As Mormon Church Admits Illegally Unreported Prop 8 Expenditures, It Lets Gay Rights Bill Die in Utah

Late on Friday, the Mormon Church in Utah dumped a report that showed that it had hidden nearly $200,000 in expenditures on the campaign for Proposition 8, the California amendment that repealed gay people’s right to marry. This spending was not included in an earlier report, and failure to disclose campaign spending is illegal.

It has to be pointed out that lying — which the church apparently did in its earlier filing — is a much more heinous sin than being gay. Bearing false witness is prohibited in the Ten Commandments, whereas the prohibition against being gay is listed in Leviticus along with rules against eating ham and shrimp and women wearing pants.

If the news dump on the Friday night before the Super Bowl was timed to suppress coverage of the church’s apparently illegal activities, it was successful. The story was reported in newspapers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, but not on cable or broadcast news.

But while the church allegedly illegally meddled in California politics last year, it more recently signaled its support of the Common Ground Initiative, a set of bills that would offer a modicum of protection for gays’ rights in its home state of Utah.

Currently, in Utah and other states, gays can be fired or evicted simply because of their status as sinners based on obscure references in the Christian Bible. This is unfair on its face because no corresponding laws or traditions countenance the eviction and firing of adulterers or unmarried heterosexuals who have sex, which the Bible calls “fornication” — nor are there any laws that prevent cheating spouses and unmarried sexually active couples from marrying — because of their status as sinners.

Now — despite a poll released two weeks ago showing that 63 percent of Utah residents are in favor of protecting the basic rights of gay people — and despite outreach by gays toward leaders of the state’s homophobia agenda — the church is doing nothing while its representatives in the legislature are effectively killing the Common Ground Initiative.

Here is commentary on the actions by Republicans in the Legislature from the Salt Lake City Tribune:

Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative has been grounded. The package of gay-rights legislation simply isn’t going to fly. Unwarranted paranoia about protecting the sanctity of traditional male-female marriage, or perhaps something deeper and darker, will keep the Utah Legislature from granting gay and transgender persons and same-sex couples what amount to basic human rights.

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee shot down the most benign of the four bills on Tuesday, one that applied to all non-traditional families. Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, would have extended the right to sue to financially dependent members of non-nuclear families — same-sex partners, grandmother-grandson, etc. — in the event of a wrongful death.

And the defeat of the measure by a 4-2 vote — Democrats for and Republicans against — doesn’t bode well for the remaining bills, which would establish a statewide domestic partner registry, protect gay and transgendered persons from being fired or evicted due to their sexual orientation, and give the electorate the opportunity to amend the state Constitution to allow for all of the above.

In the campaign against Prop 8, the Mormon Church used money from its reported $13 billion in tax-exempt holdings, as well as its employees’ time working on the clock, to disseminate propaganda against gay marriage in California. At the same time, at the urging of local church leaders, the Mormon rank and file donated half of Prop 8’s $40 million budget.

With gay rights on the line in Utah today, there is no corresponding national pro-gay church or organization that has the power and the wealth to raise funding and deploy paid campaign workers to work as diligently to fight for gay rights in Utah as the Mormon Church did in the fight against marriage rights in California. This is what makes the Mormon Church’s extreme activism on Prop 8 fundamentally unfair.

But since the church’s anti-gay dogma is based on biblical morality, it should be pointed out that church leaders were guilty of lying when they deliberately concealed the expenditures, and lying is a much more heinous sin than being gay. Bearing false witness is prohibited in the Ten Commandments, whereas being gay is prohibited in Leviticus, along with eating ham and shrimp and women wearing pants. For that matter, the church’s hypocrisy and casting of judgments are serious sins, too.

If the church wants to make penance for these mortal sins, it should expend the same time and resources in the fight to protect gay rights in its own back yard as it did to repeal the gay marriage rights in California last year.

10 Comments

  • Buddy Lee
    February 2, 2009 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Tantrum Alert! Full blown foot stomping, ranting and raving tantrum is underway.

  • JohnJ
    February 3, 2009 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    “If the church wants to make penance for these mortal sins, it should expend the same time and resources in the fight to protect gay rights in its own back yard as it did to repeal the gay marriage rights in California last year.”

    Ummm…OK, so you WANT the Mormon Church to be involved in politics? I thought that was what the gay community was upset about. Apparently, it’s quite OK to be involved on your side of an issue. Just don’t dare to disagree with you.

    All this commotion about the Mormon Church’s contributions to Prop 8 is a bunch of one-sided nonsense. If they had donated to No on 8, you wouldn’t hear a peep.

  • Trex
    February 3, 2009 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    JohnJ..How dumb are you? If the MOrmon CHurch had opposed Prop 8 and donated money for its defeat, the Mormons would have been slammed by Fox, Rush, MSNBC.. ad nauseum. Since the Mormons supported prop 8, these shills have been silent.

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  • Born
    February 25, 2009 - 1:47 am | Permalink

    This article is full of lies.
    1. The Mormon Church, along with many other 501 (c) organizations filed additional reports before the January 31,2009 deadline concerning financial reporting. The Church clearly did not misstate contributions.

    2. The author makes not attempt to understand Christianity’s view of sin or more particular, why Mormons opposed Proposition 8. To make references to Leviticus as the reason that Mormons oppose Prop 8 shows a lack of understanding.

    3. The article is ridiculously biased. Rarely is journalism so skewed or so poorly researched.

  • February 25, 2009 - 6:37 am | Permalink

    Born:

    I’ll stand by the article. It’s your spin in the above response that is ridiculous and skewed.

    1. The church failed to report these expenditures in earlier documents and had denied any involvement that would have threatened its nonprofit status, as this high-leveling meddling surely did. I read their excuse-making on Belief Net, and found it unconvincing — lies compounding lies. So much sinning in the Mormon upper ranks! For shame.

    2. This author understands the position of Christians and Mormons who opposed Prop 8 very well. Their positions are pure hypocrisy and are based solely on homophobia and have nothing whatever to do with morality. Christians and Mormons persecute gays based on selective reading of obscure references in the Bible, including the one in Leviticus. Conversely, Christians and Mormons do not persecute adulterers, even though adultery is condemned throughout the Bible, especially in the Ten Commandments, which do not mention being gay at all.

    When Christians and Mormons raise hundreds of millions of dollars to change our civil laws to prevent adulterers from marrying or to make it legal to fire or evict adulterers because of the status as sinners, we’ll start to believe their anti-gay stands are sincerely based on Scripture. Until then, logic tells us that this entire controversy is based on personal prejudice in the guise of morality.

    3. This is an opinion column, not reporting, and, yes, I am biased against bigotry. Proudly so.

    If you’re going to smear something written here as a lie, you need to offer the truth, with sourcing, in counterpoint. Until then, we’ll assume you’re a shill for the church and its $14 billion tax-free empire trying to muddy the waters about Mormon malfeasance.

  • Hawaiianpride1954
    February 25, 2009 - 11:10 pm | Permalink

    This article is more full of lies then anything the church has done with respect to prop. It baffles me that someone is allowed to write such lies about the church when the church filed all reports necessary and in the time frame required by law. This post “it should be pointed out that church leaders were guilty of lying when they deliberately concealed the expenditures” is ridiculous since the church leaders did NOT conceal any expenditures. As well as this comment “Mormons do not persecute adulterers, even though adultery is condemned throughout the Bible, especially in the Ten Commandments” We do not “persecute” adulterers but they are called to repentance so again another false statement by this misinformed writer.

    It’s a shame that these writers can spew their deliberately misinformed writings and get away with it.

  • Hawaiianpride1954
    February 25, 2009 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Even this title “As Mormon Church Admits Illegally Unreported Prop 8 Expenditures, It Lets Gay Rights Bill Die in Utah
    Jon Ponder | Feb. 2, 2009″

    This is such a lie. The Mormon Church NEVER admitted illegally unreported Prop 8 expenditures because there was NO illegal unreported expenditures.

    You are the liar!

  • February 26, 2009 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    If Mormons don’t persecute adulterers, how is it a lie when I state Mormons don’t persecute adulterers?

    You seem to be drawing an equivalence between “calling adulterers to repentance” and Mormons’ scandalous donations to Prop 8. What Mormons did when they raised $20 mil to revoke gays’ civil rights was not calling them to repentance. That was an act of hatred, of persecution, which is evil.

    My point is this: When Mormons raise $20 million to revoke the civil rights of adulterers, we’ll believe their claims that they’re acting on biblical morality.That will never happen, of course, because Mormons and Christians don’t care if adulterers work as teachers or that adulterers have the right to remarry and adopt children. And this is despite the fact that adultery is the real threat to “traditional” marriage, that adultery often leads to divorce, which causes single-parent homes, poverty and other social ills — not to mention the fact that adultery is a much bigger sin.

    This proves that Mormons target gays because of personal bigotry, not morality. Of course, Mormons have a right to be ignorant and hateful — what they don’t have the right to do is write their bigotry and hatred — or even their morality — into civil law. The United States is not a theocracy, despite what Mormons may wish.

    The church should have revealed the $200k it spent on Prop 8 much earlier. Not doing so was deceptive — yes, a lie. But mainly it should not have spent the money meddling in California politics. Whatever you may believe about this, here is an irrefutable fact: The $20.2 million that Mormons spent on the Prop 8 hate campaign would have been better spent feeding the starving and housing the homeless.

    The Mormon Church, which was once persecuted, has become the persecutors. They have appointed themselves as judge and jury and are casting judgments about the morality of others. That is a heinous sin that makes Mormons just as hellbound as the rest of us, if not moreso.

    What the church did last year was despicable. It deserves nothing less than to have it’s tax exempt status pulled. The United States could use the taxes it should pay on its $14 billion empire. In fact, the most effective way to bring down a hate group is to send the IRS after them. This is how the Southern Law and Poverty Center disrupted the Klan a few years ago. Mormons should bear this in mind if they continue to join forces with hate groups and fundamentalist extremists.

  • May 31, 2009 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Find out the truth about homosexuality.

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