Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Universal?

Todays tidbit appeared briefly in today’s BYU Daily Universe. I neither think it was an accident, nor do I believe it was meant to be subversive. I believe this essay was well intended, and that at least one editor believed it to be also. It has since been removed. Here is a Mirrored Copy

Viewpoint: Defending Proposition 8 — It’s time to admit the reasons
Tue, 09/07/2010 – 00:35

Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the recent United States District Court case that overturned Proposition 8, highlighted a disturbing inconsistency in the pro-Prop 8 camp.

The arguments put forth so aggressively by the Protect Marriage coalition and by LDS church leaders at all levels of church organization during the campaign were noticeably absent from the proceedings of the trial. This discrepancy between the arguments in favor of Proposition 8 presented to voters and the arguments presented in court shows that at some point, proponents of Prop 8 stopped believing in their purported rational and non-religious arguments for the amendment1.

Claims that defeat of Prop 8 would force religious organizations to recognize homosexual marriages and perform such marriages in their privately owned facilities, including LDS temples, were never mentioned in court. Similarly, the defense was unable to find a single expert witness willing to testify that state-recognized homosexual marriage would lead to forcing religious adoption agencies to allow homosexual parents to adopt children or that children would be required to learn about homosexual marriage in school.

Four of the proponents’ six expert witnesses who may have been planning on testifying to these points withdrew as witnesses on the first day of the trial. Why did they go and why did no one step up to replace them? Perhaps it is because they knew that their arguments would suffer much the same fate as those of David Blankenhorn and Kenneth Miller, the two expert witnesses who did agree to testify.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who heard the case, spent 11 pages of his 138-page decision meticulously tearing down every argument advanced by Blankenhorn before concluding that his testimony was “unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.” Miller suffered similar censure after it was shown that he was unfamiliar with even basic sources on the subject in which he sought to testify as an expert.

The court was left with lop sided, persuasive testimony leading to the conclusion that Proposition 8 was not in the interest of the state and was discriminatory against gays and lesbians. Walker’s decision is a must-read for anyone who is yet to be convinced of this opinion. The question remains that if proponents of Prop 8 were both unwilling and unable to support even one rational argument in favor of the amendment in court, why did they seek to present their arguments as rational during the campaign?

It is time for LDS supporters of Prop 8 to be honest about their reasons for supporting the amendment. It’s not about adoption rights, or the first amendment or tradition. These arguments were not found worthy of the standards for finding facts set up by our judicial system. The real reason is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment. We must accept this explanation, along with all its consequences for good or ill on our own relationship with God and his children here on earth. Maybe then we will stop thoughtlessly spouting reasons that are offensive to gays and lesbians and indefensible to those not of our faith.

First let me say that because a certain defence is presented or not in court has nothing to do with shying away from ones beliefs. It is a court of Law, and lawyers choose how to present themselves and their case to be most successful.

Frankly I am not sure where in the Universe this was printed, editorial section, general info or the sports page. (Later Note: Letter to the Editor) Or even if it made it from the electronic page to the press. I do believe it raises points that should be discussed. Even upon first reading I took this as an affirmation to my belief - that we follow a prophet. Some do it blindly. Some do not.

Assigning mortal reasoning to the Lords timely decision is now and has always been folly. Believing that blacks could not receive the priesthood because they were once the fence-sitters of the preexistence is a not so distant relative of the same type of thinking.

This article in a not-so-round-about way encourages members of the LSD church to stop riding the testimony waggon of their neighbors. It suggests, ever so subtly (not!) that Mormons should develop their own personal testimony of a living prophet, the divinity of the family proclamation and in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

There may be science behind the Lords admonition to protect marriage as defined by the proclamation. I am not the science guy, and do not know it.

But I trust that He knows.


  1. Following the prophet for its own sake is one thing... something I've always done because it felt right and good to do so.

    Following the prophet "just because" for whatever reason, doesn't feel so right this time.

    Why is there no defense? Where are the predicted disasters? Why can I not get my head around this to "just simply follow"?

  2. Always good comments, Bro. B.
    My credo is that no one should follow “simply” – well, not really my credo because I just said it for the first time now. Personal revelation comes into play here. Just a thought. What if you wish to follow the prophet – not just in this case but in general - and you feel, by the correct spirit, that you should take a different kind of action than the ones offered?

  3. I think there are many reasons for the visceral reaction of the followers in support of Prop 8 that don't get enough air time. For instance:

    First and foremost, after decades of being bashed and the "butt" of polygamy jokes and anti-polygamy commentary, some rank and file mormons just could not resist a church sanctioned opportunity to publicly demonstrate their commitment to the one woman and one man ideal.

    Second, there is that back pew idea that somehow the Mormons are going to save the rest of the country from itself and Proposition 8 and its predecessor were the opening volleys in the battle.

    Third, the church rarely asks members to involve themselves in any matter which such opportunities for flamboyant, public, self expression. Some members having their inner protestor and or hater quashed for so long couldn't resist. Give a dog a bone and he IS likely to chew on it.

    When all is said and done, I think the experience of Proposition 8 will change us all. For the better I believe as a humbler, more personally spiritually accountable church rank and file that will ultimately be more understanding of our gay members. As for the institutional church, I believe it did what it felt like it had to do under the theories of social contract by speaking up and making its position known whether or not there is disagreement on that perspective.

  4. The letter did actually make it to print. And it makes me sad that they decided to retract it.

    While I am fiercely in favor of marriage equality for all and I agreed with the content of the letter, I think that there were quite a few valid responses to it (as you've stated in your post). Why not let the letter stand and allow the intelligent mass of BYU students respond to it?

    If the official church position on Prop 8 is so strong then it ought to be able to stand up to a little polite debate among faithful college students, right?