How religion bought and paid for ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8

The Receipt for $30,354.85 from Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints filed 1/15/2009. tinyurl.com/dlfxwj

California form 497: The Receipt for $30,354.85 from Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints filed 1/15/2009. tinyurl.com/dlfxwj

Under a 1974 Political Reform act, a federal judge has ruled against supporters of Proposition 8 who wished for their donations to the campaign to remain anonymous.

Prop. 8, was widely supported by religious organisations because it defines marriage as between a man and woman, clarifying certain ambiguities in the law which had briefly afforded same-sex couples in certain States of the union, equal human rights with heterosexual couples.

The ruling means that donations of $100 or greater are a matter public record. A quick search of the database on www.sacbee.com, reveals some startling sums of money being thrown around by religious organisations—who’s tax exempt status is supposed to hinge upon their remaining separate from affairs of state.

The table reveals, in three separate donations, the Catholic organisation Knights of Columbus gave $400,000, then an additional $25,000 as the ‘Calif. State council Knights of Columbus’ as well as the highest group donation in favour of the bill, of $1,000,000 from the ‘Knights of Columbus Headquarters’.

Evangelical mega church, San Diego Rock, gave $25,679. James Dobson’s ‘Focus on the family’, who has openly rallied on his radio show, and preached on the moral imperative for Yes on Proposition 8, gave $49,536.

Fieldstead and co.’s support for Proposition 8, to the tune of $895,000, comes after the founder, Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson, Jr., told the Orange County Register, “My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives” and follows years of Philanthropic efforts in support of Christian Evangelical causes.

Concerned Women For America, which calls all forms of civil unions or domestic partnership between same-sex individuals “counterfeit marriages” gave $409,000.

The American Family Association, who in 2004 boycotted the movie ‘Shark Tale’ because they said it was “designed to promote the acceptance of gay rights by children”, gave $500,000.

Indeed, looking down the list, it’s difficult to find a single major donor who isn’t in some way connected to Evangelical Christianity of some kind or another.

But it’s not just Evangelical groups. Individuals who donated in support, starting at $500 from Whitney Clayton, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a Mormon group who rallied for co-ordinated nation-wide efforts on a Yes vote, build to people like Alan Ashton.

Ashton, who served as a mission president for Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints in western Ontario from July 2004 through June 2007 and is the grandson of former LDS Church president David O. McKay was single largest individual contributor to the Yes campaign, donating $1,000,000 from his vast fortune as co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation.

John and Josephine Templeton Jr., Presidents of the Templeton Foundation, who’s financial support of the The Discovery Institute, an Evangelical front organisation for the promotion of “Intelligent Design”, gave $900,000 and $300,000 respectively.

When is there going to be a clarification of the law with regard to campaign contributions from tax exempt religious organisations?

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47 comments on “How religion bought and paid for ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8

  1. Does the author mean that if a group has a similar agenda, but somehow claims no overriding beliefs they may have a political opinion, but that those who do have some sort of common belief which not related to this cause should not be allowed to have or express a political opinion?

    Or possibly I am missing some point that no not-for-profit or charitable organizations contributed to the “No” side of this debate?

  2. Most people with a brain in California will admit that these religious organisations are ultimately fighting a losing battle.

    Many equate this struggle with the U.S. civil rights movement, stating that much like the right to vote, it’s only a matter of time before equality prevails.

    Plus it didn’t pass by a massive margin. Many ‘Yes’ votes were the result of misdirection and voter ignorance. Some thought the proposition was to uphold the right for homosexuals to marry so voted yes. Others were misdirected by politico-tele-marketing. But that is not an excuse. It was the biggest campaign (largest amount raised) for a social issue in American history. (Note: most news outlets are classifying this as a social issue, not a moral issue which the religious movement believes it is.) It was plastered everywhere. So there was no excuse for not knowing which side of the proposition you were on. I couldn’t even vote but I knew, so I don’t understand how people could get confused.

    In any case, I am not as annoyed about it as I would be if I thought all was lost. But it isn’t. My gay friends are disappointed obviously, but won’t let this keep them down. They know as well as I do that this struggle is far from over. And it’s a struggle in which homosexuals will eventually emerge victorious.

  3. For anyone who doesn’t fastidiously follow Mormon Church orientated threads on this blog, incidentally, the silence from certain individuals who suggested there was no link between Yes on 8 and a religion based upon the deluded fantasies of a self-confessed con-man, speaks volumes about how unhappy these people are about the judges ruling.

    Let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long for Prop. 8 to be overturned completely.

  4. I already heard about the new funds the LDS leadership failed to disclosed (read it in the LA Times).

    I’ll admit to being quite embarrassed by the new revelation. Frankly, I’m also pretty pissed off with the LDS leadership at the moment.

    Normally, I’m all for defending my religion and everything, and I still will on the theology and all that. But on this issue… the LDS leadership is on their own. They deserve what criticism they get. The way this whole Prop 8 thing has been handled has been nothing but one gaff after another. I never agreed with the LDS Church’s strategy of making marriage a Constitutional issue to begin with. I also didn’t like how the campaign was conducted. But I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt and allow my people to have their beliefs, even if I disagreed with their methods.

    But sorry, I’m not going to justify this screw-up on Salt Lake’s part. On this issue, they’re on my own, and I’m not going to waste any ink defending it.

  5. That’s very honest of you Seth. How vocal about this have you been with your fellow worshippers, during those after service chats in the car-park? What’s the general consensus of opinion?

  6. Haven’t discussed this new issue. I didn’t appreciate the fact that politics was being discussed at church to begin with (during the pro-Prop 8 campaign), so I’m not exactly itching to start up political conversations at church.

    I had made my views known at dinner parties and other locations.

    As I said in the previous thread, I’ve always been of the opinion that government shouldn’t be in the marriage license business to begin with. I think removing government from “marriage” completely is a sort of middle ground where gay advocates and religious conservatives can meet.

    When I suggested the idea to people at church, they seemed open to the idea.

    But we’re also out in Colorado – so we aren’t at ground zero on the Prop 8 thing anyway. Most of my LDS friends seem to be rather grateful that we aren’t embroiled in this thing. More than a few of us were a little irritated by how politically charged Sunday services were reportedly getting in California during the election. I find it highly objectionable to be having Gospel Doctrine classes dominated by campaign strategy meetings (which is what was reportedly happening in SOME wards in California).

    Once you get outside Utah, the political views of Mormons typically grow much more moderate (though still right-leaning). Few of us are looking forward to having a gay marriage fight here in Colorado.

    I think there was a similar anti-gay marriage initiative here in Colorado about 4 years ago. Me and my wife voted against amending the Constitution to reject gay marriage. We heard absolutely nothing for Church HQ or over the pulpit on the issue. They pretty much just left how to vote on the issue up to the voters. I’m already more than a little irritated that the LDS Church decided that California was going to be different and I’m hoping they don’t try the same thing here.

    The new campaign disclosures just top off what was already a pretty grumpy mood on my part.

  7. ..also:

    Do you think that the mother ship in Salt Lake would be disappointed with your views? Do you think they’d prefer it if everyone was as clearly anti-homosexual as they are?

  8. Jim (#6),

    Speaking for only my ward, it’s a non-issue. They were in-kind expenditures, covering some travel expenses and extra man-hours, and compared to actual contributions it was chump change. It’s not like the big, bad church funneled millions of clandestine dollars into the cause. At worst it was a minor oversight, not Watergate.

    And frankly, I’m tired of opponents of Prop 8 comparing the gay marriage movement to the civil rights movement. It’s an insult. The leaders of the civil rights movement performed their parts with eloquence and grace. Dr. King was a brilliant, patient and kind man who counseled his people to exercise restraint and dignity, and in the latter part of his career even Malcom X followed suit. Theirs was truly a righteous campaign. The post-election behavior of the No-on-8 proponents has been anything but dignified and their moral outrage stinks of rapacious browbeating. They lost the election– not to only members of religious communities but to a majority of California voters– and now they’re pulling every kind of strategic stunt they can to get their way anyway. If the tables were turned they’d be in the streets howling like banshees because THEY won fair and square. But, face it, people– you didn’t. It may have surprised you, but oh well. Move on to the next election.

  9. “Do you think that the mother ship in Salt Lake would be disappointed with your views?”

    Maybe, but I imagine they’ll get over it. We did actually have a member of top LDS leadership last fall explicitly state that all members of the LDS Church have a right to vote their conscience on the Prop 8 issue and those rights would be respected by LDS leadership. Whether that translated down to the local level leadership in California, I honestly have no idea.

    Mormons actually do have a precedent for going contrary to a prophet’s political views. Mormon prophet Heber J. Grant opposed the repeal of Prohibition back in the early 1900s and called upon all Mormons to do likewise. The Mormons apparently ignored him, and Utah voted right along with everyone else to repeal Prohibition. Pres. Grant also vocally opposed the candidacy of FDR to the US Presidency. Once again, his flock voted against his wishes.

    Poor Pres. Grant.

    I’ll bow out now, and let you and David fight this out all you want.

  10. “a religion based upon the deluded fantasies of a self-confessed con-man”

    Nice, Jim. If you want Mormons to read what you write and engage with you in discussion it would be a real step forward if you got the name of the Church right and didn’t engage in this kind of disgusting name-calling. If this is the quality we can expect from your discourse count me among those who will ignore you here and when you show up to post on our blogs. And BTW, try spell checking. The idiotic errors in your post serve only to confirm that you are a moron.

  11. MCQ:
    I don’t blog to keep you happy and offer no apologies for telling the truth or causing offence to those who offend me. Nor am I sorry for using English spellings of Americanised words.

    It is factually correct that Joseph Smith was a con-man—he admitted as much on numerous occasions, most famously to his own father-in-law. If you want to bury your head in the sand about that, there’s very little I can or would seek to do to stop you—but if you’re going to follow the words of someone who could see through stones in a magic hat, I’d be a little more careful about bandying words like “idiotic errors” around, if I were you.

  12. MCQ,

    In the face of someone disagreeing with you and your religious messiah, simply calling them a moron doesn’t help your case. Neither does it exhibit any ability on your part to discuss the topic in a rational manner.

    Also,

    If you are going to berate someone for spelling errors at least have the sense to make sure you are not using text message speak in said sentence.

    David T,

    “I’m tired of opponents of Prop 8 comparing the gay marriage movement to the civil rights movement. It’s an insult.”

    An insult to you personally it may be. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed the civil rights movement of the present day. Whether you choose to accept it as such is irrelevant.

    I will let the future historical record hold a mirror up to your backward thinking, much like the civil rights movement of yesteryear holds a mirror up to previous generations backward thinkers and reveals them for what they truly were.

    Jim,

    Tut, tut!

    Damn you for being English in England, using English as how it is used in England! ;)

    Maybe you should put up an American English translation of your posts to aid these people ;)

  13. Real Americans understand me as perfectly well as people from elsewhere, even if they don’t always agree with what I have to say. It’s those who are somewhat farther down the line of religious non-thinking than their frontal lobe can accommodate, who struggle with my methods.

  14. Yeah, Jim. Everyone who disagrees with you is just mentally challenged. It’s not possible that people of faith actually have brains. That’s the typical bigoted statement of an arrogant know-nothing blowhard, but please, carry on.

    As for your being from England, that fact may explain some of the items I originally attributed to spelling errors, but then there’s nothing on your site that I could readily see that alerted me to your location, so I had no way of knowing that. I apologize if my ignorance on that point led me to unfairly judge your intelligence. As an aside, I was not aware that British usage allowed for the use of “who’s” where American usage would require “whose.” If that’s the case, it’s new to me.

    In point of fact, Jim, it’s not your methods I struggle with, and I can’t speak for others of faith, but I doubt they would find anything very new or sophisticated about anything you say or do either.

    My objection to you is that you came on our website and posted a comment with a link asking us to join your discussion. I obliged and read your post, and found, instead of anything substantive posted for honest discussion with others in good faith, rather a person who clearly knows nothing about my faith except the tired old lies of others that he has swallowed whole and finds it necessary to repeat in order to insult and demean my religion for his own self-aggrandizement. That’s just bad manners Jim, no matter where you’re from. And it tells people everything they really need to know about you. Mostly, it says you’re not worth speaking to.

  15. MCQ:
    Dealing only with the facts, then, as opposed to received opinion, which of the stones did Joseph Smith look through, in the magic hat, which specifically informed the book of Mormon on matters of campaign contributions and democratic voting rights?

    When you say you find it hard to find anything new or sophisticated in anything I do or say, in terms, which part of you’re being ripped off by schizophrenic liars isn’t quite sinking in?

    What percentage of the the $30,354.85 donated by LDS to ‘protectmarrage.com’ did your ward contribute towards and how would you feel if it transpired that these funds were diverted from other more charitable causes?

    If I’ve shown bad manners, by my presentation of the unfiltered opinion of billions of others like me around the world, you can at least imagine how much more painful the insult caused is upon those WHOSE lives have been affected by the wholesale corruption of the democratic process, bought and paid for by two of the world’s most patently absurd religions?

    The hilarious part about it all is, I’ll bet, you sleep like a baby. Caring not a jot that your entire world-view is filtered through the rose tinted glasses of religious arrogant certainty, while the pain of people on their death bed’s, with already debilitating illnesses, is made 10 times worse by the worry of what is going to happen to their loved ones when they’re gone—and all because a dedicated group of sanctimonious, in-bred, brain donors, can’t keep to themselves the anxiety over imaginary threats from imaginary Gods; too brainwashed to notice the man behind the curtain is nought but their own externalised ego.

    If you’re not worried by the prospect of public policy being formulated by people who think and act like you, I certainly am—and, trust me, buddy, I’m not on my own. So why don’t you take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself at which point you dipped out of normal society and subscribed to a belief system that rises and falls on hatred and fear, before you expose us to any more of the shallow, illogical pre-programming, which you laughingly refer to as your own opinion.

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  17. To be fair Societeyes it is the first of these kinds of messages I’ve ever received, so on balance I’d say that’s fair going—considering how often these clowns get called out on their utter shite—and not just on this blog, but in the whole of normal society.

  18. You probably could have found about 80 white southerners in the 1930s willing to claim that some young black guy raped one of the local white girls too.

    So what?

  19. Atheists and agnostics are right in most of their thinking

    It has been common among religious believers to look with misgiving at atheists and agnostics, and to think that they are mistaken; however, in many instances the opposite is the truth; some religious beliefs are not just baseless, but obsolete and irrelevant. It is unbelievable how myths and a religious fantasy have influenced human minds with more strength than reality!

    Most people don’t dare to confront their religious doubts; they are afraid of abandoning the “certainty” of their convictions, and opt for the status quo. The “God” of main line traditions simply does not exist. I accepted the challenge of finding the One who may be recognized even by agnostics and atheists, and came to the conclusion that God isn’t other than the Existence itself; and the Existence is, “I am,” the total existence, “All-That-Is.” There is probably a single issue in which I do not agree with atheists: I believe that “there is no effect without cause.”

    There is a book most probably not written for you, but perhaps useful for some of your religious friends who still think that you are wrong and they are right: “Christianity Reformed From ist Roots.” It might help them to be relieved of the illusion, as I did myself. Distinguished philosophers and thinkers might give you an idea of this book—perhaps a generation ahead of time for most believers—(links below); or you might look at excerpts at Amazon.com.

    Jairo Mejia, M. Psych., Santa Clara University
    Episcopal Priest, Retired
    Carmel Valley, California

    http://www.mbay.net/~jmejia/Grudzen.htm

    http://www.mbay.net/~jmejia/Churcher.htm

  20. Thank you for your thoughts, Jairo Mejia. I have to say that, after briefly looking at your work on the decline of Christianity and the reasons you see for that, I would have preferred to debate with you on a broader range of topics than what is essentially a black and white case of hate and discrimination, upon which we both no-doubt agree. To that end let me invite you to comment on other areas of the blog, while welcoming your introduction here on the important and ever evolving topic of human rights for gay couples.

    But briefly, since you already have my attention and you were the first to mention the thinking of the irreligious often being correct, when it comes to challenging certainties, can I ask how you would advise someone who came to you, after years of believing that Christianity is the only way to know Yahweh, if that person only began to have doubts about their faith, having reached an understanding on Cosmology, or Evolution by Natural Selection, or any and all of the sciences which now reveal what was for centuries obscured, mysterious and therefore assigned to God?

    Do you feel that the decline in religion is a good thing, if it is to give way to clearer thinking on the nature of reality, or do you see the challenge to reason from pseudoscience to be an even greater threat to our intellectual well-being than anything the Vatican has yet to muster? In other words, do you think the church would better serve society by admitting the game is up, in terms of clinging to a bronze-age book of plagiarised Pagan astrology myths, so that it might remain free to use what’s left of it’s sway within the ruling classes to replace churches with libraries and schools in a concerted effort to regain what was once the domain of the clergy; teaching what the poet and rock musician Jon Anderson called The Revealing Science of God?

    I live in a part of the world not too far from Lindisfarne Priory, in Northumberland – just outside of Newcastle Upon Tyne, in the North East of England. St Aidan founded the monastery in AD 635 and, as I am sure you are aware, it remained a seat of learning vital to the rise of Christianity throughout Europe for hundreds of years hence.

    This wasn’t achieved by a disregard for the sciences or by the sort of disdain for education which is so prevalent among a vocal and extremely well funded minority in American evangelicalism. How do you feel about introducing strict legal measures to prevent the likes of The Templeton Foundation, The Mormons, Discovery Institute and individuals like Ken Ham and Ray Comfort from preaching their particular brand of fear theology?

  21. That only holds if you assume that the book can only be valid if it bears no human stamp on it at all.

    There’s no reason why a translator shouldn’t render a book in a language with which he was familiar.

  22. Yeah, either that or he was making it up as he went along. Gee, let me think. Which is the more likely scenario here? Convicted con-man and spiritualist profiteer can genuinely see through magic rocks onto plates of gold that no-one other than him can see, or convicted con-man and spiritualist profiteer managed to convince people he could see through magic rocks onto plates of gold that no-one other than him can see? Hmm, that does pose a dilly of a moral quandary.

  23. I really don’t particularly care.

    The results in the text (the WHOLE text, not just the .05% our critics like to quote) speak for themselves as far as I’m concerned. It’s a powerful piece of work, regardless of where Joseph got it from.

  24. You’ve been very honest about your embarrassment over the Prop. 8 issue and you’ve conceded that Joseph Smith flat out lied about the book or Mormon. Tell me–and I genuinely want to know this, Seth R–why do you continue calling yourself a Mormon? Don’t you see that the powerful revelation you refer to comes entirely from within yourself–and that you don’t need to buy into some frontiersman con-trick to make your life whole?

  25. Jim, you keep trying to put words in my mouth.

    I never said Joseph lied about anything. I don’t think Joseph produced it on his own. I merely said that I think a lot of Joseph-the-man ended up in the book – like any book of scripture. Honestly, I don’t think Joseph was capable of writing a book like that.

    In fact, I don’t ANYONE in the 19th century was capable of writing a book like that. Mormon scholars have done research on this and they have a whole lot of arguments, if you care (which I’m not sure you do).

    I don’t really expect to convince you. I’m just telling you that I believe that the Book of Mormon has an origin beyond the capacity of any human being. Now how much of it was Joseph the man, and how much of it was divine origin, I don’t know. A good chunk of it has the stamp of divine origin to me however. I buy into this.

    It all really boils down to whether you believe that there is something more than neurons and synapses at work in the world. I believe there is something transcendent in human existence. I believe that we continue after death and progress eternally. I believe a being who has prepared the way and already been there – God – is a part of that.

    If you believe in that foundational concept, then the details of whatever mystical incidentals Joseph used to do his work don’t really matter.

  26. Your beliefs were never in question. The evidence upon which they are based, however, is.

    I believe that people should be free to live their lives the way they want to. Proposition 8 says that, simply because someone is born different to a dilapidated illusion of what constitutes ‘normality’ that they should be legislated against and treated as second class citizens. This is abhorrent to anyone who hasn’t had their morality distorted by the belief that their particular religion differentiates between the ramblings of a con-man and that which is divinely inspired. So again I ask the question, if there is such a compelling argument in favour of the latter over the former, why continue to call it Mormonism?

  27. You scoundrels! Repeat after me: science is science, beliefs are beliefs. Science provides us with AN answer, a fact. Religion provides us with a belief. A belief that needs absolutely no correlation with science. The only tool and evidence that a belief needs is their book of scriptures. End of story.

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