Saturday, November 22, 2008

Measured Voices Provide Reason, Support Amidst Proposition 8 Reaction

Following the passing of Proposition 8 in California, the Church released statements urging civility and reaffirming its position on the issue. The Church also noted that two Roman Catholic bishops released statements decrying religious bigotry against Mormons. The Church today points to additional third-party voices that provide useful insights into the reaction following the vote. Some of these individuals supported Proposition 8, and some were against it.

These materials may be helpful to the news media, bloggers, Church members and the general public in gaining a broader view of the aftermath of the Proposition 8 vote. All people of faith have cause for concern when others try to remove their legitimate voice from the public square.

Anti-Defamation League Condemns Criminal Activity Targeting Religious Institutions That Supported Proposition 8

"Although we strongly opposed Proposition 8, its passage does not justify the defacement and destruction of property. We urge Californians to channel their frustration and disappointment in productive and responsible ways to work towards full equality for all Americans. To place anyone in fear of threat to their houses of worship or their personal security because they have expressed deeply held religious views is contrary to everything this nation represents. Our Constitution's First Amendment protects freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion for all of us."

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Protest and Civility in a Democracy

“But a vicious minority is not satisfied with that. Some gay rights protesters have voiced sentiments about Mormons, whose church was active in advocating Prop 8's passage, that if said about gays would be condemned as hate speech. Vandals have struck a number of Mormon temples. Bash Back, a pro-gay group in Olympia, Wash., trashed a Mormon temple there, then issued a statement saying, ‘Let this be a warning to the Mormon church: Dissolve completely or be destroyed.’

“Gay rights extremists should ask themselves the same question. A cause, no matter how just, can only be harmed by thuggish tactics. Our pluralist democracy depends on a citizenry committed to working out differences with civility.”

Michael Barber, Professor of Theology, Scripture & Christian Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University

“… we found it appalling that in the final days of the campaign, opponents of Proposition 8 ran an ad in which Mormon missionaries were presented as barging into a same-sex couple’s home, gleefully rummaging through their personal possessions and violating their rights. The ad attempted to ridicule people of the Mormon faith, even implying that it was wrong that they contributed money to the election. As a Catholic school, we stand beside our friends in the Mormon Church and of people of faith who work tirelessly to preserve the freedom of religion in America. We also strongly oppose any attempt to ridicule another person’s faith, even faiths with which we have strong historical and theological disagreements.”

The First Amendment Center — Charles Haynes: When the Marriage Debate Turns Ugly, No One Wins

“Mormons are taking the biggest hit from the opposition. But as protests, boycotts and blacklists targeting Mormons proliferate, it’s worth pausing to think about where this collision is headed. … Before this clash escalates further, both sides should exercise caution and reconsider their battle plans going forward.”

The Christian Post — Chuck Colson: So Much for Tolerance

“Two days after the election, 2,000 homosexual protesters surrounded a Mormon temple in Los Angeles chanting ‘Mormon scum.’ Protesters picketed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, holding signs reading ‘Purpose-Driven Hate.’ Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted. Church members’ cars have been vandalized, and at least two Christians were assaulted. Protesters even hurled racial epithets at African-Americans because African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us!” — Rod Dreher: Stand By the Mormons

“Now is the time for traditional Christians — Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox — to come to the aid of our Mormon friends. They put themselves on the front line of the traditional marriage battle like no other church group. And now individual Mormons are paying a terrible price for standing up for something we all believe in. I don't know how we can stand with them from afar, but at least we can thank them, and speak out when we see them being abused. We might also think again about how we view them. … I have deep disagreements with Mormon theology. But they are our friends and allies and fellow citizens, and they deserve our thanks and support.”

John Mark Reynolds, Philosophy Professor at Biola University – California and Thank-a-Mormon Day

“In the battle for the family, however, traditional Christians have no better friends than the Mormon faithful. It would be wrong if that support were taken for granted. We are intolerant of the false attacks on Mormon faith and family. We stand with our Mormon friends in their right to express their views on the public square. We celebrate the areas, such as family values, where we agree. A heart felt thank you may not win points from other friends who demand one hundred percent agreement from their allies, but it is the decent and proper thing to do. Thank you to our Mormon friends and allies!”

The Volokh Conspiracy — Dale Carpenter: An Alternative to Anti-Mormon Protests

“Here's my advice to righteously furious gay-marriage supporters: Stop the focus on the Mormon Church. Stop it now. We just lost a ballot fight in which we were falsely but effectively portrayed as attacking religion. So now some of us attack a religion? People were warned that churches would lose their tax-exempt status, which was untrue. So now we have (frivolous) calls for the Mormon Church to lose its tax-exempt status? It's rather selective indignation, anyway, since lots of demographic groups gave us Prop 8 in different ways — some with money and others with votes. I understand the frustration, but this particular expression of it is wrong and counter-productive.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

I found this wonderful video on one of the blogs I read. It is about standing together despite our differences, and working together for good.

New Calling!

After serving as the Sunday School teacher for the 16-17 year old class for almost a year, I was released yesterday and sustained as the 1st councilor in the Primary Presidency. While I will miss my Sunday School class, I look forward to working with Kristina Hicks, Meghan Lake, and Jenni Jones (as well as all the teachers) in Primary.

Primary is a very fun calling which keeps me young! Working with young children is such a pleasure. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the little children in our ward.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wild and Crazy Week

It's been a very interesting week: protests at the temple, illness, a field trip, and now wildfires which have cut us off from Los Angeles. (I covered the largest protest in my previous post, so I will not include that in this post.)

Our family has been fighting colds. Everyone has been affected, but thankfully, they've been short in duration.

AJ's class went to Canyon High School to see their Theater Class' production of Cinderella. I chaperoned, and AJ really liked having me with him. It is so nice to receive that kind of love from your child, especially when you have teenagers and don't feel that so often. Here are a couple of pictures.

Last night John and I went to the Los Angeles Temple. I have never seen so many people in the temple, since we lived in Utah. There must have been at least 200 people in the session. It has been a tough week with the protests, and it was so wonderful to feel the unity of the church members at the temple.

On our way home as we entered the San Fernando Valley (on the 405 freeway), we saw a very large wildfire in Sylmar.

As of this morning, the fire has grown and the major north-south artery in California (the 5 freeway) is closed. Homes are burning. The news stations are estimating 100's of homes have burned.

We cannot go south to Los Angeles unless we go the long way around, but are safe. Please keep the firefighters and those affected by the fires in your prayers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I read this first hand experience of the protest in front of the Los Angeles Temple on a blog I follow. (click here to view that blog)

From the Front Lines

As additional information for those who missed the news, Mormons have been targeted by the gay community in California as having been the main impetus behind the passing of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state. Although the population of the state voted on the passing of the constitutional amendment, I will proudly agree that most of footwork was carried out by us. It's funny that our opposition knows where the credit is due, but that's another topic for another day. In light of the gay community's frustration in the passing of the proposition, our temple came under attack. I was at the Los Angeles Temple assisting in the security efforts and it was quite an experience. Our temple is safe and no damage was done on the grounds. It was a sight I never expected to see. At one point we had let in about 20 police vehicles through the gates because they were afraid their vehicles would be damaged as civilian cars were being vandalized. I removed the Utah plates from my truck just so I could drive through the mess and park blocks away. My roommate and I traveled on foot after we had changed out of our dress shirts and ties so as not to be targeted.

Two full squads of LAPD in riot gear set up their base inside the temple grounds while SWAT vehicles and hundreds of officers followed the crowds run up Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. I've heard that the crowd was estimated to be over 2,500. When I arrived, all of the gates were shut and a small group of members had to remain outside the grounds as the direction was to turn away others who had come to assist. After about a half an hour two sister missionaries ran up the drive to the East gate. I would have made more jokes with them, asking them trivia questions to prove they were LDS before opening the gate, but they were obviously nervous and had left on their name tags as they wandered the streets. When the crowd turned back towards the temple from West Hollywood, we opened the gate to those members still outside so they would not be trapped in the crowd. The officers inside the temple grounds made a line on the front lawn by the fence. At one point, with 7 news and police helicopters overhead, the crowd began to climb the fence and it looked like there was going to be a lot of trouble. We had it seemed a good forth of a Polynesian ward there so it could have gotten very interesting very fast.

With lines of motorcycle cops with sirens wailing up and down the street with the latest outbreak, helicopters continually circling with spotlights cutting through the sky, and the crowd roaring being led my megaphones shouting every synonym they could think of that went along with "evil" almost seemed like the very end was at hand. My dad called me every few minutes to give me updates from live news through the Internet because we did not have TVs and the police did not even seem to be informed on the movement of the crowd up and down the streets. I relayed these updates directly to the head of temple security so we could anticipate when to be ready.

While I was there, I was not aware of anyone actually breaching the fence, but we were asked to move far across the parking lot as they were anticipating the need to shoot tear gas canisters. I never thought I would see the day when police officers would sit perched on the spire of our temple as lookouts. All of this happened at about 7:30 pm. It should be remembered that most likely many of the law enforcement were not in favor of our stance on Proposition 8, but nevertheless, the men and women were there doing their duty and protecting our property. For that we are grateful. And yes, there was an incident with some of our members who had gone to remove the protest signs from the front fence. One of the protesters did initiate physical contact with one of our sisters so the details are uncertain as to whether the response was fully justified. The lesson to be learned is that it's important to anticipate and avoid such confrontational situations. Remember the world is watching our reaction and the media is everywhere. In the end, when we keep our cool, the video footage speaks the truth regarding which side is really intolerant and appears hateful when we simply do not respond or do so in a loving and controlled manner.

In all the commotion, I had the chance to sit alone by the side of one of the fountains and take in all that was happening. It may seem strange to say, but despite the adrenaline rushing in my blood ready for the next incident or next bit of news from my dad; I felt a tremendous peace. It came over me in a wave as I looked up at the spire topped with Angel Moroni. I can testify that I felt the presence of others protecting the temple tonight..those we could not physically see. I would even go as far to say that I felt the presence of someone personally related to me who was there for my safety. We were not alone. We were protected and our Father in Heaven is mindful of our efforts and willingness to withstand persecution. As I later read a quote from Brigham Young, it made more sense why this did not have to be a fearful experience- exciting yes, in a urgency sense, but very clarifying as we were able to glimpse into things as the really are, truth as is really exists, the adversary's war as it really is raging. I wish everyone of you reading this could have been there just to be reminded as I was how real this war is. The great sadness is that so many of our brothers and sisters are unknowing participants, manipulated and deceived by the grand schemer of it all. The issues may be presented as complex, but the adversary's agenda was as clear as day. Be prepared friends and family, it's bound to get much worse before it gets better, but take council from a prophet:

“You that have not passed thro’ the trials and persecutions, and drivings with this people from the beginning, but have only read them, or heard some of them related, may think how awful they were to endure, and wonder that the saints survived them at all.—The thought of it makes your heart sink within you, your brain reel, and your body tremble, and you are ready to exclaim, ‘I could not have endured it.’ I have been in the heat of it, and never felt better in all my life; I never felt the peace and power of the Almighty more copiously poured upon me than in the keenest part of our trials. They appeared nothing to me."
-Brigham Young (Deseret News Weekly, 24 Aug. 1854, 83). (L. Aldin Porter, “‘But We Heeded Them Not’,” Ensign, Aug 1998, 6)


Thursday, November 6, 2008


While I am very happy that Proposition 8 passed with 52.5% of the vote, I am quite disappointed that there is so much hostility in California. Several groups have filed lawsuits and protests are receiving a lot of media coverage with much of the anger over the loss being directed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). Not surprising when the No on 8 campaign cried "discrimination." However, CA law guarantees the same rights to civil unions as married couples.

Here are some pictures of protests, along with a link to an LA Times article about a protest held today in front of the Los Angeles Temple (click here).

Monday, November 3, 2008


I want to encourage everyone to study the candidates and ballot issues and vote.