Last week I noted, among other things, my annoyance with supporters of Proposition 8 who were frustrated by the backlash that has attended its passage.
Today, the Mormon Church is playing its own victim card. From today’s LA Times:
As an indication of how seriously the Mormon leadership takes the recent criticism, the council that runs the church — the First Presidency — released a statement Friday decrying what it portrayed as a campaign not just against Mormons but all religious people who voted their conscience.
“People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights,” the statement said. “These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America.”
Well, not really. As Kevin Drum points out,
Churches have every right to involve themselves in political issues, but if they do then they’re going to be treated as political actors. Protests, boycotts, op-eds, blog posts, and marches are exactly the democratic ideals of our nation, and being on the receiving end of them is what happens to anyone who enters the political fray. It’s a little late to pretend you didn’t know this.
To which I’d add this: the protests aren’t against all Mormons, or Mormonism (or Catholics or Catholicism, for that matter); they’re not trying to shut down the Mormon church (this was a joke, people); the protests have been non-violent and (with few exceptions) they haven’t trashed church property. The protests target the leadership of a church which directed its members to contribute to and lobby for a measure which stripped them of fundamental rights – specifically, the right to marry whomever they choose.
I think, in time, the anger at the Mormon church will morph into an energetic grassroots organizational effort to defeat the opponents of Gay marriage person to person. The failure of the No on 8 campaign was that they weren’t energized enough to do the hard work of changing people’s minds one at a time. I don’t think that energy is missing anymore. And I think boycotting any business with an employee in a position of authority who donated to Prop 8 is a losing strategy. Better to turn your opponents toward you than to shun them.
But the Mormon church elders – who, in Utah, decided to throw their church into another state’s political battle – deserve all the scrutiny and criticism they’re getting. Time for them to grow up.
[Photo from an Atlanta rally against Prop 8 via Balloon Juice.]
UPDATE: From Dan Savage:
When political attacks are launched from churches, political responses will be delivered to churches. If goddamned McDonald’s had organized and paid for Prop 8, we’d be marching on goddamned McDonald’s.