“Have you donated money or time to the Morman church?” #campaignchronicles

“Have you donated money or time to the Morman church?” #campaignchronicles March 13, 2013

I will write a number of posts about anti-Mormon sentiment from the left and other Democrats that I experienced while on the campaign trail. (I will be writing about anti-Democrat sentiment from conservative Mormons as well).

During my Congressional campaign I sent out fundraising emails on a regular basis. Here is a response I got to a message I sent out last June:

Dear Chris —
Thanks for including me on your emailing list.
Before making decisions regarding your candidacy, I need answers to a couple of questions that are important to me.
1. What are your positions on same-sex marriage in general and on DOMA specifically; and,
2. Have you donated money or time to the Morman church?
I look forward to your reply.
Many thanks,


No, his name is not George. I have decided to not use his real name in order to focus on the issue rather have this be an attack on the specific person.

I must say that I was pretty thrown off by this message. I somewhat expected to get something like it at some point, but when it actually showed up in my inbox it shock me up a bit.

Once I settled down, I was ready to play this game.

LDS Tabernacle in Afton, WY.

I responded:


Thanks for the questions.

1. I agree with the conservative political theorist and journalist Andrew Sullivan on the issue of gay marriage. If people want to enter committed legal marriages, such marriage are good for the couple in a question and the community as a whole. So, I favor the legalization of gay marriage.

As for DOMA, I think it is a mess. Article iV of the Constitution states that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”

By precedent, we have treated marriage laws as applying to this section of Article IV. For Congress to say that both the federal government and other states can opt-out of recognizing certain records is in tension with Article IV. In addition, targeting gay couples and gay relationships specifically violates the 14th amendment.

2. I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints. The Mormons! I have donated 10 percent of my income in tithing for most of my life. We also try to donate what we can to Church funds that go to service organization and the needy. I served two years as a full-time missionary. I worked with the Vietnamese-speaking community of Orange County, CA. I have since served many years as a Sunday School I have also spent a number of years in leadership roles with the local men’s service group.

Yes, I have donated time and money to the Mormon Church.

Chris Henrichsen

I am leaving in my typos and those of George.

George responded later that same afternoon:

Chris —

Many thanks for your timely reply. I am truly impressed that you would quickly take the time to provide such in-depth and thoughtful answers to my perhaps impertinent questions.

As you must have guessed, I believe the ability to marry whom one loves, regardless of gender, is a basic civil right that must accrue to every American. It is gratifying that you agree with this.

What I need to consider now is whether your apparently sincere assertion of support for legalization of gay marriage should trump your significant funding of the organization that was dispositive of the outcome of the Prop 8 election in California — an initiative that prohibited recognition of gay marriage.

At least in my world, it is difficult to support someone whose church outranks his principles. I don’t know.

Many thanks, again, for your honest reply.



My response to George:

“At least in my world, it is difficult to support someone whose church outranks his principles. I don’t know.”

Sigh. I have instructed my staff to remove you from my email list. I invite you to instead vote for Cynthia Lummis.

I never heard back from George. Though I did hear from a county party official in his county that he was pretty upset when I told him to vote for Cynthia Lummis. Trust me, the responses went through many drafts from a short “Go to “…to…well….you know.

Surely my response was not the most kind or prudent.

Thing is, I was not expecting to win the election. The hope had been to establish a foundation for future runs (that has changed and I will address that at length later).

However, I was not going to have my integrity challenged. Especially on this issue. During the campaign, I met with numerous gay rights groups. They were some of my favorite groups to meet with. I publicly stated my support for gay rights and gay marriage in many venues.

I was also insulted that George felt he needed to inform me about Prop.8. I remembered Prop. 8 all too well. It was a painful episode for me.

Maybe I could have shared my experiences with Prop. 8.

Maybe I could have shared some of my philosophical musings on homosexuality.

Instead, I decided that my initial response to George was sufficient. If he doubted my integrity…well…Cynthia Lummis could have his vote.


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