Turns out that LDS Church’s original claim that they only spent a couple thousand dollars on the Proposition 8 campaign was, well, total crap. Looks like the latest numbers are in the hundreds of thousands range. Anyone surprised?
Here’s my guess as to what is going to happen with this…
First, they admit(ted) to a small contribution to begin with, a couple thousand. This is enough to seem honest, even though it isn’t even close to what actually happened. It also stirs the waters just enough for the media to go, “Oh, the LDS Church did contribute some and they are admitting it, so, end of story.”
Second, they admit to a larger contribution, but not the full amount. Say, $180,000. They claim the difference is due to accounting issues – they didn’t think they needed to report in-kind donations and plane tickets. Since they had already admitted to a contribution and this is claimed to be an oversight, virtually no media pick up the story. The media think, “Well, of course they donated plane tickets and paid employees to work on this. That’s not a story.”
Third, once they are pressured by the Fair Political Practices Commission, they disclose the full amount – somewhere in the range of $500,000 to $2 million. And we’re not talking plane tickets. We’re talking: The LDS Church paid for commercials, for broadcasts, for lots of employee hours, for phone banks, etc. But, just like the $180,000 announcement, the new amount will get virtually no press. Again, the media, “Well, they already admitted they overlooked in-kind donations and other in-house stuff. Since they aren’t “actually” donations, this is still a non-issue.”
How does the LDS Church get away with this? It’s basic social psychology and even has a name: the “foot-in-the-door technique“. Here’s what you do… You start with a low number and get people to accept that number (e.g., a couple thousand). Once they have accepted that number, then you can make much larger requests. Those who accepted the initial small number are substantially more likely to accept the much larger numbers. It boils down to commitment and consent. You think, “Well, I already gave them the fact that they donated a couple thousand, what’s a couple hundred thousand more? I didn’t donate it, they did.”
This is, in fact, how the LDS Church approaches pretty much everything shady it does or has done. Think about it… The papyrii for the PofGP were found, but the LDS Church didn’t say anything publicly for a while. Then they admit they were found. Then they admit they can be translated. Then they admit that they are funerary scripts, but they include alternative intepretations of how they could have secondary meanings. Finally, apologists today simply admit that Joseph Smith was inspired by the papyrii to write a new revelation, the papyrii were just a catalyst and have nothing to do with the actual revelation. Et voila – the papyrii are no longer a challenge to members’ testimonies. You can now ask an informed, devout Mormon, “Well, what about the papyrii?” and they will say, “Well, we never really believed that they were the writings of Abraham.” The critic is aghast because he knows that is patently false, but how do you convince a devout Mormon otherwise?
Take any other example and you’ll see a similar pattern: blacks getting the priesthood was slowly phased in (by giving hints and suggestions that it would happen) and dealing with it theologically is still underway; polygamy, same thing; Joseph Smith’s under age wives; Joseph Smith’s drinking; the non-historicity of the Book of Mormon; etc. In each case, small bits of information come out first, followed by bigger bits, then full confessions with alternate interpretations. And for those who know what’s going on, Joseph Smith (or whomever wrote the BofM) seems to have been very prescient,
2 Nephi 28:21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is wellâ€”and thus the devil [church] cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
Who knew he was talking about the church he started?