Prop 8 Trial Today Called ‘Explosive’ as Efforts by Mormon Church to Hide Involvement are Revealed

A document from the Church of Latter Day Saints to the Proposition 8 campaign was revealed at the trial today, and contained this instructive:

Mormon With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from
campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to
provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show
that church is directly involved.

Julia Rosen, blogging for the Courage Campaign notes: "Get that? The LDS Church intentionally worked to hide behind the scenes
to disguise their involvement in the public realm. The LDS Church is
well aware that the general public does not have the most favorable
opinion of them. Attention on their involvement could have hurt their
cause, namely passing Prop 8."

Rosen called the afternoon "explosive" as the attorneys battled over what documents could be revealed as evidence of the coordinated efforts between Prop 8 campaign and Catholic, LDS, and Evangelical churches.

It elicited this statement from Judge Walker: "Not to make light of this, but the reason people want to produce documents is that they are revealing."

Hear, hear.


  1. freddie says

    Andy, be careful here — I’ve been trying to get confirmation that the document actually said that. My fear is that it’s either the witness’ statement or an editorial one by the person doing the liveblogging. We’re stuck here, thanks to SCOTUS, with this kind of confusion.

  2. stephen says

    sounds big… do you think we’ll hear about it in mainstream media?!

    Not a f’n chance.

    Gays have accomplished the impossible- we’re invisible!

    Not even a 14th Amendment challenge can bump a fascinating story about… the rain. :(

  3. B says

    Oh lord. I can’t wait to read the Deseret News tomorrow. As a recovering Ho(Mormon) I can tell you this: The next best thing to strong testimony is an over-the-top persecution complex. Even the faintest hint of criticism is tantamount to persecution.
    Moism is truly the Carrie Prejean of religions.

  4. Bill says

    This is one of the reasons heterosexual-only marriage supporters didn’t want cameras in the courtroom.

  5. me says

    what’s the status of people moving to rescind their tax-exempt status:
    1) is there actually a case here
    2) is anyone doing it
    3) if not, why not
    4) if so, what’s the case called so i can look it up. :-)

  6. me says

    in looking at the LA Times story, they say that the email(s) presented point to both the Catholic and Mormon churches being involved. So can the tax-exempt status of both be revoked? Or, if there’s a case here, would the judge just say “ok don’t do it again?”

  7. jessejames says

    The image of cockroaches running for a dark corner when someone turns on the light comes to mind. Well dressed, well-heeled cockroaches.

  8. CD says

    I was there in the courtroom today in the front row right in front of the screen when they published the demonstratives from these documents… needless to say, my jaw hit the floor. I’m glad the truth finally made it out (if only part of it–the lawyers kept fighting over submitting them as evidence and the plaintiffs had to agree to redact them).

  9. peterparker says

    Any religious organization (church, temple, mosque, coven, etc…) is allowed under the U.S. tax codes to engage in political discourse so long as A) the organization does not invest ‘significant funds’ in the course of their political endeavors and B) the organization does not endorse a CANDIDATE.

    In other words, The Church of Latter Day Saints is within its rights to advocate on either side of any political issue, be it abortion, gun control, defense, or marriage equality. Furthermore, they must have hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in assets, therefore it would be difficult to make the case that the monies they invested in Yes on 8 represented “significant funds” to their organization.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see any way in which they would lose their tax exempt status over their Proposition 8 activities.

  10. freddie says

    @CD: Did the email actually use the phrase “plausible deniability” or “respectable distance?” Or did that get added in by one of the livebloggers?

  11. peterparker says

    I am not an attorney and should have begun my post with the phrase “It is my understanding that any religious organization…”

  12. CD says

    @ FREDDIE:
    The document stated that leadership should be left to the Yes On 8 campaign as to distance the church from responsibility. However, it claimed that the church would invest significant resources in the effort. I wish I had my laptop to record it verbatim, but that’s the gist of what it said. Note, “significant” is not the word it used, but it was the general idea.

    The documents are “FOR ATTORNEY EYES ONLY” so I doubt they’ll be released to the public. It was hotly debated in court today as to whether even let it be shown on the TV as demonstratives.

    It was clear that the LDS church had a significant role because they (the author of the email) boasted in the documents that they had over 20,000 volunteers walking precincts and contributed a sizable amount of money. There were apparently also several conference calls among religious leaders with participating numbers of up to 3500 (I think the goal was 5000) on how to plan and execute prop 8.

  13. jason says

    Don’t let the black churches off the hook, guys. Black churches are notorious for their constant sermons against homosexuality. You need to call black churches for what they are: bigoted.

  14. I'm Layla Miller I know stuff says

    The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not adhering to the literal wording.

    “Law” originally referred to legislative statute, but in the idiom may refer to any kind of rule. Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language. Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.

  15. says

    It should go without saying that a person should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. Until the right-wing, religious fanatics in this country stop trying to control everybody else and force their “morals” down the throat of the country, there can be no real freedom in the United States. Civil rights cannot simply be “voted away,” that is the purpose of the Bill of Rights. Religious activists should be left out of these decisions completely. I invite you to my web pages devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on our freedom:

  16. davea0511 says

    Peter parker’s right … this is about explosive as the revelation that the Pope is Catholic, and the consequence just as benign.

    This really is a fool’s errand people. Maybe if more was spent to promote Prop 8 thus creating an unfair situation, but in fact more was spent to fight it. Surely the judge will observe this fact.

  17. Ray says

    I don’t know how anyone can not understand that their ultimate aim is the eradication of the separation of church and state.

    This is quite rightly one of the major battles of the so-called “culture” war. But this war is not a cultural one. It’s a political one and one whose ultimate aim is the gutting of certain provisions in our Constitution and the transformation of our country and our society into a Christian millenarian state.

  18. marni says

    As a practicing Mormon (please don’t jump, as a flaming liberal I’ve already got enough people on my back) I’ve got one contribution to make to this:

    The Mormon Persecution Complex will be justified only if one thing happens: if the Mormons alone are stripped of the tax exempt status, when in fact hundreds of other churches including the Catholic and many Baptist sects, were using their pulpits (or just the church email list) just as unrighteously.

    Let those who have transgressed be (equally) taxes.

  19. says

    No church should have tax-exempt status, regardless of its politics. James Madison, the principal author of the First Amendment, opposed tax exemption for churches; there’s no reason under the First Amendment why churches should be exempt from taxes. I’d say that having to subsidize churches by not making them pay their share of taxes is a breach of the wall of separation between religion and government.

    The trouble is that so many gay people are not clear on what the First Amendment means. The LDS agitating on a political issue is not a violation of the First Amendment (contrary to Sean, agreeing with PeterParker thus far), any more than, say, the Metropolitan Community Church organizing a March on Washington, or Southern black churches harboring meetings of the Civil Rights Movement. (To say nothing of gay people who ask why the government doesn’t force churches to recognize same-sex marriage.)

  20. concerned says

    Most of the world does not like gay marriage. I do not want my kids taught about adam and steve in school when discussing weddings. Are there any hearings and lawsuits about the “vandalism” performed when gay protesters destroyed church property? HHmmmmmmmmm. I guess that was OK to do.

  21. says

    I would just like to point out that referenced blog has pointed out that the cited text was not from a document but testimony from a witness.

    And as Peter Parker pointed out, the Church encouraged its members to stand behind something that the Church doctrine believes in. There was no direct involvement from the Church in using it’s buildings or other resources to drive the campaign. It is the Church’s right to stand behind causes it believes in and it actually has no qualms with civil unions to protect the rights of all citizens (–Supreme_Court.PDF ).

    It would actually be an infringement on the Church for the government to exercise control over them and giving the government the power to tax them the power to control practices and other doctrines through money. Maintaining that complete separation was the original motivation of the founding fathers and the purpose of “Separation of Church and State”.