In which eeka gets really mad about the whole Mormon thing. No, it's not what you think. I mean, really mad in defense of Mormons.

Disclaimer: I'm not bothering to include any links or specific sources in this post. This is partly because I'm lazy, but mainly because I'm confident that people who are willing to do their own research and think for themselves will, well, do their own research and think for themselves. The folks who aren't willing to hear different points of view aren't going to bother to click through and read up on the issue anyway. Everything I'm going to talk about is really easy to find with a couple clicks on the ol' google, and I encourage people to read about the issue from multiple perspectives.

I've been seeing increasing hatred and censuring of the LDS (Mormon) church lately, related to the news that several million dollars were donated by Mormon individuals and families to an organization opposing legal same-sex marriage in California. I've seen media encouraging the boycott of Mormon-owned businesses. I've seen media encouraging the revocation of the tax-exempt status of the LDS church. I've seen media inciting violence and hatred toward Mormon people (what. the. fuck.?)

I probably don't even need to specify this, but here is where I state that as long as our country requires legal validation of families, I very very strongly believe that any two consenting adults should be able to enter into a legal marriage and be the legal guardians (as well as legal co-guardians if applicable) of children, provided they are fit to raise said children. And also pretty obviously, I don't think that sexuality or gender identity have anything whatthefucksoever to do with one's fitness to parent.

(If you are someone who for some reason does not realize that this is obvious, please visit google and note how every mainstream healthcare, educational, social policy etc. organization cites research indicating that queers on average have as strong or stronger marital relationships and parenting skills as heterosexual folks.)

So, clearly, I don't like that Proposition 8 in California passed. Seriously, what is wrong with some people?

But I'm not about to express this by attacking Mormons. For several reasons.

First of all, there is no law stating that tax-exempt organizations cannot participate in lobbying on non-partisan ballot issues. Look it up. The laws state that they cannot participate in advocating for or against a candidate or party. Check.

Also, that a majority of what the organization does cannot be lobbying. In other words, a 501(c)(3) organization cannot be a front for a political issue. If you actually believe that the LDS church is a front for gay-bashing, you might be someone who I'm going to have no luck whatsoever in reasoning with. Several of my close friends are Mormons. Most of them have been all their lives. All my life, 99% of what they've told me about and invited me to witness in their homes and churches has been about G-d, lifecycle events, family, and community. Sure, I don't agree with some of their theological and moral views, but I can absolutely assure you that they exist as, uh, a church. Not a front for anything. So they clearly pass that test. Check.

Furthermore, I cannot find any source stating that the church itself even donated any money. I'm only finding information stating that the church encouraged individuals and families to donate. Some did donate, many did not. So the money isn't the issue. Check.

Another thing: the issue of a 501(c)(3) group not being allowed to hold ethical and moral beliefs needs to be fairly applied. If people want to take away the LDS' tax-exempt status simply for promoting a view on a ballot question, then they also need to take away my synagogue's 501(c)(3) status. We advocated for marriage equality in Massachusetts. Most recently, we advocated against ending the Massachusetts income tax. We did these things because our bible and or laws command us to do everything we can to ensure that people are treated well and fairly. If we were not allowed to hold and share these views, we would not be able to freely exercise our religious views. Also, how on earth could we have a law stating that no 501(c)(3) group could, um, hold views, or that no one affiliated with such a group could, um, donate any money to any cause? Just not possible. Oh, I should also mention that my 501(c)(3) employer also advocated against cutting the income tax, because it would cut essential services to elders and people with disabilities, and, well, our mission is to provide services to elders and people with disabilities. Should we have our tax-exempt status taken away for doing our jobs to the fullest? Or should this only apply when it's views that we disagree with?

On to the issue of boycotting Mormon businesses. There were also Jewish organizations who donated to this same issue. There were also Catholic and Protestant organizations. There were individuals of probably every faith group that exists in this country. So, since Rabbi John Doe donated to this campaign, is it right for me to boycott a Jewish establishment in Boston whose owner donates regularly to MassEquality? How does that make any sense whatsoever?

In every group, we have people, sometimes many people, who don't agree with some or many of the official positions of the group. These people might stick around though because the religion or other affiliation is part of their culture and they hope to change it. I live in a racist, homophobic, violent, anti-Semitic country. Am I supporting bigotry by staying here? I really hope not. I've always thought that my being here makes one member of the group who is vocally opposed to these things. It's kind of like my friend who joined the NRA in order to have there be one more member of the NRA who is in favor of gun control laws.

I'd be really offended if someone were to label me as a war-loving homophobic follower of George Bush simply because of my membership in the group made up of U.S. residents. Just because the official stance of the USA is that brown people are terrorists and gays are molesting our children, that doesn't mean that all USA-affiliated people believe this. It just means that the people who do believe this somehow managed to temporarily gain the necessary type of power. Similarly, someone who belongs to the set of LDS-affiliated folks does not necessarily donate money to homophobia. The Mormons I'm close to don't.

I'm not even going to touch the issue of people who wish to inflict harm upon Mormons or their property. There's just nothing that's OK about that.

Please, gentle readers, just take a moment to think for yourselves. That's the value that this country was really founded on.


Anonymous said...

Excellent sense of perspective here. Thanks.

Ron Newman said...

someone I know who agrees with you on the Mormon thing

eeka said...

Thanks Ron! That's a great post.

Oh, along those lines, there's also a great article (I'm blanking on where right now...) that really beautifully explains how upfucked it is that some GLBT folks are blaming communities of color for Prop 8 passing.

realsupergirl said...

I disagree quite strongly with your interpretation of tax laws, but it will be settled by the courts, as lawsuits have already been filed.

Religious groups have long overstepped their bounds in regards to political action. If it were left wing religious groups doing the same thing, I'd object just as strongly. But they're not.

If religious groups are going to act like political organizations, they should be forced to call themselves political organizations, and should not be getting tax benefits of nonprofits.

Like I said, I disagree, and the courts will eventually decide on this. I know how I hope they'll rule, but I also won't be surprise if they don't rule the way I'd like to see them rule. America has slowly shifted toward a policy of tolerance of religious politicking and bigotry, which if it continues in that direction will likely eventually destroy our country. Obama won't be able to do much to stop the trend (He'll likely only get to replace 2 liberal justices) but he can at least stop the bleeding a little.

I strongly believe we should kick religious groups completely out of our political process. And I say this as someone who is, in fact, religiously observant.

Michael Pahre said...

Well put. I've looked into the political restrictions required for 501(c)(3) non-profits, and you've summarized them accurately according to current tax policy.

I do disagree, however, with your friend's position in joining the NRA. By doing so, your friend is sending money via annual dues which support the NRA's lobbying against gun control, which I can't imagine is his/her goal.

It's kind of like joining the AAA... which means that you're providing some fraction of your annual dues to them to lobby for funding for road construction -- and to lobby against funding for mass transit.

eeka said...

Thanks Michael. Yeah, I wouldn't personally join the NRA for exactly the reason you state (I also don't belong to AAA for that reason!), but just thought it was a nice illustration of how there are in fact members of groups who don't agree entirely with the official point of view, or even who completely disagree with the fundamentals of the group.

Suldog said...

Well-said, Eeka. Tolerance is a tricky balancing act, and you generally will need to extend others much freedom in order to enjoy your own. That includes the freedom to disagree, on religious grounds or otherwise, from what many believe to be rock-solid scientific proofs.

To Michael's point via-a-vis the NRSA: By remaining a citizen of the United States of America, presumably a tax-paying one, you contribute to all sorts of things you may have no desire to fund (wars, abortions, illegal imprisonments, etc. - depending upon where you come down politically.) If the idea is to not belong to any organization that funds things you disagree with...

I realize the improbability of finding another society with which you agree 100% of the time, but the principle is the same, no? Barring finding that sort of perfect society, withdrawal of your tax money from the system, and allocating your funds to those things you do believe in, without the state mandating it, is the best solution to the ethical problem, IMHO. Thus why I am a Libertarian, btw ;-)

Suldog said...

Um, NRA, of course, not NRSA (though maybe that's a good organization to use as an example, also - whatever it may be.)