Criticism of Mormonism/Video/8: The Mormon Proposition

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    Response to 8: The Mormon Proposition


A FairMormon Analysis of: 8: The Mormon Proposition
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Overview

This article examines and responds to specific claims made in the documentary "8: The Mormon Proposition." The film uses quotes that don't exist, misrepresent facts, and perpetuates false and degrading stereotypes about Mormons with same-sex attractions.

Claims

From the trailer

Claim
The trailer states that ""Mormons believe that their prophet literally is in communication with God" following which a soundbite from President Monson is played in which he says "There will be nothing that can defeat us."


Response
The quote from President Monson has absolutely nothing to do with Proposition 8. It is taken from a General Conference talk given in April 2009.

"I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us."
Thomas S. Monson, April 2009, "Be of Good Cheer" (emphasis added)

The talk, entitled "Be of Good Cheer", is about how life can be difficult but through faith one can find both peace in this life and eternal salvation through God. The talk has absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage or Proposition 8.


00:10:00

Claim
Fred Karger states that Latter-day Saints "didn’t allow blacks in the Church until 1978."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  •  The claim is false
  • Blacks have always been included as baptized and participating members of the church, beginning with the baptism of Elijah Abel in 1832 and extending down to the present day.
  • For a period of time, beginning some time in the early 1850s, blacks of African descent were not ordained to the priesthood. In 1978, a revelation to President Spencer W. Kimball ended the restriction.
  • The author of the film has obviously confused the priesthood restriction with a restriction on church membership. It is not clear whether this was a purposeful attempt at deception or just a case of very sloppy fact-checking.
  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood


00:10:52

Claim
The file states "There was a meeting held by Church President Gordon Hinckley at his estate in Hawaii where one of the Catholic cardinals came out."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  •  The claim is false
  • President Hinckley has never owned an estate in Hawaii.


00:16:56

Claim
A woman who is claimed to be a "former Mormon," states that "Mormons believe that their prophet literally is in communication with God, that Jesus Christ appears to their leaders in the Salt Lake Temple."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • This claim is literally correct, but very misleading. Yes, the prophet is literally in communication with God — as are the Apostles, as are LDS bishops and stake presidents, as are all Mormons who pray to their Father in Heaven and receive guidance for their lives, as are all other Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. who pray to God and have God answer their prayers. The main difference between the prophet and other members of the church is that God will not reveal his will for the direction of the church as a whole to anyone but the prophet. And, yes, God has done this many times.
  • Jesus Christ may have appeared to church leaders in the temple. If so, it was a holy experience that is not talked about often. Certainly, no LDS leader has ever claimed that Jesus Christ regularly appears to them in the temple. That part of the claim is simply false.


00:17:37

Claim
A woman who is claimed to be a "former Mormon" states that in the temple "we promise to give of our means and our time to defend the Church and to forward its mission, and we're told that we will lose our eternal salvation if we don't keep that promise."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • There is no promise made in the temple that includes those words and no place where it is stated that anyone will lose their eternal salvation if they do not keep their promises. That having been said, there can be no question that to enter into any covenant with God and then to knowingly and purposely break that covenant must certainly disqualify the individual for the blessings that God has promised to the faithful.


00:19:38

Claim
The narrator claims that Mormons teach that Heavenly Father was "once a human being," and that after he died, that he "became a god where he began marrying spirit wives and having spirit offspring."

Author's source(s)

  • No source specified.
  • This portion of the documentary appears to draw ideas from the notorious anti-Mormon film The God Makers: Specifically, the idea that the primary goal of women in the church is to "become a goddess in heaven" in order to "multiply an earth" and be "eternally pregnant."

Response

  •  The claim is false
  • The only correct parts of the statement are that Latter-day Saints believe that God was once a man, and that our heavenly parents create "spirit offspring." The remainder of the claims are incorrect.
    • Latter-day Saints believe that marriage must be performed on earth, not after "becoming a god."
    • Latter-day Saints believe that men and women will be resurrected. It therefore makes no sense to assume that God "began marrying spirit wives."
  • For a detailed response, see: Nature of God/"God is a man"
  • For a detailed response, see: Nature of God/Heavenly Mother
  • For a detailed response, see: Nature of God/Deification of man


00:20:09

Claim
The narrator states that "Mormons believe we, too, can become gods on our own planets, filled with our own spirit wives and children."

Author's source(s)

Response


00:20:24

Claim
The film claims that "when a gay child enters the picture, who can't have children biologically and doesn't want to marry someone of the opposite sex, it not only upsets the Mormon definition of the family, but disturbs the entire Mormon concept of the afterlife."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • Nothing biological stops a gay son or daughter from having children.
  • It is true that some people with same-sex attractions, including those who identify as gay, will not want to marry in this life, but they do not "disturb the Mormon concept of afterlife" anymore than a child who actually can't have children for biological reasons or who doesn't want to marry for any reason. Mormon doctrine has never taught everyone needs to procreate in this life in order not to disturb the afterlife.
  • Same-sex attraction is not considered something that interferes with the afterlife. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who was interviewed for the PBS special "The Mormons," stated, speaking of same-sex attraction, "I do know that this will not be a post-mortal condition. It will not be a post-mortal difficulty."[1] Same-sex attraction is not directly related to the afterlife.
  • Some "gay" children will want to marry someone of the opposite sex. (See Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Marriage



00:26:18

Claim
It is claimed that some Church leaders (bishops and stake presidents) brought members' tithing records to their homes and told them, ""This is how much you make. This is how much we think you can give. Give this much money, give this much time or you face disfellowshipment. You might lose your callings. You might lose your membership."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided.

Response

  •  The claim is false
  • No such practice was suggested by the church and, in most wards and stakes, nothing like this happened. It is possible (though we know of no such incidents) that some bishops, acting on their own, may have met with members individually and, based on their incomes and situations, suggested an amount that they might voluntarily donate. But no bishop could have threatened anyone with disfellowshipment, loss of callings, or loss of membership over this. Either the authors of the film made this up or they were lied to by their interviewees and did not bother to check the facts.
  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism_and_politics/California_Proposition_8/Questions_and_myths#Were_Church_members_who_were_opposed_to_Proposition_8_disciplined.3F


00:27:35

Claim
It is claimed that families "dug into their retirement funds" and "used their kids' college funds" to support Prop 8. One example is given of a family in Sacramento that "gave $50,000" by closing out their college fund for their "five small children, all under the age of nine."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • Members were asked to donate what they could, but nobody asked members to clean out their kids' college funds or liquidate their own retirement funds. If this family did indeed do this, it was their own choice and not as a result of being told to do so.


00:29:14

Claim
The Church is claimed to have "set up a specific post-office box for all the Mormon money to go to" in order to "bundle all the contributions together so they could actually check off to make sure that everyone had given what he committed to give."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  •  The claim is false
  • All money that was donated by members was given directly to the ProtectMarriage.com organization. This money did not pass through the Church.
  • The individual wards and stakes did ask for a report of funds that had been donated by members to ProtectMarriage.com. It can be assumed that this information was sent to the Church. It is not known whether or not the Church "checked off" to make sure that members donated per their commitment.
  • We are not aware of any actions or repercussions suffered if it was determined that a member did not donate what they said they would.
  • For a detailed response, see: Where did the money come from?


00:33:58

Claim
It is claimed that LDS advertisements were "designed to mislead and misinform" and that they were "designed to recruit people of other faiths."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • The advertising messages created for the "Yes on 8" campaign were based on case law and real-life situations. However, a rebuttal to an anonymously written "Yes on 8" document called "“Six Consequences . . . if Proposition 8 Fails” was written by LDS lawyer Morris Thurston. [2] This document was used by "No on 8" supporters to show that even LDS realized that lies were being promoted. Thurston's points were contested by another LDS attorney, Blake Ostler. [3] Upon discovering that the "No on 8" campaign was making use of his comments, Thurston issued a press release which pointed out that "A press release dated October 19 from a public relations firm representing 'No on 8' is inaccurate and misleading," and that he was "erroneously cited as having 'debunked' new California Prop 8 ads."
  • For a detailed response, see: California Proposition 8: The ads


00:35:33

Claim
In demonstrating that "religions can set their own rules," the film states that "the LDS church can still ban African-Americans from their temples."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  •  The claim is misleading
  • African-Americans have been able to attend the temple since 1978. This has not changed. The statement made implies that the Church continues to ban them from the temple.
  • For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood


00:37:06

Claim
It is claimed that during the last week of the Prop 8 campaign, that "over $3 million came in from Utah alone to influence this California election."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • The amounts contributed to both sides were very high. It is reasonable for "No on 8" supporters to question why their greater contributions to defeat Proposition 8 didn't carry the vote as they expected. Both sides received significant donations from out of state, and such donations were unquestionably legal.
  In-State Donations Out-of-State Donations Total Donations
For Proposition 8 $25,388,955 $10,733,582 $36,122,538
Against Proposition 8 $26,464,589 $11,968,285 $38,432,873
Totals $51,853,544 $22,701,867 $74,555,411
Source: Tracking the money, Los Angeles Times


00:38:12

Claim
A group of noisy and rude anti-Prop 8 protesters are shown in San Francisco. One man states that they were bussed in, and that "I heard there's people from Utah."


Response

  • The implication made by the film is that the Church sent protesters from Utah to San Francisco, however, these protesters turn out to be the same "street preachers" that demonstrate outside of General Conference. They use vulgar language and their behavior is uncharacteristic of anything representing a Latter-day Saint approach.
  • Anti-Mormon protesters - this page contains video and photos of the street preachers in action at LDS meetings around the United States including (but not limited to) Utah.


00:49:05

Claim
Bruce R. McConkie "made a statement several years ago to the youth of the Church that it would be better to be dead than to be homosexual."

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response

  • We do not know the source of this statement. It may be based upon the following:

"Better dead clean, than alive unclean. Many is the faithful Latter-day Saint parent who has sent a son or daughter on a mission or otherwise out into the world with the direction, 'I would rather have you come back home in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it' "
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Second Edition, Page 124.


00:49:15

Claim
Utah is claimed to have "one of the highest suicide rates in the world." It is stated that a "disproportionately large number" of these are gay Latter-day Saints.

Author's source(s)

  • No source provided

Response


00:55:42

Claim
It is claimed that are taught by their church leaders that they are not gay, just tempted, and that they can be "fixed."


Response

  •  The claim is false
  • The Church does not teach no one is gay nor that you can fix your temptations.


Claim
Bruce claims to have undergone aversion therapy at BYU. He claims he was forced to undergo treatment, given vomit-inducing drugs, underwent treatment naked, swore at him, put electrodes on his genitals, and administer shocks.


Response
BYU did administer aversion therapy, but Bruce seems so unfamiliar with the actual procedure that it is unlikely he underwent the therapy. The procedure used at BYU was well-documented and is freely available to anyone who wishes to read it.

  • Aversion therapy was only administered on volunteers. An interview with Dr. Thorne described why this was an important part of the therapy, and that they would never accept referrals from the honor code office. Results of the therapy were never released to anyone, including the honor code office. Dr. Thorne described why this would bias the results.
  • According to a statement issued by BYU: "The BYU Counseling Center never practiced therapy that would involve chemical or induced vomiting." This was not the method described in the documentation. This was probably invented based on what happened at other universities at the time.
  • All participants were clothed. It would seem odd to make someone take their clothes off in an attempt to purify their thoughts. Dr. Thorne described the importance of client privacy.
  • Electrodes were never placed in the genitals. This scientifically flawed. An interview with Dr. Thorne describes how this would not give the desired results.
  • Bruce described a very harsh use of profanity by the people administering the therapy. This level of profanity on a client would be difficult to find at any university, much less BYU. For those familiar with BYU, a foul-mouthed administrator seems almost humorous.
  • The clients set their own level of shock. It was not forced upon them.

For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Aversion therapy


57:36

Claim
The narrator claims that a program of aversion therapy led to a "suicide epidemic" on the BYU campus. Bruce Barton states that out of a list of 12 people who participated in aversion therapy, that two of the men "disappeared" and "several others committed suicide."


Response

  • Aversion therapy was not unique to BYU
  • Aversion therapy for homosexuality was not unique to BYU
  • Homosexuality was considered a "treatable disorder" at the time
  • Research and treatments were done with the informed consent of participants according to professional standards
  • There is no evidence to support a "suicide epidemic" as a result of the practice of aversion therapy at BYU.
  • There is no way to tell what caused the suicides that happened. Suicide rates of people involved in same-sex relationships are higher even in places that embrace such relationships.

For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and gender issues/Same-sex attraction/Aversion therapy


Claim
  • The following quote by George Q. Cannon is displayed:

"How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. The only way is...for the Lord to wipe them out."
George Q. Cannon, Mormon Apostle

Author's source(s)

  • Source not provided in the video.
  • The quote is found in Conference Report, October 1897, Afternoon Session

Response

  • The quote in context with the portions used in the film highlighted:

In England a short time ago a man who had posed in society as a man of culture and of taste, and who lectured upon esthetics, was found to be guilty of a most abominable crime a crime for which under the old law the penalty was death; a crime which was practiced by the nations of old, and caused God to command their destruction and extirpation. This crime was proved against this man, and some of his associates were what are called noblemen. He was sent to prison. His term of imprisonment having expired, he comes from prison, and is now engaged, it is so published, in writing a book, and, we suppose is received into society, though guilty of this nameless crime. And is this common; If we may believe that which is told to us, without going into researches ourselves, it and other kindred wickedness, is far too common. The same sin that caused the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! This and other abominable crimes are being practiced. How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. Why, if a little nest of them were left that were guilty of these things, they would soon corrupt others, as some are being corrupted among us. In coming to these mountains we hoped to find a place where we could live secluded from the abominations of Babylon. But here in this secluded place wickedness intrudes itself, and is practiced in this land which we have dedicated to the Lord as a land of Zion! How can this be stopped? Not while those who have knowledge of these filthy crimes exist. The only way, according to all that I can understand as the word of God, is for the Lord to wipe them out, that there will be none left to perpetuate the knowledge of these dreadful practices among the children of men. And God will do it, as sure as He has spoken by the mouths of His prophets. He will destroy the wicked, and those who will be left will be like the Nephites after the wicked were all killed off; they were righteous men and women who lived for over two hundred years according to the law of heaven.

  • Elder Cannon refers to "it and other kindred wickedness, is far too common. The same sin that caused the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah!"
  • Note the omission of the phrase: "The only way, according to all that I can understand as the word of God, is for the Lord to wipe them out." The omitted phrase makes it clear that Elder Cannon was offering his own opinion based upon his understanding of the scriptures, and not claiming to be the voice of God on the matter.


Claim
  • The following quote was attributed to President Hinckley "Gays have a problem."

Response
  • President Hinckley never said that.

Claim
  • There is the sound of a girl who wants two mommies. The implication was that Prop 8 was trying to break up families.

Response
  • Prop 8 did not break up families. Same-sex couples still can have their relationships legally recognized by the government. The Church has never said that the only valid families are those headed by a man and a woman. For example, there are many families in the church that are headed by single parents. There is a difference between saying that the only valid family is one headed by a husband and a wife and the only valid marriage is between a husband and wife.

Claim
  • There are many stories about people being rejected by their families. The implication is that the Church causes families to reject their gay children.

Response
The Church encourages family members to love and reach out to their family members, regardless of how they choose to live their lives. In a 1992 statement to Church leaders, the Church counseled: "If a person with homosexual problems chooses not to change, family members may have difficulty maintaining feelings of love and acceptance toward the person. Encourage them to continue loving the person and hoping that he or she may repent." This was reiterated by Elder Oaks in 1997: "Surely if we are counseled as a body of Church membership to reach out with love and understanding to those ‘struggling with these issues,’ that obligation rests with particular intensity on parents who have children struggling with these issues... even children who are engaged in sinful behavior associated with these issues" Families with members with same-sex attractions, including those in same-sex relationships, are strengthened through living the principles of love and respect taught by Jesus Christ and reiterated in the Proclamation to the World on the Family. The sister of a woman (Leigh) who is involved in a sexual relationship with another woman wrote an "Ensign" article in which she describes how the Church has helped her with her relationship with her sister: "I know the best thing I can do to have a close relationship with my sister is to have a close relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son. Leigh recently commented that it has been through the way our family has loved her that she has felt what she understood to be God’s love."

Claim
  • Sutherland Institute and Utah legislature are used throughout the move to represent the Church's view on gay rights.

Response
  • Both have opposed the Church's stance on gay rights. The Church has supported employment and housing rights for those with same-sex attractions, while both the Sutherland Institute and the Utah legislature opposed those rights.[4]

Claim
  • Throughout the movie, there is a recurring theme that people do not chose to be gay and that same-sex relationships is part of being gay.

Response
  • Many people with same-sex attractions chose not to participate in same-sex relationships, and many are faithful members of the Church. This view was severely lacking from the film.
*For a detailed response, see: Same-sex attraction-Temptations versus acts: What does science have to say about this?

Endnotes

  1. [note]  A transcript of the interview is available on-line at http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/holland.html
  2. [note] Morris Thurston, A Commentary on the Document “Six Consequences . . . if Proposition 8 Fails”
  3. [note] Blake Ostler, Prop 8 comment (that is now a Prop 8 post) (Oct. 20, 2008)
  4. [note] Rosemary Winters, LDS apostle: SLC gay-rights measures could work for state (Nov 11, 2009)