Mormons still to blame, somehow

same_sex_marriageTMatt has been looking at some of the larger issues of framing in coverage of Maine’s vote to overturn a law legalizing same-sex marriage. But I’m also curious about some of the nitty gritty. I’ve been meaning to look at some of the coverage for days so let’s begin with this pre-election story by the Washington Post‘s Karl Vick. The story explains the situation — the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill to permit same-sex couples to marry and gets his perspective that the “libertarian” Maine will note vote to overturn that law. The campaign against same-sex marriage, we learn, is drawing heavily on its communications strategy from their successful fight over the same issue in California last year. And then this:

Proponents of same-sex marriage are also playing on Mainers’ wariness of outsiders, calling attention to the California consultants and the volume of the “Yes-on-1″ campaign from out of state.

Questions about the largest contributor have sparked an investigation by the state ethics commission and a court battle. The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, has contributed $1.6 million to Stand for Marriage Maine but has declined to reveal its own contributors, despite a federal district court decision last week that it must do so under Maine law.

Okay, while the figure for the National Organization for Marriage is incorrect (they actually say they contributed $1.8 million to the Yes on One campaign), perhaps the true amount wasn’t available at press time. But what I do find absolutely fascinating about this is that we don’t learn anything about this campaign contribution in context of the battle itself. For instance, how much money did the “No” campaign raise? And how big was the entire Yes on One effort to overturn the state law permitting same-sex marriage? And how much money for both groups came from “outsiders”? I mean, I have several neighbors in DC who worked for months on this, some driving up to Maine to work on the effort and others just working on raising money from here. They were pro-same-sex marriage folks, but nowhere do we learn that outsiders were working to keep the law, much less how much of the work to keep the law came from outsiders.

It turns out that the National Organization for Marriage contributed most of the Yes on One campaign’s resources. But more newsworthy, perhaps, is that the “No” campaign seems to have out-raised its opponents by 50 percent or so. See this more even-handed report from the Associated Press:

Both sides in Maine drew volunteers and contributions from out of state, but the money edge went to the campaign in defense of gay marriage, Protect Maine Equality. It raised $4 million, compared with $2.5 million for Stand for Marriage Maine.

See, that’s helpful information. The Boston Globe, meanwhile, says both groups claim to have raised $4 million (although that’s not true). While the Washington Post story does quote someone saying that same-sex marriage defenders had out-raised opponents two to one, no facts are included to substantiate the statement. Which brings me to another point. Check out this paragraph in the Post story about the National Organization for Marriage:

Some groups for gays say the organization is a stalking horse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, which dominated fundraising in the California campaign. Many of the actors in a nationally televised ad produced by NOM, called “Gathering Storm,” turned out to be Mormon activists.

Wow. Okay, so the allegation at play here is that the Mormons are deceiving everyone by operating this group without being up front about it. That is a very serious charge. Nowhere is it substantiated. I mean, I know that the National Organization for Marriage has at least one Mormon board member — Orson Scott Card. But he’s hiding in plain sight. I found out that information by surfing the NOM website myself. And what does it mean that “many” of the actors in a television ad “turned out to be” Mormon activists? I don’t even know what that means, although it does sound scary. What, exactly, is a “Mormon activist”?

But if you have people making this claim, go ahead and name them and be specific about the charges of deception and, you know, maybe get a response from the church. While Vick did try (on a weekend, before an election) to reach the National Organization for Marriage to discuss the allegation, the church should also have been contacted. The allegation is denied by someone involved in the Maine political battle, for what it’s worth. Perhaps with so little to substantiate the charge and apparently no time to contact the targets of the charge, it should have been dropped from the story altogether. It tarnishes both sides when allegations such as that aren’t given a chance to be fully reported.

mormonmoney
Anyway, the Washington Post pushes the claim that the National Organization for Marriage is a stalking horse for the Mormon Church. Which is quite different than what the New York Times says about it. I noticed it last week in Abby Goodnough’s preview of the Maine fight. And here it is again in her “news analysis” TMatt mentioned earlier:

“It interrupts the story line that is being manufactured that suggests the culture has shifted on gay marriage and the fight is over,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the conservative Christian group that is leading the charge against same-sex marriage around the country. “Maine is one of the most secular states in the nation. It’s socially liberal. They had a three-year head start to build their organization, and they outspent us two to one. If they can’t win there, it really does tell you the majority of Americans are not on board with this gay marriage thing.”

Okay, did you catch how Goodnough describes the group? That’s right, it’s a “conservative Christian group.” I have been following the coverage of same-sex marriage battles for a good year and a half now and it occurred to me that I had never once seen the National Organization for Marriage use religiously-based arguments in their campaign material. I know that Gallagher is married to a Hindu and I think she’s Christian. I know, from the Washington Post profile of executive director Brian Brown that he’s Catholic. But having Christians on staff doesn’t necessarily make your organization a “conservative Christian group” or that means that my local grocery store is Christian. There has to be a reason for describing a group this way. And I’m not sure I see that reason. Go ahead and take a look around the group’s website, review its public communications. Maybe it is a conservative Christian group — I just see no evidence of that. I even looked over their IRS forms for evidence to support the claim, but the only mention of religion in any of their documents is their mission to protect all faith communities that sustain marriage. Indeed, religious liberty is a big part of their mission but that doesn’t make the group itself religious anymore than it makes the ACLU religious.

But either way, I think the media need to get on the same page here. If the National Organization for Marriage is not what it claims to be (a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it) is it a “stalking horse” for the Mormon church or is it a “conservative Christian group”?

It’s so interesting to me that so many of these stories about the Yes on 1 victory in Maine portray it as a loss for gay activists. But that similar focus isn’t brought to bear on the scrutiny of the groups that are involved in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage. I mean, I’m on a bunch of denominational news list-servs and there were plenty of religious groups fighting this ballot initiative and working to keep same-sex marriage legal in Maine. Why don’t they get the same scrutiny as the Mormons, who actually may have had no discernible role in the Maine campaign? It’s just odd.

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  • http://www.mormoninquiry.com Dave B.

    It only looks odd if you expect balanced and informed reporting. Since I expect most journalists to frame the Mormons as the bad guys and to do sloppy work (at least where the LDS Church is concerned), I’m just not that surprised.

  • http://www.asoftanswer.com David H Sundwall

    Not that surprising but still disappointing.

    For all the hoopla over “Birthers” and other crazy conspiracies, this theory that NOM is a front group for the LDS has been pushed since Prop 8. That, and desperate attempts to implicate the LDS Church in other state SSM debates as if that will prove something.

    It is odd that the Post article and others just regurgitate the SSM activists talking points w/o some scrutiny or verification.

  • WMP

    Not so many Mormons in Maine, are there?

  • http://fkclinic.blogspot.com tioedong

    Wonder if they noticed that EWTN had interviews with Maggie Gallagher last week on their news program.

    This is a threat to all traditional churches, but where are the quotes?

  • Davis

    No one really knows if Mormons are funding NOM because NOM won’t turn over their funding information. That’s why a judge in Maine wouldn’t throw out a suit against them and why the state of California is investigating the connection between the church and NOM

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/us/30maine.html

    The reporters could have done a better job of explaining the alleged link between the Mormons and NOM, but it’s not like it comes out of thin air. More transparency by NOM would probably help reporters do their job, but reporters can’t report on what isn’t disclosed.

  • Tracy Hall Jr

    But of course we are to blame: we have been praying for this outcome!

    Here’s another hot tip: Mormons are also secretly manipulating the climate!

    The investigative reporter who is “feeling lucky” might try googling:

    boise stake fast rain

    or

    mapusaga heavens opened

    hthalljr’gmail’com

  • http://adventures-in-mormonism.com bfwebster

    Of course, if Gallagher describes NOM as a “conservative Christian organization”, then it can’t be a ‘stalking horse’ for the LDS Church, since — as many (if not most) conservative Christian denominations will tell you — Mormons aren’t Christian. ;-)

    Thanks for the well-written article. ..bruce..

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    It’s not GALLAGHER who describes NOM as conservative or Christian, it’s the reporter.

  • http://adventures-in-mormonism.com bfwebster

    Mollie:

    Yeah, I just caught that (and your questioning of that designation). Of course, that makes it all a bit funnier. ..bruce..

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  • dalea

    Fred Karger’s organization Californians Against Hate is probably the source of most of the Mormon charges:

    http://www.californiansagainsthate.com/

    He writes for HuffingtonPost, here is his review of 8: The Mormon Proposition

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fred-karger/8-the-mormon-proposition_b_326832.html

    Having played a very active role in uncovering the massive involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) in last year’s Prop 8 campaign, Reed asked me to be in his documentary.

    Karger has a parody poem up called The Mormons Are Coming:

    http://www.mormongate.com/

    Karger is one of the main sources for all the Mormon connection reporting, but does seem to be credited by the press.

  • http://www.rickety.us Rick

    Interesting story. Here in Utah I was aware of Proposition 8 and joined in the fight by donating in favor of traditional marriage. But the fight in Maine I became aware of while surfing on the Internet. If this issue in Maine had been a high priority for the LDS Church I would have heard something about it. But I didn’t, and neither did many of my LDS friends. So blaming the Mormons seems kind of silly.

    WMP: At the beginning of 2008 there were 10,160 Mormons in Maine (source: US Membership )

  • Anon

    Isn’t NOM Robbie George’s organization? Very Catholic, more than anything else, I would presume, knowing Robbie George.

    The connection between Mormons and Robbie George exists, but is pretty weak. Matt Holland was on NOMs board until he got made president of UVU, but I think that was mainly because he got to know George while at Princeton for a year.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Hey activists on both sides,

    This is the place to discuss MEDIA COVERAGE of religious news. It is not the place to talk about how much you hate Mormons or how much you hate the people who hate the Mormons. Or your views on same-sex marriage, etc.

    Keep comments focused on the media coverage. Or, as you some have figured out, the comments will be deleted.

    Best,

    Mollie

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    You ask: What, exactly, is a “Mormon activist”?

    Well, several of the Mormon actors in that NOM ad belong to a rightwing AZ-based outfit called United Families International. These folks easily qualify as “activists” and they’re Mormon, hence the description.

    Further detail available here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/7/14/753343/-Knock,-Knock,-Anybody-NOM-Anybody-Mormon

  • Andrew

    Dalea,

    Thanks for the Karger links. Someone might want to call the tip lines at Mormongate.com and let them know that Gordon B. Hinckley, the LDS Church’s “grand strategist”, has been dead for almost two years.

  • Anthony Antonelli

    There are several productive comments posted here, but I cannot let one unnecessary comment stand without a response. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, and I testify that Jesus Christ is our redeemer. Though we have doctrinal differences with others who also profess to be Christians, yet we try to work with them in a civil, Christian way, to defend moral principles. None of us is perfect and we would all do well, rather than attacking one another, to focus on our common values in these perilous times when foundational moral principles are under attack.

  • manaen

    For a more-complete description of Mormon manipulation, check here:

    http://www.newsmakingnews.com/mbtrans8,4,78mormon.htm

  • Lisa

    An interesting article. I learned a lot. Honestly, when I read that the group was a front for Mormon activists I thought there must be some information backing it up. Apparently there is none. Polls of Americans continually show that most people accept the idea of civil unions but not gay marriage. Even the President and Vice President stated that as their position. So it seems no surprise nor conspiracy when voters express the same sentiments.

  • http://coltakashi.livejournal.com Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Clearly, the Washington Post thought the notion of Mormon leadership of NOM was newsworthy because of the widespread negative perception of Mormons among many people. Basically, this accusation is newsworthy for the same reason that it would be newsworthy that al Qaeda was a major contributor to NOM, as a way of transferring the negative public image of one organization to the other.

    Since religious bias against Mormons is the only reason that accusation was worth printing, why should the Post even bring it up, since giving light to such a claim is an implicit endorsement that feeling prejudiced against Mormons is a legitimate attitude.

    For example, what if the accusation was that Orthodox Jews were major contributors to NOM? It would immediately be seen by many more people that this was playing to an anti-semitic bias among many people. But by using “Mormons” as the target, the Post was relying on the widely shared assumption that it is OK to think of Mormons as Inherently Not to be Trusted, and Presumptively Up to No Good, in a way that most people would object to if it were dire cted against Jews.

    Seriously, there is no other point to the Post’s statement. If they had said large numbers of married heterosexuals had contributed to NOM, or it was a front for people who worship God, the sentence would have no meaning. The reader would say “So what?” Using the Mormons, however, is an invitation to the reader to exercise his preconceived religious bias against a poorly understood minority group. The accusation is, essentially, that the Mormons themselves are so unpopular that they have to HAVE a “front” like NOM in order to carry out a political agenda. If the Post had added the phrase “and, as you know, Mormons are evil and weird”, it would not have added anything to the semantic content of the statement, because it was already implied by the simple fact that they thought associating NOM with Mormons was the journalistic equivalent of revealing that NOM had horns and a pitchfork.

  • Peter

    Being a Mormon, I have been reading allot of this stuff for some time. Knowing the churches philosophy and what many try to pin on the church, it is fascinating to realize how much people are drawn to conspiracy theorys.

    Some people say that the church has secret links to organizations, like it has some sinister underground. The reality is that the church always strives to play by the rules and to be on the up and up. Everything it does is practical and in the interest of goodness.

  • Douglas

    Great Question Mollie: In examining the press intent, “What is a Mormon Activist?” Chino Blanco(comment above), on his Daily Kos Blog thinks “United Families International” is an activist organization. It is, however consider the Wickepedia definition of activism:
    “Activism, in a general sense, can be described as intentional action to bring about social change, political change, economic justice, or environmental wellbeing. This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument.

    The word “activism” is often used synonymously with protest or dissent, but activism can stem from any number of political orientations and take a wide range of forms, from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism (such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing preferred businesses), rallies, street marches, strikes, both work stoppages and hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics.

    In some cases, activism has nothing to do with protest or confrontation. For instance, some religious, feminist or vegetarian/vegan activists try to persuade people to change their behavior directly, rather than persuade governments to change laws. The cooperative movement seeks to build new institutions which conform to cooperative principles, and generally does not lobby or protest politically.”

    Considering the true definition of activism, The question to make your point may more appropriately be, what’s the difference between “activists” on both sides of the gay marriage debate? The press bias is attempting to equate the two. The recent report “The Price of Prop 8″ (see http://www.heritage.org/research/family/bg2328.cfm) paints a picture of the difference.

    The media spin technique of using hyperbole and projection is evident in the articles you have cited.

    Thanks for your excellent (and entertaining)post.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.com Jeff

    Mollie:

    I agree that it is important that the direct link between the National Organization for Marriage and the Mormon (LDS) Church be confirmed; however, until their campaign records are released, proving the direct financial connection will be difficult.

    However, there is no doubt that the Catholic Church (along with the National Organization for Marriage) played a major financial role in “Yes on 1″ campaign in Maine in order to overturn same sex marriage in Maine. In turn, the Catholic/Mormon connection against same sex marriage is well-documented. Here are three examples:

    According to a November 22, 2008 article in the The Salt Lake Tribune entitled “Prop 8 involvement a P.R. fiasco for LDS Church”:

    “In the case of the Proposition 8, which supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, the LDS Church only joined the Coalition to Protect Marriage in June after being asked by Catholic Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, who presided over Utah Catholics for 11 years. The LDS First Presidency in a letter urged all California Mormons to give their time and money to the effort.”


    According to a May 29, 2009 article in the Washington Post entitled ‘The Mormons Are Coming!’”:

    “Mormon headquarters contributed $400,000 in an effort to persuade Hawaiians against same-sex marriage but urged the Roman Catholics to take the lead in a group dubbed Hawaii’s Future Today after polls showed that the other church had better public acceptance. A decade after the 1998 Hawaii vote against gay marriage, Lawrence wrote that the image problem remained: “The collection of negatives they are willing to apply to us suggests that they view us as a growing threat.” “


    According to a December 27, 2008 article from The Salt Lake Tribune entitled “A year of scrutiny for the LDS Church”:

    “In June, Mormons joined the Preserve Marriage Coalition at the request of Archbishop George Niederauer, the San Francisco Catholic leader who had previously led the Diocese of Salt Lake City. The First Presidency sent a letter to all California Mormons, urging them to support a ballot measure known as Proposition 8, which defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The same Evangelical groups that had demeaned Mormonism as a cult during Romney’s campaign were now the LDS Church’s allies in the California fight.”

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    @13: “The connection between Mormons and Robbie George exists, but is pretty weak.”

    I for one enjoyed the vivid language employed by Prof. George in his BYU Forum lecture last year:

    If same?sex marriage is legally recognized in a small number of states, it will spread throughout the nation, either through judicial action under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause or by the working of informal cultural pressures. Some states – Utah would be one – may try to hold out, but sooner or later they will be whipped into line.

    Video link: NOM Chairman Robert P. George: “Utah will be whipped into line.”

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    By the way, “activist” is not a pejorative term. Mormon allies have used it to describe the Mormons who volunteered for the Yes on 1 Maine campaign.

    Below is verbatim from an email I received September 16, 2009 from Ron Prentice, Executive Director,
    ProtectMarriage.com (the Prop 8 head honcho):

    The Stand For Marriage Maine committee has the strong support of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland (which covers the entire state of Maine), the evangelical community, local LDS activists and others across the state. National groups including the National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action and Focus on the Family are making Maine a priority.

    Maybe Mollie should drop Ron Prentice an email and ask him what he meant by “LDS activist” ?? ;-)

  • JT

    The question is not whether NOM is a front of the Mormon Church, or even whether there is a link between the two; rather, it is why uncovering such a link holds any relevance whatsoever. Seriously, this is McCarthyism reborn.

    If you think I am kidding, go ask some of the Mormons in California who were blacklisted for contributing to the “Yes on 8″ campaign and pressured to leave their jobs.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.com Jeff

    JT:

    Explain why it is McCarthyism to want to know the source of substantial funding for a referendum that overturned the right to marry for gays and lesbians (or the source of funding for any other referendum or proposition for that matter). People have the right to know where the campaign money comes from. Indeed, people may–or may not–want to support a cause based upon who the major contributors are.

    If you had read the previous quotes that I provided, you would have seen that the Mormon Church has a history of trying to stay out of the spotlight for these types of anti-marriage equality measures, while getting other groups to be the “friendlier” face of the campaign.

    When groups such as the National Organization for Marriage put up a majority fight to prevent disclosure of their contributors (including filing lawsuits in federal court in multiple states), it raises the question of what NOM is trying to hide. Is it major Mormon (LDS) funding? That has yet to be seen.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.com Jeff

    JT:

    Two more articles regarding the Mormon involvement in Proposition 8 and other anti-marriage equality campaigns.

    In the months since the election, however, the extent of Mormon involvement in the same-sex marriage issue has emerged, leading some marriage equality activists to ask why the No on 8 campaign wasn’t better prepared for what even church officials admit has been a focused 20-year strategy to thwart same-sex marriage.

    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.”

    See http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=3713

    See also “The Mormon Proposition” at http://caribou.cc.trincoll.edu/depts_csrpl/RINVol11No3/Mormon%20Proposition.htm .

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    Mollie’s closing: “Why don’t [proponents of same-sex marriage] get the same scrutiny as the Mormons, who actually may have had no discernible role in the Maine campaign? It’s just odd.”

    What’s truly odd is that Mollie links to this NY Times article in her post:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/us/28maine.html

    But apparently didn’t bother to read it.

    One of the volunteers working phones at the Stand for Marriage Maine offices last Thursday was Bonnie Johnstone of Portland, who said she had decided to help after hearing about the campaign at her Mormon church…

    The repeal effort has drawn a small number of volunteers from other states … including a group of students from Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution in Utah.

    No discernible role?

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    One of my favorite Mormon projects in Maine was this website:

    http://www.marriagefactsmaine.org

    And here’s my favorite fact about the Marriage Facts Maine site:

    It’s run by Family Watch International, another Arizona-based Mormon [offensive term deleted --ed.] outfit.

    I wrote to FWI and asked them about this sentence on their MFM website:

    If we are to make wise and responsible public policy we must broaden this debate to consider everything that is at stake for our state, for our society and for future generations.

    Our state? I’m pretty sure whoever typed that line was sitting at a keyboard in Gilbert, AZ – which is about as far from Maine as one can get within the continental US.

    No discernible role?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Chino,

    Please keep your comments focused on journalism and the coverage of this issue. Also, refrain from using disparaging terms to describe those with whom you disagree.

    Best,

    Mollie

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Yo, Chino, did you see my previous note? Keep your comments focused on JOURNALISM. If they are not focused on JOURNALISM, I will delete them, as I just did with your last comment. I don’t want to put you in a moderation queue so please just abide by our commenting policy.

    Best,

    Mollie

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    “Wingnut” is offensive? Disparaging, sure, but “offensive”?? That’s gonna get a few laughs.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.com Jeff

    Mollie:

    Getting back to the beginning of this thread, which started with your post entitled Mormons still to blame, somehow, the blog of the National Organization for Marriage (see http://nomblog.com/?p=563) posted direct quotes from the November 2, 2009 Washington Post article entitled Maine Set to Vote on Gay Marriage:

    Questions about the largest contributor have sparked an investigation by the state ethics commission and a court battle. The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, has contributed $1.6 million to Stand for Marriage Maine but has declined to reveal its own contributors, despite a federal district court decision last week that it must do so under Maine law.

    Some groups for gays say the organization is a stalking horse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormons, which dominated fundraising in the California campaign. Many of the actors in a nationally televised ad produced by NOM, called “Gathering Storm,” turned out to be Mormon activists.

    Although NOM’s blogs made no further comment regarding the quoted text from the Post’s article, on whether the alleged Mormon link to NOM is correct, NOM itself highlighted the language in question.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Yes, Chino, it’s offensive. Do you really not understand that? Gah.

    Here at GetReligion, we work to create a safe space for discussion of media coverage of religious news. We encourage commenters to avoid disparaging people who hold different religious and political beliefs.

    There’s no need to refer to people with whom you disagree in such a fashion.

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    It doesn’t feel like a safe space for me when you arbitrarily delete comments of mine that are on topic but happen to undermine your argument, but then post all of my silly off-topic contributions.

    By the way, if w*ngn*t is offensive, why didn’t it get “bleeped” in #33? In any case, thanks for proving my point.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    UFI seems to be a group largely made up of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this in and of itself no more makes it a Mormon group than lots of people in the ACLU being Jewish makes it a Jewish group.
    Since what the accusations really boil down to is that the Church is misusing its tax status by funding these campaigns, those who oppose the man/woman marriage movement have to PROVE that the Church itself, not just people who are members of it, is moving funds to groups like NOM.
    Since The Church has openly admitted its working with Protect Marriage in California, since the main complaint against the Church in California was that its preservemarriage.org site was TOO PUBLIC and thus an unreproted campaign expenditure, the claim that there is some secret, sinister and evil plan is contradicted by the claims of the enemies who openly admit these things were public.
    The media has abrogated its duty to reprot accurately by accepting the rantings of CAH and other groups about some secret Mormon conspiracy.
    We again see that all conspiracy theories are on the right, because obviously when a liberal alleges conspiracy they speak the truth.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    I went a bit further into the UFI website. They specifically state they are not affiliated with any religious organization.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    Let me get this straight, Bonnie Johnstone of Portland, Maine acts in favor of man/woman marriage because of what she learned at her LDS ward (and it is unclear if it was officially anounced, or if she was just talking with a fellow Church member after Church) and this shows that Mormons are the moving and defining force in this campaign?
    What, do Mormon citisens in Maince not have the right to seek to effect public policy?

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    If someone seeks the truth, they should actually go to Family Watch Insternational’s website. They explicitly state that they are NOT affiliated with any religious organization.
    They are not a front for the Mormon Church. It is true that they work with the Marriage Law Foundation, which is closely connected with Monte N. Stewart, a Latter-day Saint who for a time was one of over 300 mission presidents (they serve general 3 years, so there are probably at least 5000 current or former misssion presidents). William C. Duncan the current MLF director works at The Catholic University of Ameria but was previously connected with the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. I do not know what religion he follows.
    Stewart however used non-religious arguments to defend man/woman marriage, and has had articles published by such journals as the Harvard Review of Law and Public Policy (I think that is the name) as well as Rutgers and Duke Journals.
    The question really is, does Mormons participating in a political campaign as individuals taint the campaign? If the answer is yes than we have no religious freedom in America, or at least do not believe in it in our hearts.
    I should also note that FWI’s membership I have not been able to scrutinize. They do quote Stewart and BYU professor Richard Wilkins, they operate out of a Gilbert PO Box as their address, but to claim that all their writers for various projects are in Gilbert is unsubstantiated.

  • Daniel

    Mr. John Pack Lambert:

    There’s an old saying that where there is smoke, there is fire. Why is this relevant to the discussion regarding NOM, Mormons, marriage equality and the related media coverage? Good question.

    The National Organization for Marriage went to great efforts to get Question 1 on the ballot in Maine — providing the majority funding for the signature gathering process to that the measure qualified for the ballot. NOM then was the major source of funding for the successful “Yes on 1″ campaign itself.

    Contrary to the requirements of Maine law, NOM did not however, want to disclose who its contributors were that donated at least $1.6 million to the campaign to overturn the marriage equality law in Maine. (Maine law requires groups spending $5,000 or more regarding a ballot measure to report its contributors and expenditures.) When Maine took steps to require NOM to file the necessary reports, NOM sued Maine in federal court. Even though a federal court judge has ordered NOM to turn over the records before the election, NOM failed to turn over the campaign contribution records and has still failed to do so.

    What, you will ask, does this prove? So far, absolutely nothing. It does, however, raise a number of questions regarding those persons and/or entities that are funding NOM are and why they do not not want their identity disclosed as required by Maine law.

    We have learned from published reports that–in the past–the Mormon (LDS) Church has formed and funded front groups to oppose marriage equality in other states in an apparent effort to disguise or understate their involvement. Did this occur in Maine? Until NOM complies with the federal court order and turns over its contribution records, we will not definitely know. Hopefully, however, the media will continue covering this story until NOM complies with the law and turns over the necessary records. The public has a right to know who funded the “Yes on 1″ campaign in Maine.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Chino:

    Stay on topic in terms of media coverage issues.

    Don’t debate the issue itself. There are other blogs for that.

    We strive to keep the comments pages on JOURNALISM topics. It’s hard to do, but we try.

  • http://www.chinoblanco.com Chino Blanco

    Got it, Terry. Yours is not an easy job, no doubt.

    By the way, is JOURNALISM limited to print media?

    Maybe a few definitions might be in order for those of us, like me, who are new around here?

  • Auntie Dogma

    Mollie = naive beyond all expectations or a NOM-affiliated Mormon. Moll, hon, try getting NOM on the record telling the truth about their donors and their origin. There’s a reason NOM will appear before the Maine Ethic Commission on 19 November to learn the results of the State’s investigation. That part slip your mind? Google it. Good luck.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Auntie Dogma,

    This blog looks at how the mainstream media handles religious news. We’re interested in whether the MEDIA do their job of googling or otherwise. If you have anything relevant to share with regard to the discussion of journalism, by all means do so.

    Your comments are not relevant to that discussion although I’m sure they’d be welcome in other parts of the internet that discuss gay marriage activism.

  • http://www.prop8-lds.com Stephen

    Mollie:

    From a journalism perspective, is it really “gay marriage activism” for gays and lesbians to seek marriage equality–or are gay and lesbians merely seeking equal rights?

    Stephen

  • Leo

    Mollie:

    Nice PR statement from LeAnn — a kinder/gentler take on a church that has opposed marriage equality in a number of states. It is, however, unclear how her posting relates in any way to how mainstream media handles religious news — the stated purpose of this blog.

    Leo.

    • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

      Leo,

      Yeah, it had no relevance to the purpose of the blog so I deleted her statement.

  • LDSareChristian

    manaen says:
    November 6, 2009, at 1:30 pm
    For a more-complete description of Mormon manipulation, check here:

    http://www.newsmakingnews.com/mbtrans8,4,78mormon.htm
    ==================================
    I got a good laught from the above link. Thanks for making my day!


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