The Horrors of Anti-Mormon Persecution
Probably in a weak effort to defend the clearly ridiculous statements of Dallin Oaks that have led to a well-deserved uproar over the last week, the LDS Church linked to this report from The Heritage Foundation: The Price of Prop 8. While I don’t mean to make light of the actual discrimination that took place (some serious vandalism and threats did occur), some of the claimed discrimination is pretty hilarious:
- For example, two women painted an arrow and the words “Bigots live here” on the window of an SUV and parked the vehicle in front of a household that had supported Prop 8.
- One Prop 8 supporter received a book, sent anonymously through Amazon.com, that contained “the greatest homosexual love stories of all time.”
The conclusion of the report is worth reposting:
When people stand firmly by their beliefs about marriage as the union of husband and wife despite facing social stigmatization, economic hardship, and other reprisals, they provide an important example of civic courage and inspire particular virtues that are essential to the proper functioning of any free and open society. The freedom of parties on both sides of the marriage debate to voice their views and to promote them in public policy should be respected.
I have to admit, it’s hard for me to see the world from this perspective. Is it wrong to discriminate against those who discriminate?
The illegal stuff is wrong. The other stuff? Serves ’em right. I have no problem with bigots suffering “social stigmatization, economic hardship, and other reprisals.”
I saw that on the Newsroom blog, but didn’t read the article… I couldn’t get past “What the heck is the Heritage Foundation doing on a church website?!?!”
The church is politically neutral. No, really. They said they are so it must be true.
It’s interesting that they’ve included violence and vandalism that was most likely done by their anti-gay allies, like desecrating a pro-gay church, in their report.
They’ve conveniently forgotten how they tried to shake down some pro-gay-marriage supporters, with the threat of “donate to our side, too, or we’ll publish your names and boycott you!”
From what I can see, people who oppose gay marriage are either extremely dishonest and evil, or just gullible and foolishly trusting. And I will stand by that.
The “Price of Prop 8” article appears to be the most complete, albeit one-sided, compilation of post-Prop-8 activity ever assembled. A couple of observations:
There is no mention of anyone being fired from their job. Yet we hear again and again, even in Oaks’ speech, that people were fired because of their participation in Prop. 8. I read one recent comment on a blog where someone said a relative was fired, but no one has ever verified that firings actually took place. I suppose that a boycotted business might need to lay off employees due to a drop off in customers. But those would be lay-offs, not firings.
In the section “Donor Disclosure Laws in the Internet Age” the author seems to be OK with the Secretary of State publishing donor’s information. Yet when the public info is incorporated into handy maps, such is condemned as “targeting for intimidation.” Welcome to the information age. It will be interesting to see what the courts may make of such activities.
I’ve been thinking about this point as well. There’s a lot of information that has traditionally been public by law, but “public information” takes on a completely different meaning when it’s a question of writing physical letters to a bunch of county courthouses throughout the country vs. being able to call up the info instantly (in consolidated form) on the Internet.
When I first saw the donor maps, I thought this might finally inspire the Republicans to start thinking about how privacy changes in the information age (particularly with respect to surveillance and government spying). But unfortunately, the CoJCoL-dS seems incapable of generalizing a lesson — they get stuck at “It’s bad when it happens to us.”
BTW, Steven B. — I don’t think I have your blog on my list. Are you a believing Mormon or an “alumnus of Mormonism”? 😉
Chanson, I occasionally post material supportive of the LDS church on my blog, but more often I discuss thought provoking issues of faith and belief. I no longer feel welcome to attend the LDS church, but do consider myself Mormon by pedigree (5th generation of pioneer stock). Were the church to change its position on homosexuality and reduce its inordinate obsession with gender and family, I would consider returning to activity. But my faith would always be complicated. I simply don’t believe in the same God as is presented in the LDS scriptures.
“Is it wrong to discriminate against those who discriminate”
Yes. Discrimination is the act of categorizing and denying another person rights based on certain beliefs or characteristics. (that’s my definition.)
Where do you draw the line though, between discrimination and simply standing against injustice? For example is boycotting a shop where the owner is a prop 8 supporter discrimination, or is it a response to injustice?
Isn’t one of the issues cojcolds is concerned with, their right to allow full membership to those they deem worthy. If that right is taken away is it discrimination?
I agree with wayne that discriminating against those we consider intolerant is unjustifiable.
Thing is, I don’t think we’ve seen a single example of actual discrimination, have we?
Refusing to buy from a vendor is not the same as refusing to sell to a client. Maybe I’m wrong, but boycotting probably doesn’t belong in a discussion about discrimination. No matter the reason or the target, boycotts aren’t discrimination.
It’s like all the whining about yard signs being stolen or defaced. The bleating about this is already at full pitch in Maine from the Yes folks. Thing is, I’ve got a YouTube clip of a local cop claiming the actual number of cases is down this year in Maine compared to prior years. Who’s right? Who cares? It’s the kind of political kabuki that makes almost every election so damn annoying.
If Oaks & Co. were really concerned about discrimination, they’d be asking themselves why their Yes on 8 partner, the ADF (Alliance Defense Fund – the Yes on 8 campaign’s legal team), has a policy in place that bars hiring of Mormons, Jews and anyone else the ADF deems non-Christian.
Apparently, it’s OK when those guys discriminate against Mormons.
Oaks & Co. know their base. Low-information voters and low-information members could care less about policy as long as they’re provided enough dread-inducing anecdotes and bogus palliatives to keep themselves comfortably numb.
Hmmm… Seems to me like we’re parsing things in a funny way.
Wayne said: “Discrimination is the act of categorizing and denying another person rights based on certain beliefs or characteristics.”
First of all, discrimination doesn’t have to include denying rights. Discrimination is any differential treatment based upon someone’s social categorization. Thus, Bob Jones University can discriminate against blacks, but it is technically not a right for blacks to attend Bob Jones University. Discrimination is not limited to the realm of civil rights.
Second, if discrimination is differential treatment based upon someone’s social categorization, how is boycotting or responding to perceived injustices with other actions designed to harm someone (in the financial, emotional, psychological, or any other sense) different from discrimination? Calling boycotting a response to injustice fails to recognize the relative nature of discrimination. Thus, the aphorism, “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” could be phrased as “One person’s discriminator is another person’s avenger of injustice.” Avenging injustices is discrimination, you just don’t want to call it that because it lowers you to the same level as LDS Inc.
The question is: Is it okay to discriminate against those who discriminate? Think it through more deeply. I don’t think there is an easy “yes” or “no” answer here.
If we’re talking about the types of discrimination that would normally be covered by anti-discrimination laws (such as employment) or if we’re talking about threats and harassment — those actions are wrong.
(And even in that case, I doubt Oaks would have a problem with an LDS employer firing an employee for organizing an anti-war protest in his free time, totally outside of work. Oaks argued for special protection for religiously motivated political action.)
Forming opinions about the CoJCoL-dS based on its actions, however, is not prejudice.
A lot of cooperative behavior in a society is fostered by social pressure alone. In many cities, the “no littering” rules aren’t so much enforced by fines as they are by the fact that you’ll get angry glares from passer-bys if you drop your garbage on the ground. Same for waiting in line instead of cutting to the front — it only works because people follow social convention. I talked about how (totally non-coercive or discriminatory) social pressure can help keep things running smoothly in my Swiss tram etiquette post.
I feel like Oaks (and the rest of the LDS leaders and, apparently, the Heritage Foundation) are really just indignant about the fact that people would think ill of them just for doing what their church said is right!
I think this is an illustration of how religion interferes with developing a sense of personal responsibility for your own actions. When you are used to judging your actions based on whether your (imaginary) God might like/dislike them, and on the basis of (imaginary) afterlife consequences, it’s harder to grasp that your actions have real-world consequences that you are responsible for. Specifically: if you do rotten, selfish, unethical things, then people around you will conclude that you’re a jerk. If you do rotten, selfish, unethical things and say “I did this because my church told me to!” then people will think ill of your church.
I need a better working definition of “discrimination” from the OP before I comment further. And damn straight that makes me a discriminating commenter.
I think this is an illustration of how religion interferes with developing a sense of personal responsibility for your own actions. When you are used to judging your actions based on whether your (imaginary) God might like/dislike them, and on the basis of (imaginary) afterlife consequences, its harder to grasp that your actions have real-world consequences that you are responsible for. Specifically: if you do rotten, selfish, unethical things, then people around you will conclude that youre a jerk. If you do rotten, selfish, unethical things and say I did this because my church told me to! then people will think ill of your church.
Amen! though I would add, “If you do rotten, selfish, unethical things and say I did this because my church told me to! then people will think ill of your church, and conclude that belonging to that church has helped make you a jerk.
In other words, just because a person might use their church membership to let themselves off the hook for their egregious behavior, other people won’t, and will instead think ill of BOTH the church and those among its membership who actively and aggressively engage in religiously justified bad behavior.
Hence the impulse to “discriminate,” and to be suspicious of anyone who supports the church, wanting to suss out just how much a church member actually supports the policies of the church corporation. Do they just let their tithing dollars help fund these activities, or do they donate extra money and make phone calls and knock on doors and so forth?
And the truly great irony is the that attitudes like this are taught to members of COJCOLDS explicitly and constantly. One of the main things I learned as a Mormon is suspicion–of just about everything. Are people doing something as innocuous as wearing spaghetti straps or drinking a cup of coffee? Uh-oh, watch out! They might be NICE to you, but never forget that they ENGAGE IN VICE, and could LEAD YOU ASTRAY.
So until the church as a collective gains some self-reflexivity and manages to see itself through the lens it uses to look at the rest of the world, it’s very hard for those of us who have left not to use the church’s lens for us in looking at it.
“One of the main things I learned as a Mormon is suspicionof just about everything.”
Holly- I don’t think any Mormon can avoid that, I mean look at how their version of heaven is structured. It is a mindset I fight in myself on a daily basis, especially when it comes to Mormonism- and also being a white male heterosexual.
How does recognizing you had that mindset inform your current actions? Especially when dealing with TBM’s?
Profxm- I don’t have answers just a lot more questions. What is the difference between avenging injustice and standing up to injustice? Is there a solid line or just a really fuzzy one.
Alas, I don’t have answers either. That’s why I think it’s such an interesting question. Clearly, the LDS Church is discriminating and advocating discrimination, but whether that justifies discriminating against Mormons I can’t say.
This is even more complicated when you consider that social mores change. 50 years ago, no one gave the Mormon Church any problems over its stance on same-sex marriage (actually, non-stance, but implied stance as homosexuality was a hidden issue back then). But social mores have changed and now the LDS Church is being criticized and Mormons are experiencing discrimination because they are discriminating.
In the end, I don’t have an answer. I wish it were as easy as “all discrimination is wrong.” But that’s not true. Maybe… Maybe it’s “discrimination against people for something they did not choose and have no control over is wrong”. Maybe that works? Can anyone think of a scenario when it is okay to discriminate against someone for something they are that they did not choose and cannot change? If so, then my rule of thumb won’t work… 🙁
Well, employers can reasonably discriminate among applicants based on the applicants’ skills and talents. You can choose which skills and talents that you put effort into developing, but to a certain degree they’re relatively fixed and involuntary.
Mainly the thing that bothered me the most was publishing a list of addresses along with maps of all Prop 8 donors.
That crossed a very chilling Orwellian sort of line – no matter who it was directed at.
On the other stuff, no comment.
Seth — I agree that compiling a Google map was ill-advised (to say the least) because it looks ominous and threatening. But the thing is that (I understand) it was the government that publishes the names and addresses of political donors, under standard public information laws.
We discussed this in comments 4 & 5 above. Something good could potentially come of it if it inspires conservatives to think about how campaign finance and disclosure laws should evolve in the information age.