Monday, December 8, 2008 ad in NYT condemning "violence and intimidation" against Mormons

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (a nonprofit public interest law firm "protecting the free expression of all religious traditions") sponsored a full-page ad in the New York Times deploring "The violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] or 'Mormon' church, and other religious organizations-and even against individual believers-simply because they supported Proposition 8," California's ballot initiative that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. It passed with 52.3% of the vote. The alleged intimidation includes a number of incidents reported in the UK's The Independent (see "Mormons Under Seige").  The ad was published in the name of "No Mob Veto," a Becket Fund project.  Signatories include Professors Douglas Laycock (University of Michigan Law School), and a dozen or so religious leaders, lawyers, civil rights activists, and theologians.

The LDS contributed only relatively small sums in support of "Prop 8."  (The State of California's Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating an allegation that the LSD church did not disclose the value of non-monetary campaign activities such as phone banking.)  Individuals members of the LDS church contributed up to 40 percent of the more than $40 million raised to support Prop 8.  Also, The New York Times reported that "the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City issued a four-paragraph decree to be read to congregations, saying 'the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan,' and urging members to become involved with the cause." It has been estimated "that Mormons made up 80 percent to 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts."

A few editorials (including a posting by Mario Ruiz on The Huffington Post) have called for the revocation of the LDS Church's tax-exempt status, on grounds that it violated a condition of tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code - that no substantial part of its activities may consist of attempting to influence legislation.


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