Church Admits Financial Support of Prop 8

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Update: See below.

When I heard rumours of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints financial involvement to pass Proposition 8, last November’s ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California, I assumed they were lies spread because of malice toward the institution. Though I felt repulsed by the Church’s aggressive position, I thought it acted within its rights to encourage members in voting to strip away the rights of same-sex couples.

I also thought that the church was wise enough to respect the separation of church and state and refrain from actively funding the campaign. It turns out, I was wrong.

In a campaign filing, amid an investigation by Fair Political Practices Commission—a California state campaign watchdog agency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has revealed it spent nearly $190,000 since September to help pass Proposition 8.

While many church members had donated directly to the Yes on 8 campaign—some estimates of Mormon giving range as high as $20 million—the church itself had previously reported little direct campaign activity.

But in the filing made Friday [January 30, 2009], the Mormon church reported thousands in travel expenses, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals for the campaign. The church also reported $96,849.31 worth of “compensated staff time”—hours that church employees spent working to pass the same-sex marriage ban.

For all the crying about how the church has been unjustifiably targeted it’s incredible that it would have opened itself up to such a huge legal blunder and a public relations nightmare. I don’t know what the implications for class action suits by the 18,000 people who had their marriages annulled by the passing of Proposition 8 might be, but I hope it is a wake up call to those that think the church is legitimate in the way it went about robbing the rights of same-sex couples.

Correction: It turns out I was just a little confused about the implications of this report. As pointed out by JKS the filing was posted on time and the church did not break any laws with its involvement in Prop 8.

To be clear, all same-sex marriage rights were stripped using legal means.

Update: According to a few sources, it looks like, the Church has been convicted of 13 counts of late campaign reporting.

54 thoughts on “Church Admits Financial Support of Prop 8

  1. if a person feels any sense of religious obligation regarding how, where, when or whom he or she marries, then that feeling is illegitimate and a result of the abuse of power.

    If it is an abuse of power, then yes, I don’t approve of it. Perhaps I should have been more clear, but what I was saying is that if a person doesn’t want to get married they shouldn’t feel forced into it—by either their new husband or their religious leaders, or by anyone.

    Is it stretch for me to say, you seem to be saying that you believe the opposite, that forced marriages are ok as long as it’s connected to a sense of religious duty, or if one of the spouses insists?

    I don’t actually think you really believe that, but I could be wrong. And if you don’t believe that, then why are we still talking about this?

  2. No, I don’t believe in “forced” marriages. I also don’t believe that any time a person attaches a sense of religious obligation to the question of getting married, that the person’s act is therefore forced or wrong. I’m slow to criticize people who, out of very deeply felt religious conviction, enter into marriages in which they don’t always expect to feel completely comfortable. That’s because I believe in doing things that are difficult and uncomfortable out of religious conviction.

  3. In the context of LDS splinter groups, is marrying into polygamy out of religious obligation (and specifically not for more standard reasons) something to be admired, condemned, or something else?

    Is religious conviction worthwhile in the context of someone else’s religion?

    Hypothetically speaking, perhaps a religion that encourages same-sex couples to marry might make you reconsider the value of marrying out of religious obligation.

  4. Jeff, if another religion encouraged same-sex couples to marry, I wouldn’t criticize its members for attaching a sense of religious obligation to their acts, even if I did stand against the legalization of such marriages.

    Is religious conviction worthwhile in the context of someone else’s religion? Yes, I think in the majority of cases it is.

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