Guest Blogger

Mormon Power Grab: It's Tearing Families Apart

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 23, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Arizona, California, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, evangelical Christian, Fred Karger, gay marriage, LDS, Mormon, Prop 8, same-sex marriage

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Fred Karger's extensive experience in politics and corporate public relations has spanned over thirty years. He was the Executive Vice President of the Dolphin Group, a public affairs firm in Los Angeles and Sacramento from 1977 until his retirement in 2004. In July of 2008 he started Californians Against Hate to bring public attention to the major donors to the qualification effort and now the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign

Fred's 2007 Head Shot.jpgThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose followers are more widely-known as Mormons, has swooped into two election battles against gay marriage this year. The Mormon Church is exercising its might in both California and Arizona like never before. If passed on November 4, Proposition 8 in California would immediately eliminate the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. In Arizona, Proposition 102 would write this discrimination into their Constitution by defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. In both states, the Mormon Church has hijacked these campaigns.

On June 20th, three days after same-sex marriage became legal in California, the top leadership in the Church, known as the First Presidency, sent a letter to be read to all Mormons to "do all you can to pass Proposition 8." The Wall Street Journal reported on September 20th, that church members were told "their souls would be in jeopardy" if they do not donate money. Mormons are already required to give 10% of their income to the church, so these donations dig further into the savings accounts of its followers.

Despite tough economic times, an amazing 59,000 Mormon families have succumbed to substantial pressure from church elders, and have given huge amounts of money to California's Yes on 8 campaign. These Mormon families have given a staggering $18.6 million since June 1st and the total grows daily. This represents 77% of all money raised and 88% of all individual money raised (not including funds from the big out of state organizations). In Arizona where a gay marriage ban is back on the ballot after losing just two years ago, Mormon families have contributed nearly all of the $6.9 million to the Yes on 102 campaign. What is going on here?

Blog reports are popping up indicating Church elders are calling certain members and arranging one-on-one visits to discuss a prearranged "suggested donation amounts." The Wall Street Journal reported that one conference call arranged by the Church had between 40 and 60 participants. A Church elder told everyone on the call that he should give $25,000 to Yes on 8. Analysis of the California Secretary of State website shows that worked. There have been 81 contributions of $25,000, and dozens more of between $26,000 and $$500,000.

Not all members are convinced this is the best idea. Andrew Callahan stood up to the church's call for donations, saying it struck of discrimination, and he refused to donate. This incredible display of coercion explains why many members are scared to say no. Callahan's case is going to be reviewed AFTER the election.

An article by Daniel Scarpinato in the September 17th Arizona Daily Star details a growing opinion that this battle represents Mormon attempts to clean up its battered image. With court cases continuing to link Mormon fringe groups and polygamy, this could be a crafty attempt to resuscitate their image, at the expense of gays and lesbians.

Last week in Salt Lake City, a group of 40 Mormons who support gay marriage delivered protest letters and bundles of carnations to church headquarters in an appeal to end the church's support of the ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage.

These courageous protesters were there to "out" the Mormon Church for forcing so many Mormon families to give vast sums from their savings to these two ballot propositions. Because of this Church mandate, families are being torn apart.

How many of these tens of thousands of Mormon families, who have contributed the $18.6 million, have gays and lesbians in their immediate family? How many parents are forced to give thousands of dollars publicly at the expense of their gay son or lesbian daughter? What about a gay brother or sister in the family? Or an aunt or uncle or cousin or brother-in-law who is gay? What permanent damage does this cause these innocent victims of the Mormon Church's power grab? How many families will be irreparably damaged by their actions?

In its quest to show the Catholics, Christians, Evangelicals and other religions that it has the money and power to take over these hateful campaigns, they are hurting more than just those from whom they wish to take away equality. They are tearing apart the very families they claim they are there to help.

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I am sad that anyone would feel "forced." to donate against something they don't believe in.

If they are truly being coerced, then it is of their own free will and conscience. I understand that defiance of a the supreme authority is difficult; however,the president of your Church, as I understand it, still has Someone to whom even he is accountable, an Authority with whom he appears to not have comprehensively consulted on this issue.

I have a copy of a bible distributed in care of the Mormon church, and it says, quite plainly:

Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Oh, wait, although that is in the Bible, although it's also a direct quote from one of Reverend Samuel Parris's sermons. For those of you who don't recognize the name, Samuel Parris was minister to the bucolic community of Salem Village, Massachusetts.

He, and some members of his community, were fond of witches, one might say. Or, perhaps land, say others. Who knows for certain? The evidence, however, closely scrutinized, reveals some coincidences that are more mundane than sublime.

The text itself can be found on pages 170 and 172, of The Sermon Notebook of Reverend Samuel Parris if you don't have the text, some of it can be found, for inspiration, on Google Books.

The Title of this series of sermons is Of Christ's Glorious Sessions at the Right Hand of God, sermon 1a.

He mentions it twice,threatening the congregation into compliance using the Bible as his weapon.

Personally, I would hope I would have been pretty freaked out myself, although I'm not sure I could have stood still while people got hanged for witchcraft--at least I hope not, however.

28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? [emphasis added] 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

How many Mormons have heard the former and not the latter; although they come from the same page, the point is they can be used for many purposes; if one doesn't question God's word, one is free to peruse dialog with the interlocutor, who is translating the book from one perspective.

Sadly, witch trials still exist, and sometimes we all partake in them. The question remains, how many people does it take to stop a witch trial? It is hard for me to place myself and that position and I feel sorry for any Mormon in conflict over this issue. This is the risk and joy of questioning authority. If one's stated values cannot stand up to his prescribed beliefs (as stated by Jesus in

However, you are not alone, reach out to us, and we will surround you like a fortress. Like your community, the GLBT community shares something in common that perhaps we can build on: Many of us know what persecution feels like and we protect our friends.

Please contact me if you need someone to reach out to, I will connect you with other Mormons who feel the same; you will no longer be alone.

I encourage anyone else who has dear Mormon friends to do the same. Life is to short for hatred, shorter sometimes for the hater or the hated, depending on the courage and numbers of those who stand up against it.

P.S.:Despite this, even Reverend Parris was shown mercy, he became minister to another community after this debacle. So, hold on to hope. Everyone deserves second chances. Just because he's President doesn't make him omniscient and omnipotent.

How many of these tens of thousands of Mormon families, who have contributed the $18.6 million, have gays and lesbians in their immediate family? How many parents are forced to give thousands of dollars publicly at the expense of their gay son or lesbian daughter? What about a gay brother or sister in the family? Or an aunt or uncle or cousin or brother-in-law who is gay? What permanent damage does this cause these innocent victims of the Mormon Church's power grab? How many families will be irreparably damaged by their actions?

This is exactly why I haven't said word 1 to any of my family members about Prop 102 or Prop 8. I don't need them to tell me that they gave money to this.

Really?!?! But you might have been able to convince them not to donate to the campaigns!

No, Bil. I wouldn't have. You don't know my family. If I want to have a relationship with them at all, we can't talk about politics or religion.

Aw, Serena. *hugs* I have a couple of family members like that, but not the whole gang!

I feel for you. My aunts are BAC's (Born Again), and they don't accept my "gay lifestyle"; however, it's more boring than theirs. I always thought the Bible said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged..." and tons of things of that sort. I'm here for you!

That's a lot of power for one organization.

I don't mind the power grab

... but they should pay taxes like the rest of us if they wanna get political. How they get away with this is beyond me.

They are a Church and don't have to pay taxes. If the Church itself donated money to Prop 8 then they would be required to be taxed. As it stands they did nothing wrong legally.

Robert Foster | November 13, 2008 11:46 PM

I am a young African American man who is Mormon. I served as a Missionary in California and take great offense to the commercial presented in this article.
I also would like to say that NO ONE is the Church is forced to do anything. I pay tithing and give to the Church however I have never given to prop 8. Also even when someone gives tithing it is not given during church meetings. Not even in a public setting as in other Churches. However I support the prop.

I also would like to comment on this sensitive subject. I do have an issue with marriage being anything but between a man and a woman. However I encourage gay right supporters to come up with something else to compare your struggle with. Please use something else other than the struggle of african americans. There is no comparison in the two. First African americans could not "come out of the closet" there was no hiding, there was continual social, economic, and environmental racism. Gay and Lesbians still have a choice of "coming out" or keeping their private life private. There have not been groups seeking out to destroy you like the KKK or institutions like Jim Crow to keep you from Voting. Also as mentioned in the article there have been no killing of "gay leaders" much like Medgar Evers or MLK, and many other people fighting to help blacks get on equal playing fields with whites.


TO be clear I am a "gay rights supporter" in the sense that I support basic human rights for all people, gays and lesbians included. However I do not feel that marriage is a right, it is a choice made between a man and a woman.
Now understand I have no problem giving gay and lesbian couples rights as to overseeing financial resources, to making tough decisions when a loved one passes on. If you are living togethere and love each other that is fine with me. You deserve to file taxes together or purchase a house together. However to change to fundamental law of marriage, I have to reject this idea. There is no need for the change. If you want to be, or feel that you are born gay, it is not a right for all people to be married. It is a choice. If you chose otherwise then there is no need to complain. no need to feel you are being discriminated against. You have all the rights necessary to be productive and successful person. In this way THERE IS NOT COMPARISON with African americans in this country.

Taylor is unable to comment for some reason and wrote to ask me to post this for him:

Robert, so you're a black Mormon? Interesting. Lucky for you weren't born back when Brigham Young said about us black folk ...

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)

Yeah. Let's just hope you didn't have jungle fever back then; it wouldn't have ended well.

My point, if you're still reading, is that religion, ALL OF THEM, had some pretty stupid beliefs at one point that evolved due to common sense.

Civil rights = Gay rights? Maybe not. There is a difference. No, we don't have a Medgar Evers in the gay rights movement, we've got a Harvey Milk.. We've got any number of gays and lesbians who have been murdered in this country just because they were gay. But I feels its silly to list who has more martyrs or who's been more disenfranchised from the American dream than anyone else.

As a gay African American who experienced more abuse growing up for being a little sissy boy than a black one, I STRONGLY disagree with you and anyone else who would measure who's cried hotter tears.

Just be happy your Church finally admitted that Brigham Young wasn't exactly a progressive thinker when he said ....

"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Can might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, page 290).

Yeah. Lets hope your church continues to grow with the times. Maybe you can help it along. ~~

Taylor Siluwé