Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Human Rights Revisited: My Letter to the Mormon Church Concerning California's Proposition 8

I haven't added anything new for a while, but I feel this deserves attention--more attention than I alone can give it.

The LDS Church Presidency has yet again decided to step in with its bigoted political agenda. They have swayed their members to contribute a large sum of time and resources to the "Yes on proposition 8" campaign that seeks to take away the LGBT community's marriage rights.

The following is my response. This response will be hand delivered this Friday, with over 200 letters submitted to the Signing for Something petition, to church headquarters in Salt Lake City. If you would like your name to appear on the delivered petition, the cut off time is October 15, 10:00 am Mountain Time. However, if you have missed the cut off, it certainly won't hurt to sign the petition late.

(Yes I am aware that this letter copies parts of an earlier entry. It's just that I kind of realized that my previous thoughts were a good starting point.)


To the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,

I wish to express my concerns over the church presidency’s recent actions against the human rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. I’m afraid that I must apologize to those offended by the dehumanizing tone that I am about to take towards the church, but given that church’s leadership has taken to dehumanizing actual human beings, I do not feel moved to offer anything but an opposing perspective. I must also apologize for not giving credence to the so-called virtue of faith, but please understand that my indignation has been provoked by the use of faith in excusing, among other atrocities throughout history, fanatic prejudice.

You see, I’d like to believe that I would have been on the liberal side of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. However, if I was raised as a member of the LDS congregation then, I would have been as obtuse as much of the church’s current membership. That the church today chooses to impose its notion that the entire LGBT community is undeserving of equal rights is an insult to human dignity.

(As a side note, I do, in every truly moral sense, regret referring to our friends and family that are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender as a separate community. This is because they are not separate. They are human. They are us. When we sting them with reckless and unfounded intolerance, we are in fact stinging ourselves. Church officials are inflicting pain on us—all of us. No amount of finger pointing or faith will make this appropriate.)

When I was a believing member of the LDS church, I was no better—unquestioningly accepting the church’s position on gender identity and sexuality. “The prophet had spoken, the thinking had been done.” It infuriates me now, to know that I was used as a passive tool of discrimination and hate. Given the chance, the church could have easily swayed me into extending its harmful perspective. It was ultimately this culture of blind narcissism and bigotry that drove me to truly challenge the church’s sensibility, let alone credibility. I quickly learned that skepticism and irreverence are crucial tools for discerning truth and making moral decisions. Now that my mind is free to think critically, I know that I will never risk becoming the equivalent of a civil rights era racist again. Can church leaders say the same for themselves?

Even still, while I was an active member of the church, I was under the impression that the church’s modern political stance was to dictate prejudice towards the worthiness and privileges of only its own LGBT members (which is by itself contemptible). Why then does the church seek to take away rights from the entire LGBT community? Regardless of how voters are influenced over the issue of gay marriage, the church will still be permitted to deny a temple marriage to anyone it wishes. I do not see how this issue over civil marriage concerns the church and what business the church has in squandering its members’ time and resources to push its political agenda.

Perhaps the first presidency is terrified that if gay marriage becomes legal, more and more of the church's membership will begin to see and accept gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals for who they are. Perhaps they are afraid that members will come to realize that anything called a “Plan of Happiness” has no room for prejudice.

Signing for Something,
Mason