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Thanks for the heads up, Dave. I agree that this may be a new low for Meridian.

I should also add that this makes the BYU Daily Universe editorial earlier this week (that denounced faithful, tithe-paying LDS who opposed Prop 8 as no longer "active" in the church) mild by comparison.

This would be hilarious, were it not so sad.

Thanks for the link to the BYU piece, Christopher. It quotes the obnoxious "when the prophet speaks, the debate is over" phrase as if it were present LDS policy, when in fact LDS apologists have been disclaiming it for years and trying to distance the Church from it.

And implying anyone who doesn't vote the way they're told is no longer in good standing with the Church (the import of the commentary on what "active" Mormons do or don't do) is also a big faux pas, given how much effort the Church has put into telling the world that it does NOT tell members how to vote. Does the NewsNet editorial staff think LDS block voting is the policy of the Church? Could anything be WORSE for the Church than suggesting Mormons engage in block voting under the direction of LDS leaders?

The Meridian article states: "The opposition must be shamed, vilified, and demonized. These descriptors of defenders of traditional marriage can already be found in anti-Prop 8 literature and blogs, and the list will grow:

"Christian extremists, anti-gay, right-wing radicals, old-fashioned, hung-up, homophobes, bigots, stupid, intolerant, mean-spirited, knuckle-draggers."

Will someone please explain to me how the appellation of "Church-Lady" is not part of that growing list?

I looked at that article and for a minute, I thought it was a re-incarnation of the Sugar Beet. This part of the introduction to the Meridien piece has me ROTFLOL:

Gary Lawrence is a California pollster and the author of a forthcoming book How Americans View Mormonism; Seven Steps to Improve Our Image.

Note to self: One way we can improve the way others think of us is to refrain from characterizing people with differing political opinions as the spawn of Lucifer.


Thanks for the link, and to Christopher for the link to the BYU editorial.

Dave, you should write up your analysis of the serious problems with the BYU editorial and send it as a letter to the editor. You're absolutely right about the problems with resurrecting the "thinking is done" quote and block voting.

The editor can just jump over to the T&S post that the link spawned to read a variety of comments on the editorial.

Not without a bit of irony is that Satan's plan was the one that restricts agency - not unlike a vote for prop 8.

Not without a bit of irony is that Satan's plan was the one that restricts agency - not unlike a vote for prop 8.

WallyBob: Will someone please explain to me how the appellation of "Church-Lady" is not part of that growing list?


Dave is not making fun of everyone who opposes SSM in CA or of people who are conscientiously exercising their democratic rights in supporting a constitutional amendment in CA. Rather, he is making fun of zealot nutjobs (like the author of that Meridian article apparently) who paint anyone who disagrees with them on this issue as Satan's minions.

As an admittedly sympathetic and "friendly" non-member, i found the Meridian article analysis of the situation in CA fascinating. My understanding of the "war in heaven" was greatly expanded. (I actually printed the article to re-read and ponder later.) I thought the parallels to CA were very relevant. Why the pile-on from church members?? I don't get it - the First Presidency has spoken ... where's the wiggle room??

Kaare, I think most Mormons recoil from the practice of demonizing those who hold opposing political or religious views. It plays into still-current stereotypes of Mormons as virulent religious fundamentalists. It's puzzling that an experienced player in the public arena would publish an article taking this approach.

More generally, the interface between politics and the LDS Church has a long history and remains rather sensitive. In my opinion, the Church has successfully navigated dangerous political waters in the past mostly by avoiding political entanglements and sticking to its religious knitting. Jumping back in so directly just makes a lot of Mormons nervous.

Dave, I have a lot of respect for you and I love your blog, but I simply disagree with you on this one. I think that in the grand scheme of things (taking the 20,000-foot view) there IS a war going on and that the adversary is clearly trying to destroy traditional marriage. Same-sex marriage is one of his tools. Some of the author's points are extremely valid. I don't see any demonization going on -- the author discusses general arguments rather than specific people or groups. Dave, you're a great guy, and please don't take my comments personally.

Dave, on the other hand, this statement in the BYU editorial goes way too far:

Consequently, “active Mormons” know that when the prophet speaks, the debate is over. No matter how diligently someone reads their scriptures, attends church or pays a full tithe, unless they sustain President Monson, his counselors and the other 12 apostles, they are not “active Mormons.”

I find that argument highly suspect. This is not something you would hear in a conference talk, imho.

Dave, one last comment, you may want to re-read the Meridian article with "Screwtape" in mind. May add a different twist for you.

Thanks for the comments, Geoff. I'm not saying peole aren't free -- or even accurate - in seeing Satanic forces at work in the world. My objection is to making an explicit and public identification between those forces and one's political opponents.

A large problem with this article (aside from the glaringly obvious ones), is that it is alienating for those members of the Church who are faithful to the commandments and gay. Drawing such a strong "us vs. them" line pushes out those of "us" who are also part of "them" and says very clearly, "you are not welcome".

This is a huge reason why gays leave the Church (or this life). We don't have to apologize for doctrine, but we do have to speak with love and respect.

Dave, I honestly enjoyed both the BYU editorial and the Meridian article.

While I stop short at adopting such hyperbole in my own personal expression, I nonetheless try to allow others their own thoughts. Not out of charity, but simply to maintain sanity.

Even attempting to keep an open mind, there are principles clearly foundational to faith in the Gospel of Christ that cannot be compromised. I do not have the power to change that, no matter how liberal-minded my thinking. Because I believe this, my thoughts are always going to offend some, just as their expressions continue to offend me.

War in Heaven was about the freedom to choose (wisely or unwisely) and face the consequence/reward with the understanding that Christ would make it possible to return to the Father if one make 'wrong' choices (and repented).

I can understand restricting someone's agency when they attempt to kill, steal, lie, etc. But I don't understand the logic behind restricting (or punishing) their vices. I don't believe that God has given me the authority to do so.

ed42, the decision here doesn't involve restricting vices, it involves deciding what constitutes a marriage. So you can vote in favor of the amendment which only allows man + woman marriage while feeling comfortable that you aren't standing in the way of anyone and their favorite vices.

Geoff J:
Thank you. However, I did not read the article that way. That author seemed to be saying that the arguments are strikingly similar.
For me,now, the question is whether that author is name-calling or does his thesis have any validity. So, my questions are now: 1) Is he correct that Satan worked that way is the War in Heaven? 2) Is he correct that there is a direct correlation in the arguments/tactics of the SSM crowd and what we understand Satan to have done in the pre-mortal existence? and 3) If so, then is characterizing the author (and even zealous nutjobs) as "Church-ladies" being co-opted into Satan's strategem?

Wally Bob,

You ask some good questions. Let me try to respond.

1) Is he correct that Satan worked that way is the War in Heaven?

No. At least I see no scriptural support for his detailed folk speculations about the war in heaven. He "quotes" Satan as if he isn't totally making this stuff up. That fact alone makes his entire argument fatally flawed. Our scriptures are largely silent about the details of our life before this life yet this author take the liberty of filling in the 99.99% of the blanks based on the .01% of information we do have in the actual revelations. (Yes I made those percentages up but you get the point.)

2) Is he correct that there is a direct correlation in the arguments/tactics of the SSM crowd and what we understand Satan to have done in the pre-mortal existence?

See my last answer. Since he is making this stuff up I would say no.

3) If so, then is characterizing the author (and even zealous nutjobs) as "Church-ladies" being co-opted into Satan's strategem?

Pointing out the flaws in opposing arguments is standard practice and it goes both ways in any political debate.

Dave, somehow I had the idea that you live in Orange County, California. I take it from this post's second paragraph that you don't live in California?

Thanks again, Geoff J.

To be fair, Lawrence, in his Meridian article, states that he has deduced the arguments of Satan, rather than giving an exact quote. He says they were his "...stab at what these arguments might have been." So, am I correct in understanding that you do not accept his deductions? Or, are you merely agnostic on this because there is no direct scriptural support?

Now, I am wondering where he gets his "detailed folk speculation;" i.e., does he make these arguments because there is support from past teachings of prophets or apostles or other scriptural references specifying Satan's tactics? (Geoff B.'s reference to C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters is appealing - but, definitely not the same status as scripture.) I've got to research this more, but, the arguments seem similar to what I read in one of Neal A. Maxwell's works - but, that's just jumping out of my brain. Got to research this more.

And, it is certainly true that pointing out flaws, name-calling, etc. is a broom that sweeps back-and-forth.

Give us patience and perseverance, please.

Wally Bob: So, am I correct in understanding that you do not accept his deductions?

Well as I mentioned, I give them about a .01% chance of being fairly accurate.

I suspect others buy into his general speculative theories about the pre-mortal world though. The problem is that in the absence of real and clear revelation it is all a bunch of guessing. And when people are guessing they tend to guess in ways that support their own political views. That is why using such speculations as a foundation for a political argument is so silly and circular.

I haven't read the Meridian article, but War in Heaven is not a bad description if we are talking about what will take place in wards and stakes in the next 4 months.

In other words, the war is not against the satanic forces assembled against Prop 8, the war is among the faithful inside the church. Who will post a sign in their yards? Who will canvass the neighborhood? Who will donate lots of money? Those who don't, depending on the fervor of the local environment, might as well be cast out of heaven.

There was a missionary in my mission who took it as a point of pride that he was so fervent and persistent in his contacting that when he got on a city bus people would see him and get off. In his mind he was a hero defending the faith. I wonder if he is now leading the charge against Prop 8 somewhere in the bowels of the church admin building.

I think the article was aimed at motivating people already convinced that same-sex marriage should be outlawed in California to do something for the cause. It was clearly written for faithful, Orthodox Latter Day Saints.

I didn't get the feeling it was written for fence-sitters or that it would have a particularly detrimental effect on them. Your average fence-sitter is going to ignore most religious arguments and focus on positions that argue for or against based on good public policy.

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