Tuesday, July 20, 2010

8: The Mormon Proposition | Trailer US (2010)



For anyone who has not yet seen 8: The Mormon Proposition and is interested in the influence of religion in politics in the U.S., get thee to Netflix immediately. I finally watched this last night and was again reminded of how hypocritical religious people can be, and also how comfortable they are with their own hypocrisy. For those of you unfamiliar with the story (the trailer explains it pretty well), proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment put on the California ballot in 2008 to forbid gay marriage. Following a heated and well-funded campaign both for and against, the initiative passed by a tiny margin, effectively overturning the right for gay people to marry in California. The "yes" campaign was spearheaded by a "coalition" of Christian churches and other concerned citizens under the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The documentary explains that NOM was basically a front group for an initiative that was organized, directed and primarily financed by the Mormon church.

There are a lot of interesting angles here, such as the fact that the First Presidency of the Church instructed its members to contribute their time and money to the "yes" campaign or that the Church refused to disclose its financial contributions to the campaign on grounds that it is a religious organization or that the Church enjoys a tax exempt status as a religious institution, even though as such they are forbidden to make "substantial contributions" to politicians, PACs or other campaigns.

What I am interested in is the fact that Mormons are so unselfconscious about the irony that they are actively attempting to take marriage rights away from gay people in the same way that anti-Mormons in the 19th century tried to take marriage rights away from Mormon polygamists. You would think there would be a little self-reflection here on that point, but then, absolutist religions are not exactly big on self-awareness, fairness, equality under the law, or any other liberal, democratic principle. Instead, they doggedly pursue what they consider to be The One True Way, which must be legislated for everyone, not just members of that religion. One of the many, many reasons I am not a fan of organized religion.

In the end, it is a losing proposition because gay marriage will ultimately be the law of the land. Way to get on the wrong side of history...

9 comments:

  1. Ugh.
    The thing that drives me crazy with modern evangelicalism is the hypocritical politics. The pick and choose hot topic ideal. It tries to turn the personal act of being a follower of Jesus into voting the "right way" every 4 years. Its so stupid. I wish the Mormon and Evangelical churches would spend as much time and effort going after sex slavery or corporate corruption.

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  3. The difference between my stance on organized religion and their stance on gay marriage is very simple: while I may not agree with or like organized religion, I would never try to restrict the right of churches to exist or of people to exercise their religion. In fact, I would vociferously defend these rights. I also think that polygamists should have the right to marry, so long as it is consensual. Noone is asking for Mormons to approve of gay marriage, and they are well within their rights to condemn it. Using their influence to *prevent* gays from marrying is a different matter entirely, as I am sure you would agree.

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  6. This is a misreading of my post. I do not favor abolishing organized religion. I am a civil libertarian, so I think everyone gets to do what they want (gays, polygamists, religious people), so long as they don't hurt other people. We also have the right to express our opinions--I have the right to speak out against organized religion, Mormons have the right to speak out against gay marriage. Churches have the right to try to influence politics, but then they should lose their tax-exempt status. It's the law.

    Before the Civil War, black people had no rights at all, and white slave-owners felt that giving blacks equal rights violated their property rights. At one point, this was the majority opinion in America. Popular opinion is not the final arbiter of rights.

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  7. P.S. I don't share my political or religious views in the classroom, and I don't know many academics who do.

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