Mormons and the Rights of Women and Gays
June 6, 2012 23 Comments
I was just reading Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven because I felt that, given that we now have a Mormon presidential candidate, I should know more about the faith than what I read by Mark Twain on the subject.
On page 24 there is a footnote. It reads as follows, in its entirety:
In 1993, LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer (currently second in line to become president and prophet of the Mormons) pronounced that the church faces three major threats: “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.” Over the years, the Mormon leadership has made numerous pronouncements about the “dangers” of the feminist movement and has excommunicated several outspoken feminists. But perhaps the greatest rift between Mormon general authorities and advocates for women’s rights occurred when the LDS Church actively and very effectively mobilized Mormons to vote as a bloc against ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (despite the fact that a poll published in the church-owned Deseret News in 1974 showed that 63 percent of Utahans approved of the ERA). Most political analysts believe that had the LDS church not taken such an aggressive position against the ERA, it would have been easily ratified by the required thirty-eight states, and would now be part of the U.S. Constitution.
It is worth noting here that the Mormon Church was also instrumental in supporting Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that outlawed gay marriage in California in 2008. As the LA Times reported,
…church leaders asked for 30 members from each California congregation to donate four hours a week to the campaign. They also called on young married couples and single Mormons to use the Internet, text messaging, blogging and other forms of computer technology to help pass the initiative, saying the church has created a new Web site — PreservingMarriage.org — with materials they can download and post on their own social networking sites.
Mr. Packer is now President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. I am just learning about the Mormon Church’s hierarchy, but if my understanding is correct, Mr. Packer is next in line to succeed Thomas S. Monson, the current President (and Prophet) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mr. Packer is not a leader of a fringe group of Mormon fundamentalists. If this were the Catholic Church, he would be considered the Pope’s likely successor.
Fewer than 20 years ago, he identified the greatest threats to the Mormon Church as women, gays, and intellectuals. (I wonder what the rest of the Top Ten Threats were.) Governor Romney was a ward bishop in the church, and presumably subscribes to the pronouncements of its leadership.
Governor Romney should be asked if he believes that feminism, women’s equality, gays and intellectuals threaten his church. If he believes that to be the case, how would he balance their perceived threat to his Church with the rights and demands of these constituents if he becomes president?
I’d just like a clear, concise statement that would fit on a bumper sticker. I’d also like to know, given this record of highly effective political action, if the Mormon Church remains tax exempt.