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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Boycott Utah

I have nothing against Mormons per se, but since it was the Church of Latter-Day Saints that funded Prop 8 in California, which isn't even their state, I think this call for a boycott of Utah might be a good idea.

(And let's face it, folks.  I know they've recently stepped into the 20th century, but Mormons really aren't the ones to be advocating the idea that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman).

So yeah.  Let's have the Sundance Film Festival be in, oh, Colorado this year.  Hell, I already thought it was.

It's fine if Mormons don't believe in gays having equal rights, but.... wait, that reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Angels in America:

Harper: I'm a Mormon.

Prior: I'm a homosexual.

Harper: Oh. [pause] In my church we don't believe in homosexuals.

Prior: In my church we don't believe in Mormons.


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The representative from the Church of Latter Day Saints made the statement that it's wrong for the church to be singled out just for getting involved in the democratic process.

WHAT??? Of course that's wrong! Churches have no business in the operation of the state. THAT is in the entire foundation of this country. (Whether or not we stick to it is a completely different affair.)

There's often a lot of confusion of what "separation of church and state" actually involves. Basically, two principles are involved: freedom of religious expression and the secularity of the state.

Neither of these prevents individuals or organizations from advocating their religious views; in fact the first of these defends their right to do so. I'm not sure what you mean specifically when you use terms like "getting involved in the democratic process" and "operation of the state", but as far as expressing their views on proposed initiatives and legislation, they absolutely DO have the right.

I'm not sure the LDS actually *are* being criticized for expressing their views (as opposed to being criticized for the views themselves), but that's a separate issue.

Well, "separation of church and state" isn't a legal doctrine, just a social doctrine. One can therefore define it and make it reach as far (or as short) as one wants. Both Jefferson and Madison used the phrase, but even between the two of them, they had slightly different concepts of what it meant.

That said, there is this general notion of "separation of church and state" in the First Amendment, and that amendment has led to laws wherein we give churches tax-exempt status.

However, the IRS is pretty clear on when a religious organization loses its tax-exempt status:

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

Emphasis mine.

So sure. LDS had the "right" to influence legislation. But they risk losing their the tax-exempt status that "separation of church and state" gives them.

I think the Church of LDS is large enough to pass the "substantial part of its activities" test when it comes to lobbying. No real "risk" there.

well, let's just boycott Utah AND California and get it over with. They have the right to vote in the proposition. We have the right to be appalled.

I assume everybody here is cognizant of the irony of advocating a boycott of Utah because of the Mormon Church's attempt to influence the vote on California's Prop 8 from the outside. I'm just sayin'.

The reason people are mad at the Mormon Church (and calling for a boycott of Utah) is clearly NOT because they were "from the outside". It's because they contibuted heavily to an abhorrent position. Their specific location isn't cause of the anger, although it plays well in formulating a response to that anger.

That said, I'm not entirely convinced anymore that boycotting Utah is necessarily a good thing, or particularly effective. Utah really isn't synonymous with the Mormon Church, although most of us outsiders think it is. In other words, the target is too big.

Perhaps a more direct boycott of Mormon-run businesses, assuming one can isolate them with recent information (unlike here).

The reason people are mad at the Mormon Church (and calling for a boycott of Utah) is clearly NOT because they were "from the outside".

Well, no. This is your blog, but that doesn't make you all-knowing. For example, take John Aravosis, editor of the popular "We need to send a message to Utah that they need to stop trying to inflict their way of life on every other state."

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