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No Redemption in “Angels in America” (Guest Post) 30 August 2010

Posted by Todd in Culture, Gay and Lesbian Culture, Gay Culture, Literature, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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In a conversation with some friends last week about the brilliance and shortcomings of Kushner’s play cycle Angels in America, a friend of mine, Caroline Udall, wrote this piercing critique of Kushner’s choice to redeem every character except the gay Mormon. Her comment is in medias rex, as it were, but I think it stands on its own as an example of excellent literary criticism. The first paragraph is my comment to which Caroline is responding.

Even today, however, I find that it stings me to the core that the only character who doesn’t find forgiveness in the play is the gay mormon character. Everyone else, even Roy Cohn the evil monster proto-typical self-hating Himmler of American gay life from HUAC to AIDS, even *he* finds redemption. But the gay mormon character is simply lost, refusing redemption at the end of the play, a poison to his wife, his mother, and to the boyfriend he beats up.

This is the exact bone I have to pick with Angels in America as well (I mean the HBO version; I’ve never seen it on stage). To me Joe was a heartbreaking character–absolutely trapped and warped by his family, his religion, his whole right-wing mormon milieu. And I thought Kushner deeply, deeply betrayed that character.

I read a bit of an interview with Kushner once. I can’t remember where I read it, but it was shortly after I saw the DVD. Kushner said, essentially, that he didn’t want Joe to come away with ANYTHING. He wanted him to lose EVERYTHING—that he saw him as some kind of completely hypocritical closet case and wanted to set it up to punish that kind of figure. But the problem is, he didn’t set him up as a Ted Haggard type, or even as a Roy Cohn type. He set the character up as this lost soul who is deeply naive, believes in his religion and consequently hates himself, is really just as much a victim of the patriarchs and their patriarchal homophobia as Harper or his mother are victims of patriarchal misogyny. He develops Joe as having been wounded and rejected by a homophobic, unloving father and thus vulnerable to the warped father-figure of Cohn. That scene where Cohn puts his hands on Joe’s head and blesses him in this really twisted playing out of a mormon father’s blessing was absolutely seething with evil to me. And Joe absorbs it with really no awareness that he is under the hands of the devil. He even tells Cohn that he loves him in that scene–and he clearly means it in a son-to-father sense, not in an erotic way. So here he is getting the devil’s blessing and receiving it, in all innocence, as if it were something holy.

Joe doesn’t share Cohn’s values, but is sort of hypnotized into thinking that Cohn shares his values. That scene where he confronts Cohn about federal witness tampering (or whatever it was) demonstrates clearly that Joe was not inherently a dishonest man.

I fucking hated the character of Louis (which, I suppose may have been the point, lol) for partly this reason. Joe is clearly, CLEARLY ignorant about who Roy Cohn is and what part he has played in history. Yet when Louis finds out that Joe works for Cohn, that’s it. Knowing nothing more than that, he sobbingly rejects Joe in absolutely cruel, arrogant, judgmental terms. It’s not Cohn that’s the villain here–it’s Joe—simply for his proximity to Cohn. Louis even quotes that whole “Have you no decency, sir?” stuff at Joe, as if Joe were the one who had done all that shit during the HUAC hearings. And this is from a man who abandons his AIDS-stricken lover bleeding on the floor because he himself is too physically squeamish to deal with it. He doesn’t even bother to call the ambulance before he goes. It’s like Cohn’s sins have been pronounced on Joe’s head and JOE gets sent off into the desert to die. Joe’s been the innocent scapegoat and so enables everybody else to have basically a warm, lovely happy ending. (Hmm. D’ya think? It works for me. But maybe it’s too much of a stretch. Then again, considering the scene in the hospital where he gets Cohn’s blood all over him after Cohn lays hands on him–maybe it’s not such a stretch.)

If Kushner wanted to punish evil, self-hating, hypocritical closet cases who make life worse for other gays, then why does Cohn get to have Kaddish said for him (in the movie, by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, no less–a woman he participated in essentially murdering), but Joe loses everything, gets no comfort, no redemption of any kind? Joe was in no way a conscious betrayer, a conscious evil presence, in the way that Cohn was. In Joe, Kushner created what I thought was a beautiful, tragic, wounded, and essentially innocent character that was very, very true to what it means to be a victim of mormonism–gay or otherwise. And then he betrays him and psychically kills him off, while giving the TRUE villain of the piece on every. single. level. one of the most redemptive scenes in the play.

Yeah, lol. It clearly bugged me. Joe’s character broke my heart as much as any character in that play and I thought Kushner absolutely betrayed him. I’m still gnawing on it, five years after I saw the thing.

Free Speech 101: Mormon Edition 9 November 2008

Posted by Todd in 2008 Elections, Democratic Theory, Gay Rights, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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Please read Chanson’s great post at Mainstreet Plaza explaining to Mormons why protesting at their temples does not violate their rights. My favorite paragraph:

But seriously folks, free expression 101: your right of free speech doesn’t guarantee you protection from having other people tell you that what you freely said was wrong. You know it, and I know you know it, so please cut the B.S.

Here’s my post from a couple years ago on American Christianity’s basic misunderstanding of free speech, “Free Speech, and Insulting Religion.”

Clarification on Mormons and Prop 8 9 November 2008

Posted by Todd in Christianity, Democratic Theory, Gay Rights, Mormonism/LDS Church, Religion.
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Just to clarify: I’m completely supportive and in favor of the ongoing protests and civil disobedience to bring to light the wrong-headed, unscientific beliefs in fairy tales, and the undemocratic efforts of the Mormon church and its adherents to enshrine their *religious* beliefs regarding homosexuality and marriage into the *secular* Constitution of California. In fact, I’m especially thrilled by the prospect of protestors disrupting Mormons’ efforts to marry in their temples. The irony is rich, no?

And especially in reference to my post about the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status, I’m in favor of all churches losing their tax exempt status. There is no reason at all that churches should be able to keep their finances secret and that they should be able to control billions of dollars in assets without contributing back to the society. And they certainly should be paying taxes if they are going to step into the public sphere to make their particular biases and bigotries enforced by law.

Unlike Seth, the Mormon commenter to the previous post, I see no difference between the protests in Salt Lake City and in Los Angeles. Both were direct responses to the Church’s efforts to impose its religion on the people of California; both were lawful; and both were filled with the frustration of a people denied. The protestors in Salt Lake City gathered at one of the gates to Temple Square and chanted “You’re Sexist! You’re Racist! And you’re Homophobic!” The protestors in Los Angeles bore signs that read, “You have two wives. I want one husband!” I marched in the protest in San Francisco on Friday night and felt the power of a people galvanized against those who would make them second class citizens. Separate is never equal, and this is but one stop along the route to full equality under the law for the gay and lesbian citizens of Californa. Next stop: The United States.

Going After the Mormon Church’s Tax Exempt Status Is the Wrong Strategy 8 November 2008

Posted by Todd in 2008 Elections, Commentary, Democratic Theory, Gay Rights, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church, Religion.
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I’ve been getting a lot of people directing me to the Mormons Stole Our Rights web site, starting a campaign to take away the LDS Church’s tax-exempt status for the participation in the Proposition 8 battle. This is the wrong approach. Let me explain:

I’m especially pissed at the Mormons for two reasons: 1) it was the religion of my childhood and I feel betrayed and shunned all over again; 2) because they financed at least 1/2 of the campaign and provided the lion’s share of the ground forces for prop 8. So I get the rage and the need to strike back.

However, I’m a stickler for free speech and free expression: As the law now stands, the Mormon church did NOT break the law; neither did the catholic church; nor the evangelical churches who campaigned (and who held that horrifying rally in San Diego a few days before the election).

There is a legal problem here that we realistically need to account for if we are to hold the LDS Church accountable (as well as the Catholics and all those Evangelical churches): The Mormon church did not break any law. It’s within their rights according to the IRS code to advocate publicly and spend money to advocate for political issues. Like all churches/non-profits, they are only barred from campaigning for candidates.  The website “Mormons Stole Our Rights” is wrong on the legal facts (it ignores subsection (h) of the tax code they site) and this will lose in any court in America. Ask any tax attorney and they’ll spell it out for you.  Even more problematically, the Mormon church itself donated exactly ZERO funds to this campaign anyway and asked its members to donate money; this is also completely within its rights as the law now stands.

The more legally sound approach is to begin a campaign consisting of one of the two of the following:

a) demand that churches not be considered special kinds of non-profits and that their finances must be made public, just like non-religious non-profits must.

b) remove nonprofit status from all religious organizations. Make them all pay taxes on the money they use to advocate for issues, just like all private citizens must (we have to pay taxes on the money we donate to political causes).  Religions have only had nonprofit status since the 1950s. This isn’t enshrined anywhere in stone.

There is also a third issue to consider:

c) another way to go might be to see if it could be made illegal for California propositions to be funded by out of state interests (see prop 10 as another example); I suspect that may come into conflict with the interstate commerce clause, however, and would require federal legislation.

In some ways, this nascent campaign seems to seek to punish the Mormons for expressing their beliefs and campaigning for them. That is, on its face, anti-democratic and the precise wrong way to go about addressing our the role of the LDS Church in this past election. I’m all in favor of the protests at the Mormon temples, the intense criticism in the public sphere that Mormonism has been getting over this issue, etc. That is what free speech is for: Engaging against wrong-headed and harmful speech and countering it. But rather than seeking to punish an individual or organization for doing what is most fundamental to a democracy, we should be seeking to change people’s minds and convincing the majority of Californians that they are wrong ethically and democratically to enshrine a second class citenzhip for homosexuals in their constitution.

Let’s face it: The No on 8 campaign was completely unprepared for this battle, and the homos of California were complacent and assumed that there was no way this could pass. By the time No on 8 made the staffing change in the campaign, it was too little too late.  There is much work to be done to overcome the homophobia and no institutionalized inequality in our Constitution. I fear that this specific line of attack is the wrong one, unless done very carefully and with full understanding and respect for the law and for the right to free speech and expression.

Mormon Homophobia, part 3891 27 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Commentary, Gender, Homosexuality, Mormonism/LDS Church, Sexuality.
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According to the Deseret News, the Mormon church has released a new pamphlet about so-called “same-gender attraction.” The church’s choice of awkward phrasing notwithstanding, the pamphlet rehashes the standard anti-gay but cloaked in love language as usual. The argument is thus (see if you can follow along):

1) you cannot achieve salvation unless you have an “eternal family” which requires a heterosexual marriage

2) god may never tell us why some people have strong “same-gender attraction”, but we know it’s bad, so don’t ever give in to it

3) if you live a good life (i.e., and never have gay sex), god will reward you in the next life

4) our bodies are sacred, therefore we must only have sex in a monogamous (the irony still escapes the church’s PR machine) heterosexual marriages

5) sexual desire does not justify acting on the behavior, which is immoral. Sex is evil. I mean sacred. Yes, sex is sacred. Don’t do it. It’s immoral.

6) giving in to “same-gender attraction” gives only an illusion of happiness; real happiness comes from self-control (read: denial and deprivation); the urge for “same-gender physical contact” will diminish when real emotional needs are met (because sexual contact is not a real need).

7) if you have a strong testimony of the Gospel (mormonspeak for witness or knowledge), then you will not act on your “same-gender attraction”

8 ) so you see, the Mormon church treats all its members the same, because heterosexuals aren’t allowed to have sex until they’re married either! God really does love us all!

9) if you are “same-gender attracted,” you should stop worrying about it, because it’s beyond your control at the moment; instead you should focus on things that matter, like working for the Mormon church or reading your scriptures or serving the needy

10) grow a good garden: you see, this is an analogy, where our lives are like a garden; if we grow good things, we’ll have a good garden; so it is with our lives. If you are “same-gender attracted”, then you should dive into church service and cultivate friendships with people who do not “flaunt” their homosexuality, but keep it hidden away in shame. If you meet people who are openly homosexual, run from them, er, dig them out of your garden. Homosexuals are like weeds in your garden.

11) Just to be safe, do not under any circumstances develop a close friendship with someone of the same-gender, because Satan will tempt you to make it sexual, and nothing could be worse than having sex with someone of the same-gender whom you love

12) pornography is bad. child molestation is bad.

13) remember, if you suffer from “same-gender attraction,” as long as you never act on it or openly display it or flaunt it like a homosexual weed, you can be a full member of the church! See! We love you! Our geriatric Fuhrer has told us so in bland and banal terms in a great and spacious building during our world wide conference wherein we say the same bland and banal platitudes vetted by our Department of Information Clensing and broadcast throughout all the world because god gave us technology so that we could spread. See? God loves you despite your same-gender attraction!

14) As you struggle to live a lie by remaining in the Mormon closet, be sure not to burden other people with your pain and depression and problems, least of all your priesthood leaders. Instead, it is your own responsibility to suffer in silence alone with the Lord. We love you!

15) God has his arms open to all his children, even to weeds like you. Our Geriatric Fuhrer has even said that we sympathize with you, you so-called homosexual!I don’t even have the strength to comment.

It’s so exhausting to read this drivel and to even begin to contemplate the effects this is having on young gay people around the world in the Mormon church. How can they not see the horrible emotional and psychological damage this does to people who have done nothing wrong. I’m not posting the link to the pamphlet because I don’t want to be linked to the church’s website, but you can follow the link from the Deseret News article.

Meaning of Life, cont. 11 May 2007

Posted by Todd in American Pragmatism, Biology, Cognitive Science, Modernity and Modernism, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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[A cyber-aquaintence posted some questions to my meaning of life post, and I thought it might be interesting to others who read my blog.]

What are examples of adaptive, maladaptive and spandrel meanings?

Well, it’s probably easier to speak in generalities, but here’s the skinny:

1) Humans are social animals, and like all social animals, our behaviors (or mode of interacting with the environment) are necessarily also always social.

2) Meaning must be understood as much more than the cognitive-linguistic explanation of something. We tend to think of “meaning” in terms of the dictionary: a discursive, linguistic representation of an idea. However, in social-behavioristic terms, language is merely a kind of behavior: so meaning becomes the whole set of circumstances, postures, consequences of a given behavior in a particular environment. We learn what something “means” not merely by hearing a dictionary definition of the thing, but by doing, observing, experiencing the thing. [Side note: Language is very cool because it allows us to experience something vicariously and abstractly, but the brain responses are the same as if we were directly experiencing it, which is why, for example, you get butterflies watching someone else jump out of a plane.]

so 3) adaptive meanings are those which, within a given environment (which remember is both physical and social) enable survival. There are some beliefs that only peripherally relate to the physical environment, but are key to survival in the social environment. Part of survival for a social species is successful interdependence in the social group.

Maladaptive meanings are those which inhibit survival and/or reproduction in the environment. And a spandrel is a meaning that is adaptively neutral.

Think of meanings as a kind of adaptation that persist or desist in the same dynamics as physical characteristics. If the environment changes, the meanings must adapt to the new enviornment. Adaptive could become maladaptive; a spandrel could become adaptive; etc.

There are a couple professors at UC Davis who have done a series of mathematical studies and have shown that human cultures have a balance of conservative and innovative thinkers within them. If the culture is too conservative, its members will fail to adapt to a changing environment; if a culture is too innovative, its members will adopt possibly maladaptive meanings in the wrong times and places. Cognitive scientists are finding that individuals tend to lean to one side or the other, and that both sides are necessary for survival. Evolution seems to favor slightly conservation, because our lifespan is so short and because when we evolved our environments were changing so slowly, that being more or less conservative culturally ensured survival: Once you find what works, you keep it.

Also remember a key part of evolutionary theory, which seems to also apply to culture/meanings: adaptation does not select for the best possible answer. Rather, it selects for the merely good enough. This seems to be true both biologically and socially.

And what’s the reader’s digest version of how you make that evaluation? Is it simply a matter of whether it’s constructive or destructive?

John Dewey argued that you make the evaluation based on outcomes. What is the consequence of believing such a thing (or doing such a thing) and is that the outcome you want? Then there’s the meta-level where you have to argue about what you *should* want in the first place (what kind of society/physical environment do we want to establish or maintain)? That, in simple terms, is the method of evaluation.

Finally, for Joseph Smith and True Believin Mormons nowadays (and I understand those are 2 vastly different mindsets from a social scientific or any other perspective) is the “meaning” of the plan of salvation simply an adaptive meaning to give “purpose” to life and give us comfort knowing that things are fucked up on earth but everything will be perfect in the next life (if you follow the rules of course)?

To answer this question, I would stand back and think about this scientifically. JS lived in a particular time and place in America, where there were many open questions and huge problems in the environment. The U.S. was still quite young, and it was not at all clear what it would mean to be free, what a democracy was, who was a citizen, who had power and who not, etc. Further, the older folk magic of the agrarian peoples (i.e., Smith’s magic hunting) was coming into direct conflict with the explosive 2nd Great Awakening and the increasingly influential Moral reform movements; so people all over rural America were unsure about their cultures, because there was conflict within the social environment. On a broad scale, the industrial revolution was causing major disruption to the social and economic lifeways of the entire nation, displacing 10s of 1000s of people and forcing them to radically change the way they lived their lives. I cannot understate the upheaval this caused during the first 100 years of America’s existence as a nation. Finally, even though it had been 200 years since the Euroepans had started colonizing north america, the question as yet had not been answered: Where does America fit in spiritually? is it the “city upon the hill” as the Puritans thought? And if so, what exactly does that mean? Combine all this with the growing ideas of manifest destiny and westward expansion, and you have a social and cultural environment rife with the need to be explained.

JS’s ever-changing mode of understanding Christianity and his place in it was both one man’s efforts to become powerful, and an entire people’s efforts to make sense of that world. JS was an innovator, in the terms I laid out above.

As it happens, mormonism was so outside the bounds of the environment as it was, they were harried to and fro for 75 years.

I think that contemporary mormons have carried into the present all those beliefs that still manage to fill in the wholes in the environments they live in, but it’s more complicated now: Mormons today have to survive in both the American social environment (they’re no longer isolated) and among each other. And all of these meanings are circulating again in a time of great upheaval, primarily in the form of massive technological changes and globalization, which have thrown into question every fundamental belief of every culture on the planet. TBMs reactions and retrenchments now are on the conservative side (although they are adapting at break-neck speed, as we see in the major doctrinal changes occuring in the past 25 years). Mormon belief systems are pretty adaptive in our current social environment: TBMs function mostly well in society, gain prominence in general (although not the presidency), are economically stable and reproduce at an alarming rate, both sexually and proselytically.

BYU Is at It Again—9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Put on Leave 8 September 2006

Posted by Todd in Academia & Education, Commentary, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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This time, they’ve put a professor on administrative leave for being part of the 9/11 conspiracy theorist dog-and-pony show. Now I’ll be the first person to say that Steven Jones, physics professor at BYU, is simply off his rocker on this one. He is traveling the country with a handful of other academics claiming that 9/11 was actually perpetrated by the U.S. government, which is now blaming other people for its own ends. On the face of the evidence and using simply Occam’s Razor logic, there’s virtually nothing to their arguments (but I do think there has been a concerted effort to cover up the administration’s deep incompetence leading up to the events, including the upcoming ABC program, which, if accounts are true is basically a propaganda piece).

That said, I have to yet again say that BYU is as wrong on this one as it is in its heresy cases, such as Jeff Nielsen earlier this summer. The principle of academic freedom is designed, among other things, to allow professors to research and question and explore whatever they want to, without fear of recriminations or punishment from their university. The University in Illinois with the holocaust denier hasn’t fired or put him on administrative leave. Although his arguments are fringe, he’s doing exactly what an academic *should* do, which is present his evidence in a public forum to be vetted by peers and experts.

So Jones is pretty much a whack job (he aparrantly teaches his students that Kolob is “dark matter,” Kolob being both the planet next to the mormon god’s dwelling and the planet from where the gods of Battlestar Galactica come (except they call it Kobol)). More importantly, I don’t buy his arguments about 9/11. But I think that is beside the point. The whole concept of academic freedom is to protect professors against precisely this kind of capriscious action, where a university says your research or public activities “tarnishes the university” or is “unamerican” or is “evil.”

BYU’s own policy actually “splits” academic freedom into two parts (see my earlier post about academic freedom at BYU), where you have complete academic freedom on anything that doesn’t directly touch on the church or the institution’s mormon mission or student faith; when you do or say anything that touches the church or BYU’s connection to the church, you are no longer protected. In most of these academic freedom issues, BYU’s rationale is that the professor violated their contract by questioning the church, which it has separated as a different aspect of academic freedom.

In Jones’ case, under BYU’s own policy, he has not violated its academic freedom policy and he should be reinstated immediately.

Mormon Homophobia: The Oaks/Wickman “Interview” in Redux 20 August 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Ethics, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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[Summary of thoughts from Mormon Homophobia: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.]

After mulling over the arguments presented by Oaks and Wickman, I think they basically boil down to this:

1) You should love homosexuals because they are struggling with a temptation; but you should always make it clear that homosexuality is evil. Your love of them must always be accompanied by stern insistence on their sinful nature. Because God said so.

2) Parents who choose to defend their children have forsaken the Lord. It is acceptable for parents to bar their children from coming home if they are in a homosexual relationship.

3) Homosexuality may or may not be biological, but regardless, it shouldn’t be acted upon.

4) If same-sex marriage were allowed, it would change the definition of marriage, which is bad, really really really bad. Society might crumble and everything! God told us what marriage is, and it isn’t that.

5) Mormons practiced polygamy, but didn’t like it, and were glad when they came to their senses and went back to One-Man-One-Woman marriage. So there’s no contradiction in Mormons being against same-sex marriage.

My responses:

1) Religious beliefs are irrelevant in the public sphere, where in a pluralistic society you must make rational, substantiated arguments demonstrating harm in order to abridge individual rights or to privilege an entire class of people over another (in this case, heterosexuals). You are entitled to religious beliefs and practice, but in the public sphere they are not sufficient justification for enacting law, and other people who disagree are free to respond and critique your beliefs. And so on the whole, this propaganda piece might serve well to help believing members feel better about their own homophobia, and to think they are being ethical and loving without regard to the actual consequences of their behavior, but is irrelevant in a debate in a democratic society with a pluralism of religions. In the end, Oaks and Whitman add nothing new to the debate and instead rehash old and tired arguments that, although powerful among the majority of Americans, hold no rational water.

2) Their appeals to history and tradition are rhetorical and not supported by the any data known to me. In order to make them, they have to pretend that marriage has remained unchanged in any culture for as long as we have recorded history.

3) They make ethical propositions which make sense from within mormonism, but which in fact are deeply harmful to people they purport to love. They divide families and teach people to hate themselves. These kinds of social pressures have been amply demonstrated to be the cause of most of the psychological and emotional adjustment problems experienced by gay men and women prior to “coming out.” They think they are advocating love and compassion, but the consequences of their proposals would be a continuation of the status quo which is deeply harmful to gay men and women in their midst.

4) Finally, they are continually at best disingenuous and at worst outright liars about mormon beliefs and history, as they refuse responsibility for the grossly negligent and unethical practices of the church vis-a-vis homosexuality in the past (e.g., reparative therapy) and they fudge the facts on gay members’ participation in the church (e.g., in missionary service).

Mormon Homophobia, Part Three 20 August 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Ethics, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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[Continued from Part Two. My comments in bold italics.]

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Let’s fast-forward again. My son has now stopped coming to church altogether. There seems no prospect of him returning. Now he tells me he’s planning on going to Canada where same-gender marriage is allowed. He insists that he agrees that loving marriage relationships are important. He’s not promiscuous; he has one relationship. He and his partner intend to have that relationship for the rest of their lives. He cannot understand that a lifetime commitment can’t be accepted by the Church when society seems to be moving in that way. Again, if I am a Latter-day Saint father, what would I be expected to tell him?

WICKMAN: For openers, marriage is neither a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of social policy. This is simply not true, as the most cursory study of the history of human relationships or the anthropology of marriage reveals. Ignorance.Marriage is defined by the Lord Himself.Religious belief. Irrelevant. It’s the one institution that is ceremoniously performed by priesthood authority in the temple [and] transcends this world. It is of such profound importance… such a core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the very purpose of the creation of this earth. One hardly can get past the first page of Genesis without seeing that very clearly. It is not an institution to be tampered with by mankind, and certainly not to be tampered with by those who are doing so simply for their own purposes. There is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes as something called same-gender marriage. So what? Whose Lord? What does this have to do with a pluralistic democracy at all?Homosexual behavior is and will always remain before the Lord an abominable sin. They are careful now to say “behavior”, aren’t they? But ultimately, in practice, you’re calling a homosexual person an abomination because for someone whose sexual desires are homosexual, it is part of who they are. They desire abomination. Calling it something else by virtue of some political definition does not change that reality. It is a religious belief, not a reality.

(more…)

Mormon Homophobia, Part Two 20 August 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Ethics, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church.
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[Continued from Part One. My comments in bold italics.]

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: If we were to look back at someone who had a ‘short fuse,’ and we were to look at their parents who might have had a short fuse, some might identify a genetic influence in that.

OAKS: No, we do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control. That is contrary to the Plan of Salvation, and it is contrary to the justice and mercy of God. It’s contrary to the whole teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which expresses the truth that by or through the power and mercy of Jesus Christ we will have the strength to do all things. Fine. These are your religious beliefs. Great. I don’t really care what you believe about sex and sin. What I want to know is why a democracy should enact and enshrine your religious beliefs into law. That includes resisting temptation. That includes dealing with things that we’re born with, including disfigurements, or mental or physical incapacities. None of these stand in the way of our attaining our eternal destiny. The same may be said of a susceptibility or inclination to one behavior or another which if yielded to would prevent us from achieving our eternal destiny.

(more…)