Since my renewed interest in Mormonism as of late, I ran some searches on NetFlix to see what the new crop of documentarians had come up with. While light on selections, 8: The Mormon Proposition did pop up and caught my interest. To some, this film may seem dated because it covers the 2008 battle in California over gay marriage, but I think it is extremely relevant once you understand the machine that was put in place to trample on basic civil rights–it will be back! And, much like other nonMormons who watched this film, I was amazed to learn how involved The Mormon Church was in getting “8” passed. History is doomed to repeat itself if we don’t learn who is behind all of this fear and hate.
If you’re not familiar with what happened in 2008, in a nutshell, The California Supreme Court decided that gay marriage was a constitutional right and therefore opened the doors for all gay couples to flood to the courthouses and tie the knot–oh happy days. But did they think that the straights were going to stand for that? Absolutely not. Proposition 8 was put on the ballot in order to amend the CA state constitution to define marriage as and I quote Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The wedding parties were over. Gay men and women were relegated back to being second class citizens. This may not have been the case if it weren’t for one religious institution that is a driving force in maintaining their definition of marriage. The Mormon Church has enough money and loyal sheep to go after any state that dares to suggest that it’s time to separate religious bias from the state.
The filmmakers backtracked to the same scenario in Hawaii in 1998. Per Wiki, “Following a 1993 decision by the Hawaii State Supreme Court that found the state’s refusal to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses discriminatory, voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment granting the Hawaii State Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples, which resulted in a law banning same-sex marriage.” This was the work of The Mormon Church. They built up the money and resources and then made a deal with the Catholic Church to front their opposition because they knew, that generally speaking, American voters don’t really like Mormons. The Catholic Church thought it was a good idea and so the formula was started and from there it branched out into ecumenical bigotry.
With California it was a bigger fight because let’s face it, San Francisco is a gay mecca. And that’s when the film gets a bit scary–okay, not just a bit. Putting aside The Catholic Church, Christians in general do not respond to one channel as far as their leadership. They are divided by denominational and nondenominational lines. They are in a religious free market of pick and choose your church for what it offers (upbeat music, traditional hymns, social justice sermons, Biblical literalism, you name it). This is why I can drive down a stretch of road and see one Christian church after another, some even side by side. It’s pretty obvious that Christians don’t get along until it comes time to vote or go see a newly hyped Christian movie or concert. Megachurches are simply the success of the religious free market and have found a way of “celebritizing” their pastor and coming up with enough appealing offers to retain and gain members.
The Mormon Church, on the other hand, is one brain. If you are a Mormon you follow The Mormon Leadership because they are prophets and their word is God’s word. Yes, there are Mormon splinter groups, but they are few and far between. Most Mormons are raising their hands in allegiance to Utah. And if Utah says to vote for proposition 8 to stop the gays–that’s what a good Mormon will do. Not only that, a good Mormon will donate financially to the campaign–there is no option not to. 8: The Mormon Proposition showed questionable tactics of Mormon leadership stopping by their follower’s homes, showing them how much money they made and how much money they could afford to give. Then they stood there as those poor families wrote out a check.
For a time, I was trying to be considerate about religious believers and the idea that one can be incredibly smart but also incredibly irrational, but is that true in this case when someone else is doing the thinking for you? It’s fine if every Mormon researched the arguments and came to the conclusion that gay marriage was wrong, but there is no need to. One brain means no discourse. Even good Christian Americans would be appalled if their local church came to their door, invited themselves in and pointed out their payroll earnings–then told them they needed to tithe this specific amount. They would never stand for it and would kick them out the door.
Only a cult gets in your face like that and while I was assuming The Mormon Church had surpassed cult status due to its growing membership and entry into mainstream acceptance–this is still a cult, one big ass cult. And I mean cult in the modern sense–oppressive brainwashing, and a certain nastiness under the skin of pleasant facial expressions–smiling “fuck you” at the rest of the unbelieving world.
So the Mormon Church funnels in a huge amount of money into this political campaign, provides training videos and seminars on how to be politically involved and still retains it’s tax exempt status. 8: The Mormon Proposition covered this debate too and it is obvious that with actions taken like this The Mormon Church has no right to be tax exempt. Religion is supposed to be about religion, it’s separate from government, that’s why we cut it a break on taxes–but what was done here was ridiculous and amounts to a political organization. There’s room for political overlap, but not overt political force.
Overall, 8: The Mormon Proposition does a good job and it is a biased piece but mainly for the reason that the LDS leadership refused to be interviewed. As usual, they stay in the shadows. I believe one of the best things freethinkers could do on the web and in any pop culture avenue is to make the faces of The Prophets known and what they stand for to the American public. Otherwise the face of The Mormon Church will continue in the direction of Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck. When you see this prophetic bunch, they are a bunch of old farts with antiquated views. If you’re Mormon and you’re reading this, please separate yourself from the one brain. I know it has consequences but this cult based on a money-digging polygamist is out of control.