage were legal then it would have to be taught as an acceptable life-style in school. I don't recall any classes or teachers in school talking about marriage at all, much less about different types of marriages or life-style choices. If the topic does come up at school, then that is a good time for parents to talk to their children about the issue and explain their beliefs and the reasons for them.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, and they don't have to like or support someone else's life choices. However, I think it is wrong to impose one group's morality on the rest of society. I believe strongly in the need for separation between church and state. It is one of the reasons people came here in the first place - to escape religious prosecution. When a church puts that kind of money and political pressure into shaping our laws, they become a Political Action Committee. Shouldn't that call into question their tax exempt status?

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | June 22, 2010 at 11:28 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@janejanebobane

Which god?

Zeus, Odin, Apollo, Isis? There are so many, please be specific.

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Avatar for user 'janejanebobane'

janejanebobane | June 22, 2010 at 11:39 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

randolphslinky, you said "I support families and I support equality for all tax paying Americans. I do not support a man having carnal knowledge with his daughters, being racist, or taking advantage of little children."

Those involved in incest, racism and pedophiles ARE tax paying Americans! Remember, you said "ALL". Therefore according to your viewpoint, anyone, with ANY kind of belief system should be exempt from any kind of judgement from you or me. That is the FATAL FLAW of Moral Relativism.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | June 22, 2010 at 11:51 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@janejanebobane

Their are obviously consequences for breaking laws if you are caught Ms. Jane, and you know that's not what this is about.

Just as TJin SD so rightly described above this is a religious movement that has become a political action committee.

Now answer the question, which god?

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Avatar for user 'philipcala'

philipcala | June 22, 2010 at 12:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Had gay and other family partnerships been promoted solely on the basis of greater loyalty to family values, then I would have voted against Prop 8. Unfortunately, the proponents of gay marriage (including 4 of the 7 California Supreme Court justices) claimed and still claim that it is unfairly discriminatory to deny marriage to same sex partners. But that would imply that churches, private fertilization clinics and private adoption agencies would be unfairly discriminatory if they continue to restrict their services to traditional relationships. Public schools would need to teach gay marriage on equal footing with male-female marriage. That goes too far and also ignores a million years of biologic and cultural evolution that has delivered to us the male-female relationship as the potentially ideal partnership for unaided procreation and the raising of children.

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Avatar for user 'jon_826'

jon_826 | June 22, 2010 at 1:11 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I have become so disillusioned with religious arguments of late that have gone so far from human understanding as to say soemthing like "You either stand for MAN or you stand for GOD."
If god created man in his image, then how can the above statement be true?
Oh, I remember, "We are all sinners. We have free will, blah, blah, blah." I have never murdered anyone in my life; I try to serve others and be a positive force in my community. And believe it or not, I do not murder and I try to do good works not for fear of punishment from a completely unknowable god authority. I do it because it makes more sense to me to help rather than harm.
Also what is the difference between moral relativism and Christian relativism, when there are Christians who support gay marriage because they recognize that more and more studies show that gay parents create a loving, supportive family more often than not. That is a relative view. And add that to murderers who fall to their knees to "glorify god" after they have attacked various clinics and doctors who perform abortions...maybe that's not Christian relativism, but it certainly is pro-life relativism.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | June 22, 2010 at 1:37 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@philipcala

Your argument injects things that Prop 8 was never about. Who in this blog was indoctrinated about or taught marriage at school? Who, I really want to know.

And again the same old tired arguments about procreation, and what's ideal. Do you really think we have a shortage of people on this planet? LOL! If only more people were gay and not having children.

Sadly, the only reason to object to homosexuals being allowed to marry is that your Jewish book of fairytales tells you so. That same book tells you that Lot later gets drunk and has carnal knowledge with his daughters. A great example of "millions of years of biologic and cultural evolution."

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Avatar for user 'Jocelyn'

Jocelyn | June 22, 2010 at 1:46 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

By the end of the video trailer of I was in tears. I suppose I will be completely dried out by the end of the entire documentary. I wasn't expecting to cry or in a particularly emotional state, but I can tell this movie tugs at ones' heartstrings, and I can tell the film makers are extremely passionate about the subject. I spent all of my high school years in an Evangelical church, and I spent most of my high school years socializing with the LDS students at my high school. I also attended church with them occasionally.

Why did I hang out with the Mormons so much? I'm an only child with parents on their way to divorce. I loved being around their big united families, and I commend their family values, as family values are pertinent.

However, gays dismantling the entire family structure, I doubt it. The scare tactics that the LDS church, and all Christian churches use to deter their members from siding with gay civil rights issues is what is an abomination. The point that the fear and hatred towards homosexuals has more of an affect on family relationships is incredibly relevant and eye opening.

What also disgusts me is the money poured into these campaigns. Churches have so much power, and have a higher responsibility.

I also, do not appreciate many Christians questioning my beliefs and faith in Jesus Christ due to my attitudes towards LGBT rights, and the love I have for those in the LGBT community.

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Avatar for user 'janejanebobane'

janejanebobane | June 22, 2010 at 2:04 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Jocelyn: "What also disgusts me is the money poured into these campaigns. Churches have so much power, and have a higher responsibility."

To whom and to do what?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 22, 2010 at 3:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I think we all know what must be done:

End the tax-exempt status of all churches and religious organizations.

If they want to regress our society back to the middle ages, they should at least pay for our castles (serfs included), witch-burning bonfires, and maps showing a flat Earth.

By the way, Mormons, follow the 15 north, it shall lead ye home.

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Avatar for user 'sezhoo'

sezhoo | June 22, 2010 at 3:47 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

The issue at hand is not whether or not folks had the right to support the passage of Proposition 8 based on their religious understanding.

What IS at issue is the right of an organized and tax-exempt religious entity, the Church of Latter Day Saints in this case, to expend dollars on a political campaign.

The IRS rules are very clear about the role than ANY non-profit agency may play in lobbying re legislation (and state ballot initiatives are considered legislation). The IRS says that non-profit agencies may expend only up to 5% of resources (everything from staff time, copy paper, utilities, travel, etc ... to direct financial support) in lobbying its members or the public on legislation. Or, barring that, to apply for 501(c)h status which would allow for potentially larger expenditures, but would impose a dollar cap on those expenditures.

In this case, the Mormon Church did not have the right to participate at the extraordinary level that it did. That's the point. We could be talking about any non-profit agency. But we're talking about the egregious level of participation by a religious organization which used tax-exempt funds (supported by the government and, by extension, the rest of us) to illegally drive a campaign.

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Avatar for user 'philipcala'

philipcala | June 22, 2010 at 5:03 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Re Randolphslinky's response to my earlier comment, I did not say I was against gay marriage. Nor did I base my position on the Bible. I simply disagree with how gay marriage is being promoted. I disagree with the claim that making any distinction between gay versus traditional marriage is unfair and violates gay rights. The implications of that argument are that no one could prefer traditional marriages without being legally judged discriminatory. As I said, remove that potential threat and I would vote for gay marriage, especially considering the present state of family life in our country.

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Avatar for user 'n2dgroove'

n2dgroove | June 22, 2010 at 5:42 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Churches already have first amendment protections for freedom of religion. Freedom for gays to marry would not trump that right. Churches today can pick and choose who to marry...just like the Catholic church can refuse to marry divorced people if they choose. Churches can even refuse to perform inter-racial marriages if that is outside of their belief systems.

I grew up in the 70′s being taught that the Mormon church was a cult. After moving to California and meeting so many wonderful people who were of the Mormon faith, I gave up that belief until Prop 8 passed. Now, when I meet someone of the Mormon faith, I instantly dislike and distrust them. It’s something I’m working on overcoming and I know it’s a knee-jerk reaction…but having to sit in front of a news report to see if my marriage had been annulled as a result of that initiative has taken a toll. The Mormon church made millions of enemies that day who wouldn’t shed a tear if the entire organization collapsed. In fact, some of us pray that it would. I’m not proud of those sentiments, but I also didn’t start the war.

The one thing that every pro-Mormon commentator on this piece neglected to say was that not one Mormon lost a constitutional right as a result of Prop 8. Gays and lesbians did…it had already been granted and existed in California. Prop 8 took it away. I don’t live in a Mormon church…I live in the USA. I pay my taxes and I try to help my fellow human beings in any way I can. Prop 8 taught me that it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I’m a gay man…the bigots will try to force their morality on me when all I want is to live a quiet life married to the man of my dreams.

I have no shame to call what the Mormons did bigotry, but I don’t hate them in return. I hate that they put me in a position against my fellow human beings. Life-long friendships were lost over this proposition. I truly believe the masterminds behind this hateful and divisive piece of legislation will burn in hell for the pain and suffering they have caused millions of people.

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philipcala | June 22, 2010 at 6:09 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Concerning the propriety of the Mormon Church in promoting Prop 8, I believe that whenever spiritual ministers stray from their primary role of facilitating personal spiritual development in their congregations, whenever they act out collectively in the world, then they are no longer acting as a religious organization offering spiritual services alone, but rather as a social advocacy group as well. An advocacy group is subject to different rules than a church. A church should be able to teach a spiritual truth that individuals in the congregation are free to interpret and apply to the world. But a church as a church advocating specific propositions is acting in that case as a social advocacy group and should be subject to rules governing such groups. Most importantly we all need to know who is paying for the ads meant to influence us.

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janejanebobane | June 22, 2010 at 6:20 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

CaliforniaDefender said: "I think we all know what must be done: End the tax-exempt status of all churches and religious organizations. "

I'll agree to that as long as you apply the same standard across the board. Yank the tax exempt status of GLAAD, LA Gay and Lesbian Center, etc. Also let's end the tax exempt 501c3 status of Planned Parenthood since they kill unborn humans, which I'm against, and as sezhoo says "supported by the government" -- my tax dollars.

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janejanebobane | June 22, 2010 at 8:36 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

n2dgroove, I am sympathetic to your pain, but respectfully disagree with much of what you say here.
"Churches already have first amendment protections for freedom of religion. Freedom for gays to marry would not trump that right" (I say, not yet, but your side is working on that). "Churches today can pick and choose who to marry (again I say, yes, as of today, but your side is working to erode that too) "...just like the Catholic church can refuse to marry divorced people if they choose. Churches can even refuse to perform inter-racial marriages if that is outside of their belief systems". (Incorrect-- see Loving vs. Virginia, which ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States).

Let's look at real world examples of why I disagree, and how the LGBT agenda is being pushed on religious organizations/people. This is from an article on NPR.
Yeshiva (a private Jewish) University was ordered to allow same-sex couples in its married dormitory. A Christian school has been sued for expelling two allegedly lesbian students. Catholic Charities abandoned its adoption service in Massachusetts after it was told to place children with same-sex couples. The same happened with a private company operating in California. A psychologist in Mississippi who refused to counsel a lesbian couple lost her case, and legal experts believe that a doctor who refused to provide IVF services to a lesbian woman is about to lose his pending case before the California Supreme Court. A Christian photography company refused to photograph a gay wedding was found guilty of discrimination and must pay the gay couple more than $6,600.

These cases don't reflect the claim that gays just want to be left alone and live in peace. If so, why wouldn't these gays prefer to give their money to organizations and businesses that support their LGBT views? (and there are plenty of them to choose from) This is not choosing to live a quiet lifestyle in peace. This is using the legal system to force acceptance of a view that goes against the grain of these Jewish and Christian groups.

Now, explain to me again, why is Prop 8 so wrong? Oh yeah, it limits one's choices and forces one's views on someone else.

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Jocelyn | June 22, 2010 at 11:54 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Well, Janejanebobane, churches have the responsibility to serve others, or that is what I have always been taught by the church. And last time I checked banning gay marriage isn't meeting anyones' needs.

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Jocelyn | June 23, 2010 at 12:12 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

And one more thing. It is completely wrong to use the example of three cases where members of the LGBT community who filed a legal case due to discrimination. There will always be people who are pot-stirrers who try to create uproars regardless of religion, gender, age, sexual preference, race, etc. Those people who filed those claims are probably just looking for attention like any other person who goes after ridiculous lawsuits.

I was really moved by this article and just wanted to post my thoughts as many other people have. It is unnecessary to go around picking apart everybodys' comments.

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randolphslinky | June 23, 2010 at 8:53 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@janejanebobane

Think about where the root of your arguments come from, you've referenced "God" already so I must assume you don't mean Zeus, or Odin, but probably the Jewish version of mythical beings, right?

Here is just a small piece taken from the Bible on the story of Lot upon which so many base their extreme prejudice and hatred on homosexuals:

JG 19:22-29 A group of sexually depraved men beat on the door of an old man's house demanding that he turn over to them a male house guest. Instead, the old man offers his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine "Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing."

The man's concubine is ravished and dies. The man then cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Lot later is made drunk by his daughters and they have sex with him.

?????? And this is just one of many ridiculous and horrific examples of the morality taken from the Jewish book of fairy tales. So please excuse me if so many of us just don't want your version of morality legislated upon us. LOL

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philipcala | June 23, 2010 at 1:04 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

janejanebobane has given very good and actual examples of how the promotion of gay marriage equality as a civil right has already been used to challenge or deny PRIVATE persons and groups the right to choose whether to counsel, impregnate, marry, or photograph folks based on whether their relationship is traditional. My objection to the supposed equality of gay relationships is based on biology and culture, not religion. Why not promote extending marriage to gay relationships based on its value to present family life and without the legal implications of the supposed equality of gay marriage to traditional marriage? I could vote for that. Considering the closeness of past votes, a 3 percentage point shift could make all the difference.

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janejanebobane | June 23, 2010 at 1:17 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

If the purpose of this blog is to dump emotion, and continue to rally your own team with half truths, that's unfortunate. I listen to KPFK, NPR and KPBS because I want to learn and understand points of view that are different than mine. You should be open to hearing both sides, accepting FACTS, and if you are compassionate, try to understand opposing views. My intention is not to "pick apart". I'm exposing irrational thinking and untruths being spread in the interview and within the posts. So far, I hear a lot of emotion and belittling and quite a bit of hypocrisy.

Jocelyn, you are requesting the "Religious Right", as we are called, to ignore actual cases where OUR rights are being threatened. I think you are being naive; look at history. Sweeping social change always started with, as you put it, "pot-stirrers who try to create uproars". These are not, again as you put it, "ridiculous lawsuits." These are foundations upon which other similar lawsuits will rest and hinge. The fact that these people had other options and other businesses they could have used, shows that the lawsuits were punitive. Those cases prove that the LGBT movement is not going to stop at the church doorstep as so many are claiming. And please, before you say it, don’t compare this to overturning racial discrimination. The Bible doesn’t teach that any race is inferior to another, but it does say homosexuality is wrong. People, read the Bible, cover to cover, and earnestly seek the WHOLE message before you comment on it. What's going on here is like me taking what Perez Hilton says and using it as a wide brush against the LGBT.

randolphslinky, I've tried to ignore your bitter posts, but I'll say this. We are both fighting for what we feel is right. You hold your beliefs, and I hold mine. The difference between us is that #1- you are acting mean and angry #2 - I am willing to admit exactly where I stand and back it up with facts as to why I am threatened with gay marriage passing. Your logic is irrational: “I support equality for all tax paying Americans” – Except when they don’t agree with you. If you truly believed in equality for all Americans, then I think you would show more respect for other people’s religious beliefs, whether you agree with them or not. Your angry, sarcastic posts show more about what’s going on inside you personally, than it does about the cause you are championing.

I honestly believe that gay couples should have every right as hetero married couples, and I don't agree with degrading or being derogatory to homosexuals. But with the passing of gay "marriage" laws, I can see my religious rights being taken away, and that's worth fighting for.

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randolphslinky | June 23, 2010 at 2:02 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@philipcala

Let me make sure I understand this - you're basing your vote against the "supposed equality of gay relationships" on biology and culture not religion?

Your denial of the religious role in this sounds highly suspect to me. What in the world does biology have to do with it? Please don't tell me you actually believe that unless two people can produce offspring they shouldn't be married. I've got a few friends who can and don't want to, should we annul their marriage? What about older couples who can't have children?

As far as culture goes, culture changes all the time. Our culture once had slaves, and our culture once didn't allow women to vote, or black people to use the same facilities as whites. That was all a part of our culture and other cultures for many hundreds of years, perhaps longer in some places.

These things changed. I believe these things changed because they were not conducive to the vision of America. Prop 8 is wrong, it discriminates, and rest assured that one day it will change as well.

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Jocelyn | June 23, 2010 at 5:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Janejaneboane. I find it funny you feel you know enough about me to insinuate that I have no clue about opposing sides and that I don't listen to NPR to learn about other perspectives. I also find it funny that you seem to have no desire to look at the situation from another perspective either.

I also have read the entire Bible. I'm a Christian and I have studied the cultural and social context of the Bible. Please do not tell me what I do and do not know. Don't call me naive for seeing things a different way than you.

That is all.

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janejanebobane | June 23, 2010 at 8:34 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Jocelyn,
I apologize. My response looked like it was aimed mostly at you, and it wasn't intended that way. This has been a lively discussion with many contributors and my last post was summarizing much of that. I was specifically addressing you about the lawsuits. And the comment about the Bible was primarily aimed at another poster, and anyone else that is tempted to cast aspersions on the Bible without knowing what it says in full.

Since you are a Christian and do have a different point of view from me, I would love to have a discussion with you offline if you would entertain it. I've set up an account: kpbs_listener@hotmail.com. I hope to hear from you.

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Jocelyn | June 23, 2010 at 9:57 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

I also apologize for being rather defensive.

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randolphslinky | June 24, 2010 at 9:49 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@janejanebobane

The entire argument against allowing homosexuals to marry is completely and utterly a religious one and you know it. Allowing homosexuals to marry in no way changes your life or alters your rights. It's just a simple fact and no matter how hard you try to bluff and deflect the argument with side bars you cannot run away from it.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm reading about a man named David who, so that he might marry a king's daughter, had to bring said king 100 Philistine foreskins. He decided to do better, he brought the king 200 foreskins from the murdered Philistines! What a guy, I can't wait to share this family values story with my friends and family. So much wisdom in this book.

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philipcala | June 24, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Randolphslinky, I wish you didn't have so much sarcastic vitriol dripping from your posts! You also insist on believing that religion and the Bible are the only reason anyone could have for objecting to the way gay marriage is being promoted as a civil right. The implication is that any group wishing to focus their services on traditional relationships is comparable to a restaurant wanting to serve only white people. White folks eat just like everyone else, and there is no real basis for discriminating between people when it come to restaurants. However, there are real distinctions that can be made between traditional partnerships and all others. These distinctions should not be arbitrarily discarded on the alter of "relationship equality". Promote gay marriage as a privilege extended to non-traditional partnerships for the benefit of family life, and I could vote for it. But I can't vote for making illegal any distinctions between traditional versus non-traditional relationships. In my opinion, that goes too far.

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randolphslinky | June 24, 2010 at 10:46 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Philipcala you're being intellectually dishonest.

But I'll play your game. So please tell everyone how homosexuals are supposed to "prove" their marriage will be for the benefit of family life as you put it. (Be careful, NPR just did a story on how well adjusted kids are under the care of homosexual parents).

And then tell us all why heterosexuals don't have to offer such proof. (Be careful here too, it gets really ugly with the Stats on American heterosexual marriages).

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benz72 | June 24, 2010 at 10:46 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps if partenrships between however many of whatever type of people capable of entering into a contract were recognized by governments as some sort of corporate unit and marraiages were recognized by religious institutions this whole argument would dissolve.

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knowtolerance | June 25, 2010 at 11:19 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

To Randolphslinky

Sorry to make this personal - I just couldn't help but notice that you have used the word "Jewish" three times in reference to the Bible in your dismissive comments.

You might want to clean your own house before espousing tolerance for others... or are those rights you're demanding only for non-Jewish Gays.

Christ's (a Jew) peace be with you.

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randolphslinky | June 25, 2010 at 1:13 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

@knowtolerance

You said it yourself, Jesus was a Jew. If the Bible was written by the Japanese I would call it the Japanese book of fairy tales. Just like Greek Mythology, written by the Greeks.

My house is spotless, but I'm certain the church's is not.

My point is to get people to think about where they get their ideas from. The Jews are some fine people, they wrote the best seller of all time right? But you shouldn't take the Bible literally. I think it's very unhealthy for grown-ups to believe in fairy tales, and especially to make the Bible as the foundation for their morality.

Peace to you as well.

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sheriffsgal | June 27, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Does anyone else find this dialogue slightly ironic? One side argues that Prop 8 passed due to fear-mongering and misinformation... so the solution is to blame the widely disliked and suspicious Mormon church? There is certainly no element of fear-mongering when making prop 8 a piece of legislation crafted by a "cult"! If only we could get an image of their prophet twirling his mustache and perhaps inject a maniacal laugh.

If you hope to have a REAL debate about the merits of Prop 8, regardless of which position you take, we need to get past these blatant scare tactics and discriminatory slurs. on BOTH sides. This shouldn't be an issue of Mormon propaganda verses a covert gay agenda.

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philipcala | June 28, 2010 at 1:23 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

randolphslinky says "Philipcala you're being intellectually dishonest."

How would you know? Someone who casually throws around such accusations is hardly in a position to know.

You say "... please tell everyone how homosexuals are supposed to "prove" their marriage will be for the benefit of family life as you put it."

I didn't say "prove". You are putting up a straw man to knock down. I said to base the argument on the potential benefit to family life of expanding the word "marriage". In view of the sorry state of traditional family life, extending marital rights to same sex couples will help their family life and any children in the household.

You continue: "And then tell us all why heterosexuals don't have to offer such proof. (Be careful here too, it gets really ugly with the Stats on American heterosexual marriages)."

It is pretty obvious that family life, be it heterosexual or gay, is helped by the social commitment that marriage entails.

But when gay marriage is claimed as a civil right based on "relationship equality", when any distinction is claimed to be akin to race discrimination, and when private clinics, agencies, and others are sued because they want to restrict their services to traditional relationships, then I see a problem.

As for the original issue of lifting the curtain on who funded Prop 8, as I said before, we all need to know who is behind publications meant to influence us, but not so one side can try to intimidate the other. That unfortunately provides a good reason to restrict transparency and so is counter-productive.

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randolphslinky | June 28, 2010 at 3:43 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

We have the courts in place to decide what is or isn't allowed in our society. Just because someone sues doesn't mean they'll win their case. It is the job of our courts, for better or worse, to decide whether an act is discrimatory or not. I frankly haven't seen a landslide victory in favor of forcing the churches to accept homosexuality, maybe I'm missing something, but I haven't seen it. What I have seen from churches is the willingness to put a whole lot of money and time into ensuring their version of morality is put into law. What happened to free will?

Prop 8 wasn't pushed by an Atheist organization. And we all know what a hateful bunch that is, they're even worst than those homosexuals. Just kidding of course. :)~

Clearly, the church got itself into this fight by starting the fight. The Mormon church and the Catholics were the biggest contributors to the Prop Hate campaign and ironically, both of these institutions would likely call the other a cult.

Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men... Indeed.

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brixsy | June 30, 2010 at 3:06 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Live and let live!

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wondernerd | July 4, 2010 at 11:25 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Good Christians were responsible for the Crusades, burned witches at the stake to save their souls, were responsible for the Inquisitions, used Bible quotations to justify slavery until 1865, were responsible for exterminating 6 million Jews, 275,000 handicapped, 200,000 Gypsies, and 100,000 homosexuals in World War II, used Bible quotations to justify denying marriage to interracial couples until the Supreme Court reversed their laws in 1967, concealed child-molesting priests for decades, tortured captives in Guantanamo and Iraq, and voted for Proposition H8 in 2008.

Don't Be A "Good Christian" -- Repeal Proposition H8

"Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God." Matthew 19:17

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Jerry_L | July 5, 2010 at 8:29 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Here's an interesting connection: while watching the documentary, a name I was familiar with popped up -- Robert P. George. He's a very influential politically conservative Catholic who is an expert at disguising theology in secular vocabulary. I regard his writings, for this reason, to be extremely dishonest. His name popped up in the film as a covert link between the Catholic hierarchy and the clandestine Mormon campaign for Prop 8.

Now who's face should I find talking to me over the KPBS logo on July 4 (actually 12am July 5) but Robert P. George's. He was one of several conservative Catholic ideologues featured in the Catholic propaganda film "Birth of Liberty", which was purportedly a film about the history of the rise of the ideas of liberty and equality in the West, but was a completely one-sided argument for why we owe everything that's valuable in our political heritage to Christianity, with special adulation for the Catholic middle ages (not dark at all, we are assured, but all sweetness and light.) If you think America is a Christian nation, based on Christian values, you'll love this program.

Although I found "Birth of Liberty" interesting, for what it told me about a very skewed point of view held by right wing Catholics, I had to ask myself whether this belonged on public television, complete with misleading program notes supplied by the producers. (Check out the web site of Acton Media to get a taste of where this comes from.) What kind of decision process went into the decision to screen this gem on KPBS? It reminded me of another Christian historical documentary, one which helped launch the pro-life movement back in the 70s: "How Should We Then Live" by Francis Schaeffer. It seems to me this belongs on a Catholic or Christian television network, not a publicly funded channel.

Perhaps KPBS should consider screening something as negative about the influence of Christianity and Catholicism as "Birth of Liberty" is positive.

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