Prop 8 Fallout: Where Do We Go From Here?

by Caroline

(Note:  Comments that stray into condemnation for people who either support or disagree with the prop will be deleted.)

So it looks like Prop 8 is going to pass. The Mormon church has successfully flexed its political muscles and has helped to eliminate the opportunity for certain people to marry. Yay. Way to go. 

So where do we go from here? Not only are there now deep divisions within our wards, but there are also hurtful divisions now between us and our neighbors. I don’t know how it’s been in your area, but in mine it’s been pretty brutal.  Pro 8 people making comments in Sunday School about how this issue was a way to separate the wheat from the tares within the Church, while sitting next to people they know full well are opponents of the proposition.  People getting their temple recs pulled because of their opposition to Prop 8. (Since when did Prop 8 become a temple rec question? ) Mormon parents in leadership positions rejecting their children and refusing to speak to them because of the children’s disagreement on this political issue. 

The wounds run deep within our Mormon community, and I’m afraid they run even deeper in that of our neighbors. Have you seen this youtube video called ‘Home Invasion’? It makes me ill to think that this is the way our neighbors now view us. View me.

And here’s a clip from Jon Stewart about Mormon involvement in the proposition. 

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=189782&title=i-now-denounce-you-chucklarry&byDate=true

So how do we go about healing the rifts between us Mormons and our socially progressive neighbors who believe gay marriage is a civil right? Are we bound to become blacklisted and boycotted once again as our society shifts its thinking on this issue (think civil rights era when certain basketball teams would refuse to play BYU) ? What can we do to mediate the anger and hurt our neighbors feel because of our involvement in Prop 8, neighbors who want the legal protections of marriage as they raise their families?

I don’t have many answers, and I certainly don’t have much of a sphere of influence in my Mormon community. But I am the humanitarian director in my ward, and I’m toying with these ideas (which would probably get nixed by my leaders).

-organizing Mormons to participate in a local AIDS walk

– teaming up with a local gay friendly church to volunteer in our community – like doing a beach cleanup or a food drive

And on a more macro level, I’m sure hoping the Church will try to repair our reputation by getting involved in causes that are Christian and humanitarian and huge in scope.   How about denouncing the genocide in Darfur and organizing to send tons of food and supplies to the victims and refugees there? How about designing a program where each stake or ward adopts a village in a struggling country and supplies it with food, clothes, and money? (I am well aware that the Church already does send some humanitarian aid around the world, but I’m looking for some new ideas and huge projects that could overwhelm the memory of our involvement in this last political season.)

(

What are your ideas? How do we go about healing these wounds, both as a Church and as individuals?

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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85 Responses

  1. Ann says:

    Only losers want to heal. Winners gloat.

  2. cchrissyy says:

    Ann may be right- the LDS yes-on-8 material reflects your daily show link there – I love gay folks, they’re good parents, we walk to school together, I just don’t want them to have the word marriage. And the gay folks in question find that hateful or demeaning or hostile or whatnot, but from the yes-on-8 side they see that as somehow an OK and loving position, so why would they see a need to make amends or heal?

    As to saving the church from having an anti-rights public image, my only thought is to let the public know that LDS members don’t all think one way and there are/were a sizable chunk of no-on-8 mormons. (ie- me and most people in my locality, who don’t want our church affiliation to convey a position for us that we don’t even hold).
    But on the other hand, the church may not see this an a problem- maybe they did want this new image. maybe they think it will helping the long run, maybe they did want to seperate out “tares” in the membership and investigator polls. maybe the societal damage from allowing gay marriage was prophesied to be so breathtaking that even the loss of church image and membership numbers was worth it.

  3. Kat says:

    I felt sick as I watched CNN come back with more and more districts in California showing that dark green shade of “yes” last night. My heart aches for the wards like yours where this issue has literally split congregations at the seams.

    I also think this issue does a lot of damage in separating the American branch of the church from its international contingent. I’m proud to live in a country where gay marriage is already legal and here the church has made it a non-issue. We’re living proof that legal gay marriage doesn’t do any harm to the church or to its ideas of ‘traditional’ marriage…

    I think that the only way we’re going to overcome this is to reach out. Your ideas of community service are great ones.

  4. Jen says:

    You might want to visit the humanitarian section of the Visitors Center in alt Lake City. The church already does send tons of food and supplies to Africa.

  5. Whitney says:

    Support for Prop 8 was never intended to be a temple rec question. That is completely out of line.

    And the church does send supplies to developing countries. The church is always the first on the scene after a natural disaster. We were one of the leaders for relief after the Tsunami. The church doesn’t need to repair our reputation, we already send supplies and relief around the world.

  6. Caroline says:

    Jen, the church does send a lot of humanitarian supplies around the world. But the amount is pathetic when compared to how much wealth the Church has. And it’s striking to think of the energy the Church has donated to Prop 8 in activism and local participation. The energy Church members are donating to humanitarian causes pales in comparison.

    But my point was broader. I want to see the Church take a stand on an issue that really does affect families. Stopping genocide and ending hunger are two fights that actually would affect people’s lives in tangible positive ways, as well as help repair our reputation in the world.

  7. mmiles says:

    Caroline,
    I venture you don’t know the wealth of the church (just like the rest of us), and you don’t know what percentage of its wealth the church donates. You are running on pure speculation and your own assumptions.

    On another note, it is a fallacy that the entire gay community sees the church as divisive and hateful. As a person who has both immediate family members (who I am extremely close to) and friends in the GLBT community, your angst is a bit overblown. That is not to say our image needs no improvement–but it is not uncommon to agree to disagree on these issues when the LDS and GLBT communities collide–just like other highly politicized issues.

  8. JohnW says:

    Hey, that’s not how I, as an outsider see you at all, Caroline. But it is how I see the Church.

  9. Caroline says:

    mmiles,

    I remember looking at some stats a year or two ago and being shocked by the paltry amount of humanitarian aid our church has given. I can’t swear by it, but I think I remember something like 800 million dollars worth of aid throughout the history of the church. Throughout the whole history! When you consider the billions of dollars of assets the church has, and the billions the Church brings in every year in revenue, it’s disappointing. You may argue about how many billions it is, but it is indeed billions. Even my devout and loyal Mormon husband was surprised and disappointed by the small percentage of wealth we donate to our suffering and hungry brothers and sisters in the world. If I find the stats, I’ll put the link up.

  10. Annon. says:

    looking at the demographic breakdown of the prop 8 vote, the conclusion that the church flexed its political muscle is probably not accurate.

  11. Bill says:

    Actually, the church publishes how much it donates. According to this link: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/statistical-information, it has donated $259.8 million in cash and $750 million in “material assistance” since 1985. It does not define what “material assistance” means. Obviously the church does not publish any information about how much money it has or how much it receives every year from tithing or other sources. A 2001 Newsweek article put the church’s worth at $25 billion then. http://www.newsweek.com/id/75972. The church neither acknowledged nor denied the accuracy of those numbers. A 1997 Time article about the church estimated the church worth at $30 billion with $5.9 billion in “annual gross income” for 1997. It reported that there was $5.2 billion in tithing. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986794,00.html The church did not provide any indicia that these numbers were accurate. Regardless, the fact that the church is spending $2 billion on a shopping mall in downtown SLC suggests that it has extensive assets. And while a large portion of those assets are either spent on day-to-day operations or saved for a rainy day, the fact that it has, by its own numbers, only given $250 million in cash and $750 million in material assistance over the last 23 years is a bit surprising. That amounts to just over $11 million in cash per year and $32.6 million in “material assistance” per year toward humanitarian efforts. While this is certainly a lot of money, it is insignificant when compared to what the church brings in and holds. It is even less when you consider how much it is spending on the shopping mall project in SLC or compared to the $72 million it just spent buying up desert land between Phoenix and Tucson – http://www.azcentral.com/business/articles/2008/11/02/20081102biz-mormonland1102.html.

    Regardless of the finances, what is troubling to me as an active member of the church is that the church spent so much energy getting people organized over THIS social issue but has spent hardly any time or effort getting people organized over any other social issue. In my ward, we have the occasional welfare farm assignment, or we see a sign-up sheet for a Deseret Industries assignment, but we hardly ever have church-coordinated community service projects. The ONLY such non-church projects that we have seen have been Eagle Scout projects. I understand that the church feels that marriage is important and that it deems it to be a moral issue. But aren’t other social causes likewise moral issues worthy of our support? And if the church can use its organizational prowess to mobilize thousands of members to walk the streets and man the phones so that Jim and Jeff can’t get married, why can’t it likewise mobilize its efforts toward fighting other social and moral wrongs? It is still a church right? Isn’t that part of what churches do? Didn’t Christ teach that we are to minister to the sick and the feeble, regardless of whether we hope to convert them?

  12. mb says:

    There will always be people who insist on picking at the wounds you mention, no matter how much one works to heal them. And there will always be people who are willing to let them be healed and reciprocate one’s good efforts at healing and helping with goodwill and kindness.

    The answer is to simply keep being as good and kind and considerate as possible in all of one’s interactions, whether as an individual or in one’s capacity in a church calling.

    And if you wish for the church to increase it’s humanitarian outreach, contribute more to the fund and volunteer to be involved with it yourself.

    I hear lots of complaints about “how little” the church does. Let she who is without sin cast the first stone. What percentage of your personal income do you contribute to humanitarian causes? I need to put my own life in order in that regard before I cast aspersions.

    And I believe that the process of becoming that generous would likely make me less inclined to judge and censure others. At least I hope it would.

  13. Mercy says:

    I have really weighed and prayed about the wisdom of commenting here, but I will try. My aim is not to appear smarter than anyone else, or to “win” a debate or argue, or put anyone else down, as I really hate the spirit of contention. I know it may appear that way as I am really long winded(!)-I apologize in advance as I do not intend to hurt or offend. But I am just wanting to share my heart on this and stand for what I believe and explain my understanding of where the Church is coming from.

    I am a convert to the Church, coming from earlier atheism and later an evangelical Christian, anti-Mormon stance. So I really feel for the confusion and the craziness I see in the world around me that tries to make sense out of increasingly complex issues and challenges without the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the strength of latter day revelation and prophets to guide us. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my Heavenly Father for the restored Gospel and prophets to lead us. So to me, either you have a testimony that we are led by a prophet, or you do not. And if you do, you follow him and trust in his leadership and his counsel.

    I am not some kind of sheep. I question everything – or in the words of scripture, prove all things and hold fast that which is good. In my life I have proven through the undeniable witness of the Spirit and through trials of obedience, at times extremely difficult, the concept that we do have a prophet of God at the head of this Church. It is now one of my givens, that I trust in infinitely more than I trust the arm of flesh or my neighbor or any line of man’s reasoning. That is faith to me. Not blind, but tested and proven.

    As far as the issue of same sex marriage, the Lord has spoken about this. I am sure you have read the Family Proclamation, the recent Church statement on the Divine Insitution of Marriage (check it out on lds.org if you haven’t); there is also what I feel to be an excellent article by Dallin H. Oaks called Same-Gender Attraction in the October 95 Ensign, which addresses our responsibilities of kindness and love as Church members in relating to those who are dealing with this, as well as helping us to understand the issue from a gospel perspective. You can read there the reasons that we believe same-sex marriage would be harmful for our society and our children. So I won’t attempt to articulate or defend the Church’s position, these statements do a much better job than I could. Given that we also do teach “being subject to kings, rulers and magistrates and obeying, honoring and sustaining the law”, it stands to reason that the Church is not going to go into a country where something is already sanctioned by the government and make waves. But here, where we as a church still have a chance to stand for such a fundamental part of what we believe in-the eternal family- and make a difference in the legal landscape, we are compelled to make a stand.

    Standing for truth and righteousness has historically not been popular. But lately, especially under President Hinckley’s watch, we as a church and a people have enjoyed an unprecedented period of good feelings and growing acceptance by the world. But we must not forget the Lord’s caution – that he came not into the world to send peace, but a sword – and a man will be set “at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother,”, etc; and that we would at times be called upon to “forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, [or ideologies?]etc. for (his) name’s sake. Think of when he asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Or Nephi to kill Laban. Or the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites before inheriting the promised land. Sometimes, especially as the last days are upon us, we will be called upon to do hard things, things that seem neither to make sense, nor to be very warm and fuzzy. Will we obey? Or will we care more for how we appear to the world? Will we worship an idol, however appealing its name (e.g., even a noble concept, like “tolerance”?), or be true to the Lord? (There is a great difference between tolerance or acceptance[implying kind and fair treatment], and endorsement or sanction[implying societal retooling]. But that’s another discussion.) The early Saints were lucky, in a way; they never knew anything but persecution and had to stand strong or die. We have become spoiled in a way, and are going to have to come to terms with changing times and making unpopular stands. We need to do it humbly, lovingly, you are right about that. There is no place for arrogance or self-righteousness. We need to extend our hands in love and service any chance we get (I personally love your ideas of community service, and don’t think your leaders would necessarily nix them if you approached them about it in the right spirit), even when they get slapped back, as they will. But we need to do it. Our goal is not to be popular, as nice as that feels. It is to follow the Savior and His prophet, even into the uncomfortable places.

    And there will be those who decide this stand is just too uncomfortable, and illogical, and “intolerant,”and will leave the Church because of it. That is a tragedy (and I will join you in weeping for each one). But it has also been prophesied that Satan will attempt to deceive even the very elect, and only intensify his efforts as we head into the home stretch, which I believe we have entered into. And yes, that has always been a part of your temple recommend questions – whether you affiliate yourself with any group that stands against the Church and its teachings. You certainly have the freedom to do so, but to protect the body of the Church you cannot then remain a member in good standing. As Christ said, if we are not one, we are not His.

    We can only do so much bending over backwards to heal the wounds. We cannot, nor should we feel responsible to, make everyone feel happy about everything we believe or stand for. We cannot always “make it all better.” We can only humbly take a stand, lovingly reach out in service to all, and the rest we will have to leave in the ultimate Healer’s hands.

  14. Caroline says:

    For those of you who have responded thoughtfully to my question about healing wounds, I thank you. For those of you who have taken this opportunity to once again create more divisions and to question people’s personal righteousness and place within Mormonism, I ask you to kindly take it somewhere else. You do no good. You only create more hurt. Please. Think before you type.

    I will be deleting any further comments that do not address my question of healing wounds. I don’t want this to turn into another debate about the Church’s stance on backing this prop.

  15. JohnR says:

    Caroline, while I respect your desire to reach out from within the church to heal the wounds it has caused, I wonder sometimes if you aren’t indirectly enabling the discriminatory agenda of your leaders. I don’t envy your position–it’s certainly a complicated, conflicted place to be.

    As for me, I am extremely pissed off at the Church right now. Should I seek healing? Should I forgive it? Or should I redouble my efforts against its discrimnatory work?

  16. Variable says:

    “How about denouncing the genocide in Darfur”

    I believe that President Hinkley said in Oct 2001, right as the US was dropping bombs on Afghanistan, that we are a church of peace and some other things that I can’t quite remember, but were aimed at peace.

    Honestly, what good would it do if the Church came out with a press release denouncing the genocide? Much like a strongly worded UN resolution, an official denouncement would be no more than self assurance that the Church is saying the right thing. Had the Church it’s own armed militia, it might be able to do something more about the genocide.

    Here is my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth. Unfortunately, there is not enough government stability in that particular region for the church to be able to do anything productive. The church probably sees that any contribution of sacred funds would not reach it’s intended destination. I know that if I were sitting on top of a pile of donated money with some sacred value to those who donated, I would make sure the allocation could go to where it was going before sending it.

    “How about designing a program where each stake or ward adopts a village in a struggling country and supplies it with food, clothes, and money?”

    Again, my opinions here. I think this is a great idea. If you could get people to personalize their involvement, that would be better. Skeptically, it would never take off because it’s so far away that it’s off the average persons radar.

    I appreciate the sentiment of your post. As someone who was on the Yes side of 8, it’s unfortunate that these wounds are there. With only a 52% passing, these wounds are going to be reopened again and again until there is an overwhelming majority on one side. Reopened wounds leave larger scars that don’t fade, kind of like stretch marks.

  17. Variable says:

    Sorry, that comment was way too long

  18. km says:

    “I am well aware that the Church already does send some humanitarian aid around the world”

    I think your statement really undervalues the tremendous amount of humanitarian aid the Church donates and organizes worldwide. The 800 million dollar figure you state in one of your comments does not take into account the aid that is not easily assigned a dollar value….for example, the thousands of volunteers and the thousands of hours of manpower offered by them. Not to mention programs like the Perpetual Education Fund. The Church offers tremendous aid worldwide.

    My house was recently destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The Church has had volunteers and missionaries in Southeast Texas since the storm. They have done tremendous work in this area, for thousands of homes, of members and non-members alike. They cleaned out mold-infested homes, gutted those that were flooded (removed sheetrock, flooring, cabinets, etc), chopped up trees, replaced roofs, cleared debris…Our chapel in Galveston has been filled to the brim with food, supplies, cleaning kits, hygiene kits, and tools (all from the Church) as well as member-donated clothing and furniture. Again, these items have benefited members and non-members. As Galveston is an incredibly poor community, the aid was desperately needed.

    I have never commented before, but having recently benefited from Church aid, I felt compelled to respond.

  19. James says:

    What about tackle gay rights issues directly (and openly as a mormon)? My understanding of the legal details is far from complete, but California DOES have civil partnerships laws on the books. Are there ways these laws could be improved, easing whatever difficulties many gay couples face if they choose to pursue this option? For example, I’ve heard that the legal work required to form a civil union requires is rather expensive. Could this hardship be lessened by improving specific laws or procedures within the exiting legal framework?

    While the LDS and the gay communities will probably never quite see eye to eye (generally speaking), this type of effort might help people think twice before just simply assuming we’re all “haters.”

  20. amelia says:

    i’m thinking about these questions from a much more personal level, caroline. on sunday i avoided church. it was fast and testimony meeting and i was afraid prop 8 would make a prominent appearance. so i worshiped in silence with the quakers, contemplating their advice and queries about peace.

    as i thought about the idea of being an advocate for peace because those with whom we’re in conflict also have that of god in them, i found myself returning to the same question. i think i can acknowledge the divinity of an antagonist who is removed from me–even when the point of contention is very painful. but i don’t know what it means to work for reconciliation when love and opposition are all mixed up; when the people with whom i am in conflict are also the people i share the deepest bonds of common history and love. especially if the choices of either or both or all involved do not re-establish the previous status quo.

    i have no answers to this question. i don’t know how to answer it. other than to trust love and to not sacrifice my own integrity as i try to salvage and heal relationships.

  21. Douglas Hunter says:

    Caroline,

    I’m having trouble coming up with good answers or even ways of thinking about the questions you raise. I appreciate the multiple dimensions of your perspective but I find myself agreeing with cchrissyy in comment #2. There are going to be many people for whom your questions have no resonance. In order to be a peace maker one needs to have a vision of what peace should look like. For many in the Church that I know their vision of peace must be achieved on their own terms. To them that is an important part of their faith.

    As for healing, don’t you think that many would define it in terms of gay folks needing to acknowledge that they have a problem [sic.] and they need to stop sinning etc, etc, etc.

    One thing I am sure of is that there needs to be a more open discussion of human sexuality within the Church community and that it would be wonderful if people in the Church would listen to the stories, concerns, experiences, etc of gay Mormons and gay people in general.

    we also need to take a real look at ethics! Why are Mormons so excited about creating an “other” to oppose? Why did so many people pretend that prop 8 was about Mormon’s being in the minority, holding a hard position, but standing up for what is right [sic.] despite it being so hard? That narrative is just so strange, a broad misrepresentation of reality, yet we heard many different variations of it over the past few months didn’t we?

    In the Episcopal church there has been an official listening process that has been underway for the past two years in which it was decided that the church would make the effort to listen to what the gay members of the Church have to say without countering, or official reply, the process was all about listening. I wish that gay Mormons could be given that kind of respect and platform to describe the truth of their faith and of their lives to the rest of the community without fear of attack or reprisal.

  22. Caroline says:

    JohnR,
    I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to try to reach out to people who are hurting. I certainly don’t think it would be a bad thing if Mormons did it in an organized way. But I’m speaking as someone from within the Church who would like it to be at the forefront of movements to help those in need. I would like it to repair its reputation, because for good or ill, I’m going to have connections with it for the rest of my life.

    As for your questions, I can’t tell you how you should feel or think. But it strikes me that a combination of things – both healing/forgiving and working tirelessly to end discrimination – could be a good thing.

    Variable, thanks for your ideas. I must say I’m shocked that you think the church denouncing genocide would be useless. I think it would be an amazing moment of consciousness raising. Imagine what could happen if the church did denounce it and organized to help! Hundreds of thousands of letters to the editor, millions of dollars raised in relief, hundreds of thousands of phone calls and letters to our politicians. Maybe I’m overestimating the combined efforts of Mormons, but I don’t think so. Not after Prop 8. I agree that personalizing involvement is ideal.

    James, thanks for answering my question, and in a way I never even considered. I think that’s a great suggestion. (Of course, many would say that it doesn’t go far enough, but I figure any step in the right direction is a good thing.)

    amelia, I hear your pain. I originally was asking how we can heal those people in the community who are wounded, but I think you’re right to make that even more personal and ask how we ourselves can heal from the attacks and wounds we’ve suffered. I love the fact that you can see divinity in your opponents.

  23. FoxyJ says:

    I agree with Douglas in that I find the hardest thing about this to be the confirmation of the church as the “persecuted”. I already know so many members who have the idea that they are in fighting a war against some kind of “other”, and unfortunately this campaign has only helped to solidify this image. Having people yell insults and throw water balloons at you doesn’t help to change your image of being persecuted. The funny thing, though, is that I bet a lot of Mormons won’t realize that the fact that 5 million people voted “yes” means that that many people share their views. They’ll keep assuming that everyone hates them. I wish we could dialog more about why we feel this way, and share more examples of reaching out to and sharing with our neighbors.

    I also like your idea of increasing our interfaith and community efforts. It’s hard to vote against gay marriage when you actually have faces to put with the idea instead of just some vague idea about “those gay people over there”.

  24. Caroline says:

    Douglas, I love the way you’re thinking about this. I think you’re right, as is cchrissyy, to point out the complexity of the problem. If Mormons don’t think the wounds are their problem or affect them, then it probably is too much to hope for some kind of organized response to their pain. Perhaps it does indeed come down to what we as individuals can do to heal ourselves and those that are hurt around us. But I sure do love your idea of giving gay Mormons – and gay people- a place to speak their truth as we listen. That’s wonderful.

  25. Variable says:

    Caroline,

    I think we have different definitions of denounce. I see denounce as a press release and it stops there. I didn’t catch on to the afterwork of the denouncement. If the combined efforts went to work, maybe something good would come from it.

  26. Mike says:

    Everyone might be interested in seeing the Church’s official response to the vote at
    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-responds-to-same-sex-marriage-votes

    It doesn’t gloat, and it is not an overt attempt to heal woulds. It does say “Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.” And it advocates civility among people on both sides of the debate as the debate continues.

    Given that we now have a large number of unconstitutional marriages in CA, the debate is hardly over. The validity of these gay marriages will probably be argued in court very soon. What will be ruled is unclear.

  27. sara says:

    As a prop 8 supporter (actually prop 102 since
    I’m in AZ), and one who has a very hard time
    understanding many of the feelings expressed
    on this blog, I will choose my words carefully.

    A couple of thoughts: this may have been addressed,
    but as to temple recommends, don’t you think that
    supporting prop 8 falls into the category of
    supporting/sustaining our prophet, which IS one
    of the questions? Again, I am not in CA but as a
    life-long LDS member that is how I would interpret
    this situation.

    As to healing: I don’t think that any organization,
    church, country, or even individual person, should
    have to alter their moral code in order to win the
    approval of others. We believe that practicing
    homosexuality is immoral. We allow gays to come
    to our church meetings. We believe in and preach
    the Proclamation on the Family, which is explicit
    on this issue. The Church already does an incredible
    amount of humanitarian work around the world, and
    it is not done in order to have a good “reputation.”

  28. amelia says:

    sara writes:

    “as to temple recommends, don’t you think that supporting prop 8 falls into the category of supporting/sustaining our prophet, which IS one of the questions? Again, I am not in CA but as a life-long LDS member that is how I would interpret
    this situation.”

    when i got my temple recommend in july, i told my stake president i disagreed with the church’s position on prop 8 and that i would vote against it. he signed my recommend with no problem.

    in october i discussed the issue (which had by then caused tension and pain in my family and some seriously ill-advised comments from strangers that caused me some pain) with my bishop, who sympathized with me and told me it was perfectly fine that i disagreed and continued to tell me about a person in our ward in a leadership position who shared my views.

    when i spoke with my bishop in october, i wasn’t seeking affirmation that my position was okay. i had no doubt that my position was perfectly fine with god. i was looking for spiritual support at a time when i felt spiritually battered by the church as an institution, by other members of the church, and by my family. when i spent time talking to my stake president seeking a continuation that same spiritual support later that month, he again reiterated that he would have no problem signing my recommend. he even suggested i tell my family that so that they would not voice their opinion of me as “deceived” and being “influenced” by satan.

    so no. i don’t think the question of prop 8 has a single thing to do with a temple recommend, either in response to the question you cite here or any other question. but i know it has been made an issue. and that makes me angry. very angry. it’s one of many things about this issue that makes me angry.

    but it’s the pain and the betrayal that have me wondering how i’ll manage to navigate the church. it’s the extent to which i believe the church has gone against its own doctrinal principles that leaves me asking how i can continue worshiping in the church. i don’t know yet how i will answer those questions. but they are deeply painful and very real questions. and i doubt anyone–*anyone*–, either locally or in salt lake will do even the smallest thing to smooth the way for someone like me.

  29. Caroline says:

    Sara, thanks for being a fantastic example of what Douglas, cchrissyy, and foxy just talked about. A perfect illustration.

  30. James says:

    KM probably has a valid point. If we were to quantify the “in-kind” donations the church has made in service/humanitarian aid, the numbers would be MUCH bigger.

    Caroline, to your response, you are probably right that it wouldn’t be good enough for many if members of the church were to suddenly mobilize for civil union rights. But I do think it would get at least some to think harder about the church’s feelings towards homosexuals (both in and out of the church).

  31. Mark N. says:

    on sunday i avoided church. it was fast and testimony meeting and i was afraid prop 8 would make a prominent appearance.

    It definitely did in my ward. I kept waiting to hear the words “I know that Prop 8 is true” from one of the testimony-bearers, but it never quite got to that.

  32. Chicory says:

    Caroline, again I so appreciate your efforts here, and I’m sorry that so many of your commentors seem unwilling or unable to appreciate your points and desires.

    I’m angry. I’m angry at the church. I’m not angry at you or at my other LDS friends who fought against the amendment and for the separation of church and state in our secular country. I fully respect people’s rights to have their own beliefs, what I don’t respect is their ability to make their beliefs affect my living conditions.

    Honestly, I would steer clear of trying to organize any sort of ward or stake-wide effort to “help” in any gay-oriented causes. As much as I KNOW that not all Mormons actively hate, despise, and villify my family, that is an organizational truth. As an organization the LDS church works to make sure my family stays they way it sees us: legally unstable, vulnerable, and “conflict-ridden”. Any attempt, in my opinion, for any official part of the organization to “help” us is inappropriate and paternalistic.

    However, for mormon people to continue to step forward and show us that they do love us, do support our civil rights, and do respect us, and that they are capable of having these opinions and feelings despite what the church presidency tells them, and that they are capable of disagreeing with the church authorities while still loving their faith, is the best kind of healing for me, personally, to see. Go back to your churches, talk about how you feel, keep the conversation open, and talk to your neighbors who are hurt and confused and worried about their status, be willing to help them bear their anger and grief.

    It’s people like you and some of your commenters here that remind me that at the heart of LDS faith is eternal love.

  33. Katie J says:

    On our stake calendar (I am in CA), there’s a “Statewide Church Service Project” listed for Apr. 25, 2009. I just put 2 and 2 together and figured out one of the reasons why such a thing might have been scheduled – PR damage control. It’s not quite on the scale you are advocating, but it’s something.

  34. Caroline says:

    chicory, thanks so much for your input. I understand where you are coming from when you advise us Mormons not to organize to “help” the gay community. That does indeed come off sounding paternalistic. But I can’t help but feel that it might be a good thing to reach out in some way in some kind of attempt to show we’re not hateful and completely consumed all the time with trying to take people’s rights away. That’s why I was thinking combined service activity. Not that any members of the gay community would be interested in hanging out with the Mormons, but I sure do think that it would be great for Mormons to interact with gays in a good cause. The more they do, the more I imagine some of them would be able to view gays as people rather than threats. But like you said, the best course of action may very well be to just speak our truth as individuals and openly love our gay friends.

    Thanks again for your comment. I loved it. Made up for all the obnoxious ones.

  35. Nate W. says:

    There will be no healing until the legal challenges are through. While this is pending, this wound will remain raw, because the Church’s lawyers will be actively involved in the challenge. I wish I could give you better suggestions, but I just don’t think there’s much you can do. I guess the right answer is to provide service regardless of whether it will heal anything. Let charity be its own motivation.

  36. Ellen says:

    Caroline and friends, my heart aches for you. I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with this issue at church in Massachusetts. You’ve been robbed of the uplifting rejuvenation that church attendance should bring each week. I hope it is temporary.

    In the church, I’ve decided we have to have a really long-term outlook to keep our faith. Look at women’s issues and the civil rights movement. I don’t want to dismiss your ideals, but we have come a long, long way on this issue — Mormons and non-Mormons alike. It’s still moving in the direction you want. Unfortunately, it will take more time than we would like.

    On another angle, did you see any of the exit poll analysis? Black and Hispanics voted heavily against gay marriage in Florida, Arizona and California. Whites voted close to 50/50. I know our church was really involved and spent a lot of money, but I don’t know if that’s what made the difference. Traditional culture is a big factor across the spectrum, not just for Mormons. I hope it’s possible to cheer up. I really think the country has made tremendous strides in a very short amount of time for gay rights. It’s coming, it’s coming.

  37. sara says:

    I appreciate Amelia’s response and description of her
    personal experiences with the recommend situation, since
    I am not in CA as I said before, and my experience
    with prop102 in AZ has not been like yours in CA.

    I visit sites like this occasionally because it is
    interesting to me to read these perspectives and to help
    me understand issues that some members of the church
    are dealing with. It is unfortunate, Caroline,
    in this supposedly “open-minded” zone, that
    when someone who doesn’t agree with you or share
    your concerns makes a simple and honest comment,
    you cannot help but reply with condescending sarcasm.

    Having reviewed my original comment, I stand by it
    and know that everything I said in the 3rd paragraph
    is true and in accordance with gospel fundamentals.

  38. Quin says:

    Sara,

    You said that supporting Prop 8 can be a temple reccomend question because it comes down to supporting the prophet. Except what do you do about the fact that the prophet has violated the church’s own doctrine by instructing people to vote yes? Joseph Smith insisted that people should be “taught correct principles” and then allowed to “govern themselves.” It would have been appropriate for the church to teach that it held that heterosexual marriages were the only ones God recognized. But even if you are a Yes on 8 supporter, your divinely given free agency was deprived of you when the church decided to prescribe the way people should vote. I voted no, but I know many Mormons here in California who voted yes but resented the fact that the Church showed so little faith in their judgment.

  39. Lara Torgesen says:

    Caroline, I appreciate your thoughts and feelings about working toward healing this great divide. Personally, as a life-long church member as well as an ardent supporter of gay rights, I find this issue to be very painful indeed and I am not able to attend church right now. I don’t even know that I can ever come back, especially if I continue to see my religion morphing into an anti-gay-rights entity. My husband feels the same way. Perhaps if there were more people like you in the church, we might consider the idea that there is still a place for us within Mormonism.

    Here’s where we see the church going with this: Prop 8 passed by a narrow margin this time, and there is no question that it couldn’t have passed without the groundwork and funds provided by Mormons. However, every election from this point on will have another proposition to repeal the amendment. Eventually that will pass also. Across the country, states will begin to allow for gay marriage (either through the courts or via the ballot). Eventually, there will only be a few states left (Utah being one) and then the US Supreme Court will declare those laws unconstitutional and it will be legal across the country. Within a decade or so the Church will “adjust” its teachings on homosexuality.

    It will always preach that it is a sin. It will always preach that you can’t attain exaltation in a gay marriage. Gay members won’t be married in the temple and won’t be temple worthy. I don’t think anyone has any issues with the Church sticking to those doctrines. However, the Church will lose its “fear” of gay people. Gay members will be welcomed in congregations. They will be advised that celibacy is the best route, but will be encouraged to marry if celibacy is not an option. They will be treated like other members who try their best but don’t always live the gospel standards.

  40. Beekeeper says:

    Sara,
    we “allow gays to come to church”?
    thanks for *allowing*. I bet that you don’t even understand why I’m pointing that out do you? How very sad.
    as for service “not done in order to have a good reputation” you are actually quite wrong. As and RS Pres I particpated at the ward and stake level in planning all major service projects. The bretheren made it very clear that our projects should generate positive publicity for the church (thereby enhancing missionary efforts) the issue of positive publicity (or “reputation” as you put it)is as much of a motivator as the goal of the service itself…ask yourself why you always hear about the churches major service projects in the media….

  41. Wendy says:

    Caroline,

    For me, the church’s involvement in Prop 8 has ruined our relationship. I am sad to say, that I don’t think there is anything the church can do to make up for this. I am not gay, but I took it personally.

    After I moved from Utah, I was always shocked when people asked me if Mormons were Christian. I always thought that was such a strange question. But when the church makes choices to be so involved in measures that discriminate, I now hear myself asking the same question.

    Last night, I had to tell my husband, who has been patiently waiting for something to happen to get me back to church, that the damage was beyond repair. He was not surprised, he too is disappointed in all that the church has done on Prop 8.

    Where do we go from here? I don’t know. I’d like to see if the church can get people to donate their life savings to something that can make a positive, concrete difference out there. I know the church does humanitarin work, but that isn’t in the news like Prop 8 was.

    I don’t know if the church can recover from this, their reputation here in Washington is that of a bully, that the Mormon way is the only way. If the Mormons don’t like something, they’ll buy the election. I’m sure in time, people will stop talking about it so much, but for now, I don’t even want to tell anybody that I was raised Mormon.

    Today, I don’t feel Mormon.

  42. sara says:

    Beekeeper, this is exactly what I’m talking about.
    I have encountered this attitude before and am
    therefore not surprised. Dissecting my words and
    inferring something negative from “allow” is just
    silly. My point is that our church does not shun
    gay people. It was a simple, factual statement.

    As to the motivation behind service projects, you
    are not the only one who has experience in leadership
    positions and in planning them, and in my lifetime
    any “projects” I have been involved in have had
    love and charity as the motivators. As for
    worldwide efforts, I never hear about them unless
    I look for the press releases online.

    I know this conversation is fruitless as I am in
    the minority here and I will desist, but in closing
    I will say that the cynicism with which so many of
    you view the church and these issues is sad.

  43. Caroline says:

    Ellen, thanks for your comment. It was healing to read it and think of the long term trajectory, and how far we have come. (Are you the Ellen from the retreat? The one with the curly hair?)

    Lara, I love your vision of the future. If only, if only we could come to that point. In my current despondent state, it seems like too much to hope for.

    Wendy, I know what you mean. I fear that something in my relationship with my faith tradition has fundamentally shifted. I’m sad, so sad.

  44. Kelly Ann says:

    I voted Yes. Why? Because I believe the proposition will be challenged, overturned, or make way for better laws. I think the tension is necessary to change our system. Marriage is too intertwined with both the church and the state. I think gay couples deserve the same legal privileges as heterosexual couples but understand the religious definition that marriage is between one man and one woman. I would love to back better civil union laws or make marriage strictly a religious institution, and require everyone to get a civil union in a courthouse before getting married in a church (which would have nothing to do with the civil ceremony). Because I saw some of the ramifications if the Gavin Newsom system continued – although the ads were not entirely correct.
    That is, the only reason, I can maybe believe that backing Prop 8 was inspired.
    It would thrill me to no end if the church backed better civil union laws but I don’t think that will happen. And while community service (as discussed here) is a great way to build bridges, show our love and faith, and shift the focus back to Christ, I don’t think that will repair the damage that has been done. People who think the church was driven by bigotry … will think we are bigots.
    Honestly, I think the greater damage done to the church is to ourselves. As an institution, we have a history of dealing with misconceptions, mistakes, etc. and somehow manage. But I am not sure how to repair my faith …
    In another thread, I shared my feelings about this past weekend’s prop8-omonies. The way some have pushed it as follow the prophet or else or an indication of your relationship with God bugs me. The stories of being pressured to donate money, extraordinary amounts of time, campaigning in very un-effective ways, and questioning temple status (whether accurate or not) sicken me.
    And while the church in their press release did recognize that there is a division amongst church members – I think they need to internally address it on a much deeper level. I pray for offending leaders to apologize. And I pray over and over again for myself – that I can try to be patient. I want to believe and trust like I did before. I want to be willing to share the gospel and the church culture with others again.
    For the first time in my life, I am understanding how the early church could become so divided over so many issues.
    So I really can’t say much in terms of how I envision we should heal – other than turning to Christ. And to believe, that while I should try to stretch myself, who I am now is important. What I believe and do (attend church, go to the temple, community service, time, contributions – tithing, fast offering, humanitarian work) make a difference.

  45. Beekeeper says:

    Caroline
    Not sure if a group service project could heal a church community (I wish you luck in your effort) but I do know of the power of service to heal on an individual level. Years ago when I left the church over what I believed to be inhumane and misogynistic(sp?) treatment of women I didn’t think I could ever let go of my anger and hatred. I wanted to rip the church apart and become the next great female heretic spokeswoman with spots on Oprah. A Sonjia Johnson (with cuter hair). I channeled my rage and passion into wonderful projects that protected and uplifted women. My favorite was for a Rwandan woman who was running a business that was saving her small village and the dozen war orphans she had adopted (including from the other side that had slaughtered her own family…)I hung her beautiful face over my desk and looked at it every day and rebuilt my life while helping hers (as well as women in Kenya and Nicaragua on similar projects) It healed me and helped me reinvent my life (although I never returned to church).

    Again I am filled with bitter rage. I ask the same questions as John. I know I will need to wallow in my anger and despair for awhile. I have distanced myself in some ways by undertaking the process to remove my records and that has given me peace, but I will desperately need to heal from this once again. I know that like before I will throw myself into service projects for a fufilling and healing distraction. Something to help homosexuals, gay marraige, or maybe hate crimes. If you stumble into any good projects please post…meanwhile I plan for just small local projects, mainly just loving the hell out of my very wounded gay friends, baking them chocolate stuff, writing them notes about how beautiful and powerful they are, and apologizing on behalf of the mormon church.
    I love your calling and I love that you are looking to use it to heal wounded hearts…

  46. We often thing out of the US on many issues. How about the shoe box kits we make with hygene kits or school kits for a half-way house, a woman’s shelter, or homeless shelter.

  47. Steph says:

    (formerly gladtobeamom)This is a hard one. There is a lot of healing that needs to take place only I think that I just don’t see a way for that when both sides are not going to budge. I was thinking for everyone that cheered for is passing there is someone that cried. For everyone that cheered for the national election results there is someone who did not. We are deeply divided on so many issues. I feel as if it is a us against them. The media only feeds the hate. I was sent this quote which help me to understand the churches roll in all of this.

    “Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years
    ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he
    will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt
    longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that
    he had ‘never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church
    even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.’

    This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society
    which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed
    of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of
    Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious
    convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow
    certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

    Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the
    institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened…. Before the
    ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be
    lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear,
    letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will
    also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step
    forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do.

    We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority
    of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious
    of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, ‘summer
    is nigh.’ Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of
    the heat.”

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” BYU Devotional,
    October 10, 1978

    I wish I knew how we could heal and come together. I understand others views and can even respect them even though I dont agree. Most of the time this is not the case with people I am learning. I know others think I am stupid, a sheep, uneducated I could go on and on. It is all about how we see each other. We do need something we can all get behind together. Unfortunately a lot of mormons pay their tithing etc and think because the church does so much humanitarian stuff they have done what they need to do and I know others who figure they have paid their taxes and the government is taking care of things. We need to come back to our personal service to others and find something we can all get behind in our own communities. Maybe that would help.

  48. Caroline says:

    Kelly Ann,
    You propose the libertarian solution. States only sanction civil unions, and churches do marriages. I’d be fine with that, and I think the Church is positioning itself to accept that ultimate outcome as well. But in the meantime, my heart aches for all those families whose protections have been ripped from them.

    Beekeeper, thanks for your story about healing through service on an individual level. What a fantastic thing to do for that RWandan woman. Makes me want to get out there and love and support the hell out of somebody who desperately needs it.

    Steph, thanks for your ideas. The timing of the talk you quote is telling. The year the church finally gave the priesthood to blacks. No wonder he was talking about not being embarrassed by the Church.

  49. Rachel says:

    Caroline,
    You’ve got some great ideas. For the past couple years I’ve spent a lot of time pondering church members and community service. During church we talk of service and plan group service projects, but I feel there needs to be more of a spirit of individual service in the community. I could be wrong, but it seems that many members feel that doing their calling, visiting/home teaching, or the occasional ward service project that they are great servants of their community. I’m advocating for service to be a way of life instead of a one time project. Here’s an idea…since many people are either short on time or don’t know how to get involved in their community…you could come up with a list of things people could do to get involved in the community. It could be starting point for many that may want to serve but don’t know how. Maybe some of the opportunities on your list will include working with those in the gay community.

    Often times we mormons don’t think of becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister or a Court Appointed Special Advocate to a foster kid…or making a meal for the homeless shelter. We’re quick to help the kids in our YW class or make a meal for a sister who just had a baby….but why not reach out to the community we live in and not just the one we worship with?

    “…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

  50. Douglas Hunter says:

    One of the things that Sara’s comments among others points to is the ethics of listening and to the place of the voice.

    In internet debates, in private conversations, and in Church the idea that we need to listen to and be obedient to the Prophet has been repeated daily. Nothing unusual about that. In addition there is the idea that “our” beliefs mean that there are certain things that we do not need to do, or should not do.

    The first idea, while being very common, is problematic because functionally what happens is that the call to listen to the voice of the prophet also functions as a call to not listen to the voice of the other. There is no impetus to listen to or learn about how gay and lesbian people describe their lives, experiences and relationships because our call to listen, the voice we are said to be responsible to, is that of the Prophet. Having listened to Church leaders there is nothing more to know. The voice of our leadership functionally eclipses the voice of the other and absolves us from responsibility to the other. Obviously for anyone who studies Christian (and Jewish) theology this is a huge problem. How is this ethical? and how can we revive the Jewish & Christian idea that we are indeed responsible to the other, that the call to listen to a Prophet in no way diminishes our responsibility for and need to listen to the other?

    As far as our beliefs go, this seems to hit right at the core of what Caroline was responding to. As if to say that our duty is only to those who we are link to by beliefs and our duty when addressing the other is to defend ourselves. There are many reasons that Mormons think this way including our history, and our notion of Zion. But from an ethical point of view this kind of response is troubling if not indefensible.

    One thing that could help us would be to broaden the notion of community. But in Mormon thought this is difficult. I am thinking of lesson 21 which I will be teaching in two weeks. At the time of the second coming there is a great deal of talk about the division between the righteous and the wicked. In Mormon thought I’m not sure that there is room for the idea of the righteous other, since so often the other, in their difference is understood to be aligned with the wicked from the start and righteousness is understood in terms of synthesis and unity etc. The idea of the righteous other seems to pose a serious challenge to Mormon theology, at least it would if it were taken seriously. So I think there are direct theological reasons why we need to try to work on what Caroline is addressing, and direct theological reasons why as a community we tend not to.

  51. Kirsten says:

    Caroline,
    All I can say is that I’m really sad that the Church/members spent $20 million dollars on this. Just think of what $20 million dollars could do to combat poverty, disease, illiteracy, and so many other problems the world faces that are truly crises.

  52. Caroline says:

    Thanks, everyone. Love your comments. Rachel, fantastic ideas. I’m inspired to type up a sheet like that right now.

    Douglas, you have a knack for putting your finger on the issues, and in a kind a loving way. Well done. I need to be better at that.

    Kirsten, Charleen, kat, everyone else who has commented, thanks so much for your input. I’m starting to feel less wounded and more hopeful about the situation.

  53. the narrator says:

    The passing of Prop 8 and the election of Obama have caused me to think a lot about communal sin, guilt, and forgiveness. Even though I have been against Prop 8 from the beginning, I feel as if I am somehow guilty of it’s passing (similarly, though I never lived during the civil rights movements, not have ever felt I had ever had any active racism, seeing a black president gave me a huge sense of relief that I have somehow been forgiven of a sin we all had committed).

    Just as the Church finally made amends for the wrongs committed at Mountain Meadows, I think that healing can truly only occur when we admit the wrongs our church has done in its involvement with Prop 8. Because the Church will probably not admit to any failings any time soon, I really believe it is us individual who must take on the sins of the many and begin asking forgiveness for those who knew not what they did.

  54. Roger says:

    You know what guys, there was money spent on both sides of the issue. The Church didn’t take away the word “marriage” from gay unions, the voice of the people did. I can’t speak for God; I just personally feel that gay sexual relationships are wrong. There I said it. It’s just my personal belief regardless what the Bible says.

    Everyone has the right, no the obligation, to vote what they believe. And the majority of people feel the way I do. I am sorry for those who will be affected by this vote, but I am also tired of the skewed view that a minority (read also the liberal media!) continues to push on the majority. To gays, I say what the majority says, live your lives, leave marriage alone.

  55. Kelly Ann says:

    I listened to a NPR program today in which people were reflecting on the general call to service that this election has raised. Apparently Obama wants to continue to utilize the ground structure he used in his grassroots campaign. It made me think about how service could heal the nation.

    The commentator spoke about how 9-11 could have been a call to service but was rather a call to give money. A call to consumerism. To move forward like nothing had happened.

    I hope that we as a church and a country will move forward in the call to service.

    For members of the church, perhaps it will heal hearts in respect to this issue.

    But may I also say – it is incredible to see the anger. It is a hard week to be a Mormon. To cross picket lines at the temple. They say we (as well as other faiths) may have to cross picket lines to go to church.

    The craziness in LA really makes my heart sink again. Although, I believe the mass is critical to induce change – it comes with so many misgivings … I would have rather the church come out and back separation of church and state and have a measure to grant civil unions to all (although I don’t think that would have had the fire to pass). Because this battle is going to be a long one with a lot of emotions.

    At the end of my yoga practice tonight, my emotions released. I sobbed in a room of people I didn’t know.

    Prop 8 is an injustice and I pray that the legal process will go quickly.

  56. Kiri Close says:

    I’m waiting for someone to bring up the psychoanalysis (at the very least) of human sexuality & its gracious multiplicities.

    Then, I feel, we can begin to see more genuinely into ‘healing’, & more importantly into ‘loving’.

    Debating the legislature & the ‘who-funded-who’ are mere afterthoughts (apparently chasmically divisive & crass -this world will pursue these modes to no end). So far, that is what the need has been, at least on this particular forum.

  57. JD says:

    The Church really is already involved in the sort of massive humanitarian projects you describe. It’s donated nearly 1 billion dollars over the past 20 years to humanitarian aid.

  58. Marnie says:

    Marriage between man and woman is God’s law. That is all. If everyone who voted for Obama had voted “NO” it would have never passed. Until the community sees that it is not only the LDS church who was in support of Prop 8, this will never end. The LDS church is an easy target, no one wants to admit that their church spent money on yes to prop 8. (catholic, baptist, jewish, etc.)
    I have decided that I will love my neighbors, love my family, we just don’t agree on everything.

  59. Kiri Close says:

    Marnie, may I kindly ask you what you mean by God’s law?

  60. tanya says:

    Just a reminder that the humanitarian aid program did not start until the year of 1985. Like the PEF program the money used is off the interest earned , not the balance. That is how the program grows.

    Remember too in early church history, the church was mired in debt. IT was not until the mid 1980’s that the building and temple funds were abolished and the money from tithing is used in their construction.

    As the church has grown the manner in which humanitarian aid has adapted as well. Programs to teach Neonatal resucitation, vision programs, the programs to build wells in communities are expanding. PEF was started to provide money for the education of people in other countries, so they then can move back home and help out their communities.

    We need to look beyond dollar amounts to see what is occuring.

    One thing I would like to see more of, that could go with PEF would be microloans to women in other countries.

    These small loans to help them get started in a small business has been a great idea to help women earn money for their families. Just the investment in a sewing machine has helped more than can be imagined.

  61. Janna says:

    I don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but I’m not sure that we can heal the wounds. It’s almost like suggesting that the hunter should dress the wounds of the deer he just shot.

    I think what you are asking is how do we convey our values of love and connection in the face of a decision/stance that in your eyes (and mine) conveys the complete opposite.

    My view is that church administers myriad acts of relevant, effective service in the world – but, we keep it hush-hush. Rather, what gets communicated publicly about Mormons is our “creed culture.” Unfortunately, creeds rarely have long term cultural impact on producing moral behavior, but rather end up shaming individuals who do not live up to the standard. Anyway, caring vs. creed education is another topic…

  62. djinn says:

    The church, in its latest official comment
    on Prop. 8 said that they were for (limited)
    civil unions. In 2004, Prop. 3 disallowed any
    sort of civil union for single sex couples. I
    think that repealing prop. 3 and allowing civil
    unions in Utah would go a long way to healing
    these wounds, because a positive step would be
    taken for gay couples.

  63. djinn says:

    Prop. 3 in Utah. It’s a start.

  64. Katrina says:

    I don’t think there IS a way to “heal the rift” as long as Mormons still think in terms of “us” and “them” (“them” being “our socially progressive neighbors who believe gay marriage is a civil right”).

    What would you say if a powerful lobby made it illegal to, say, attend the temple and then asked how to heal the rift between them and “socially conservative neighbors who believe attending the temple is a civil right”?

    Until Mormons realize the mindset IS the problem, the rift remains.

  65. stacer says:

    I haven’t had the time to read all the comments, but I wanted to share what I just read in the Church’s official statement on the issue here:

    “Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.

    “Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy.”

    So, how to heal the breach? Continue to treat everyone, no matter their religious affiliation, political beliefs, race, creed, whatever, as children of God worthy of our love and respect. It may be that people still take offense at our position (whatever that position is, for or against gay marriage), but the only way we’ll have a better society is by being better people. We can’t control others, but we can control ourselves, you know?

  66. Douglas Hunter says:

    In terms of pragmatic ideas regarding healing. I think learning and listening are essential. I know of two short films that might be helpful in this regard. A friend of mine made a film called Voices of Witness which features stories of faith from Gays and Lesbians in the Episcopal Church. Last week I just finished a short doc called The Constant Process which is about the life and spiritual journey of Susan Russell who is a lesbian priest and human rights activist.

    For liberal and moderate Mormons screening and discussing these films and the experiences of the people in them may provide an interesting opportunity for dialogue. One of the things that is simply not talked about in the Mormon context is the spiritual lives and personal experiences of gay folks. So. if anyone might be interested in doing a small group activity around either film let me know.

    Also for anyone in the Chicago area. The Constant Process will be screening on 11/15 in the shorts program at the 27th annual Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival.

  67. kris says:

    You are asked by the bishop if you are
    affilated or support anything contrary to the
    teaching of the gospel. So I can see why a
    temple recommend would be taken away if you
    supported no on prop 8.

  68. amelia says:

    kris,

    elder whitney clayton of the seventy, who was prominently involved in the prop. 8 campaign, clearly stated on multiple occasions that members of the church could vote against the proposition without jeopardizing their good standing in the church in any way.

    my stake president signed my temple recommend in the same interview during which i informed him that i not only disagreed with the church’s stance on prop. 8, but that i would vote against it. he had no problem with my being opposed to the church on the issue, and continued to have no problem with it throughout the entire campaign. and he’s pretty tight with SLC leadership on this issue, since he’s elder clayton’s brother.

    so i’ll say it again. opposing prop. 8 has ***nothing*** to do with one’s temple recommend. and it is the unfortunate and completely inexcusable consequence of the church’s/church leadership’s actions that there are people who may have lost their recommends–or who have even simply had their worthiness to hold those recommends questioned–because of opposition to prop. 8. shame on our leaders. shame on them. they should have known better. they should have given more explicit instruction to make sure that *everyone* involved knew better than to make such inexcusable assumptions about other church members’ worthiness. i thought they were smarter than that. not to mention being “inspired.”

  69. American Yak says:

    I think some of your ideas for initiating healing are wise, and some things ought to be done to continue to show love for people, no matter what their background.

    Unfortunately, I also agree with some of the comments posted here, as well as the Church’s official release:

    “Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.”

    I think I understand well the motives behind our apostles’ conviction on why marriage needs to be defined between a man and a woman. I’m not trying to defy your stipulation that comments not take sides, which I’m not arguing for. Rather, I’m just stating that it is clear to me why the Church has taken this stand on this issue — and not, say, Darfur, as completely important an issue that is. I promise, I’m not trying to stir up debate. This is just a personal expression.

    After watching the explosion of anger from the gay community after the passing of Proposition 8, I think some of the initial signs are clear. It shows how far we’ve come in this country with our attitudes over homosexual issues.

    I’m not trying to be trite or say anything in spite. I truly do long for healing. And I think some of your ideas are really valuable and we ought to spend as much of our energy also looking for ways to reach out and “love our enemies,” to borrow a Jesus saying. 🙂

    That said, I think this will end up being one of the most defining issues of our time, not only for society, but for the Church, at least in a historical perspective, until Christ comes. The Proclamation on the Family more than intimates at such things.

    On a related note, I FULLY agree that disagreement with Prop. 8 and disagreement with Church leaders and a vote “no” on Prop. 8 ought to have NO bearing on receiving a temple recommend.

    What I *do* think, and something that I have not heard many people articulate, is that when we more specifically condemn vocally, out in public, or call out and say (again, specifically) that our Church leaders are “in the wrong,” or anything of this ilk, that this is the sort of statement that leans much closer to apostasy, and *does* have bearing on temple recommend questions that ask if you support/sustain your leaders. Disagreement I think is fine, even vocalized in a way that represents your opinion on matters. Calling into question the prophets authority to act on such matters is another matter.

    I’m not questioning or judging ANYONE in this forum or any other on that standard, to be clear. But I do think it’s an important distinction that has not been talked about much. It really stems around the broader question: how much do you trust your prophets in this matter?

  70. kd says:

    I think the bottom line here is that whatever your stance on the issue, our prophet, a man called of god, a man who we believe converses and relays information from God to us, asked us to vote in a specific way. There must have been a reason for this request whether we know what it is now or understand why. This is what he asked of us. One of the questions to obtain a temple recommend is if you sustain the current prophet. Perhaps in not agreeing with the request from our current prophet some members felt they did not sustain him and this is why they could not continue holding a temple recommend.

  71. amelia says:

    actually, kd, the prophet did **not** ask us to vote in a specific way. in fact, the church leadership clings to the defense that they didn’t tell us how to vote, but instead just urged us to do what we could.

    however, your simple reduction of the first presidency’s letter to telling us how to vote does a wonderful job of illustrating the problem i have with the church’s involvement in this matter. no matter how much the first presidency or the institutional church attempts to allow for dissenting views, the fact is that mormon culture translates the prophet’s words into commands. and then, when someone is perceived as not obeying those commands, mormons enforce them through social means–primarily through relationships which become distant or even broken. i find it disgusting. so much so that i’m not sure that i can continue to affiliate myself with the church through regular practice, no matter how much i believe its doctrinal teachings. because i think this kind of cultural climate works directly *against* the church’s doctrine. or rather the doctrine of christ.

    i would be happy if the church spent all of its time and energy teaching simple principles–the principles of christ’s gospel. love. compassion. mercy. kindness. honesty. doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. those things are hard enough. do we really need to embroil ourselves in divisive political battles which will only undercut those simple virtues? is it not enough to teach correct principles and then let each individual govern herself according to her own conscience? that seems good enough to me. but apparently it’s not good enough for church leadership.

  72. Brittney says:

    Amelia, that is too bad that you don’t want to associate with the church anymore. So you think the First Presidency was in the wrong for writing a letter asking us to stand for truth and righteousness eh? Well, may I ask, did you pray about this matter? Did you find out for yourself if voting YES on 8 was what the Lord wanted? I did. I prayed and fasted, and my answer was overwhelmingly that I needed to support and vote Yes on 8. Therefore I did. And as for teaching compassion, honesty, kindness, ect ect… those things never were not taught during this whole thing. Before every meeting that we had, we prayed for compassion and kindness towards those that are flat out threatening us. I was very sad knowing that if the law passed, many would be hurt and saddened. But, a person HAS to stand for truth and righteousness, no matter what. When a person is intuned with what our Father asks of us, of course we are going to hurt people’s feelings. That’s just how it goes. And who has broken relationships off because of the way they voted? Only people full of hatred and Satan. I haven’t broken any relations with any of my gay friends. We respect one another’s opinions and we know we each have to stand for what we feel is right. The church has nothing to do with one’s weaknesses. And a whole church shouldn’t be judged on someone’s actions that go to that church. When I was part of rallies and walks and calling, there was never ill or contentious feelings on our side. My neighbor is a lesbian and she is ticked at us and threatened me that I better watch my back. So am I to judge all gays are like that just because one is? Are you only going to church because of the people? Is your testimony of the doctrine and the gospel of Jesus Christ based on the people? If so, please, please think about it. If I judged my testimony on the people of the church, I would’ve left along time ago. I’ve been offended, teased, gossiped about, but I don’t care. I know who I am, and who I represent, and I’m not going to let someone ruin my salvation by letting myself be offended by them and retaliate by not going to church. I just don’t want you to make a big mistake in not attending anymore because of silly things like this. Seriously, if you ever need anything or want to chat, email me. i usually don’t put my email out like this, but I’m willing to in this case. Your salvation is more important to me than people sending me spam… 😉 jbmacsta@gmail.com I’m always here if you need to vent. Aight?

  73. amelia says:

    for now all i’m going to say is wow. just wow. and tomorrow, when i have the energy, i’ll explain to you–brittney and anyone else who doesn’t understand–why your comment lacks compassion and kindness in spite of your offer to receive my venting.

  74. Jana says:

    Brittney:
    A question for you. How would you feel if an large organization used all of its power and influence to take away your right to marry? And if you are married, how would you feel if that marriage would soon be annulled because your neighbors voted to take your civil rights away? Just think about it for a minute.

    And would you then feel that that organization was doing something ‘christ-like’ and compassionate?

    And…please don’t question Amelia’s righteousness or that of anyone else on this site. Such writings are not only unkind, but also violate our comment policy. Further comments in this vein will be deleted.

  75. Kate says:

    Another question: How would you feel if large organizations sought to take away your freedom of religion? To turn a core religious belief into discrimination and hate? To punish you for participating in a democratic election?

    I have grown weary of people saying that the Church should be Christlike and compassionate. It is. Christ loves everyone, yes, but he does not support actions contrary to the Gospel.

    It is actually the “no” side that could take a few Christian lessons. They’ve already tried to hurt my husband’s career because he donated money.

  76. Jana says:

    Kate:
    That must be really hard for you and your husband–that he donated money to a cause that you believed in and now it’s threatening his career. I suspect that many LDS members are surprised by this backlash, given that few have engaged in the political arena like this before. I’m curious….do you or your husband have any regrets about your donation(s)?

    I am sure that the Lord and/or the prophet knew that members would be targets of this anger and yet thought it well-worth the risk to encourage members to donate anyways. Do you think the prophet should have included a warning about this in the materials urging members to donate in support of the Prop?

  77. amelia says:

    i’m not going to respond in much detail to brittney’s comment from last night. but i do want to say a couple of things. i want to ask people to have enough imagination that they can think outside their own minds and perspectives for a moment. recognize that this is not just a “silly” matter. for anyone. contemplate the ramifications of first assaulting another person’s worthiness and then offering alleged concern for her soul and salvation. consider the wisdom of believing that a single comment (or even half a dozen) on the internet is enough insight into another person’s heart and soul to justify condemning them, even in the interest of protecting their salvation.

    this kind of behavior happens at church and as a result of mormon culture and attitudes all the time. and i am just so tired because of it. i acknowledge my own responsibility. i recognize that i need to focus on being charitable and compassionate in how i understand others at church. i try, all the time, to extend the benefit of the doubt. but i am just so tired–so tired of trying to make excuses, to explain, to justify behavior that destroys my peace of mind and of conscience. and i am tired of having more mainstream mormons not extend the same courtesy in return but, instead, leap to conclusions about my worthiness, my beliefs, and my character. this is a two-way street. i should not have to make all the accommodations in order to exist peacefully at church. i should not have to sacrifice my conscience in order to not have my worthiness challenged on a regular basis. i should be able to live a life of conscience without everyone from perfect strangers to my immediate family telling me why i’m following satan.

    last night i listened to a review of a recent documentary about lee atwater. while concluding, the reviewer made the comment that atwater discovered that it’s not who we (think we) are but what we actually do that matters. and that is the place i am in. it’s not who we (think we) are as mormons, but what we actually do. it’s not who i (think i) am, but what i actually do. and that–not some silliness or my petty hang-ups about other people–is the source of my wondering whether i can continue to affiliate myself through practice with mormonism.

    what good is my life if i do not *do* what i know to be good and true? if practicing mormonism prevents me from doing that, i will not practice mormonism. and i think god understands. i don’t think it jeopardizes my salvation. because ultimately salvation is also about what we *do*; it’s not about who we (or others) think we are.

  78. betsy says:

    I didn’t get my recommend taken away, but both my husband and I have been released from our callings here in Utah and asked not to pray in the ward publicly or bare our testimonies since we spoke out in early July in protest against prop8. The decision we have come to is to forfeit our temple recommends temporarally, and use our tithing money to help and serve those we know are hurting and in need. In August we helped a young 32 year old widower bury her husband. We purchased canned goods for our local food shelter. This month we supported a young sister missionary who has undergone a brain tumor operation while in the mission field. The thought of our tithing money being used to pay the salaries of church positions that support prop8, which has splintered my family, and then being asked to remain silent by our Stake President has moved us to seek local humanitarian opportunities for now!

  79. Kate says:

    Luckily, his career should be just fine. And to answer your question, neither of us regrets the donation. I also don’t think a warning was needed. We felt it was the right thing to do, so we did it.

    The fact that people interpret that donation as anti-gay and uneducated and worth punishment is troubling. If roles were reversed, there would be a huge outcry and deservedly so.

    I’m sad that the rights I want to protect are at odds with rights others want to save, but it’s not going to prevent me from doing and thinking what I believe is right.

    I kind of stumbled on this blog while preparing a lesson, so I wasn’t planning on getting sucked into more Prop 8 stuff. I just really hope things settle down, so we can start hearing each other again and not angrily judging.

  80. Douglas Hunter says:

    Amelia,

    I’ve read your last comment several times, and I have so much empathy for what you are experiencing. I admit that I don’t have a good or helpful reply but here are a couple of thoughts in solidarity anyway.

    The thing about prop 8 is that it revealed aspects of Mormon culture that I had never seen played out before in a pragmatic way. It was really chilling to see how eager many in our community were to divide, to accuse, to question faith, etc. Clearly there was a complex blend of group think, authoritarianism, and kinder gentler homophobia at work in a lot of what went on. It is indeed hard to get past that.

    You write:
    “i should not have to make all the accommodations in order to exist peacefully at church. i should not have to sacrifice my conscience in order to not have my worthiness challenged on a regular basis. i should be able to live a life of conscience without everyone from perfect strangers to my immediate family telling me why i’m following satan.”

    As far as I can tell the truth is that within the walls of our wards and in conversation within our faith community we do need to make all the accommodations. Yes it’s wrong but I’m not sure the language exists that could help a certain type of Mormon understand another type of Mormon, or even if that language did exist I doubt that the will to understand exists either.

    On the other hand there is a tremendous amount of good that can be done out in the larger world. After an event on Saturday I was approached by a woman who had a lot of anger towards the pro 8 side (Mormon’s in particular) she was shocked to see a Mormon who was against prop 8. We talked for a while and the source of her anger came into focus as she described a relative who just a few days ago told her that her 18 year old gay son is possessed by demons and that’s why he is gay. With tears coming to her eyes this woman asked “Where was she (the relative) the night my son stood in the Kitchen holding a knife to his wrist, wanting to kill himself because there is no place in the world for him? Where was she then?!” This woman’s anger and hurt and love for her son were laid bare in these comments.

    All this is to say that, there is a sense that despite all the discomfort at Church, despite being accused, despite biting one’s tongue in the face of many thoughtless comments, despite these things, having the opportunity to listen to and support that woman, and many other people like her, makes dealing with what goes on at church easier. We are in a time of healing a time where empathy and human connection are more necessary than ever. You are right that it is about what we do.

  81. Amelia says:

    thank you for your comment, douglas. you are right that we need to hear each other. and i do try. i hope that somehow i’m able to find space to continue hearing the people i know and love at church. it’s just that i hurt so very much right now that i’m not sure i can. so i just try to do what seems right to me and hope that ultimately that will be enough.

  82. Douglas Hunter says:

    thanks, and don’t take my emphasis on listening as in any way as suggesting that listening is more important than individual healing. I’m trying to make listening part of healing. If you, or I, or anyone else can’t find the healing they need, then the long term result will probably be people leaving the Church, which should not happen.

  83. Kelly Ann says:

    There is an interesting article in the New York Times regarding Prop 8 Donors. A site has overlayed contributions with a google map. I definitely have issues with the premise – as it can be used for grounds of harassment.

    However, what has floored me is the number of names I recognize from the Mormon world. I know people in several local wards, have interacted with leadership of two stakes, and worked at the temple. And there are names that just seem Mormon. The leadership in particular seems to be the larger donors.

    There is of course the obvious lack of certain donors (and it is far from a map of local wards and stakes, although it would be cool to use this technology for that). But I am just floored by the observation and am wondering if anyone has any comments in regards.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/business/08stream.html?em

    http://www.eightmaps.com/

  1. April 3, 2016

    […] Prop 8 Fallout: Where Do We Go From Here? by Caroline […]

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