The people at MormonsForMarriage.com have been doing an amazing job of providing documentation for the Mormon referenced content of the film 8: The Mormon Proposition. Many of the links take you to the very detailed writings of Connell O’Donovan.
You will find all this information very beneficial as you share the documentary with active Mormons.
Here are a couple of their post:
Folks watching 8:The Mormon Proposition for the first time this week have been coming up with questions and concerns about the movie’s claims. Here’s a little bit of fact checking and contextualization for those of you looking for it.
Satellite Broadcast Training
Reed Cowan begins this movie with clips from a satellite broadcast which originally aired October 8, 2008 from Salt Lake City to every stake center in California. He uses a (probably) surreptitious audio recording of the broadcast, so the audio is not great. It is accurate, however, and the text is subtitled for ease of viewing. A transcript of the whole meeting can be found here. The video for these clips is based on the short video clips once publicly available from the church’s website, www.lds.org and www.preservingmarriage.org. Since the officially available video clips did not include much of what Cowan used in his movie, he elected to use clips of the video, edited to obscure the details, as background for the audio quotes he wanted to include. The visual effect is a bit ominous.
“Secret” Documents and Hawaii
A good portion of the early part of the movie includes references to LDS Church documents received by Fred Karger. The documents are correspondence between Elder Loren C. Dunn and several other LDS General Authorities. Elder Dunn served in the LDS Area Presidency for the North America Northwest Area, which included California and Hawaii in the mid-1990s when the LDS Church involved itself in Hawaii’s same-sex marriage struggles. Church involvement in this campaign has been documented here and in The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power by historian D. Michael Quinn. Karger’s documents expand on what was already known and provide even more depth and details of the Church’s Public Affairs Committee actions. Documents cited in the movie include the documents here.
Mormon Financial Contributions
Karger suggests that individual Mormons donated 70% of the money contributed to the Protect Marriage coalition. [Other sites here and here don’t attribute quite that much to LDS donors, but neither do they say their information is complete or exhaustive. Karger hints that some of those he identified as being LDS were people who (a) contributed to Mormon Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and (b) sent in large sums of money to the Protect Marriage coalition after the First Presidency letter was read in Sacrament Meetings across California at the end of June, 2008. Notations about BYU attendance were also likely indications that donors were Mormon as well. And, in reality, Mormons are not particularly quiet about their religious affiliations online – they talk about wards and stakes and Relief Society and FHE and home teaching/visiting teaching and callings on a regular basis, so it’s not too hard to identify them.
Total donation information can be found at the California Secretary of State’s page, and Mormonsfor8.com includes a breakdown of donations by state, indicating that the majority of donations came from California residents.
There were special PO Boxes for receiving LDS donation forms to the Protect Marriage coalition. Forms from the general public were sent to P.O. Box 162657, Sacramento, CA and those from LDS members were sent to P.O. Box 819, Placentia, CA. Assessments were made for stakes, as had been done in Hawaii and previously in California during Prop 22. Individual members were contacted with suggested donations as was done in this blog post.
Certainly the Church knows how much its members gave, and if the media reports were way over the top and completely inaccurate, the Church could certainly provide correct numbers. Thus far, it has not.
Church Discipline and Excommunications
While it’s possible that one or two members may have been directly threatened with church discipline as strict as formal excommunication or loss of salvation when they were asked to donate, the vast majority of potential member donors did not receive overt, explicit pressure like that. Many were told that donations to support Proposition 8 should be given the same importance as tithing (which is necessary to pay in order for a member to be worthy to enter the temple). Many were told that supporting Proposition 8 was the same thing as supporting the prophet (implying that non-support of the initiative was the same as non-support of the prophet).
More than a few members were subject so some form of ecclesiastical pressure regarding their involvement (or lack thereof) in the campaign. Several had temple recommends revoked and others were unable to get renewed recommends. Others were released from callings within the church, and others were asked to stop speaking out against the proposition if they wanted to continue to serve in callings. Some members resigned from callings on their own, or turned down callings, citing their lack of support for the Church’s actions during the campaign.
There is no doubt that members were given a not-so-subtle message that supporting Proposition 8 was a righteous, obedient and holy thing they needed to do as good members of the Church. As ecclesiastical leaders hold the ability to judge whether their adherents are worthy of eternal salvation or not, those leaders must be very, very careful what they ask of their followers. When using this lever to move the Saints, Church leaders need not exert much effort at all before members are enthusiastically picking up the banner and moving forward with gusto.
National Organization for Marriage
Karger suggests that the National Organization for Marriage is a Mormon-instigated and/or controlled “front group” to fight SSM across the nation, much like Hawaii’s Future Today or Save Traditional Marriage-’98 were when they were created in Hawaii. Certainly, Matthew Holland is LDS and was one of the early founders of the group. It’s also no secret that Mormon author Orson Scott Card is now serving as Holland’s replacement on the NOM Board. The jury is still out on the details of Mormon involvement in NOM, but it’s clear that Proposition 8 would not have gotten onto California’s ballot without NOM’s involvement.
Electroshock Therapy at BYU
The film discusses electroshock therapy at BYU a couple of decades ago, and a more complete account may be found here.
Gay Suicides and Stuart Matis
Stuart Matis committed suicide at an LDS church building in Los Altos, California, in March 2000, just before Californians voted on Proposition 22, the predecessor to Prop 8. Information about his suicide has been discussed here and here.
In a couple more days, we’ll examine some more things like accounts about:
—Training members to be election volunteers walking precincts, supervising efforts in every ZIP code
—Political Tactics/fearmongering arguments/6 Consequences
—LDS Church official reporting of Non-monetary contributions and fines assessed
—Homelessness/Rejection of Gay Youth
—Quotes by church leaders about homosexuality cited in the film
About half way through 8:The Mormon Proposition, a handful of quotes attributed to Mormon church leaders fade on to and off of the screen. Were the quotes accurate? Were they taken in context? Were they recent or ancient? You decide. There are a couple of quotes missing, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging while I found time to grab the info on them:
“How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. The only way is… for the Lord to wipe them out.” – George Q. Cannon, Mormon Apostle
George Quayle Cannon was the First Counselor in the First Presidency when he uttered those words at the October 1897 General Conference. The background for the whole quote included below describing how “a man” in England was known to be author Oscar Wilde can be found at this link which is a revised and expanded version of an article written by Connell O’Donovan, “‘The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’: A Brief History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980”, Brent Corcoran (ed.), Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), pp. 144-5
“In England a short time ago a man [Oscar Wilde] who had posed in society as a man of culture and of taste, and who lectured upon esthetics, was found to be guilty of a most abominable crime – a crime for which under the old law the penalty was death; a crime which was practiced by the nations of old, and caused God to command their destruction and extirpation. This crime was proved against this man, and some of his associates were what are called noblemen. He was sent to prison. His term of imprisonment having expired, he comes from prison, and is now engaged, it is so published, in writing a book, and, we suppose is received into society, though guilty of this nameless crime. And is this common; If we may believe that which is told to us, without going into researches ourselves, it and other kindred wickedness, is far too common. The same sin that caused the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! This and other abominable crimes are being practiced. How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. Why, if a little nest of them were left that were guilty of these things, they would soon corrupt others, as some are being corrupted among us. In coming to these mountains we hoped to find a place where we could live secluded from the abominations of Babylon. But here in this secluded place wickedness intrudes itself, and is practiced in this land which we have dedicated to the Lord as a land of Zion! How can this be stopped? Not while those who have knowledge of these filthy crimes exist. The only way, according to all that I can understand as the word of God, is for the Lord to wipe them out, that there will be none left to perpetuate the knowledge of these dreadful practices among the children of men. And God will do it, as sure as He has spoken by the mouths of His prophets. He will destroy the wicked, and those who will be left will be like the Nephites after the wicked were all killed off; they were righteous men and women who lived for over two hundred years according to the law of heaven.” [emphasis O’Donovan’s]
“Homosexuality is an ugly sin. Repugnant, like adultery and incest and beastiality (sic), they carry the death penalty under mosaic (sic) law.” – Spencer W. Kimball, Mormon prophet
This quote is from the oft-cited book, Miracle of Forgiveness written by Spencer W. Kimball in 1969 before he was the President of the Church. As he was an apostle at the time, however, church members sustained and viewed him as a “prophet, seer and revelator.” Although it is now more than 40 years old, it continues to be used and quoted from in Church materials and lesson manuals, although much of the harshest language has been toned down or not referred to. Edward Kimball, son and biographer of Spencer Kimball, was interviewed in a podcast in March 2010 and discussed the realization that, “We achieve more by a soft word rather than we do by the harsh.”
The full quote in context is from Chapter 6, Crime Against Nature. (Other “ugly sins” in the book include fornication, (unwed) pregnancy and abortion.)
Homosexuality is an ugly sin, repugnant to those who find no temptation in it, as well as to many past offenders who are seeking a way out of its clutches. It is embarrassing and unpleasant as a subject for discussion but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved in it, it is discussed in this chapter.
This perversion is defined as “sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex,” whether men or women. It is a sin of the ages. It was present in Israel’s wandering days as well as after and before. It was tolerated by the Greeks. It was prevalent in decaying Rome. The ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are symbols of wretched wickedness more especially related to this perversion, as the incident of Lot’s visitors indicates. (See Gen. 19:5.) So degenerate had Sodom become that not ten righteous people could be found (see Gen. 18:23-32), and the Lord had to destroy it. But the revolting practice has persisted. As far back as Henry the Eighth this vice was referred to as “the abominable and detestable crime against nature.” Some of our own statutes have followed that apt and descriptive wording.
Sin in sex practices tends to have a “snowballing” effect. As the restraints fall away, Satan incites the carnal man to ever-deepening degeneracy in his search for excitement until in many instances he is lost to any former considerations of decency. Thus it is that through the ages, perhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk even to seeking sexual satisfactions with animals.
Unnatural and Wrong
All such deviations from normal, proper heterosexual relationships are not merely unnatural but wrong in the sight of God. Like adultery, incest, and bestiality they carried the death penalty under the Mosaic law. (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp 77-78).
Homosexual abominations are fast becoming the way of life among the wicked ungodly. – Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Apostle
Elder McConkie said these words in the October, 1980 General Conference (as reported in the November 1980 Ensign, p. 50). He is perhaps most well-known for writing the now-out-of-print book, Mormon Doctrine. Until recently nearly every manual and study guide in the Church had at least one quote from that book, despite the fact that it is was not every an official study guide created by a unanimous vote of Church leaders.
We live in a day of evil and wickedness. The generality of men are carnal, sensual, and devilish. They have forgotten God and are reveling in the lusts of the flesh. Crime, immorality, abortions, and homosexual abominations are fast becoming the norm of life among the wicked and ungodly. The world will soon be as corrupt as it was in the days of Noah.
If any of us are to escape the perils that lie ahead, if any of us are to abide the day of the Lord’s return, if any of us are to gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal life in the world to come, we must receive the message sent from on high and conform to the counsel it contains.
Gays have a problem. – Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prophet
Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley made this statement during an interview with Larry King on CNN on December 26, 2004.
KING: … I know that the Church is opposed to gay marriage.
KING: Do you have an alternative? Do you like the idea of civil unions?
HINCKLEY: Well, we’re not anti-gay. We are pro-family. Let me put it that way.
And we love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem.
KING: A problem they caused, or they were born with?
HINCKLEY: I don’t know. I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem.
KING: Do you favor some sort of state union?
HINCKLEY: Well, we want to be very careful about that, because that – whatever may lead to gay marriage, we’re not in favor of.
We – many people don’t get married. Goodness sakes alive. You know that.
Many people who have to discipline themselves. If they transgress, they become subject to the discipline of the Church. But we try in every way that we know how to help them, to assist them, to bless their lives.