The Mormon Church's Part in the Religious Freedom Movement. [And how it reminds me of the whole Prop 8 thing.]

The Mormon Church recently launched a new campaign explaining religious freedom and the importance of defending it. I watched this video first (you should see a whiteboard drawing). And then hanging out in the sidebar on youtube was this video, just begging for me to watch it. I did, and I sort of wish I hadn't.

I automatically began wondering what was behind this gathering of resources to help clarify religious freedom. I read this article today, and it became much more clear.

After Prop8 happened...

Can I tell you a story? Okay.

I was so ecstatic when Obama was elected, but the feeling was quickly dampened after news of Prop 8 started rolling in. I suddenly felt like I'd been stabbed through the heart...or in the back... when I saw images of people protesting outside of the LA temple. The church had sent letters and leaders to congregations to encourage them to vote for Prop 8. I was blindsided. I remember talking to my mom about it (she lives in AZ, but there was a similar proposition on their ballot as well), and wondering why, of all the issues for the church to get involved with, this was the one. She quoted what had been told to her congregation, "It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue." I wondered why I hadn't seen a huge rally to end human trafficking or any other moral issue.

In the weeks leading up to Prop 8, I remembered getting forward emails (several from church members) warning against what would become of us if same-sex marriage was legalized. "Teachers would have to teach, as early as kindergarten, that gay marriage was okay as well as about families with parents of the same gender." This argument, of all the ones I heard, was the one that was most dumbfounding. I always wondered what would happen if the people using those arguments had a young child who made a friend in school who had two moms or two dads. Would the children not be allowed to be friends because they would have to explain that there are all kinds of families? And why we were all the sudden more concerned about what children were learning outside of the home when the most important things should be learned within. "The home is the first classroom."

Okay, back to "After Prop 8 happened"...

After Prop 8 happened, I started hearing about the millions of dollars that had poured into an organization called So much money from members of the LDS church, many not even living in California. I looked it up and was met with almost instant disappointment. Most of the talking points I'd heard in forward emails and from friends concerned for the future of marriage, had come directly from this organization whose sole purpose was to pass Prop 8.

Why disappointment? I couldn't believe that the church I belonged to and loved would align itself with an organization that made claims and perpetuated falsehoods based on majorly shoddy research and vile speculation. We were the bad guys. And we were the bad guys not because the church defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but because we felt we had to sink down to a level of fear tactics and ugly to get the point across (the sinking happened when teaming up with a poo-ey group).

Fast forward to the here and now and this new push to spread the word about religious freedom, and how I automatically started looking into where this was coming from. The article in Deseret News (that I linked above) made it all too easy. They quoted LDS apostles as well people from the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Ethics and Public Policy Center about why there is a movement to protect religious freedom, and why so many churches were getting and should get involved. The FFC and EPPC are two organizations I would never personally "like" on facebook. The kicker is that the director of the American Religious Freedom program at the EPPC used to work for The Heritage Foundation - yet another organization I would pass on following.

Below, I've linked the organizations, as well as given a highlight of the information shown on the opening page of their websites.

Faith and Freedom Coalition - Restoring America's Greatness and Founding Principles
1. DEFEND Marriage! Marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman.
2. Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority 2013 Conference Recap
3. SUSPEND State Funding of Obamacare

Ethics and Public Policy Center [EPPC] - Defending American Ideals
"Washington D.C.'s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy."

The Heritage Foundation -  Leadership for America
It's time to Defund Obamacare: The movement to Defund Obamacare has reached a critical moment.

If you know me, or if you've been reading my blog for any fair amount of time, you see why these organizations aren't up my alley. I can't help but feel disappointed all over again that my church, the one [out of all the churches I could belong to, not to mention none at all] I care about deeply decides to jump onboard with groups that are so unbelievably polar it makes my head spin.

Here is where I interject my personal opinion on all the religious freedom buzz: I get it.

Two of the major current issues that I know have caused people to feel threatened in the religious freedom department: Same-sex marriage and Contraception. More specifically: businesses being fined for declining services to same-sex couples, and businesses having to go to court to defend their right to not offer contraception under the new insurance laws. I GET IT!

Have we all heard of Sweet Cakes by Melissa? A bakery in Oregon refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple based on their "morals and beliefs." The couple filed a lawsuit with the state citing discrimination. After months of boycotts and hate mail, the owner and her husband decided to close their bakery and move the business back home. They should have been able to run their business as they chose. Sure people can let them know they don't agree with how they run their business, too. But this is the part I don't get. I'm sure there would have been many a baker who would have LOVED to have made a cake for this couple. I get that it hurts and that it's disappointing that people don't agree with the biggest, deepest love you have for someone else. I wish that wasn't the case, ever. [I'm not one of those people.]

But attacking someone who is standing their ground for what they believe, whether you agree or not, is basically causing a new "TEA Party" movement to rise up. But instead of taxes, religious freedom is the thing driving the momentum. Instead of TEA, this new thing could be PEA [persecuted enough already] or SEA [stifled enough already]. It will inevitably be [it already is] a very polar movement (and yes, my church is super bandwagoning with it) for something that shouldn't be polar at all.

I think there is magic in the legal system in the USA. I think marriage can (and should) be open to same-sex couples under the law, but this country has this super magical thing called the Constitution that has built in protection for religious groups, so if they don't want to perform a same-sex marriage, they don't have to, and no one should expect them to. There are many other churches and people who would be elated to share that kind of joy. If a pharmacist doesn't want to give the Morning After contraception, go to a pharmacist who doesn't have a moral objection to it. We've gotten too up in arms about things that shouldn't be this difficult. We're so selfish. We're so narrow-minded. We're so polar. I'm so over it. I don't want my church to be involved with organizations that make the divide greater.

A blurb about my faith: I feel like the Mormon church getting involved in this movement is an adolescent attempt at trying to fit in. (Did I mention they also created a facebook page called Support Religious Freedom? They did.) With the Prop 8 movement, I felt like I was in the middle of a church I didn't recognize ["where is my Mormonism?" And why are we trying to be all mainstream - we're not. That's what I like about us]. We were trying to fit in with some denominations who had regular Mormon bashing sessions. Were we trying to get them to like us?

I love the idea of churches coming together for the greater good, but the things we've been coming together on don't fall into that category to me, not the way we're promoting them anyway. [I think religious freedom and freedom of conscious definitely promote the greater good.] My church feels more and more like a corporation with a very aggressive PR team.

I'm tired of writing about it tonight. It makes me sad. Like deep down in my heart weepy. I don't know what the church is thinking about, or if at all, when it comes to members like me. I'd like to think there's room for me and the things I believe that differ from the main body (though there are plenty of Mormons just like me), but then instances like this happen: the church is part of a movement that exists because of its retaliation against things I stand up for. It feels like a sort of ultimatum: "You're with us, or you're against us." I came to the realization a few months ago, that it makes my heart hurt so much because I care so much about it [the church].

Rather than fancy "resources," I wish the main public image of our church had everything to do with who's in our name (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and what He taught. [Love, respect, kindness, compassion, empathy - a place we can find common ground.]

In a talk called The Love of God, Dieter Uchtdorf [a member of the presidency of the Mormon church] said:
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing bond that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendships, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.  
Mother Theresa said:
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. 
I think of this Gordon B. Hinckley [former president/prophet of the Mormon Church] quote when I think about the polarization that keeps us from loving people. I think the polarization is a big ol' blob of mediocrity:
Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.
Because Gordon B. Hinckley had a lot of good things to say about being better, I'll leave you with two final quotes from him:
You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others...
Try a little harder to be a little better.


  1. I enjoy your blog. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I admire your courage. I agree it is hard to see things like this play out. I wish we could stick to the basics of learning the gospel, since that in and of it self has so much power to impact us.

  2. LuAnn - after fielding numerous comments on Facebook about this post, this one is like a sigh of relief. People shared some really good thoughts, but they also ended up way off topic. Your comment about the "basics of learning the gospel" is the Amen - the very most inner-heart of what I feel.



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