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Irresistible (Dis)Grace’s irresistible Proposition 8 Post

November 18, 2008

It had to happen. Every Mormon-ish blog must write about Prop 8 or else it evaporates into thin air.

The difference in blogs is what happens after the initial prop 8 coverage. Some blogs become consumed, and others don’t. I’ll try to be very brief and not be consumed. I’ll just let another person’s zing do the talking for me. I like this Salt Lake Tribune public forum letter:

Samantha Borstadt writes:

Rozann Thoelke (Forum, Nov. 13) missed the point in the debate over Proposition 8. Thoelke has chosen to accept, on faith, and without empirical proof, that there is a God, that he is the Mormon God, and that he disapproves of gay marriage. Using that chosen faith as the legal basis for revoking the existing rights of U.S. citizens is “ramrodding” her personal beliefs on society.

She should realize that Mormon leaders once applied the exact same faith-based arguments against interracial marriage, including: traditional marriage should not be redefined for the sake of political correctness; it’s a sin; it’s bad for children; God says no; what’s next, marrying your dog?

This historical perspective shows where the battle over gay marriage is headed, but there is some comfort for Thoelke in this precedent: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against banning interracial marriage in 1954, but the LDS Church was not forced to recognize this practice in their doctrine or perform these marriages in their temples during the 24 years until God changed his mind. Thoelke should be soothed by the fact that the idea of racial equality in marriage legally could not be shoved down the Latter-day Saints’ throats.

For analysis, I guess this letter is just a tad bit too…venomous. It not only swipes at the church leadership and the veracity of the church but also at theism as a whole. Now, I guess I can’t talk, since I’m not above making jabs at theism myself (sorry, theists!), but still…it sounded just a bit cold to me. Must we take what faith is intrinsically about and treat it so discourteously?

But…(wo)man…what a nice burn. Alluding to the church’s misguided positions on race and then using judicial precedence with that misguided position to cut down a modern church position? This is A+ work from Ms. Borstadt. I would personally like to subscribe to her newsletter.

Now…what is *not* A+ work and what does not deserve a  newsletter subscription is how some members of the No on 8 team (I don’t even know who, so I’m just throwing darts at thin air — there probably isn’t even a formal “No on 8″ team, but it sounds more official that way) are ruining credibility for the entire gang by going too far with protests. Come on, guys: White powder?

Here’s the real moral of this prop 8 story…It’s not about civil rights or religious freedoms, so I think I avoid the trap. It’s about perception and marketing. Brand equity. Public opinion. I’ve talked before about good ways and bad ways to persuade people. A bad way (that people who want to “convert” Mormons don’t seem to get) is to badger people, or to belittle their current beliefs. Saying, “You’re wrong and stupid and so gullible that you fell for a hoax” is…even if true…just a terrible way at making friends. Even if it makes for incredibly funny burns and zings at the time.

But here’s an even worse way to persuade people…by appearing to be a threat. As long as the No on 8 group seemed harmless, they might have taken the Innocent-minority-Victim-fighting-ineffectually-against-the-Evil-Tyrannical-Majority-Empire position. *That* position is magnetized to sympathy. But now, due to the actions of few people, the No group is quickly losing legitimacy with the eyes of the people and instead, the Mormon church, as it has sought many times in its history, is becoming able to take the Quiet-and-clean-traditional-yet-quirky-religious-adherents-who-endure-against-the-unfairest-of-foes position. And that is another position that attracts sympathy.

If the church can win a culture war and paint over its Dominating Empire core with an Innocent Defender of Truth facade, then that’s it. Good game; no rematch!

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