Martyrs On a Gay Spring Day in April

I was reading a report that gay groups in large are planning on protesting outside of General Conference this April.  Some of these groups are known to be “out there” even by gay pride parade standards.  Clearly knowing anything about Mormon culture would tell you that this won’t work in convincing Mormons to change their minds.  Mormons have a deep seated “seige mentatlity” and already feel like martyrs.  Any large scale protest only heightens that martyr syndrome.  Further, any outlandish, public displays of sodomy and sex acts will only convince Mormons that “it’s us against the world.”

What’s ironic about this situation is the homosexual community feels like martyrs in this situation.  They are the ones who feel they’ve been persecuted and have a grievance against the world.  I imagine they are thinking is that holding a large protest in Salt Lake City will bring media attention to the LDS church’s role in passing Proposition 8.  It may not convince any Mormons to change their mind, but it might convince other people to change their mind about Mormons.

I don’t think the general homosexual population should be judge by those who go over the top any more than I think the Evangelical community should be judged by street preachers at General Conference.  But those gay men who like to “show off” their perversity in public got me to ask the question “what are they thinking?”  I can’t imagine that they rationally think that dressing up in a giant phallic costume will convince people that homosexuals are normal, mild mannered people who shouldn’t be feared.  It communicates the opposite.  To some degree, I think it’s an expression of anger toward the rest of society.  It’s like they are saying “We’re going to force our lifestyle on you for rejecting us. So take it, take it, take it (middle fingers [an apropos phallic symbol]  hoisted high in the sky).”

How both groups handle the situation and the press coverage will be interesting to see.  Either way I think the LDS church will be driven further from its mission to the gay community and the gay community will be driven further from its mission the the LDS church.  I think this offers a tremendous opportunity for Mormons to shock and suprise the protestors themselves with radical kindness;  the kind that turns its cheek when struck, but I think the opportunity will be missed.  It’s too great an opportunity to feel persecuted (and therefore the church is true).

As a side note, let me clearly state; protestors showing up at General Conference is NOT persecution.  To call it such dishonors any Mormon ever killed or hurt because of their faith.

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60 thoughts on “Martyrs On a Gay Spring Day in April

  1. I think this offers a tremendous opportunity for Mormons to shock and suprise the protestors themselves with radical kindness; the kind that turns its cheek when struck, but I think the opportunity will be missed.

    Admittedly it’s been a long time since I was anywhere near temple square during conference time, but my experience there (and at other “protest sites” more recently) is that the vast majority of Mormons completely ignore the protesters—I mean, they hear and see the protesters, but they don’t acknowledge them or retaliate, etc. So I’m not sure what you mean by “the opportunity will be missed” to “turn the other cheek.” I’m not trying to be defensive, just curious what you envision.

  2. I have seen a hardening of positions ideologically – at least online.

    I don’t think that a lot of liberals online really give a damn about the Mormons one way or the other. They are pissed-off and they want to hit somebody. Rational argument, reaching out, and trying to convey an image of civic-responsibility do not factor into the equation.

    I’ve seen the same thing happening on the Mormon side.

    Heck, I was even sympathetic to the gay union thing to an extent. But I’ve found myself hardening as I put up with comments about stripping Mormons down to their “funny underwear” and humiliating them, beating up missionaries, mocking religion openly just because it’s “ridiculous” and “deserves to be mocked,” and outright glee at the idea that small-fry Mormon donors to Prop 8 will be on the public record so they can be harassed and publicly attacked by the “forces of tolerance.”

    A lot of the liberal gay community are acting like utter jackasses.

    Sorry, but there it is.

    And increasingly, I’m seeing more extreme and equally inappropriate reactions from Mormons as well.

  3. Tim — Do you think the “deep-seated siege mentality” that you say Mormons have is any greater than what is present among evangelicals? If it is, I haven’t seen it.

    I’m not saying there is no “siege mentality”; far from it. But when I’ve heard various evangelical TV and radio shows, I’ve heard a lot more of that type of thinking than I ever have in any contemporary LDS setting. (I recognize that the evangelicals who are spending their money to get on the air may not be typical of the evangelicals in the pew.)

    Certainly, there has been persecution of Mormons over the years. But there has been persecution of other types of Christians as well (and continues to be in some parts of the world).

  4. I think this offers a tremendous opportunity for Mormons to shock and suprise the protestors themselves with radical kindness; the kind that turns its cheek when struck, but I think the opportunity will be missed.

    This is not an opportunity to “tun the other cheek.” The Mormons hit first. You don’t get Jesus points for not hitting a third time after you beat someone and they decide to hit you back.

    Seth, the gay liberal community feels like it has been savagely attacked by Mormons and the Mormon church, for no good reason at all other than reactionary prejudice. It’s disgusting and audacious for you to primly tell them what tactics they should and shouldn’t use when they lash out.

  5. It’s like they are saying “We’re going to force our lifestyle on you for rejecting us. So take it, take it, take it (middle fingers [an apropos phallic symbol] hoisted high in the sky).”

    You really think it’s the gays who are forcing their lifestyles onto other people in this scenario?

  6. Kullervo, there is no way I’m going to be excited about a government enforced marriage status for gays. Period.

    Especially not when the same rights can be made available to all people without dragging government into enforcing what should have always been a matter of private belief.

    Gays have no more right to a government-enforced marriage than I do.

    One interesting law school question for your Constitutional Law professor –

    Could a Mormon couple successfully challenge the government’s right to require a “marriage license” from them? Could they assert the argument that the government’s regulations are an impermissible infringement on their free exercise of religion and they should not need government’s permission to be married?

    I think it’s sketchy at best. But I’m wondering what someone closer to all that constitutional law stuff than I am now thinks.

  7. Could a Mormon couple successfully challenge the government’s right to require a “marriage license” from them? Could they assert the argument that the government’s regulations are an impermissible infringement on their free exercise of religion and they should not need government’s permission to be married?

    I think it’s sketchy at best. But I’m wondering what someone closer to all that constitutional law stuff than I am now thinks.

    Hmm. Interesting. I think you could make a colorable claim, but for practical purposes you would lose.

  8. Kullervo is in law school. I graduated over 3 years ago and run a bankruptcy practice.

    Which means he’s probably closer to all that stuff I learned about in Con Law (and then promptly forgot after the Bar Exam) than I am.

  9. Brian said:I mean, they hear and see the protesters, but they don’t acknowledge them or retaliate, etc. So I’m not sure what you mean by “the opportunity will be missed” to “turn the other cheek.” I’m not trying to be defensive, just curious what you envision.

    Ignoring someone is not really my idea of “radical kindness”. If some one shows up to protest you, they’re making it clear to you that they want to engage with you. Walking past them quietly and politely is a missed opportunity to understand and to be understood.

    Eric said: Do you think the “deep-seated siege mentality” that you say Mormons have is any greater than what is present among evangelicals? If it is, I haven’t seen it.

    By no means do I think Mormons are the only people with a siege mentality. There is an evangelical impulse to do the same. Some of it is a hold over from fundamentalism. It varies by denomination, I’d say the Reformed Baptist camp is the most likely to act and think that way. Homeschooling tends to be a good tip off (but not exclusively or necessarily).

    Kullervo said: You really think it’s the gays who are forcing their lifestyles onto other people in this scenario?

    “Lifestyle” was a euphemism for explicitly acting out ones preferred sexual practices in public.

  10. Tim: I see. I missed the “radical kindness” part of your point when you followed it with “turn the other cheek.” So we’re in agreement that Mormons are very likely to “turn the other cheek,” but miss the opportunity for “radical kindness” (that is, if you agree that turning one’s cheek is not really an act of kindness, but rather refraining from meanness).

    But now I wonder what kind of ideas you envision. What in your mind would be some “radically kind” responses from Conference attendees? In the very moment, walking past seems like the best idea.

  11. I once heard someone talk about how, in Jesus time, Romans would slap someone with the back of their hand as a show of contempt for a lesser being. So what Jesus was actually saying by stating “turn the other cheek” was to make it difficult for a backhanded slap to occur.

    So the message of “turning the other cheek” is not “pick on me and I’ll just take it” but rather to say “you may persecute me, but you must do so as an equal.”

    I thought it was an interesting idea anyway.

  12. I’ll help you out Seth with a couple of important fun-facts.

    1) Right hands only were used in personal interactions for sanitary reasons.

    2) A back handed slap was a way to demean someone and show that they were your lesser.

    3) A fore hand slap acknowledged that some one was your equal.

    4) Turning the cheek after a back hand slap forced someone to acknowledge you as an equal if they hit you again.

    5) I have no idea if any of this is true.

  13. Who was the ad wizard who thought it was a good idea to have Ken Starr publicly involved in this case? Good lawyer, bad publicity.

  14. “Ignoring someone is not really my idea of “radical kindness”. If some one shows up to protest you, they’re making it clear to you that they want to engage with you. Walking past them quietly and politely is a missed opportunity to understand and to be understood.”

    Tim, have you seen videos of some of the wing-nut fringe[1] evangelicals[2] screaming at General Conference, or the gay protestors screaming at the temples after election day? Neither group of those protestors gave Mormons any opportunity for calm engagement. Neither group wanted to understand Mormons. All they wanted was shouting matches. I think both groups of shouting protestors wanted to get beaten up by Mormons so that they could play the martyr card.

    I think ignoring them is the politest and most righteous thing to do to someone who is screaming at you and only wants to provoke you to scream back or even physically fight back.

    If I were on my way to church, and someone screamed at me within arm’s reach, I’d have a tough time resisting the urge to defend myself from that threat and put a judo move on them, and drop them to the ground. Screaming at someone, within arm’s reach, with raised hands, especially holding a sign on a stick is a threat.

    In-your-face screaming is a form of persecution. Yes, it’s mild compared to the whippings, home-burnings, murders, evictions and forced marches of the 1830’s and 1840’s, but getting within arm’s reach, yelling at someone, and threatening to do them bodily harm, especially directed at women and children on their way to church, is persecution.

    If shouting and threatening protesters were to get within arm’s reach of Muslims on their way in to their mosque, what do you think would happen? The police would be there within minutes, and the protestors would be arrested for making threats, intimidation, etc.

    How many of the gay protestors who made threats and intimidations towards Mormons were arrested?

    ——

    [1] This is not to say that all evangelicals are wing-nut fringe.
    [2] I come from an evangelical background. I’m glad to see this LDS/evangelical dialogue.

  15. If shouting and threatening protesters were to get within arm’s reach of Muslims on their way in to their mosque, what do you think would happen?

    Mormons claim to follow the words of Christ. I would expect them to act differently than Muslims.

    I think ignoring them is the politest and most righteous thing to do to someone who is screaming at you and only wants to provoke you to scream back or even physically fight back.

    I agree that the situation would be difficult to engage people civilly. But there are proactive steps that you can take. Ignoring someone is a reaction. What could you do to change the tone before they even began to scream? How could you make them comfortable while they jeered you?

  16. Tim: In-your-face screamers, by definition, aren’t open to dialogue. They only want to be heard, not to listen. What happens when you try to engage in dialogue with a screamer? They only interrupt you with more screams.

    Kullervo: Do you think a Mormon or an Evangelical could get away with standing outside the local gay church and screaming at their parishoners on their way in to their church? (In the manner that gay protestors screamed at Mormons outside the temple in California.)

    Would they not accuse the Mormon/Evangelical screamers of threatening, harassing, and persecuting them? Would they not call the cops or physically attack the Mormon/Evangelical screamers?

  17. Kullervo: Remember Matthew 7:2 “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. ”

    The same cudgel you want others to be hit with, may some day be used on you.

  18. “You realize that it’s the gay protesters who are doing the “hitting back” here, right?”

    I think that’s far from entirely clear.

  19. They only want to be heard, not to listen. What happens when you try to engage in dialogue with a screamer? They only interrupt you with more screams.

    Well, maybe you should do whatever it takes to make them feel like YOU are willing to listen.

  20. I think Tim has a point, the reason gay activists are screaming is they think that Mormons won’t listen.

    The same reason Bookslinger seems unwilling to interact.

    At the moment Mormons don’t generally listen to the gay rights agenda.

    I am not trying to be apologetic for the numbskulls in the gay rights camp that spray-paint churches, or scream at Mormons.

    I can imagine that some Mormons might react in a similar angry way if people were politically attacking temple marriage.

    I do agree with Kullervo to some degree, Mormons are not being “persecuted” for their beliefs, they are being attacked because of their political activities.

    The Black Panthers were not “persecuting” segregationists. . .

  21. I stumbled across this thread and must say that an important point is being missed: If you want to engage in dialogue, then respect for time and place is key. If you want me to hear you, don’t scream in my face when it is obvious I am moving in a direction that is important to me, and in that moment does not include your agenda, regardless of your volume. If you truly want dialogue, then ask me. Ask me at a time when I can give you my undivided attention. Ask me in a place that will not impose an intimidating (and therefore perceived as threatening) audiance on me. Ask me in a way that tells me you want to understand why I feel the way I do, because that allows you to better position your point of view in a way that I can understand. Ask one of the 11,000,000+ people like me, because odds are you personally know 1 or 2 and know that we are actually decent, resonable people with gay and lesbian friends and family. Don’t ask others of your same point of view, unless all you’re looking for is validation that you must be in the right.

    “Kullervo says: …the gay liberal community feels like it has been savagely attacked by Mormons and the Mormon church, for no good reason at all other than reactionary prejudice.”

    For no good reason? There are many reasons, some political in nature that concern me, less about the doctrine and more about what it implies regarding the government’s ability in the future to force any church to act in ways that oppose their most cherished, most long-held tenets because it is then defined as “hate crime.” It concerns me that when a simple majority made their voice heard, because to then petition the Supreme Court to overturn that voice is unconstitutional by its very act. Though I respectfully disagree that the LDS church has waged an “attack” on any community, these are all good reasons for members of the Church to excercise their right to have an opinion and vote according to their conscience.

  22. There are many reasons, some political in nature that concern me, less about the doctrine and more about what it implies regarding the government’s ability in the future to force any church to act in ways that oppose their most cherished, most long-held tenets because it is then defined as “hate crime.”

    Sorry Heather, but that’s flat-out stupid.

  23. Well Kullervo, that’s hardly an argument that’s going to win anyone.

    I’ve started tuning you out whenever you start pulling out one-word responses like “stupid” or “bullshit” or whatever else. You often throw these out there without offering any other explanation.

    Maybe it’s therapeutic for you. But it doesn’t really get the conversation anywhere.

  24. Mormons aren’t the minority here, they are part of the dominant majority, imposing a marriage regime upon a minority which finds it discriminatory and oppressive.

    Again, its like segregationists in the South. Segregation was one of many people’s “most cherished” beliefs, tied to their heritage, culture (even, in some cases, religion) for hundreds of years. They have every right to their position. However it seems a bit naive to think that Blacks would not vehemently, and sometimes even violently oppose segregationist politics.

    The problem with freedom is that angry gay activists have the right to yell at Mormons in the same way that Mormons have the right to organize political campaigns against gay rights. Angry gay activists, in many cases, don’t want dialogue with Mormons, they want Mormons to stop trying to take away what they believe is their civil right.

    Mormons should want dialogue with angry gay activists. Zion includes gays as well. Christianity gives us the tools to cut through angry attacks, for those brave enough to use them.

  25. Well Kullervo, that’s hardly an argument that’s going to win anyone.

    I’ve started tuning you out whenever you start pulling out one-word responses like “stupid” or “bullshit” or whatever else. You often throw these out there without offering any other explanation.

    Maybe it’s therapeutic for you. But it doesn’t really get the conversation anywhere.

    You really think it’s worth laboriously explaining exactly why the stuff she said is completely preposterous, from a legal/Constitutional perspective? Be my guest.

    Who says I’m making an argument? Who says I’m trying to convince anyone? Please. You know as well as I do that what Heather said was idiotic. I couldn’t care less if Heather actually understands law, the Constitution, and civil rights. Bu

  26. I agree with some of what’s been said, but, as I have been to Temple Square a few times and have been yelled at and told my views are wrong and that I am sending my children to hell and whatnot… I just have to walk by that.

    I believe that people that are so involved in thier own views as to go to another’s place of worship to protest thier forms of worship are so closed from hearing my viewpoint that it would be useless to try to talk to them like a human being. The people there are prepared to contend anything I may have to say to them, so it would be a waste of time to try. If they cared to carry on a sharing conversation of political, ethical, or religious views, they would not have made a sign to try to convince me, unequvically of thier view. They may have a better chance of someone hearing thier ideas if thier sign said “I’d like to know more about you, would you like to know more about me?” But they don’t. They claim I’m going to hell and that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, knowing that it will upset the run-of-the-mill Mormon. This is thier goal, not communication of equals.

    I choose to smile at them (conveying my love for them – I hope) and move on. This is my way of proving to them that not all Mormons are judging them. I love them for thier childlike view that they can “save” me. I love them and hope they can experience the same love for me as a Mormon that I do for them as a non-Mormon.

    Making the choice to love someone for their disdain for you is something I wish many others could do. They just don’t know better. Maybe someday they will.

    Until that day, I cannot engage in a scholarly argument of religion with them as they already come with an interpretation of me due to the religion I subscribe to. It’s sad really.

    As far as the Mormons who make us look bad by getting involved in matters of others’ political views, I feel sorry for them too. They obviously don’t understand the doctrine of our church. If they understood it at all they would never look down on another for thier decisions. We are obliged by the constitution to have an opinion. We are allowed to voice our vote. Just as we should not persecute those who vote against our views, they should not persecute us. As a whole, the church should not be targeted for the gay community’s outcry for Prop 8. A number of non-Mormons also voted against it. Who am I to tell the gay community they are wrong? I do however respect my right to have an opinion, as I respect thiers.

  27. Are we forgetting that Proposition 8 was a vote? That by the “voice of the people” it did not pass? Has anyone read articles where religious rights are being lost over “civil” rights? Many of those cases have been reported on NPR. This is not an issue of “gay rights” as much as it’s an issue of religious freedom. Where the bible clearly teaches marriage is between a man and a woman–should a pastor be required by law to go against that teaching? (or any religious establishment, for that matter?)
    I am a mormon and I live in a community that is more evangelical than mormon. I love the conversations I have with the women in my neighborhood–I love their faith and devotion to God–none are interested in my church, but it’s not a big deal–there is sooo much more to talk about!
    General Conference is a peaceful meeting and I ache for the safety of those who are attending. Mormons are just as human as the rest–some understand the doctrine and some do not–some live the doctrine and some do not–but I don’t think that scenario only exists in the mormon church.

  28. The LDS church clearly communicated the fear that the government was going to force them to act in ways they don’t want to. I think it’s a nonsense argument. Clergy don’t hand out state marriage licenses. Churches don’t have to marry anyone they don’t want to. Pastors say “no” all the time to people who they don’t think should be getting married.

  29. Has anyone read articles where religious rights are being lost over “civil” rights?

    Name some. Because you’re wrong. Also, religious freedom falls under Civil Rights by the way.

  30. Question: if we go the “get government out of marriage” option and make it so that the government handles all civil unions (between two people of any gender) and “marriage” is merely a religious ceremony handled on its own terms by individual churches, would that make it so that Latter-day Saints have to have a civil union performed outside of the temple before they can get married in the temple?

  31. I agree with Jared… People are taking this out of hand because they don’t know enough (including me). I don’t mean to claim that I know more than anyone else. My views are purely due to my own inability to grasp all this world has to offer. None of us will ever understand everything about anything- until we ask the one who does. I guess my point is: to have any completely unbiased opinion we must know all there is to know. My question is: should we have an opinion on anything if that IS the case? Perplexing….

    A silly question with no real answer… it’s just fun to think about.

    To BJM:

    I think that the government does sort-of regulate our unions already. We have to get a marriage certificate (from the Gov) and according to the law it doesn’t matter what we do in the temple as long as the thing gets signed. Unless they changed the law for “the power vested in” them to pronounce you man and wife (because the minister/sealer would then have to be a government employee, correct?). … it would be roughly the same as it is now, I think.

    And if not, what’s to stop a sealer/minister from getting a job as a government employee and then doing the temple marriage in the manner the government asks, but adding the part that’s important to the couple being sealed once the law has been fulfilled?

    If this were to ever happen, I think the LDS Church would find a way to honor the law and also to practice our religious freedom – as we are promised in the Constitution.

  32. Question: if we go the “get government out of marriage” option and make it so that the government handles all civil unions (between two people of any gender) and “marriage” is merely a religious ceremony handled on its own terms by individual churches, would that make it so that Latter-day Saints have to have a civil union performed outside of the temple before they can get married in the temple?

    This is the way it is done in Germany. Church policy is to allow you to get temple-married as long as you do it on the same day as the civil marriage, otherwise you have to wait the year to get sealed like you normally would if you got married outside the temple (like, in the US for example). So couples get married at the government office, and then drive to the temple for the sealing. Which is pretty much the same thing everyone else does in Germany who wants any other kind of ceremony.

  33. That’s what I say.

    As long as we obey the rules of the land as well as allow the religious beliefs of others it should be fine. These are a two-in-one and can’t work alone. That’s why I can’t see getting involved in gay rights. If it makes them happy and the government wants to allow it – it’s thier choice. We all will have to answer for the choices we made someday.

    Who’s to say they’re wrong??? Not me! (I disagree with the “campaigning” that the LDS church and some members -a small number of the total – did against the Prop… by the way) I don’t think it’s our place. It did bring unnecessary negative attention on the church as a whole. Members that had nothing to do with it are dealing with the backlash.

  34. Kullervo—and in many other countries as well. An added bonus is that non-LDS friends/family can attend the marriage, then the couple goes off for their “Mormon thing.”

    There are places this doesn’t work so well, however—Brazil, for example. When I was there, the nearest temple was on the other side of the country, so couples could not get married by the court and sealed in the temple on the same day (unless they were rich and could afford air travel).

  35. Hello, I am a mormon. I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior. I believe that God is His father and ours. I believe that God loves all is children PERIOD; gay, straight, athletic, fat, gangster, serial killer etc… However, it is clear in any bible out there that God will not be mocked, and homosexuality is mocking God’s purpose of bringing all souls to earth through a man and a woman procreating. The church has more love for a homosexual person than most of the world. We just take a strong stance on what God has commanded. Shouldn’t there be some credit given to those in this world that take a stance for righteousness? If you’re gay it doesn’t matter you’re loved! But God created man and woman and asks that you put off temptations of the flesh and obey his commandments. Soddom and Gummorah (sp) wasn’t a fairytale.

  36. Seth: that seems like it would invite all sorts of problems—although perhaps only in the short term.

    I understand that in Chile the Church has relaxed marriage rules for baptism; i.e., two adults living together can be baptized without being married first. That’s because it’s so hard to get divorces that many people are living with someone they cannot marry (can’t divorce previous spouse). I have no idea what happens to a couple like this after one year when they want to go to the temple.

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