It is strange, almost surreal to see how the Church and Church members are responding the the backlash against them since prop 8 has passed.
Many people are frustrated and hurt by the passing of prop 8 and, understandably, wanting a place to direct their emotions. People want to respond to this injustice, and see the Lds Church as an appropriate direction for protest because of their key role in the pro prop 8 movement.
Yet the Church and Church members have adopted this sense of perplexed victimization. As if they are being arbitrarily and unfairly singled out, revealing it is actually they who are the targets of persecution and bigotry, rather than the source of it.
I think a perfect example of this is illustrated by this Facebook group.
It contains a list of 12 things, such as "Mormon voters were less than 5% of the yes vote. If one estimates that 250,000 LDS are registered voters (the rest being children), then LDS voters made up 4.6% of the Yes vote and 2.4% of the total Proposition 8 vote." Trying to show the unfairness of singling out the Lds Church, because they were actually just a small part of the pro prop 8 movement. One very crucial item left off of that list is that it is estimated that Lds Church Members provided 70% of the private money donated to the pro prop 8 movement, and these donations came in response to The Church as an organization asking its members to contribute. They also asked members in California to go door to door and place phone calls encouraging neighbors to vote yes on Prop 8.
Just before the election, there seemed to be a sense of pride among the Church and Church members for their ability to lead the Prop 8 Movement despite representing a small percentage of the population. It strikes me as extremely disingenuous for them to now act as if recognizing and responding to the major role they, above any other one group, played with prop 8 is unfair, as if they hadn't actually led the fight to ban homosexual's from marrying.
Also strange and surreal, is how the Church, and Church members, act as if them being picketed represents bigotry and persecution. To be sure, there have been a handful of violent acts, such as chapels having their windows broken, and such actions are obviously dumb and unhelpful and only represent a tiny handful of individuals, but by and large, this backlash against the Church has been by means of peaceful protests, petitions, websites etc.. For a group to spend an enormous amount of time and energy engaging in a particular behavior, then when succeeding to of those they protested against use those same actions against them, and call it persecution is bizarre.
These protesters are not asking that Lds people have their rights limited, they are not asking for a ban on Lds marriages, they are protesting the Church's having limited their rights(though some are asking for the Church's tax exempt status to be removed, which. Though I disagree with the stance the Church took, I do believe it was within their rights as a religion and should not affect their tax status).
On the Church's website, in regards to this controversy they wrote "No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information. It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage— a union between a man and a woman. Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong."
As my brother wisely pointed out, this statement contradicts itself. It begins by saying, no one should be vilified. Then says marriage between a man and woman is divine That is vilification. It vilifies their opposition to say their position is divine. Implication: the alternative is not divine, but from Satan.
For them to claim that allegations of bigotry or persecution are wrong, is misunderstanding what persecution and bigotry mean. Again, as my brother pointed out bigotry means: "obstinately convinced of the superiority of their opinions". When you say your beliefs are divine, and the oppositions are not, and then spend enormous amounts of time and money advocating legislation which enforces that belief this clearly fits that definition.
It does not matter how much they emphasize their love for homosexuals as individuals. It does not matter if they feel no animosity or dislike for particular homosexuals, to vilify their position and deny them rights is bigotry and persecution. I don't believe most Mormons or the leaders, are personally bigoted against homosexuals, and in recent years the Church has shown improvement by encouraging members to be compassionate to the circumstance of homosexual individuals. But saying something like, 'I don't have anything against Xgroup of people', does not make their desire to deny them certain rights any less. No matter how much a person may say they have nothing against black people, if they also act to deny black people equal treatment, it doesn't do much good. Some people seem to think that adding they don't have anything against a particular group, then makes it okay for them to deny same group rights, but it is the rights which matter most. The important thing about being seen with compassion, is what it leads to, so acknowledging a compassion while rejecting what it should lead to falls short. Much like the concept, 'faith without works is dead', 'acceptance' without equal treatment is dead.
Imagine if a group tried to deny Lds people to marry as they desired. No matter how often they said they had nothing against Mormon's personally, for them to deny them the right to practice their beliefs would be perceived as persecution.
Of course, and what makes this situation so ironic, is that the example above isn't hypothetical. There was once a time when people tried to deny Lds people to marry how they believed(the obvious example of plurual marriage, but there was once even an effort made in 1870 to pass legislation to make any Mormon marriage invalid.) Many of the exact same arguments being by the Church against homosexual marriage, were those used against the Church. People appealed to tradition. People said that by allowing marriage to be something different than a Union between one man and one woman, it threatened the institution of marriage. At that time, the Church Brigham Young responded with many of the same defenses that advocates of gay marriage are using. And of course, the Church saw this opposition as bigotry and persecution. Now, when they are the aggressor, it is only seen as standing up for their beliefs. Even when their is a backlash, and protests, people upset about having their rights taken away, the Church again sees even this as persecution and bigotry. Apparently, according to the Church, fighting to deny a group their rights is not persecution, unless that group is Mormons. When this type of behavior comes from an individual, that person is said to suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder. I wonder if a group can collectively suffer from a psychological disorder.
Of course, the Church and Church members have a certain affinity for seeing themselves as victims of persecution. Opposition is seen as emphasizing the truthfulness of the Church. To quote what someone wrote on the Facebook group I linked above: "the LDS church being attacked is just more proof that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. Satan wouldn't focus all his energy on it if it weren't for a reason." If Lds people were to really follow through with this reasoning, they should convert to Scientology, a group far more persecuted against than Mormons. Or if persecution were an indication of truthfulness, should we then take that to indicate the goodness of gay marriage because "satan wouldn't focus all his energy on it if it weren't for a reason"?
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