The missing Mormon murder

Frequently when we’re talking about violence against religious minorities, it’s a foreign issue. But it happens stateside as well, sadly. Recently there have been a few attacks that have received media attention. When Michael Enright stabbed his New York City cab driver Ahmed H. Sharif, for being a Muslim, it was major news. When a fire broke out at a construction site of a Tennessee mosque, it was major news. This weekend word came that the ATF has ruled that fire arson, it was also major news.

The coverage of the cabbie attack isn’t going to win any awards, but I think the coverage of the fire at the mosque construction site has been fine. Of course, there’s not much to go on right now, so the news has been relatively straightforward. Because of the public debate over various mosques, there’s question about motive. But there aren’t any answers right now. Be sure to let us know if you see any particularly good or bad media coverage on that front.

It’s interesting, though, how some violent attacks are national news and others aren’t. Last week I saw the news that a Mormon bishop was murdered at his ward in Visalia, California. I grew up in that county so I was following what little news trickled out. There’s also some lack of clarity about motive since the man who shot the bishop was later killed by police and, like Enright, apparently suffered mental illness.

But by and large, there doesn’t appear to be much major media interest in the story. This is a church body that was seriously targeted in the aftermath of California’s Prop. 8 ruling. So it’s just interesting that at no time did this merit much serious coverage. Sure, there are some local news briefs and mentions on media blogs. The New York Times has yet to mention the killing or even run this Associated Press report, which I saw in the Salt Lake Tribune, from the first day:

A Mormon church official was shot dead between services on Sunday, and less than an hour later, the man suspected of the crime also died after a shootout with police.

Clay Sannar, 42, a lay bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Visalia, southeast of Fresno, died after being shot in his office, said Visalia police chief Colleen Mestas.

Soon after the first shooting, a caller identified himself to police as the shooter. Police responded, and there was a confrontation with several shots exchanged, said Mestas. The suspect was hit multiple times. He was taken to nearby Kaweah Delta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. He has not been identified yet. No officers were injured, Mestas said.

Tulare County sheriff’s deputies are taking over the investigation of the shootout involving the police officers. The sheriff’s department did not immediately return calls for comment.

Visalia police continue to investigate Sannar’s shooting, but have not identified a motive.

It’s interesting to consider what makes for national news and what doesn’t and how that coverage affects the way we view the world.

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  • Jerry

    It’s interesting to consider what makes for national news and what doesn’t and how that coverage affects the way we view the world.

    I was thinking about exactly that this morning. Yesterday while driving around, I heard a short segment about how “The 99″ were going to work together with DC’s “Justice League” – in other words a comic featuring both sets of superheros. Listening further, I found out that the originator of “the 99″ was a Muslim whose work had been noted by President Obama and who had taken his characters from the 99 attributes of Allah (or sometimes referred to as the Names of God) and further how this comic was very popular in the Islamic world.

    I wondered what the real influence of this comic series is with it’s 50/50 split in male and female characters with strong women as well as strong men etc. Is this actually influencing attitudes in the Middle East?

    The whole approach was inspired by the fact that many American superheroes are also religious archetypes. “Neal Adams explained to me that ‘Shazam’ was an acronym for six Greek gods. I didn’t know that,” Al-Mutawa said. “He explained to me the tradition of using religious archetypes, and it got me thinking. It got me reading.”

    Al-Mutawa discovered that Superman was sent to Earth in a pod, like Moses was on the Nile, and is sent from above as his father says, “I have sent to you my only son.” And just like the biblical prophets have lost parents, superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man are orphans.

    “But you never see Batman praying or Superman praying. We don’t know what their religions are. They’re universal,” he said. “So the idea behind The 99 was to pull out messaging in Koranic archetypes that all people can identify with, the stuff that people who are Muslim share with the rest of humanity.”

  • Dave G.

    The sad thing is, I made the prediction a week ago that we wouldn’t hear much about this, and we haven’t. I’ve had to dig deep to find references at all. I suppose it’s because on one hand the media can try to establish the narrative, on the other hand it can be influenced by the narrative. Which one in this case? Makes you wonder.

  • JDD

    I also predicted a week ago that this story would not be covered. The man who committed the crime was mentally ill, and that is certainly the predominante motivating factor in this case. But his father also said he was anti-Mormon. That was also a major factor. Of course most anti-Mormons are not violent; I don’t mean to imply that at all. But it’s hard to believe that the anti-Mormon vitriol being spewed all over the internet did not play a role in this killing.

    If a mentally ill anti-semite killed a Rabbi, people would still recognize the anti-semitism as being a motivating factor. It would be all over the news. The man who cut the Muslim cab driver was drunk… essentially temporarily mentally ill… and yet his crime was still seen as being motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. It was all over the news too. But when the same thing happens to a Mormon, no one covers it, and the only motivating factor mentioned in the few stories that do appear is poor mental health, not anti-Mormon sentiment. Suffice it to say, it’s not a proud day to be an American. These double standards are repulsive.

  • Rachel

    I’m unfortunately not surprised, either, that it received little attention. It’s almost as if the Media, who tends to be pro-same sex marriage, “supported” the actions. Of course they would never admit to that, but it almost seems that way to me.

    I guess my question would be *why* the attacker was anti-Mormon. If it had anything to do with Prop 8, we have our answer to all of this – the lack of coverage, etc.

    I agree, the double standards are repulsive.

  • Dave G.

    The man who committed the crime was mentally ill, and that is certainly the predominante motivating factor in this case. But his father also said he was anti-Mormon. That was also a major factor. Of course most anti-Mormons are not violent;

    I would suggest that most people who do violence have some form of mental illness. I’m always interested at when that becomes an issue. For instance, at a shooting at a Colorado church a year or so ago, the fellow had anti-Christian rantings. Yet the main press focus was on his mental illness. And the few things I’ve seen about this have suggested mental illness. Yet when an abortion provider was shot outside of a church by a man documented to be over the edge mentally ill, the bulk of the coverage was on violence against abortion providers, violent rhetoric within the pro-life movement, violence by right wing activitists, and on and on. I’m not sure that any anti-group can boast a lack of violence as its main characteristic. What I’m interested in is when it’s all about the mental illness, and all about the ideology.

  • MattK

    A little off topic, but I think the report should have explained “lay bishop”. Do lay people fill in for clergy bishops in the LDS? Are there clergy bishops? If somone is a bishop how are they also lay? Do the LDS distinguish between clergy and laity? I wish the reporter had explained this instead of just saying a “lay bishop” had been shot.

  • Jon in the Nati, non Mormon


    Most men in the LDS church hold some position in the priesthood; such is required to celebrate communion, baptize and preach. A bishop, in LDS parlance, is the leader of a local LDS congregation, somewhat like parish priest or local minister.

    I wonder too where the ‘lay bishop’ terminology comes from. Perhaps it is the fact that the LDS priesthood is unpaid (at least officially; I don’t know what happens at higher levels), and is held by its members apart from whatever it is they may do as a ‘day job’. For instance, a man who worked for my father was an assistant bishop in the local LDS congregation. I don’t know if such a state of affairs qualifies the use of term ‘lay bishop.’

  • Bob Smietana

    Sometimes timing really is everything. If this murder had happened in Nov. 2008, during the anti-Mormon backlash after Proposition 8, the murder would likely have gotten a lot more national press.

    In Feb. 2008, three skinheads torched a mosque in the small town of Columbia, TN, and spraypainted “White Power” and “We rule the world” along with swastikas on the wall of the mosque. It happened a few days after major tornadoes struck TN on election night. The tornadoes got all the press and the mosque story really didn’t get national attention.

  • RPW

    “Lay-bishop” is a redundancy. Bishops that serve wards (congregations) are all men taken from the congregation, who are not paid for their work and hold day jobs. Usually, these day jobs are more professional positions or “white collar.” There is no professional clergy or seminary-trained clergy in the LDS Church.

    Most Mormon men in good standing are part of the priesthood. They have to be to go on missions, and hold the title of Elder. This isn’t comparable to most Christian denominations’ use of the word “elder,” meaning laymen who are given particular duties in the congregation and provide support and leadership.

  • Chino Blanco

    This is a church body that was seriously targeted in the aftermath of California’s Prop. 8 ruling. So it’s just interesting that at no time did this merit much serious coverage.

    No matter how badly you might wish otherwise, Ms. Ziegler, there is nothing about this senseless murder that indicates even the remotest connection to a Prop 8 backlash. Not your finest moment, Mollie.

  • Carla

    The shooting was the product of a bipolar man’s mental illness. There is NO evidence that it had anything to do with the oppression of a religious minority, absolutely nothing to do with the bishop’s religion OR Prop 8. In fact, I’m pretty sure the man’s motivation is still completely unknown, so please don’t imply religious intolerance was the culprit where there is quite simply no evidence to back that up. And don’t insult the memory of the victims of REAL religious intolerance, such as the murdered Muslim cab driver, by complaining about their news coverage. This is disgusting.

  • gfe

    It’s interesting how one can have a different perspective depending on where one sits. I was acting wire editor during part of the few days after the shooting, and I always have the wire queues open on my computer desktop in any case. And while I have no idea how the news media around the country treated the story, I was surprised at how often the national AP wire ran updates on the story — I didn’t think it was all that big of a story, it being not that much more unusual in its details than if somebody had fatally shot an ex-employer or something like that.

    I do the think “lay bishop” wording was a bit awkward, as was “Mormon church official,” even though both are technically accurate. If I were aiming for brevity, I’d say simply “the lay leader of a Mormon congregation” and leave it at that (although of course it would be best use the correct title and properly define it).

  • Mark B.

    While we cannot know the real motives of the murderer of Clay Sannar, and how much was caused by antipathy toward the LDS Church, we can avoid describing the living as having been murdered.

    The Muslim cabby was treated at a New York hospital and released. Calling him “murdered” is, if not disgusting, at least severely premature.

  • Mollie


    Yeah — it’s not like the AP wasn’t providing updates. Just kind of weird that the major papers avoiding using them!

  • Michael Turton

    Oops. Killed by former Mormon over personal issues:

    “In reviewing comments posted to the various media outlets, there has been concern expressed about the possibility that this bishop may have been politically targeted. First, the shooter didn’t ask for the bishop by name; the shooter merely asked for “the president or bishop”. Second, I’ve now learned that Clay Sannar contributed $1,500 in support of California Proposition 8, but that was two years ago and it would seem like that’s no longer an issue. And indeed, information has now emerged indicating that Proposition 8 was not an issue in this crime. Mike Ward, the brother of Kenneth James Ward, explained that Kenneth is a former LDS member who was mentally ill and felt that another LDS bishop had “wronged” him in 1988. The LDS Church has now confirmed that Kenneth Ward is a former member who resigned in 2004.”

  • Mollie

    Wow, that’s fascinating. I googled it to find more — since I’m curious how he’d felt wronged. I didn’t get an answer but a clue from the Visalia Times-Delta:

    “Ward said his brother believed he had been “shunned to hell” by the Bishop and that is why he asked for a Bishop when he walked into to the church Sunday around 12:30 p.m.”

    I’m also intrigued that it says he “resigned” his membership. That’s usually a pretty complex process in the LDS. Men from the local ward here told me you aren’t considered resigned until you get permission in a multi-step process going up to one of the highest governing bodies. So if he really did resign his membership, that’s fascinating. Or maybe ward protocols differ?

    So much to look into here.

  • Molly

    I am baffled by this post and the comments left here. How on earth can this discussion do anything positive for the victim’s family and relationships between current and former Mormons? The persecution complex does not reflect well on LDS people. This is an outright tragedy and a singular incident, and should be treated as such. Please don’t try to capitalise on Sannar’s death to justify a political cause.

  • Alex

    Mollie’s attempt to link this to Prop 8 reveals the little mind of a true paranoid. Mollie, you should move to Iran, they don’t like gays either, and their president is a psycho paranoid just like you.

    How did I stumble upon this den of ignoramuses?

  • Hellmut

    I appreciate your concerns, Mollie, but associating your political opponents with a murder without any evidence is wrong.

    The murderer is a former Mormon who is mentally ill.

  • Mollie

    Someone who goes by the name ChinoBlanco is blatantly lying about me, asking people to defame me further and sending people to this site to comment.

    Please, folks, this is a site for media criticism. If you have something to say about media coverage of this topic, please do so.

    If you are here to play politics or other games, please go back to ChinoBlanco’s site or somewhere else where that is welcome.

  • Alex

    See comment #19 as proof of the point in comment #17: Mollie is a paranoid.

  • Andrew S.


    GetReligion is a site that *is* about media coverage. As such, talking about what *you* write and implicate in response to such a tragic event that has occurred is saying “something…about media coverage.” If these comments seem to “play politics or other games,” then could it be the case that you have introduced those in your post, and people are protesting that? Maybe you don’t see how your post could sound like just from a few sentences:

    “It’s interesting, though, how some violent attacks are national news and others aren’t.”

    followed with

    “This is a church body that was seriously targeted in the aftermath of California’s Prop. 8 ruling. So it’s just interesting that at no time did this merit much serious coverage. ”

    Why would you even mention Prop 8 to a tragedy that has nothing to do with Prop 8? Considering that it has led to not a minor number of commenters (Rachel re 4) connecting dots that don’t really exist with prop 8.

  • Mollie


    I linked to the lie.

    Andrew S.

    Even if you expect the media to be omniscient of all things, it’s still a newsworthy story.

    But you’re saying that your knowledge gained some period of time AFTER the murder means that the media should not have covered the murder at the time?


  • Jon in the Nati

    Why would you even mention Prop 8 to a tragedy that has nothing to do with Prop 8? Considering that it has led to not a minor number of commenters (Rachel re 4) connecting dots that don’t really exist with prop 8.

    Mollie, I don’t think you are paranoid, or that you are trying to link this murder to Prop 8 so that it reflects poorly on the LDS Church. It wouldn’t do you much good anyhow; the evidence just isn’t there.

    But I too wonder, given the above, why you felt it was necessary to go with the Prop 8 angle where it clearly was not warranted. In all fairness, maybe you could help us out with that?

  • Andrew S.

    re 22:

    I’m saying its newsworthiness is in no way related to Prop 8. If the newsworthiness relates to, “This is a church body that was seriously targeted in the aftermath of California’s Prop. 8 ruling,” (as some reporters connected the Enright stabbing as “Ground Zero Mosque mania,”) then I don’t think such a story is newsworthy on the national level.

    If the media doesn’t have relevant facts, then I think it’s dangerous to try making assumptions in absence of facts. Retractions and updates do not reach as far as original prints.

  • Mollie

    Jon in the Nati,

    No problem — thanks for asking. I was simply talking about media interest. Take the stabbing of the Muslim cab driver. That would be interesting on any day, but in light of the heated argument surrounding the Park51 project, it became MAJOR national news — international news, even. Some news outlets speculated that it was the result of the rhetoric about the mosque.

    Turned out the perpetrator worked for a pro-mosque group and likely has mental illness. But that certainly didn’t stop the media from showing a keen interest in the story and investigating the details that led to finding out that information.

    Now think back to the Prop 8 battle. Following the results, some people blamed the Mormon Church for the win. That is a similar public battle with lots of heated rhetoric. That was my only point.

    It just seemed weird that this never developed major media interest to find out more details.

    And so I just pointed out that it was interesting. Now the fact is that I’d rather see everyone in the media be more careful before jumping to conclusions about motivations of any kind.

    And I think Bob Smietana is right — had this murder happened a year and a half ago, we’d probably have seen very different coverage. And I agree with Dave G. that most folks who commit violence of this nature are mentally disturbed. That doesn’t keep SOME of their stories from becoming major media.

    And so it’s just worth thinking about what makes for major national news and what doesn’t and how that affects our perceptions.

    I also think, however, that the story is still interesting. I’m a pastor’s kid and the fact is that churches reflect the rest of society. Many of us who suffer from mental illness are part of the life of the church, too. Sometimes the mental illness is seriously problematic and can cause problems for the church.

    Anyone who is active in a congregation probably knows what I’m talking about. I think this story — if what the brother says is true — could provide an excellent and timely hook for discussing how churches handle these things.

  • Mollie

    Andrew S.,

    See how this thread provided new information to people? There were people wondering what the deal was with this murder who found out — due to links provided in this conversation — some additional details that clarify some of the discussion. The media should be providing those additional details.

    No one is suggesting that the media report things contrary to the facts — quite the contrary. They should simply report the facts. Talk to people who can provide insight. Find interesting angles. The end. And that is how reporting provides a service to readers.

  • Dave

    I took Mollie’s reference to Prop 8 as a marker that verbal assaults and mild vandalism are covered in the MSM when the subject is a political hot potato, but murder of a member of the same religious community is evidently not newsworthy when there is no political connotation. This is not only reasonable journalism commentary but fits on this site in that one way the press doesn’t get religion is seeing all things religious through a political lens. For GR newcomers, the latter is a frequent flier on this board.

  • mimosa

    I live in southern California, but the incident made our paper. Friends in several parts of the country also hear about it and emailed to ask about it, so I don’t think that it was avoided. It just wasn’t national news. Sorry, but a shooting by one mentally ill man isn’t national news, sadly enough.

    And, it’s irresponsible to suggest that this had anything to do with prop 8. There was never any evidence of that to start with, it was just a conclusion that everyone jumped to, and his own family has said that there is no connection and asked people not to make that connection.

    For those of you who’d like to show your support, here’s a link to donations to trust funds for the children:

  • Andrew S.

    re 25: I guess one question is this: do we WANT our media discourse on religion to focus more on violence committed by the mentally ill — AND THEN to relates such violence back to religion?

    Would you rather have more stories (e.g., report all such murders) or less (e.g., if the purpose is to try to make some statement about religions, then I don’t think these kinds of stories should be promoted)?

    re 26:

    I’d note, however, that the media wouldn’t be an ally in this case. Even in what limited coverage there was at a local level, the media wasn’t the one providing “the deal”. They were certainly providing *a* deal, but this deal was one that laced irrelevant facts (Bishop Sannar happened to donate for Prop 8; hmm?) that ultimately demonized former Mormons, implicated mental illness for former Mormons, implicated prop 8 opponents and so forth. Why is the media unqualified to help in responsible reporting? Because most reporters simply do not have an understanding of the dynamics here (seen in awkward understanding of Mormon church leadership on a local level).

    In this sense, if someone like ChinoBlanco appears to be strident in dispelling certain associations — however unintended — then I can see why he would do that, since when the media steps in, it’s not for facts. It’s for the sensational associations which are seen as an “interesting story.”

  • John Pack Lambert

    I dislike the phrasing of “lay bishop” because the title is bishop, and all bishops in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serve on a non-paid basis. Also the “between services” line is misleading although harder to avoid.

    Since the bishop only presides over his ward, and the next services were a different ward with a different bishop, the bishop was doing post-church meetings. The fact that another ward was about to start services was not connected with him.

    Bishop Sannar evidently donated about $1500 to Prop 8, but since it appears that the killer just wanted to shot a bishop, and Bishop Sannar had the misfortune of being the bishop that this guy chose to shot, this fact does not seem relevant to the case. Whether it is worth noting in news reports I am not sure. What amount of knowledge about a murder victim is important?

  • Jeffrey

    This is not only reasonable journalism commentary but fits on this site in that one way the press doesn’t get religion is seeing all things religious through a political lens.

    But that wasn’t Mollie’s point. She appeared to imply the story as newsworthy exactly because of the political component. The sloppy of insertion of Prop 8 is exactly the opposite of what you are suggesting, Dave, since Mollie felt the murder should be covered and offered the Prop 8 angle/talking point as a rationale no matter how tangential it was.

  • Donna Banta

    I agree that the story is newsworthy, but calling it a hate crime or drawing a connection to Prop. 8 is irresponsible. There’s no evidence of any connection.

  • Mollie

    Guys, stop lying about me. And keep comments focused on media coverage. Thanks.

  • Dave

    Was Mormonism an actual motivating factor in this crime? Or was it just another senseless murder where the victim happened to be a “Mormon church official?”

  • John Pack Lambert

    MattK and Jon in the Natti,
    In the LDS Church there are bishops, they are not refered to as “lay” bishops.

    There is not a difference between “clergy” and “laity” in the LDS Church in any strict sense. In general boys are ordained deacons at age 12. Men to the Melchezidek Presithood and to the office of elder between ages 18 and 20. Ordination to the office of elder occurs before going on a mission. These are conditioned on worthiness and not automatic, but the Church does not have a class of clergy like some reigions.

    The General authorities recieve stipends for their work in the Church. However they have full-time calling. Stipend is a good term considering some of them recieve less as a stipend then they were previously paying in tithing.

    Bishops also tend to serve around five years. There is one bishop in church who is paid, he has the title Presiding Bishop. He is a general authority, under the First Presidency and has two counselors like all other bishops (what I think Jon meant by “assistant bishop).

    I hope this clears up the nature of the office of bishop. I think the paper was trying to merge the naming and describing of Bishop Sannar’s eccesiastical office, which has many results. One of them is that people generally familiar with the LDS Church and Orthodox/Catholic/Angican/Latheran usage mayb have been unsure if Bishop Sannar was a bishop at all.

    This is because “lay bishop” is clearly a term designed to inform those not familiar with the faith. There are enough media reports and the like that say a stake is “like a Diocese in the Catholic Church” that somone may assume that the author was extending it to use the term lay bishop to describe a stake president.

    The other problem is that saying a stake is like a diocese is only in a very general way correct. In some ways the LDS Area is more equivalent to a diocese, at least in size. The Fresno Diocese has about 500,000 Catholics, the Diocese of Orange about 1.1 million Catholics. The LDS North America West Area, which includes most of California and all of Hawaii has just over 800 thousand Mormons. It also has 173 stakes, which means there are less than 6000 Mormons per stake.

    The biggest media takeaway I have on this is that the focus needs to be on using the right terms to describe how the religion itself would speak of the offices and such, and avoiding the attempts to relate it to “generic” religious terms.

    Another case in point was the line “unlike in several religions Mormon bishops only preside over one Church congregation” or something to that effect (it may have said Church). While this is technically true, it ignores the fact there are some Protestant (especially Pentacostal and non-denominational) Churches where the presiding authority in the local congregation is called a bishop (often at Mega-churches).

    The equivalency of LDS bishops and pastors in some other Churches is a workable occasion, espeically since Mormon explanations of the Mormon articles of faith state that bishops are pastors.

  • Bob Smietana

    Mollie didn’t blame Prop 8 for the murder.

    Prop 8 and the backlash against the church, is a reason why this story could deserve more more attention. Again, if this murder had happened during the Prop 8 backlash, it would be huge news.

    Interestingly, the folks at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, where the fire was set, would probably prefer a little less media attention on their new mosque. They’d like to build it it peace and quiet.

  • John Pack Lambert

    On my mission I was assigned to a stake where the stake president (formerly a bishop) hauled trailers for a living, not at all white collar.

    In that same ward one of the counselors to the bishop was a line worker for the power company. I guess the bishop was white collar in that he was an agent for the US Gaming Control board. Close to half of the bishops in my stake are engineers, but this is the Detroit sububrs so that is not too surprising. Another one is a retired military man who does contract work for the military.

    As far as I know no one has done any systematic study on the professions of Mormon bishops to say either what they are or how they relate to the general population of either Church members of the population at large.

  • Jeffrey

    Again, if this murder had happened during the Prop 8 backlash, it would be huge news.

    And would have been irresponsible, like saying McVeigh was a Christian. It would have been a meme-driven story instead of actual journalism.

    While Mollie didn’t blame Prop 8, she was clearly linking a talking point to a crime despite there being no connection. That’s not good journalism, but Mollie seemed to suggest that the story should have gotten more coverage and her mention of Prop 8 suggests it could have been a peg for the story.

  • Chino Blanco

    Again, if this murder had happened during the Prop 8 backlash, it would be huge news.

    And the two things would still be unrelated, Bob.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Mormon men do not have to go on missions. In fact after the reforms of about 2003 by President Gordon B. Hinckley known as “raising the bar” there are many Mormon men do to various physical or emotional illnesses who are not allowed to serve missions. They can still be ordained elders, hold other positions in the Church, including that of bishop, and so on.

    Beyond this while missions are encoraged in general, the Church does not penalize those who do not serve. I have had multiple bishops who were life-long members of the Church who did not serve missions. I my stake currently of the 11 bishops, 3 of them are converts two of whom did not serve missions (although they were married when they joined the Church). Our stake president is also a convert who did not serve a mission, and he was single and in the army in Vietnam when baptized. He could have in theory fulfilled his tour of duty and then went on a mission. He got married while still in the army instead, but was at most 22 at the time.

  • Dave

    The Dave @#35 is not the same Dave as the Dave @#28, but some other Dave.

    Dave (not the other Dave)

  • Joel

    Prop 8 and the backlash against the church, is a reason why this story could deserve more more attention. Again, if this murder had happened during the Prop 8 backlash, it would be huge news.

    I think we’re missing something. Most of the news outlets that did cover this shooting didn’t mention Prop 8 until it was already determined that it had not been a factor. In any other situation, like with the cabbie, there would have been speculation from the outset. This implies a reluctance to risk gay wrath by suggesting a connection.

    I find it sad that nobody has questioned the phrase “shunned to hell.” I’m sure John will correct me if I’m wrong, but I had the impression that Hell didn’t play a very strong part in LDS theology, and I’m fairly sure that no bishop claims the authority to send anyone there. Yet nobody seems to have picked up on that. Would most ex-members be that ill-versed in their former faith?

  • Chino Blanco

    @43: Now you’re tasking us with divining the thoughts of a very sick man? Talk about sad.

  • Jeff


    I am a little late to this discussion, but the comment in your post that “[t]his is a church body that was seriously targeted in the aftermath of California’s Prop. 8 ruling” had no place in a discussion regarding the senseless murder of a Mormon official.

    While the Mormon (LDS) Church was the subject of protests and substantial negative publicity after Proposition 8 passed because the Mormon Church and its members placed such a large role in getting the proposition passed. The protests, however, have long since passed, Propositon 8 has been overturned by a federal district court judge, and the matter is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

    At the time of the shooting there was absolutely no evidence of a connection between the shooting and Proposition 8; the facts that have come out after that have not changed the initial information.

    It is clearly time for the media (and media bloggers) to divorce Proposition 8 and senseless killings of Mormons unless there is actually a connection. In this case, one clearly did not exist.

  • Dave

    Mollie, Jeffrey @#32 and I @#28 differ in interpretation of why your sole mention of Prop 8 was inserted into the post. Would you care to clear this up? Only you can clarify this.

  • Joel

    In this case, one clearly did not exist.

    But at what point did that become clear? Did the shooter leave behind a notarized document swearing that he had no glimmer of Prop 8 in his mind at the time?

    No, there was at some point some question as to his motives, and Prop 8 would not have been a completely ludicrous place to look, given the vitriol that was aimed at Mormons following the election. After the shooter’s motives were examined, it turned out that he was not, in fact, motivated by politics. Only then was the subject even broached.

  • Joel

    Now you’re tasking us with divining the thoughts of a very sick man? Talk about sad.

    Chino, asking about those thoughts is part of what journalists do. Sad we may be, but it’s our living.

    In any case, I’m not talking about divination. I’m talking about a statement that the man made about his experiences as a member of the church, that appear to betray a lack of knowledge about that church’s teaching. Since his motive was eventually “divined” to be anger at that church, it’s a perfectly valid question.

  • Permial Darkling

    Let’s face it, all Religions have martyrs, so this shouldn’t even make the news. I can see the appropriate headlines now “Religious Wacko Offed by another Religious Wacko, news at 11″. It’s all sectarian BS.

  • Chino Blanco

    Joel, I’d welcome a discussion, but comment moderation here appears to be arbitrary. If that can be resolved, I’d be more than glad to engage.

  • Joel

    And the award for most spectacularly missing the point of the whole blog goes to Permial Darkling.

  • Bob Smietana

    And the two things would still be unrelated, Bob

    Hi Chino:

    They are related in that both involve Latter Day Saints in California. That’s why this crime could have gained national attention. And why it would have been huge if it happened during the backlash over Prop 8.

    However, no one is that the Prop 8 backlash caused the murder. Which is why your blog post about Mollie’s comments is in error.

  • Unorthodox Mormon

    this just furthers my personal theory that conspiracy theories are inherent to mormon culture/analytical thought. gadianton robbers FTMFW.

  • Jeff


    You stated:

    No, there was at some point some question as to his motives, and Prop 8 would not have been a completely ludicrous place to look, given the vitriol that was aimed at Mormons following the election.

    However, because this is supposed to be a blog regarding media coverage of religion, let’s focus on the facts. There was simply no evidence of any Proposition 8 connection to the shooting….none whatsover at any time. As such, it is (and was) irrresponsible to try to create a connection out of whole cloth when none existed.

  • Joel

    There was simply no evidence of any Proposition 8 connection to the shooting….none whatsover at any time. As such, it is (and was) irrresponsible to try to create a connection out of whole cloth when none existed.

    Would you say the same about the cabbie who was attacked, that there was no reason to consider the possibility of a connection with the Ground Zero mosque? No, it would be a negligent reporter, willfully so or not, who didn’t at least raise the question. In the same way, threats were made against Mormon bishops following the election, and a couple of years later, a man is shot for being a Mormon bishop. Now, it could well have been that there was no political motive, but there also could have been as well. The reporter apparently didn’t ask.

  • Mollie


    Yes, I just went back and checked. You were likely put into comment moderation back in November 2009 after repeatedly refusing to abide by our commenting policy when asked by TMatt and me. These violations included disparaging people with whom you disagree and failing to keep comments focused on media coverage.

  • Chino Blanco

    Thanks, Mollie. It’s all coming back to me now and I remember the instance you’re referring to. No worries. I’ve long since expunged “wingnut” from my vocabulary and I think we’re good to go. Cheers!

    Moving on, my sense is that this current thread mostly reveals a general lack of familiarity with the local reporting that was, in fact, quite well done (even if it did, to everyone’s apparent chagrin, neglect to focus on speculation regarding the possibility that the tragedy was the result of angry unwed anti-Mormon terrorists).

    Never mind that carried this story for two days.

    More importantly, this is the comment I wanted to leave here from a Facebook friend:

    Last year we had a Baptist minister shot and killed while he was preaching. Did this make the national news? Same situation, the gunman was later killed by police. No real motive other than mental illness. It’s a tragedy when any human being is gunned down in cold blood. It does not always make the national news. I do not think there is any conspiracy.

    In summary, what she said.

  • Jeff


    Given the substantial and ongoing coverage regarding the Group Zero Moslem facility in NYC, it is a fair question to ask if the shooting of a Moslem cabbie was tied into that incident–especially given the tone of coverage on Fox News and other conservative news outlets.

    On the other hand, you are really stretching it to say that because there were protests against the Mormon Church several years in California that somehow a Mormon bishop being shot in California may somehow connect that death to Proposition 8. Nice try but simply no evidence or connection. Last time I checked, reporters are supposed to report the news — not editorialize. The alleged (and false) Proposition 8 connection to the bishop’s dealth was simply not news.

  • Joel

    Jeff, nobody alleged any such connection. The reporter shouldn’t have alleged it at all. He should have considered the possibility that a connection might exist.

    It’s not as distant as you make it sound. The hostility toward the Mormon Church didn’t stop after the election. There was that movie made about the church and its role in the election. There were demonstrations through small towns in central California. There were websites set up to list the names and addresses of donors to the campaign. It’s less intense now, but there is certainly still a good deal of antipathy among gay marriage supporters toward the Mormon Church.

    Moreover, Mormons are not all that thick on the ground in California. It’s not like being Catholic or Baptist. Mormons are a distinct minority. I count four wards in Visalia, which means four bishops in a town of of 126,000.

    So when a Mormon bishop is killed, because of his episcopacy, in one of those same small towns that pro-SSM activists blame for the passage of Prop 8 and that were targeted for demonstrations, it’s hardly a flight of fancy to wonder if the killer had some related grievance against the church. I can tell you that I watched the coverage as it unfolded, and that was one of the first things that occurred to me.

  • kjs


    I’m not sure who it is that alleged the connection to Prop 8. Mollie suggested that it might be an avenue of inquiry, had the press treated the murder of this Mormon bishop the way they treated the attack on the Muslim cabdriver. The fact is that Prop 8 is still regularly in the news; we just had Judge Walker rule a month ago that the CA constitutional admendment brought about by Prop 8 is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The recent protests in Sacramento are also tied, in part, to the ongoing saga over Prop 8. (Besides which, it hasn’t been “several years” – it’s been less than 2 years since it was passed.)

    Mollie said nothing unfair or paranoid. The media coverage has been unbalanced. If it is fair to ask whether the incident in NYC was motivated by rhetoric against the Park51 project, it is fair to ask whether this incident in Visalia, CA was motivate by rhetoric against the LDS Church.

  • Blake Devoe

    I’ve dealt with ChinoBlanco many times Mollie. Its good ol Jason Echols living in Taiwan. Who knows what his real name really is. He’s going to hide and put his tail between his legs. All he has is his keyboard. Pay no attention to that hater. Thats all he’s about. He’ll bring his gay brigade of friends on over and do what they do best, hate. He’s like a mini Perez Hilton, without the fame. Thats all they got now. Its just the No on 8 crowd being their same ol hypocritical selves. ChinoBlanco is nothing but a spam man as well. Thats his life. Spamming to the fullest. He’s pretty cool, isn’t he ? I mean, like him, you don’t have better things to do with your life, right ?

  • Jeff


    Actually, Joel, as a resident of a relatively small Central California town (population 80,000), there were clearly more “Yes on 8″ supporters than “No on 8″ supporters in this community–and clearly more Mormons than open gay and lesbians. Many prominent citizens of this community contributed to the “Yes on 8″ campaign and there were substantially more “Yes on 8″ signs around town then “No on 8″.

    As far as whether gays and lesbians in California are huge supporters of the Mormon Church after the church’s massive support of Prop 8 helped ensure its passage, it would be a fair to say that the Mormon Church will need to look elsewhere for strong support.

    You are definitely, however, taking your analysis too far. The fact that there were protests against the Mormon Church’s support of Proposition 8 does not equate with any act of physical violence against a member of the Mormon Church….and I am not aware of any documented incident in connection with Proposition 8 and the protests that followed.

    You will need to look elsewhere for your villians.

  • Velikiye Kniaz

    RE: #16

    Hi Mollie,

    With regard to the term “resigned his membership”, it isn’t quite so complex as you may have been led to believe. For several years now the process has been relatively simple; the member writes a letter to Church Headquarters and asks that his/her name be removed from the records of the Church. Now if the person has been “inactive’ for say, over a year, they might receive a call from their Bishop who then might ask them to come in and discuss the request with him. (Mormons have a reputation of taking care of each other and this is just another manifestation of this interest and concern.) After the discussion, if the Bishop feels that the desire of the member is adamant in their request, the request is passed on to Church Headquarters and the name is removed.
    It is true that in some areas of the Church some Bishops are very reticent to acquiesce and may ask the member to meet with him or other Church leadership repeatedly, but as I understand it, this is not what the relevant Church directive(s) state(s).
    In my experience, I have known of Church members who haven’t attended their meetings nor participated in Church activities for many years, but when asked if they want their names removed from Church records they are very incensed and emphatically state they they want their names to remain on the records. When then asked if they will now start to attend their meetings again they demurely state, “Not until I’m ready.”
    As to the matter of “shunning”, Latter-day Saints have been specifically instructed that former members are to treated with the same warmth and kindness that they enjoyed as members. They can worship in their ‘former’ ward (parish) and the only restrictions placed upon them is that they not partake of the Sacrament, (Communion, Eucharist), and that they cannot speak or pray from the speakers stand. This should be a ‘no brainer’ since they chose to be separated from the Church it would be highly inappropriate to subject the whole congregation to a potential diatribe or prayers requesting the destruction of the Church and/or it’s leadership and people. That said, people are people, and sadly enough not all LDS follow this instruction and might treat some of those separated from us poorly. This counsel as to the treatment of former members refers to both those excommunicated and those who freely choose to have their names removed from Church records.
    Of all of the news accounts that I have read regarding this tragic incident, none have even implied that the shooter had any ulterior motive linked to the Prop 8 controversy. I certainly don’t believe the the assailant whould have a clue as to how much, if any, the Bishop contributed to the Prop 8 campaign.
    I did read that the shooter was suffering from schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder. I have been the primary caregiver for a paranoid schizophenic man for the past quarter century. He not only suffers from paranoia, but has auditory and visual hallucinations. Fortunately, for me, he is not violent towards others. I can readily understand how such a sufferer could project sinister motives on an innocent person. One needs only to recall the incident of the Chinese tourist who attacked his fellow travellers on a cross country bus. He killed at least one, injured several and resorted to cannibalism. Schizophrenia is a horrific mental illness which we still barely understand.
    Bishop Sannar of Visalia was 40 years old, happily married, and the father of six children. The assailant was also a young man who should have had help for his mentally illness and emotional problems long before this horiffic incident occurred, because he had a good part of his mortal life in front of him. They and their families are the real victims in this senseless tragedy. Yet from the Mormon perspective, God will not judge him a murderer, insofar as his illness overrode his reason. Bishop Sannar’s wife has even stated from her late husband’s speakers stand that she has forgiven this unfortunate man.
    Oh, one last thing, Bishops, their counselors, the Stake (diocese) President, his counselors, the relief Society President, her counselors and many, many others serve without pay. Only the General Authorities of the Church who serve full time, (and folks, we’re talking about a lot more than a mere 40 hours per week here), receive a financial stipend according to their needs. (i.e. number of dependent children, etc.) And while I don’t know all of them, those that I have known, haven’t become millionaires, (or anything close to it), in their Church service. Their standard of living might be generally described as ‘upper middle class’.
    Sorry, for the length of this comment, but I wanted to get these things straightened out for the edification of those who are unacquainted with “Mormon” ways.

  • Mark Shelby

    Just a clarification: The case of the Muslim cabbie who was attacked by the New York University student was treated as a hate crime by police from the outset because, according to the police reports, the perpetrator shouted anti-Muslim remarks while he attacked the victim. The crime is still being treated as a hate crime by prosecutors.

    (Incidentally, I’m new here, is comment #61 in keeping with the rules of this forum?)

  • Keep Sweet

    Used to be the meme was “the Jews control the media.” Now I guess, for people like Mollie, it’s become “the Mormon-hating gays control the media.” I guess that’s progress?

    Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, Molly is also ignorant of Mormonism. Here’s some basics. The LDs bishop is not like Christian bishop. He is a lay person who sets and collects the tithe and provides “temple recommends” that allow a member to visit the Temple. As such, he knows everybody’s financial and personal secrets. No surprise if a Mormon bishop is killed by a former member of his Ward, I’m only surprise it doesn’t happen more often.

    So Mollie, be aware that your hatred of gays and conspiracy=theory delusions are transparent to the world. And to repeat: Used to be the meme was “the Jews control the media.” Now I guess, for people like Mollie, it’s become “the Mormon-hating gays control the media.” I guess that’s progress?

  • Dave G.

    It would appear the original question still stands. Why is the coverage so sparse here, versus other crimes of a similar nature? Not just of the crime itself, but with all the other extras that go with these stories. We are told that the crime was probably due to a falling out with the church over personal issues and mental illness. But we know the killer of an abortion provider a year or so ago also involved mental illness. yet the media treated us, for many weeks, to stories about the pro-life movement, to questions about the role that right wing media may have played, to discussions about conservative religious activists and their influence. Why not this? Sure, it seems beyond a stretch to say it was in the name of prop 8. I’m not sure where that came from. But would it be a stretch, based on other media treatments of violence against gays or against religious minorities, for the media to discuss the sudden outburst of anger against the Mormons post-prop 8? Dare I say, even hatred against the Mormon church post-prop 8? After all, Mormons and Nazis started sounding a lot alike if some of the rhetoric was believed. Wouldn’t it be fair for the media to discuss this in light of the heightened passions and the condemnations of Mormons? Since that appears to be a favorite approach when certain crimes happen to certain people, why not this time? That’s the question.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Resigning your membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not complexed. The claim that it is is an anti-Mormon one to try and advance their claim that the Church mis-counts membership.

    Beyond this the “shunned to hell” line makes no sense, has no reference to anything the Mormon Church does, and actually explains far less than it illuminates.

    It is actually easier to leave the LDS Church than to join, because there are certain things you have to do to join, whereas you only have to ask to leave. Of course, you do have to formally ask in writting, and that is more than some people can bother with, but it is not difficult and even less is it complexed.

  • John Pack Lambert

    The Prop 8 angle is no more unwarranted here than the Park 51 angle was in the stabbing of the New York cabby.

    There was no mention of Park 51 in that context.

    On the other hand, just a few months ago there were attempts to remove Lorenzo Hoopes from his office as a member of a community organization advisory coulcil in Oakland because he contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign. There were about 8 arsons of LDS Chapels in metro-Sacremento in the wake of Prop 8.

    Non-Mormons from Utah have had people refuse to do business with them within the last few months on the grounds that the person refusing is boycotting Utah because California Mormons were the largest by state religious block contributors to the Prop 8 campaign (well maybe, we can prove very little of the Yes on 8 money came from outside California, the inside religion of contributors is open for discussion).

    Anyway, Sannar was a contributor to Yes on 8. With current LDS on-line software it would be possible to learn the name of the local bishop. Thus, if someone was going down the list they could have from home identified Sannar as the bishop, and on coming in could have asked for him.

    From a media coverage standpoint, the fact that later revelations seem to suggest this was not the case is not important.

    There was never anything in the New York cabi stabbing that suggested a connection with Park 51.

    With the 9th Circuit having recently imposed an injunction against Judge Walker’s anti-prop-8 ruling that issue is fairly fresh in peoples minds, and the notion of some psycho going balistic on the matter is not inconceivable.

    Considering that people think there is a moral equivalence between the killing of homosexuals in the middle east and the not redefining marriage to be a genderless institution in California, especially considering the LDS Church specifically endorsed the Salt Lake City fair-housing and fair-employment law that prevents firing for sexual-orientation, it is clear that the lack of understanding is on the part of the raving-mad anti-8ers.

    In the immediate aftermath of Prop 8 being passed there were individuals who called for the bombing of Mormon Temples in California. There is a rhetoric of hate against Mormons calling for specific violent acts.

    Why is it acceptable to impose such background on a story about a throat-cutting in NYC (the Park51 debate) but not on a murder of a Mormon in California? Especially since Fresno is where a recently naturalized immigrant from Mexico was beat up as he tried to distribute yes on 8 signs?

  • John Pack Lambert

    The worst comment I remember from CNN was “this proves religion causes violence. We will not have peace until we get rid of all religion”.

    To me it illustrates that there are some people who will try to fit any narrative, no matter how little it relates to their world-view, into a box where it supports their world-view.

    Would this guy also claim that the Catholic priests slaughtered by Soviet authorities prove we need no religion to have peace?

  • John Pack Lambert

    The guy hated the Mormon Church. Based on his mental instability, I doubt he had very much of a good reason. My best guess is in the late 1980s his bishop or ward was less friendly to him than he thought they should be.

    This may have been a real distance, due to the fact that he was hard to get along with. On the other hand, it is almost more likely that he just wanted more attention than was reasonable.

    The guy came to the building intending to kill the bishop. He had that as his goal. The victim did not just “happen to be a Mormon Church official”, he was killed specifically because he was a bishop.

    Some have called the interchange between the killer and the police “suicide by cop”. However, based on his 911 call as well as his earlier interchange in about 2004 where he threatened to kill a Mormon leader (it was not clear if it was a general or specific threat) and then take down a bunch of cops resonding, it seems this guy really thought he could gun down multiple cops responding to him.

    He may have used a false name when calling 911 because he was afraid his real name would cause them to relaize that he was a powerful fighter (he appears to have been a megalomanic, who not only thought he was a powerful fighter but convinced every police department in at least central California knew this) and send more police then he could deal with, so he used a false name to make sure it was only 4 or five police, which a man with his skills obviously could take down.

    I also remember at times on the Visalia paper there were multiple links to the HuffPo article on the killer.

    This leads to another point. How do you balance accuracy with informing in a breaking news story?

    An early article said local members said the killer was not “a current or former member of the Church”. When I read that I said “how do they know” and then “that is neither what they said nor what they meant”.

    It was even unclear if the Visalia paper meant of the LDS Church as a whole, or of the ward that Bishop Sannar was bishop of. Since the killer lived in Modesto, and there are multiple stakes between Modesto and Visalia (at least four in Fresno alone), this seemed a strange statement to include if it meant the local Church. Of course, if you do not understnad the fact that Mormon wards have boundaries that in general are observed, it may not seem as odd.

    So I took the statement to mean that these people were saying the killer was not a Mormon and had not been. I would not be albe to say that about anyone. What I could say definitively was that I had not seen someone at my ward in the past, and since wards generally have at most 250 people who show up on any given Sunday, and in wards that large most are in family units and your number of people who show up even once a year is generally under 300 (even these numbers are for largish wards, many are smaller) I could say this with some confidence.

    However, there is a limiting condition. It is that this only would apply since the person asked had been in the ward. The media report gave no indication how long those asked had been in the ward, and with the combination of baptisms, migration and ward boundary changes it might not be that large.

    Also, some wards have such high turn-overs due to being by universities or by hospitals and having a general flow of medical residents coming in and then moving elsewhere, that confidence on saying who has been in the ward in the past does not last long.

    Later reports seem to suggest that the killer did attend a ward that met at that building in 1988. It if where he lived then would be attending the same building today. While serving as a missionary in Las Vegas I was never assigned to a ward that had a boundary change while I was assigned to it (a few were only a few months past boundary changes or less than a year old) but I was assigned to two different wards that moved into new Church buildings while I was in them.

    22 years is a long-time to remember someone anyway, and so even if Bishop Sannar’s ward covered where the killer lived in 1988 and there was someone who had been an active member of the ward back then who was still in the ward today, whether they would recognize the killer (especially when at first he had been identified by a false name) is hard to say. I would not venture to say definitively anyone was not in my ward in 1988, but I was only 7 then.

  • John Pack Lambert

    You are correct on your observations about Mormon views on Hell.

    Actually, when I first read the phrase I thought it was the brother saying that the killer was heavily shunned.

    This is because despite the claims of some who dislike the Mormon Church, the Church does not encorage or practice shunning, and there is no official anything that is called “shunning”.

    However, the comment is from a brother who has not made his own connection with the Mormon Church clear. Since the killer claimed he could kill multiple police and warned the police about how coming to meet him would be bad for them, he does not seem to have had a grasp of reality, so his failure to use proper theological terms is not surprising.

    On the other hand, thinking about it the phrase was in what a journalist attributed the brother as saying the killer had claimed. We did not get an incontext quote from the brother, so this phrase may be one the reporter got the brother to use to describe something he initially said in another way.

  • John Pack Lambert

    You are trying to spin the burning of chapels in Sacrament, the vandalizing of the outer gates of the Los Angeles Temple lot, and the sending of white powder meant to be suspected as anthrax into “peaceful protest”.

    Also, you totally fail to deal with the public calls for the bombing of LDS Temples. Then there was the Bash back vandalism connected with the communique “the Mormon Church has two choices, disolve or be destroyed”. That was vandalism done in Olympia, Washington by an anarchist group that since it rejects the existence of government has no logical reason to support government action in any way or really even care what the government does.

    By ignoring the extremities of the hate you are trying to deny the fact that it continues to a point of making killings believable.

    The fact that people were boycotted out of their jobs for their private political contributions is very disturbing. They had their jobs taken because of things they did which in no way related to their jobs.

    Boycotting a business to get it to change policy is one thing, although I do not usually support it, boycotting a business to get it to fire someone is disturbing. It harkens back to KKK and Nazi methods. Both of those organizations had a record of boycotting for a fire.

    In fact there have been calls to boycott the Twilight Movies because they are based on books written by a Mormon, boycott Marriott because a significant share-holder is a Mormon and boycott the Sundance film festival because it is in Utah. The last one especially demonstrates that the anti-pro-8 people do not understand who their friends are. Well, so did shouting racist comments at blacks in the anti-prop-8 raillies, but that is another story.

    The spin machines have been working over-time for the past two years to hide the crimes of the anti-prop-8ers, but at times their snideness gets the best of them and they undermine their own system.

  • Jennifer

    John Pack Lambert:

    Your objectively is questionable — at best — based upon your reference to “the raving-mad anti-8ers.

    Does opposing discrimination make a person “raving mad”? I think not.

  • John Pack Lambert

    you are right. It is disturbing that someone feels that Bishop Sannar can in anyway be compared with his murderer.

    In some ways the people who expressed equally sympathy for Bishop Sannar’s family and the family of his murderer also disturbed me. I guess his family may deserve some sympathy, but after I learned it was his grandfathers gun that was used, I also had to wonder how much they deserve.

    Based on how truly disturbed he seems to be giving his family members sympathy when they did not prevent him from using a gun seems like going easy on the man who kills his parents and pleads for leniancy as an orphan.

  • Mollie


    Keep comments focused on journalism, on media coverage. And leave the commentary for other blogs.


  • John Pack Lambert

    There was also no evidence of a Park 51 connection to the New York cabbi stabbing, but that did not prevent people from bringing it up.

    In fact, the stabbed cabbi opposes Park 51, while Bishop Sannar donated over $1000 to Prop 8. Considering he was a general manager of the family fertilizer firm, this was probably not an overwheliming amount of money.

    However, there was a way to establish a real connection to Prop 8, which never existed and was actually proactively ruled out in the case of the cabbi stabbing.

    We can not definitevely say that before he pulled the gun, the killer of Bishop Sannar had not said “this is for your donating to Prop 8″. It is unlikely, and not sayable, but since both the killer and killed are dead, and some of the conversation occured inside the bishop’s office with no-one else present, it can not be definatively denied.

    The cabbi never claimed that there was any mention of Park 51, yet newspapers all over ran a denunciation of the Park 51 angle.

    If the self-styled “unorthodox Mormon” thinks Mormons have a persecution complex, I would have to know what he thinks Muslims have.

  • John Pack Lambert

    You bring up a good point about the movie attacking The LDS Church over Prop 8. I had managed to suppress knowledge of that from my active memory.

    In a lot of ways it was not until after the election that the real attacks on the LDS Church began. There was the hateful add just before the attack which falsely implied that LDS missionaries were in any way involved in supporting Prop 8 (political involvement on the part of missionaries is strictly forbidden).

    I still laugh at the claim that NOM is a Mormon front organization, which was actually the main claim in the complaint against Mormon Church involvement in the Prop 8 battle with the Caluifornia elections commission. The fact that all they could site the Church for was not complying with their anti-speech, anti-first admendment requirement for daily reporting of campaign contributions, including ones that do not involve giving money to outside groups, during the last week or two (I do not even remember which) of a campaign shows that the NOM claim was total rubbish.

    Of course anyone who thought that it showed that NOM was a Mormon front because one of its 10 board members was the son of a Mormon apostle really is cluless. The current Twleve apostles have over 30 children (2 of them have ten apiece, the others have not so many children). I guess Matthew Holland was also a professor at BYU. However to act as if all apointments of BYU professors make organizations official Mormon fronts would lead to the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Phi Alpha Theta and hundreds of other organizations being Mormon fronts. The thought is so ludicrous that the sad thing is that some people have run with it and I have to actually spend time pointing out that the claim that NOM is a Mormon front group is totally bogus. A regular newspaper in Iowa ran a story with this as its basis of dealing with NOM. They did not even bother explaining how they knew NOM was a Mormon front, they started with that as an assumed fact and went from there.

  • John Pack Lambert

    You fall into the fallacy of confusing the Church and its members. Individual Mormons gave massive amounts of support to Prop-8. The Church as an institution gave very little, and gave no money to the Yes on 8 organization.

    The Church did create its own pro-prop-8 website. It also provided some logistical aid to the Yes on 8 campaign.

    However, the claim that Mormons “syphoned their tax-exempted money into the Yes on 8 campaign” is a total lie. The money that was going into the Yes on 8 campaign was subjected to taxes (unlike the $million+ the Teachers Union gave to the no on 8 campaign).

  • John Pack Lambert

    Many general authorities probably live more on their investment income from before being General Authorities than on stipends.

    In his book on the Hoffman case, Victims, Richard E. Turley Jr., describes how Hugh Pinnock had his financial reserves wiped out by fulfilling a debt he felt morally and ethically obligated to pay but legally did not have to, and how this left him reliant only on his stipend as a general authority and thus not much.

    In the 1920s the McCune family donated their mansion to the LDS Church to use as the official residence of the President of the Church. Heber J. Grant just could not stomach living in such an ornate palce, so he had it turned into a music school instead.

  • John Pack Lambert

    Keep Sweet,
    Your very name is an anti-Mormon smear attempting to confuse Mormons with the FLDS.

    Your general claims about the bishop’s function, and your refusal to accept The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a christian body are interesting.

    For the purposes of journalism you main claim is mainly off base because the killer had never had Bishop Sannar as his bishop. The biggest thing you do not admit about Latter-day Saint bishops is they in general serve for about five years. More importantly, Bishop Sannar only became the bishop a few months ago. The killer had never before met Bishop Sannar and his shooting was not aimed at Bishop Sannar for who he was but at Bishop Sannar for what his position was.

    This was a killing of someone because he was a Mormon Bishop.

  • John Pack Lambert

    If a Catholic priest was killed because he was a Catholic priest would it be news worthy?

    The analogy is a fairly good one, although it is probably limited. In general Catholic priests preside over more people than Mormon bishops, but it is the best general analogy I can come up with.

  • hank rearden


    Based on the fact that the journalism uncovered nothing pointing to the Prop 8 issue, it does seem not just a little speculative on your part to have brought this up. Is not your commentary that goes beyond the journalism on this story exactly what you’re asking everyone else not to engage in?

    Please clarify. I’m pretty sure I’m missing something.


  • Mollie

    hank rearden,

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re missing something, too. You and a bunch of other folks sent over by ChinoBlanco who don’t seem to get what the purpose of this blog is, what I actually wrote (rather than what you imagine I wrote) or any other number of things.

    Unfortunately the best I can do is suggest you reread my piece and learn a bit about what we do here at GetReligion.