Saved by zero

zeroYesterday, I pointed out that journalists covering financial donations to California’s ballot initiative on marriage should attempt to put contributions in context. The latest filings covering donations show same-sex marriage supporters raised $43.3 million in 2008 while the measure’s sponsors raised $39.9 million. This makes it the most expensive social issue race in the nation’s history. Lots of donors and lots of big donors weighed in on this contentious issue.

Many of the stories about the latest filings from the California Secretary of State deal with the contributions — of cash or services — by religious groups. This is certainly a most valid angle.

Here’s an early report on the Los Angeles Times site:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contributed about $189,000 in “in-kind” donations to the campaign for the ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California — but the church wants to make it clear that that wasn’t such a large sum.

In a statement, church officials noted that the contributions were a tiny fraction of the roughly $4 million raised by the “Yes on Proposition 8″ forces. (The number does not include church members who made individual donations.)

I know that zeros don’t seem like important numbers but they are. It wasn’t $4 million raised by the measure’s supporters but $40 million. What it means is that the corporate LDS’ contributions represent less than one-half of one percent of the total contribution.

The article goes on to mention other contributions but fails to explain that the cited donations come just from the latest filing. That means that we don’t hear about some of the really notable contributions — such as the million-plus dollars given against the measure by the California Teachers Association and George Soros or the million-plus dollars given in support by the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus.

Even though votes and financial contributions in support of traditionally defined marriage came from a wide religious, racial and cultural spectrum, much of the response to the vote has targeted Mormons. This has included violence against Mormon wards and temples, burning of sacred Mormon scripture, the blacklisting of Mormons who contributed to the battle, and forcing multiple Mormons out of their jobs. While the coverage of this blacklist and violence has been remarkably restrained, much of the reporting after the last filing homed in on Mormon contributions. This brief story, also in the Los Angeles Times, focuses solely on the Mormon reporting and how one of its political opponents interpreted the filing.

And here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle reported the same issue:

Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

That is one dramatic lede. It definitely could be — and has been — argued that it’s a bit misleading. It could also have been written that Mormon church officials reported in-kind, non-cash contributions to the successful campaign for Prop. 8 days prior to the reporting deadline.

The story gives the impression that the church disclosed these in-kind contributions solely because someone filed a complaint against them in November alleging they hadn’t fully disclosed the support they gave. That may be true. That may not be true. And unless the reporter has facts to back up the claim, he should probably just lay out the facts. The rest of the story reads more like an op-ed rather than a dispassionate laying out of the facts.

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  • John D

    First, I want to note that I feel I can consider myself a supporter of so-called “traditional marriage,” that is, I support marriage between committed opposite-sex couples.

    I also support marriage by committed same-sex couples.

    Language used in discussing same-sex marriage is often used with hidden meanings, subterfuges, and agendas.

    The importance of the LDS contribution is that they provided much of the infrastructure for the Prop 8 campaign while claiming that their cash contributions showed that they weren’t all that involved.

    While the California Teachers Association and the Knights of Columbus certainly gave lots more money, no one is alleging that they provided staff members to work on the issue. The LDS made Prop 8 their campaign in a way that cash support does not.

  • HiveRadical

    THANK YOU!

    That zero does matter!

    And the fact that they reported on the in-kind contributions a couple days prior to any of the other big players, and donated far less than so many, are things that none of these clearly biased stories point out in any real way. They present the facts in such a way as to guide the reader to the conclusions of their own suspicions, to keep it up they often do not place in real context, or even mention at all, the other realities of funding from both sides.

  • HiveRadical

    John D said

    “The importance of the LDS contribution is that they provided much of the infrastructure for the Prop 8 campaign while claiming that their cash contributions showed that they weren’t all that involved.”

    I’d ask you John what exactly are they supposed to report when the support they offered was coming from uncompensated volunteers? We have a lay clergy! The vast majority of support given was by volunteers. If we are to fiscally quantify volunteer hours on our side then let us do it on all sides. How do we quantify that then? How do we give a dollar amount to all the people volunteering, on either side, when they stood out on street corners? How do we quantify all the independent agents on the internet or the individuals who spent time talking with friends and colleges. The influence exercised was neither anything monetarily quantifiable NOR was it anything that amounts to a significant contribution from members of the LDS faith when taken in context with their other Church service. The members in our faith most active in this gave next to nothing to the campaign compared to their standard Church service. Our leaders spend a vastly greater amount of time in other Church Service than they ever did, even the most involved ones in California. When a Church leader gives an average of 20 to 30 hours a week, non-compensated time, to activities not having anything to do with prop-8, then they spend 5-6 hours on top of that for three or four months then the ratio of time spent supporting prop-8 vs. their time in other Church service comes to a tad over ten percent of their contributions to the Church for the given year–and that’s if they gave six hours a week for six months (something I doubt a majority of the leadership did). The numbers only scale down with other members and the ratio of prop-8 contributed time vs. other Church service would be generally very consistent.

    The LDS Church is and was a force, but what we gave to the effort vs. what we give otherwise to our faith was truely minimal.

  • HiveRadical

    My main question is–

    If we did provide so much infrastructure, but that infrastructure had never ever been monetarily quantified, if it’s just an outgrowth of our theology that monetarily has not cost the Church anything, then how is it right to arbitrarily try and stick a value on it in the attempt to punish us simply because we don’t see things the way you do? Isn’t the government trying to see and quantify the totality of a religion tantamount to trying to control that religion? Why else would you seek to quantify all aspects of a religion that clearly and unmistakably does not support individual candidates or parties? One of the cores of this witch hunt against the Mormons is to override the protection given religion in the Bill of Rights, they’re trying to go through the back door on this and provide means for the government to control/silence/or otherwise direct religion, the exact opposite of what was intended by the constitutional protections EXPLICITLY stating that the government was NOT to prohibit the FREE EXERCISE of RELIGION. This vendetta against the Mormons has nothing to do with a seeking of truth nor equality, this is about an attempt to mold and reshape the whole of human civilization and they’ll stop at nothing, not even a concern for the actual words in the Bill of Rights, to achieve the remaking of these things following their own personal ideology that, to me, seems to be woefully dismissive of the realities of natural selection and the true nature of the transmission of human culture from generation to generation.

  • dalea

    This has included violence against Mormon wards and temples

    Source for this? I am in CA and have not seen any reports stating this.

    The reason we in the NoOn8 campaign are interested in the amount of hours and infrastructure is that this was worked on in tax exempt property. Wards and Stakes do not pay property tax, they are subsidised by the taxpayers, some of whom are Lesbian and Gay. The political move is going to be challenging the tax exempt status of Mormon Church properties. Gay people should not be forced to pay higher local taxes so that churches can use their tax payer provided subsidy to bar us from basic equality. The press focus on the Mormon effort rests on the issue of tax exemption and political activity. Which has been discussed on GLBT sites since the election.

  • Jerry

    The political move is going to be challenging the tax exempt status of Mormon Church properties.

    The issue of what could cause loss of tax exempt status has affected both liberal and conservative churches over the past few years. I suspect that this is one of those topics that could become more of an issue in the future.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Dalea,

    We’ve previously looked at coverage of some of the violence against LDS houses of worship here at GR. Since much of it has happened in California, it’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been better covered by your local papers.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I’ve had to delete several comments for straying from media coverage of religious issues. Focus on media coverage, not your personal feelings of same-sex marriage.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Great title, Mollie. Cy and the boys ruled. Maybe you can work Stand or Fall, Red Skies, and One Thing Leads to Another into other posts. Make it The Fixx Series.

  • Brian Walden

    Is calling the Knights of Columbus Roman Catholic technically correct? I googled around and found a Ukranian Catholic Knights of Columbus Council in Canada. I don’t think they’re limited to the Latin Church.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the perspective and rational take on the Mormons and Prop8. I have been surprised by the amount of misinformation, slanted reporting and yellow journalism by news organizations who should be above such things.

  • Shelly

    Mollie, you are too radical for me. I never once said anything inappropriate for your article. You are a turn off.

  • dalea

    The reason for covering the use of Mormon facilities is that a push back against the Churches that supported Prop8 has begun. In San Francisco, the Recorder has begun trying to collect property tax transfer money from the RC. Under CA law, churches are not exempt from paying sales tax. Story here:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/14/MN10159JCM.DTL

    There will be similar moves throughout the state, particularly in Gay friendly municipalities.

  • dalea

    Mollie asks:

    The story gives the impression that the church disclosed these in-kind contributions solely because someone filed a complaint against them in November alleging they hadn’t fully disclosed the support they gave. That may be true. That may not be true. And unless the reporter has facts to back up the claim, he should probably just lay out the facts.

    This has been an issue here since the election. Per the LA Times:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/01/top-officials-w.html

    The church said the expenditures took place between July 1 and the end of the year. The church’s involvement has been a major issue in the campaign and its aftermath. Individual Mormon families donated millions — by some estimates more than $20 million — of their own money to the campaign.

    On top of that, some Prop. 8 opponents say church officials violated election law by failing to file campaign disclosure reports outlining church funds being spent on the campaign. Fred Karger, who filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission after the election alleging that church officials had not properly disclosed their involvement, said he thought today’s filing proves that his complaint has merit.

    “They said they reported all their travel … now, when there is a [complaint filed] they disclose 25 Southwest tickets just in October,” he said. “They were required to report this” in an earlier filing, he said. Church officials could not be reached for comment this evening.

    People following the story have been aware of the complaint filed in November, there was no reason for the report to rehash the subject. Under CA law, donations have to be disclosed at set intervals. The Mormons did not report these donations when they were obligated to.

  • Jeff from Merced

    While it is true that the Mormon Church has only acknowledged about $190,000 in in-kind contributions, that leaves out a much bigger point. A number of published reports have indicated that the MEMBERS of the Mormon Church contributed more than $20,000,000 to the “Yes On 8″ campaign — more than 50 percent of the total “Yes On 8″ contributions.

    That changes the math from the Mormon Church contributing less than one-half of one percent to Mormons (including the Church itself) contributing more than 50 percent — a very big difference.

  • dalea

    Fred Karger’s complaint, which sparked the above story is here:

    http://lds501c3.wordpress.com/

    The article, I feel, should be seen as an update on an ongoing story. And as those following it, are very aware of preceeding events, there is no reason to tell the story from scratch.

  • FW Ken

    the blacklisting of Mormons who contributed to the battle, and forcing multiple Mormons out of their jobs.

    Mollie -

    I haven’t seen you blog on this, nor have I seen it reported. We have seen this sort of thing before when people oppose the gay activists, so I have no trouble believing it. But do you have any links? Thanks.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Shelly,

    On THIS blog, we’d rather you not castigate all supporters of same-sex marriage as sore losers — particularly without any discussion of the media issues involved — and focus your note solely on your views in support of traditional marriage.

    This is not the forum for such rhetoric.

    That’s why I deleted all of your comments.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I would like to see more in-depth coverage of the rataliation some groups are organizing and financing to punish those groups or individuals which supported the traditional marriage side in California. It strikes me as being viciously anti-American, anti-democratic, and –according to some definitions of the word- “fascistic” to, post-election, seek revenge or punishment of supporters of the side you disagreed with.
    I suppose the goal is basically to intimidate–but try to find the MSM story that reports from that angle.

  • Sam

    Mollie,

    I believe you suggested that the Mormon Church could not be reached about this. Actually, the Mormon Church publishes information on this that is available to all in their newsroom. I just wanted to make you aware of a good source for “official LDS reaction.”

    With respect to claims that the Mormon Church ONLY reported this information because of a complaint, I refer you to the Church’s official response. I wish the L.A. Times would actually check the LDS Newsroom more often.

    Link to the comment below:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/media-reports-on-proposition-8-filing-uninformed

  • Chris

    Dalea, this is in response to your statement that “The Mormons did not report these donations when they were obligated to.”
    Actually, the LDS church has made all required filings on a timely basis.

    Here’s the info:
    Link to LDS Reports Filing Data

    And some additional informaton:

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was part of a coalition of other faiths and organizations which worked together to pass Proposition 8, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, with over 52 percent of the popular vote in California.

    Claims that the Church filed only one report of its contributions before January 2009, or did not report all its contributions to the Protect Marriage Coalition, are erroneous. The Church filed all necessary reports over the course of the campaign in compliance with California state law.

    Here are the facts:

    The Church filed seven contribution reports throughout the campaign. Earlier donations were filed for specific time periods prior to this last reporting period, as required by law.
    Reports were required to be filed in different ways: by mail, fax or electronically.
    All filings went to the California Secretary of State, the Department of Elections for the City and County of San Francisco, and the Registrar-Recorder for Los Angeles. The electronic filings were sent directly to the Secretary of State but copies were mailed to all three locations.
    The Church has no control over what filings are posted on the California Secretary of State’s Web site. Currently, not all the Church’s filings are posted.
    The Church’s donations were all in-kind and included travel expenses, compensated staff time and audiovisual production services.
    The value of the Church’s in-kind (nonmonetary) contribution is less than one half of one percent of the total funds (approximately $40 million) raised for the “Yes on 8” campaign.
    The Church filed the following Proposition 8 nonmonetary contribution reports and amounts to the California Secretary of State’s office and other California officials in San Francisco and Los Angeles as required by California state law.

    The Form 461 report is required to be filed within a month following each semi-annual period. The Form 497 report is required to report contributions made within the 16-day immediately preceding the election. The total amount included on the 461 report filed on 30 January 2009 shows all contributions from January – December 2008.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.4t.com Jeff

    Deacon Bresnahan:

    There have been a number of articles that have been written by the mainstream media regarding Proposition 8 and its impact–including information regarding boycotts. Five examples:

    1. a November 17 article from the Los Angeles Times (see http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/17/nation/na-mormons17) entitled “Mormon Church feels the heat over Proposition 8″ which references calls for a boycott;

    2. a November 22 article from the Salt Lake Tribune (you can read it at http://www.prop8-lds.4t.com since not online) entitled “Utah money helped push Prop 8 spending to historic levels” which states: “Opponents of Prop 8 have been combing through donation reports since their defeat, seeking in some cases to publicize and target big-ticket supporters with calls of business boycotts.”

    3. a November 28 op-ed piece from the Salt Lake Tribune entitled “LDS Church will have a tough time leaving the spotlight” stated “Boycotts of some Mormon-owned businesses are under way.”

    4. a December 3, 2008 article from the Advocated entitled “The New Religious Right” (see http://www.advocate.com/print_article_ektid67125.asp), which stated: “Jansson was one of four signatories to a public letter threatening a boycott of businesses whose owners contributed to No on 8.” The same piece also stated: “Karger, a former political consultant who helped organize boycotts against Yes on 8 donors, said Tuesday that he learned about those operations by reports in local newspapers in those areas.”

    5. A January 14, 2009 article from the Park Record entitled “Displeased with Utah, gays cancel a big ski trip
    Proposition 8 boycott cited in decision to nix annual visit to Park City” (see http://www.parkrecord.com/ci_11445043?source=most_viewed), which outlined why a gay ski group elected not to go to Utah in 2009.

    As a very brief aside, I and the vast majority of Proposition 8 opponents do not condone any acts of violence or hate against the Mormons or any group or person who supported Proposition 8. I chose, however, not to support businesses or professionals (doctors, dentists etc.) who contributed to a proposition that took away my right to marry. That is my absolute choice to take my dollars to those who have not taken away my rights through their financial contributions to Proposition 8. This position is very consistent with positions taken during the Civil Rights movement — including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which officially started on December 1, 1955.

    The

    You seem surprised that gays and lesbians are upset by their right to marry being taken away from them. How would you feel if–by a vote of Californians–any of the following happened to Mormons (or any other religious, ethnic or gender group):

    1. You were not allowed to own property.

    2. You were not allowed to vote.

    3. You were not allowed to receive equal pay for equal work.

    4. You were not allowed to be the religion that you wished to be.

    5. You were not allowed to marry someone of your faith.

    You would — and rightfully so — be outraged at the terrible injustice. But that is EXACTLY how gays and lesbians feel that their right to marry in California has been taken away — in large part by the outpouring of Mormon dollars (more than $20,000,000) from around the country, as well as substantial support from Mormons in California and Utah who called on phone banks and walked the streets in support of Proposition 8.

    Finally, people seem surprised that the Mormon Church has been targeted because of its strong support for Proposition 8. However, hhen the Mormon church chose to enter the political sphere, the fact that they are a religious institution became irrelevant. They led non-Mormons in their political campaign, and they exhorted everyone – regardless of their religious affiliation — to vote “yes” on Prop. 8, which affected Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

    Mormon leaders were acting in their role as citizens in the democratic process. But as citizens leading a political campaign, they cannot escape public accountability for their public actions.

    After all that, the leadership of the LDS cannot suddenly change roles, toss up their hands and say, “You can’t criticize us! We’re a religion!” They forfeited that right when they threw themselves enthusiastically into a non-religious, political campaign.

    This is not bigotry or discrimination against a religion. They are politicians now, and they deserve the same scrutiny and criticism due to any other political leader or movement.

  • dalea

    John,Wikipedia has a page on the subject, with links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycotting_of_Proposition_8_Supporters

    as well as information on what Mollie called violence and the headline writers call vandalism and grafitti.

  • L Farknagel

    There was nothing ever done on church premises here in Arizona when it came to our marriage proposition. Rather, all meetings and other events were held off properties owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I do not know what was done in Cali. But it strikes me odd that when members of a church find something religiously reprehensible and immoral, that they should not be able to use their own church’s premises regardless of the issue. What would be wrong with a church advocating the punishment of fornication as it was for eons. Where does it say that churches and their members somehow should be muzzled when they disagree with the latest cause celebre that is being foisted upon society.

    Thank you for pointing out the terrible inaccuracies that are being continually propagated by traditional marriage opponents. I would be mad too if I were not aware of the misinformation that is being published.

  • John D

    Let me respond to HiveRadical’s question (it’s way up the top).

    Obviously it doesn’t matter what I want people to declare, just what California law says that they must.

    Anything coming from uncompensated volunteers doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter whether it was one minute or a thousand hours. Uncompensated time has no value.

    What the LDS was obligated to report was that they used compensated staff time. If my boss tells me to spend a day stuffing envelopes for a political campaign, he’s making a donation of my compensated time. Compensated time has a value.

    Clearly there was much done through unofficial channels to which we cannot assign a value. It’s all that uncompensated time.

    However, during the campaign, LDS leaders characterized LDS activity as solely the work of those uncompensated volunteers. We now know that this was not true.

  • Kyle

    When something unthinkable happens, it is human nature to look for some sort of conspiracy to blame it on. Many cannot believe that their fellow residents of California could honestly disagree with legalized same sex marriage–so they look for some conspiracy, any conspiracy, to explain the vote. “It was the big, bad Mormon church” they say. “Some gigantic illegal conspiracy.” The article above puts it into perspective. Unfortunately, too many are still looking for conspiracy so the context of the Mormon church’s efforts remains largely unknown.

  • Tracy Hall Jr

    The MSM has been widely guilty of implying suspicious motives to this routine filing by the Church.

    Under the same filing deadline, the California State Democratic Committee reported expenditures of $150,000 in cash and $202,647 on mailers and other in-kind contributions to oppose this supposedly non-partisan measure, yet I have yet to see any questioning of this expenditure in the MSM.

    “Dalea” considers the exemption of houses of worship from property taxes to be a “tax payer provided subsidy.” I wonder if this thinking also applies to the facilities of religious organizations that opposed Proposition 8.

    On the issue of actual governmental subsidies to religious institutions, Peggy Fletcher Stack and Kristen Moulten recently reported in the Salt Lake Tribune that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be unlikely to participate in President Obama’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives program, as it had also not done with Pres. Bush’s program.

    Curiously, the Dallas Morning News, in criticizing Obama’s apparent failure to change hiring policies in the program, stated that under Bush’s policies, “Mormon groups receiving federal money shouldn’t have to hire people who smoke, drink and think the Book of Mormon is a bad work of fiction.”

    Whether this kind of irresponsible reporting arises from ignorance or malice, it does the Church and the public a disservice.

    hthalljr’gmail’com

  • dalea

    Tracy asks: I wonder if this thinking also applies to the facilities of religious organizations that opposed Proposition 8?

    Yes, it does. Every agency that receives local taxpayer funded services (fire, police, school, sewers etc) should pay local property taxes, IMHO.

  • tomwins

    Much coverage of the issue in the media misses my primary concern in the matter: the orchestrated attempt by the LDS to write their religious persuasions into the California Constitution. And to see this statement from HiveRadical astonishes me…

    One of the cores of this witch hunt against the Mormons is to override the protection given religion in the Bill of Rights, they’re trying to go through the back door on this and provide means for the government to control/silence/or otherwise direct religion, the exact opposite of what was intended by the constitutional protections EXPLICITLY stating that the government was NOT to prohibit the FREE EXERCISE of RELIGION.

    The Bill of Rights does not give you the right to impose your religious precepts on everyone else. That is not religious freedom, it is writing your religion. You do have the right to practice your religious precepts. So if you don’t think same-sex couples should not marry, then the government should not make you marry someone of the same sex.

  • Jennifer

    Tomorrow’s Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting article on Proposition 8 entitled: “Utahns, LDS Church spent more on Prop. 8 than previously known”. The link to the article is: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_11666895

  • Chris

    Amazing. We have all been in “politically correct” mindsets for so long, that the obvious answer is completely ignored. Well, let’s just acknowledge the elephant in room, shall we?

    As has been so clearly stated, LDS people, from near and far make up a very small percentage of the population of the world, the USA, and California. The number of Black LDS people living in California is even smaller.

    It is very hard to imagine that the Black population of California was swayed by anything or anyone from the LDS church. That is fairly laughable.

    However, what we do know is that 70% of Black voters voted for Prop8. 70% of Black voters voted for Prop8.

    And here’s the really fun part for all you Californians who were just thrilled that Obama got elected partially due to Californians getting out to vote for Obama. Well…when so many Black people got out and voted for Obama, they also voted their belief in Prop8.

    And that 70% is what made the difference in passing Prop8. So all you gay people, why don’t you go after the people that actually made the difference? Because #1-you’d be called racists; and #2-Blacks would kick your butts. Unlike all those friendly Mormons who go around helping whenever there is a fire in southern Cal, or a hurricane in Florida, or flooding in Washington, or ….

    So there’s the elephant. The people who voted in Obama, also voted in Prop8. Nice that.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    dalea:

    Equal access, equal treatment.

    Would an investigation of work done on the properties of Mormon buildings also include volunteer work on the properties of Metropolitan Community Churches, Episcopal churches, United Methodist, etc.?

    If a law is used against one side, it also needs to be applied to the other. This is why church-state separationists have long been strong supporters of equal access and freedom of association — for all.

  • Jennifer

    Well, Chris:

    Your analysis leaves out an important fact — according to a wide range of newspaper articles, members of the Mormon Church and the Church itself contributed more than $20,000,000 to the “Yes on 8″ campaign–more than 50 percent of the total dollars contributed to that campaign. Take away those contributions (given at the behest of the Mormon Church leaders) and is highly unlikely that Proposition 8 would have passed.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jennifer,

    I don’t think there’s any substantiated claim of more than $20 million so much as anti-Prop 8 forces allege (and I’m not sure how they’ve figured out so much about private individuals religious beliefs) that Mormons contributed AS MUCH AS $20 million.

    All questions I’d like answered, of course.

    I’m going to go ahead and delete your second paragraph and ask you to substantiate the claims you put in there, too.

    This is not the place to cast aspersions on your political opponents.

  • Dave

    Chris (#31), according to what I’ve read, if no blacks had voted Prop 8 would still have passed, though quite narrowly. Sorry, no cite; I don’t save newspapers.

  • http://momnmb.blogspot.com momnmb

    It is sad that we can no longer trust the media coverage on almost any story. From my viewpoint, politicians are trying to impose themselves on my religion. So why is the question or accusation always that I am imposing my religion on someone else. Intimidation of a religion is an attempt to control that religion.
    No rights were “taken away” by this vote. Gays have never had the right to marry. They have all the so called “rights” they say are taken away by this vote (actually they are privileges – but that’s another issue). This vote was all about a word and the media complicitly went along with (and continues to go along with) the argument that this was all about removing rights.
    I wish the media would tell the whole story rather than slogans, misleading sound bites, and comments that obviously leave out facts. I wonder if the MSM are afraid to do that because they do not trust in the rightness of the cause and do not trust that the public would agree with them. It is that insecurity that compels their dishonesty.

  • Jennifer

    In response to #31 (and working hard to not cast dispersions on my opponents), exit polls after November 2008 election indicated that 70 percent of African-American voters supported Proposition 8.

    However, a study conducted following the November 2008 election found that no more than 59 percent of California African-American voters supported Proposition 8. (See http://www.thetaskforce.org/press/releases/pr_1_06_09.) Unfortunately, this study did not get the kind of press that the original exit poll numbers did.

    It is, however, important to consider the numbers carefully as part of the overall discussion regarding who voted for and against Proposition and which groups provided financial support for and against Proposition 8.

  • Jim

    Why would anyone assume that I, as an individual, can only study the issues and make an informed decision if it agrees with their opinion? If I don’t agree, some aver, that it must a result of someone having had undue influence on me. The anti Prop 8 side spent more to influence my vote than did the pro side. There are gays, straights, liberals, conservatives, republicans, democrats, LDS and non-LDS on both sides of the issue. Whether I choose to be part of a religious group, a labor union, or a political party has no bearing on the process. We, as citizens, have the right to vote our conscience. Propositions are made, votes are taken, the majority rules and we abide by the decision of the people, even when we don’t agree.

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  • silversable

    Ignorance is such bliss isn’t it? If people would only investigate a little bit further instead of making wild allegations, they would find that the LDS Church pays a great deal of taxes. People seem to think and apparently in California everything must be tallied up in dollars and cents in order to count for something. California is earthquake, flood and fire prone, so the next time one of these disasters strikes, maybe when some Mormons come around to offer you help and assistance, be sure and and turn them away, or open up your wallet and pay them for their services, since money means so much to you folks.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.4t.com Jennifer

    Molly:

    You requested info regarding the Mormon contribution numbers. A number of published articles have referenced $20,000,000 and 50 percent. Here are some examples:

    1. NYT, November 14, 2008 — “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage” (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/politics/15marriage.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&hp&oref=slogin.) The quote is: “In the end, Protect Marriage estimates, as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons.”

    2. LA Times, November 17, 2008 — “Mormon Church feels the heat over Proposition 8″ (see http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/17/nation/na-mormons17). The quote is: “Proposition 8 opponents estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure, though that is difficult to confirm because records of campaign donations do not include religious affiliation.”

    3. Sacramento Bee, February 1, 2009 — “Mormon church reveals deeper involvement in Proposition 8″ (see http://www.sacbee.com/capitolandcalifornia/story/1589451.html.) The quote is: “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.”

    4. Variety, October 30, 2008 — “Proposition 8:Where’s the Money Coming From?” (see http://www.wilshireandwashington.com/2008/10/proposition-8wh.html). The quote: “California’s Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, has taken in about $20 million from the Mormon Church and its members, including a recent $1 million contribution from the grandson of a president of the church, according to the No on 8 campaign.”

    5. LA Times blog, January 30, 2009 — “California’s Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, has taken in about $20 million from the Mormon Church and its members, including a recent $1 million contribution from the grandson of a president of the church, according to the No on 8 campaign” (see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/01/top-officials-w.html). The quote: “The church’s involvement has been a major issue in the campaign and its aftermath. Individual Mormon families donated millions — by some estimates more than $20 million — of their own money to the campaign.”

    There is also information on the following website: http://mormonsfor8.com which identifies actual Mormons who contributed to Proposition 8.

  • Chris

    RE post #41 – All of those info sources are specious at best. Post #21 provides accurate information and a link there that provides the actual filing dates, amounts, etc.

    Also, it would be helpful in everyone could keep in mind that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a legal entity different from the individual persons who are members of that church. So all the rhetoric about the “Mormon church” donating millions substantially and knowingly misrepresents the facts of the situation.

    There is a lot of huff and puff and smoke being blown around about the LDS church having done so many wrong things. Well, I have not seen one single factual statement that shows that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did something wrong. Not one.

    No one has come forward with any factual statement showing that the LDS Church did something wrong.

    Some people may not like what happened in the election, before or after the election but no one has laid forth any factual evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the LDS Church. However, I do find the vandalism of LDS properties and the youtube video of a little old lady being harassed and bullied by homosexuals very disturbing. It seems to that if that little old lady had had a different skin color, arrests would have been made and demonstrations held in her behalf.

    The hypocrisy of those involved in that harassment is repulsive. There will never be any justification for treating that little old lady that way.

    Link to youtube video of homosexuals harassing an old lady-a sad event in American history

  • jennifer

    Re Post #42

    Chris:

    There is no dispute that the LDS (Mormon) Church has reported about $190,000 in contributions (mostly in-kind), while estimates of the amount of contributions by the MEMBERS of the Mormon Church are as high as $20,000,000 plus. (See the links listed above.)

    I also note that the quote from the New York Times article outlined above estimates that as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons was from Protectmarriage — the lead pro-Proposition 8 campaign organization.

    As to the issue of whether (or not) the LDS Church did anything wrong regarding its involvement with the Propositon 8 campaign, that issue is currently being investigated by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. (See http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=14&entry_id=33015.) Such investigations rarely go quickly here in California, so the issues raised in the complaint filed with the FPPC will likely remain unresolved for awhile.

    Finally, comments are made that the links included in my posting #41 “are specious at best.” It is unfortunate that the American news media is becoming more and more polarized. It appears that some conservatives won’t believe it if its not on Fox News and some liberals won’t believe it if is IS on Fox News! It definitely can make finding common ground more difficult.

  • Chris

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for your constructive comment/post. (Not sure at times of the appropriate terminology here.)

    Reading the above posts and the titles and content of the news articles, there does seem to be some dispute RE the contributions, which is ok. The truth will out, eh?

    The US media is a bad joke and so I don’t look to them for information any longer. The UK media so often report important news RE the USA that never sees the light of day here in the US, etc. I found a few decades that every news story I was personally been involved with, where I knew the facts of the situation, was grossly warped by the news director of the newspaper or TV news director to fit their agenda, so I have looked askance at news coverage for a long time. If I am interested in a particular news topic or event that is reported, that simply signals me that I must do my own research to find the facts. I will admit that I did get some fair and accurate reporting for one of my companies and myself in 1999 and 2000. It was surprising. Hmmm, it was a technology dev corp. Perhaps they didn’t know how to warp it. Could be. Anyway…

    Thanks again Jennifer for your post. btw, what is the MSM that people refer to?

  • Jennifer

    Chris:
    In the context of this blog, “MSM” refers to mainstream media — i.e., the major news outlets. Some of the commentators in this thread appear to believe that the MSM has failed to provide balance reporting of the issues relating to Proposition 8.

  • Michael

    Look, same-gender marriage lost. Get over it. Stop wasting taxpayer money in frivolous lawsuits. Move on. Better luck next time.

  • Jennifer

    Mollie:
    An interesting column in Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune entitled “Guv, church play gay politics”. (See http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_11683459.)

    The columnist provides additional information that the LDS Church may have failed to timely report its in-kind contributions to Proposition 8:

    Meanwhile, the Mormon church disclosed on Jan. 30 — three months after the fact — new Proposition 8 donations for staff, travel and video production costs.

    “Late, late, late,” says Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate.

    Starting Aug. 6, California law required $1,000 in-kind and cash donations to be reported within 48 hours. And LDS spokesmen acknowledge church employees worked throughout the summer and fall. But they claim their time and expenses were only definitively tallied after Election Day. After reporting only $55,000 in church donations, ProtectMarriage.com amended its reports last week to match the church’s new report, apparently trying to nullify any missed deadline problems.

    Karger figures the church was gaming the system, holding back information California voters deserved to have before they went to the polls, perhaps in hopes of avoiding an election-busting backlash. He believes there are more expenses church attorneys have not reported — for phone banks and transportation — and has established a toll-free phone number and Web site, Mormongate.com, for tips.

    “I can’t understand how a sophisticated organization like the LDS Church would be sloppy,” Karger says. “I think it was intentional. The point is to hide it and, hopefully in February when it all comes out, people won’t pay attention.”

    It is will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • CA resident

    Post #22 Jeff said: “Mormon leaders were acting in their role as citizens in the democratic process. But as citizens leading a political campaign, they cannot escape public accountability for their public actions.

    After all that, the leadership of the LDS cannot suddenly change roles, toss up their hands and say, “You can’t criticize us! We’re a religion!” They forfeited that right when they threw themselves enthusiastically into a non-religious, political campaign.”

    Me: The definition of marriage is a moral issue, not a political issue (for that matter homosexuality was originally a moral issue, as well) so I have to disagree with you. LDS Church leaders were acting in a moral leadership role on a moral issue which means their religious institution status is relevant and they’re not simply starting a political movement. It’s unfortunate the issue has taken on political proportions like it has. The fact it has become political now does not negate that at its core it’s a moral issue. Characterizing LDS leaders as purely political leaders is a major distortion of what their role was in all this and it misinforms the reader.

    BTW, that clever argument that same-sex marriage is morally equivalent to interracial marriage has been shown to be false. Read the article on this link to see why same-sex marriage fails the equivalency test:
    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=27530

  • Chris

    RE post #47

    Jennifer, you left out the most salient and almost the only factual statement in the entire news article. I guess maybe your moused slipped when you were copying the article:

    Church spokesman Scott Trotter says the Jan. 30 filing was “neither late nor part of a cover-up, but was in fact filed a day ahead of the deadline. Mr. Karger’s accusations are wrong. He is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts.”


    Once again, there are NO factual statements of information that the LDS church doing something wrong.

    Jennifer, thank you again for your prior good posts.
    To present that quote of ripe innuendo (I can’t remember how to spell that word and it’s too late to google it) and unfounded allegations that had no basis in fact is beneath someone of your intelligence Jennifer. I see that it was late in your time zone. Must have something to do with it.

    One last comment: As a technology developer or in other businesses, I have had up-close personal experiences with the LDS church and at times, with various LDS church leaders dating back to 1977. I found LDS people to be quite human, fallible on occasion, and sometimes wanting in their behaviors. However, it is clear to me after watching the leaders of the LDS church for 30+ years, that the leaders are scrupulously honest, well-intentioned, and considerate of people. On the whole, Mormons are great people. And like any large group of people, sometimes there are those who aren’t so good. Seems to me that Jesus had trouble with one-twelfth of His apostles. And there certainly are “Sunday” Mormons but the LDS people are well known for helping. Well… it’s late for me as well and I am rambling. Sorry. Delete what you want Mollie, no worries.

    But if others are allowed to post long statements of someone’s opinion of the LDS church, perhaps my statement is reasonable to include here as well. :D

  • Jennifer

    Mollie:

    I found another interesting article this morning — “Prop 8 foes slow to pick up on Mormon involvement” ( see http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=3713), which provides interesting behind-the-scenes information regarding the Proposition 8 campaign (from both sides, including quotes from both camps). In addition, the article takes a broader look at the Mormon (LDS) Church’s longer term involvement in the effort to limit gay rights in California and Hawaii.

    The article not not only behind-the-scenes information from the Proposition 8 campaign (both sides, including quotes from both camps), but also additional information regarding the Mormon Church’s involvement in Proposition 22 and a gay rights initiative in Hawaii in the mid-1990s.

    In prior reporting, the Bay Area Reporter uncovered at 1997 LDS memo that outlined Mormon strategy on gay rights in California and Hawaii. In this article,

    Kim Farah, LDS spokeswoman, contends that a 1997 memo describing the Mormons’ political same-sex marriage strategy for California and Hawaii, reported on by the Bay Area Reporter late last year, reflects a church position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage that has remained “highly consistent.”

    Very interesting rread.

  • Jeff

    CA resident post #48

    You stated: “LDS Church leaders were acting in a moral leadership role on a moral issue which means their religious institution status is relevant and they’re not simply starting a political movement….Characterizing LDS leaders as purely political leaders is a major distortion of what their role was in all this and it misinforms the reader.”

    My response:

    Each person or organization that becomes actively involved in a political process (such as Proposition 8) does so for a personal reason and based upon their own personal belief system. The fact that the LDS (Mormon) Church and its members became involved because of their religious beliefs should not and does not give them special status in the political process. California is not a theocracy and the LDS Church (or any religious group) does not get special status because they believe they are acting in a “moral leadership role.”

    Like all other participants in this political process, the LDS Church and its members must follow the same California campaign finance laws as everyone else (and hopefully they did). The fact that the members of the Mormon Church (and the LDS Church itself) contributed substantial sums to the “Yes on 8″ campaign makes their compliance with California law even more important.

    In a democracy

  • Chris

    RE post 50:

    The article cited is an amazing load of tripe and lies, such as, “In this case the Mormons chose to hide their involvement.”
    and
    “…information which confirmed that the Mormon Church [had a history of engaging] in activities that were deceptive and intended to mask the extent of the church’s anti-marriage activities.”

    I read and reread the article looking for facts to substantiate those statements and the others in the article. Here’s what I found:


    There are NO factual statements anywhere in the article to substantiate those statements. None. And there are no factual statements to support any wrongdoing by the LDS church or its members.

    There are however a plethora of unfounded allegations and emotionally-laden words and statements carefully crafted to inaccurately portray the honest efforts and sacrifice on the part of hundreds of LDS people who chose to legally support their own beliefs. And once again, the LDS are speciously targeted in this article even though they were only part of what took place.

    As to it being interesting, it’s not.But here’s something that is interesting (and factual):

    LDS Church Provides Aid in Aftermath of Southeast Ice Storms

    The LDS Church has stepped in to provide aid in the Kentucky power outage:

    Three semi trucks have delivered hygiene kits, blankets, cots, first aid kits, water, diapers, generators and chainsaws to area shelters.

    Cash donations have also been given to the Lakeland and Madisonville chapters of the American Red Cross in northwestern Kentucky.

    Work crews from Mormon Helping Hands have assisted in clean-up projects in Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

    FEMA wasn’t there. No homosexuals in sight, helping or protesting. But there were THREE semi loads of aid provided by the LDS church through donations by its members. Each month LDS people fast for a day. They then donate the monetary equivalent of the food that they would have eaten, to a fund called the “Fast Offering” fund. Those monies are used to provide aid such as the Kentucky aid. Also, the hygiene kits provided were assembled by LDS church members who willingly volunteered their time in doing so.

    The most interesting part of the Kentucky LDS aid news article is that it’s almost an every other day occurence. It’s just normal to see the LDS church and its members helping out. And fyi, only a very small percentage of the people that were helped were members of the LDS church.

    Here’s the really fun part, the really BIG conspiracy: the Mormons didn’t publicize how much each member of its church gave in that relief effort to Kentucky. They just did it.

    And even more interesting is that in 2008, that type of relief effort or LARGER, took place almost every other day for the entire year, all over the world, where it was sorely needed -just as the LDS church has done for a lonnnnng time.

    So the fact that LDS people coughed up $20 million to support their beliefs is not a big deal. LDS people have provided a billion dollars of humanitarian aid in recent history. Almost all of which went to people who are not LDS, but who were deeply grateful to receive the help, and who do not and will never have the ability to repay the aid they received.

    Now there’s a curious thing – a ‘conspiracy’ to help people all over the world, people who can never repay what it cost to provide the aid. Sounds like a good thing that’s being done. Maybe those who are so critical of the LDS Church should look to what they personally sacrifice, what they do to help others, etc.

  • CA resident

    Post #51 Jeff said: “Each person or organization that becomes actively involved in a political process (such as Proposition does so for a personal reason and based upon their own personal belief system. The fact that the LDS (Mormon) Church and its members became involved because of their religious beliefs should not and does not give them special status in the political process. California is not a theocracy and the LDS Church (or any religious group) does not get special status because they believe they are acting in a “moral leadership role.”

    Me: When the LDS Church and its members got involved with Prop 8, they were exercising their democratic right of free speech that everyone else enjoys in this country (whether in a moral leadership role or otherwise). Some members chose to voice their free speech with yard signs stating “Yes on 8″. Others chose to voice their free speech with financial contributions to the “Yes on 8″ campaign. Those who disagreed were free to support the opposition effort in the same ways. This is democracy in action (not sure where your “theocracy” reference is coming from). In our democracy we can all agree to disagree. If your point is that no religious group should get special status because of simply agreeing to disagree, then I actually agree with you! My point is that LDS Church leaders and members (or anyone else) deserve special status when confronted with those who are *not* agreeing to disagree. These are the people they complained about.

    Some examples of those not agreeing to disagree:
    - Trespassing on yards displaying the “Yes on 8″ sign and removing the signs or defacing them (suppression of free speech in violation of the First Amendment and CA state law)
    - Vandalism of cars with “Yes on 8″ bumper stickers or church buildings not displaying “Yes on 8″ signs (suppression of free speech and intolerance)
    - Mailing of white powder substances to LDS buildings and Knights of Columbus offices with the obvious intent to incite fear (domestic terrorism)
    - Death threats to donors (remember this was for a *ballot measure*, not someone running for office)

    I was glad to see on your earlier post (#22) that you did not condone any acts of violence or hate. I’d like to see specific condemnation of the white powder mailings. If that event happened to a gay advocacy group, Jewish group, or racial minority group we would still be hearing about it. This kind of thing should never happen…in a democracy.

    Post #51 Jeff said:” Like all other participants in this political process, the LDS Church and its members must follow the same California campaign finance laws as everyone else (and hopefully they did). The fact that the members of the Mormon Church (and the LDS Church itself) contributed substantial sums to the “Yes on 8” campaign makes their compliance with California law even more important.”

    Me: I agree with you on this, too! Look at this link to see the fact table showing LDS Church compliance:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/media-reports-on-proposition-8-filing-uninformed

    I have a question for you along these lines. Since substantial sums of money were donated to the “No on 8″ compaign that rivaled the “Yes on 8″ campaign, has the same amount of media scrutiny been applied to “No on 8″ donors, as well?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I’m shutting this thread down since most comments have strayed from discussing mainstream media coverage.


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