By Scott, a student at Brandeis -Sahar
An email that I received from the AFA today describes a “hate-campaign” launched by “homosexual activists” against the “Mormons” (which is not the same thing as the Mormon Church). The email, accurately states that the Church played pivotal role in the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which took away constitutionally-provided marriage rights for same gender couples.
The reader is provided three examples of this “hate-campaign”, which include a lawsuit against the Church (referred to in the email as “Mormons”) for violating election laws, a forced-resignation by a film festival coordinator that contributed to Prop8, and a call for the revocation of the Church’s tax-exempt status.
Of these three examples, two of them are actions predicated upon the Church violating the law. It is hard for me to buy an argument that people (activists or not) using their resources to ensure that an institution remains within the boundaries of legally-established acceptable behavior, are engaged in a hate campaign.
The Mormon person that lost his job in what the AFA describes as a forced resignation was Richard Raddon. The board of directors of the film festival which he directed unanimously rejected his first resignation. It was only accepted when some in the rather sizable LGBT community of Los Angeles threatened to boycott the festival if he stayed. The issue at hand in this situation is why he lost his job. Did he lose it because he was a Mormon? Or did he lose it because he contributed $1,500 to support a ballot measure that would disproportionately affect the population that participates in and supports film festivals like the one he ran? I’m going to go with the later, and for that reason, I do ot think that it was religious discrimination. One can argue that as a Mormon, Raddon was doing “what good Mormon’s do” and heading to the Church’s call to donate. But even if I were to accept that religious-discrimination protection can be extended to financial support of political ballot measures (something that I still think is illegal), one has to balance the environment that (s)he works with the degree to which (s)he chooses to practice his/her chosen religion. I don’t even want to get into what would happen to a person working in most Mormon-affiliated groups if he or she was found out to be gay or lesbian.
This brings me to my question, what exactly is a “hate campaign” anyway? I really think the AFA shouldn’t argue that boycotting companies because of their support counts, since they seem to be calling for a new boycott every month or so. Off the top of my head, I can think of their boycott of McDonalds, GM, and Budwiser. For me, a hate campaign would include intentionally making misleading propaganda directed at the general public. An example of this, for me, would include the many commercials financed by the Church’s donations, which portrayed universal marriage as something teacher’s would have to discuss in the classroom. Many legal experts (including Morris Thurston from BYU law) have pointed out that this is at best, misleading. I would also include intentional and calculated efforts at removing civil rights from groups of people as a hate campaign. This point is so clear that I need not support it with a followup sentence!
Some truly reprehensible things have happened: the recent mailing of a white powder to a Mormon temple and the theft and destruction of the cross from a sigle counter-protester in the middle of a crowd of No On 8 supporters. But these actions have wisely been denounced by the majority of activists and by no means constitute a hate campaign. I can identify the use and warping of language embraced by LGBT organizers like “hate” and it is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating. It is algo apparent to me that people sending messages like the one that I received are intentionally trying to conflate an organization like the Mormon Church with an entire group of people. There is, to me, an important distinction. I’m curious what other people have to say about it.