The question is whether we will be there to answer it. This Sunday, LDS bishops all over California will read, from the pulpit, a letter signed by the First Presidency, (First Presidency Letter) directed to each and every member of the Church in California. The letter reads (the added links are mine–not the First Presidency):
To: General Authorities, Area Seventies, and the following in California: Stake and Mission Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents
[To be read in sacrament meeting on June 29, 2008]
Dear Brethren and Sisters:
Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families
In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.
The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.
A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.
We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.
Thomas S. Monson
Henry B. Eyring
Deiter F. Uchtdorf
We are not being asked to leave our homes and material possessions in the dead of winter to walk over a thousand miles of frozen wilderness to relocate the Church. We are only being asked to do all we can to support the proposed constitutional amendment, by donating our time and means to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as the institution it was designed by Deity to be: between a man and a woman.
You can read more about the amendment and this movement at its official website:
I suspect there will be further information forthcoming from Church leaders here in California about what specifically we will be asked to do.
Make no mistake, however, we will ridiculed, scorned, and belittled by all manner of opponents, including by members of our own Church, particularly here in the Bloggernacle. ( For a sampling see here ). We will be described as intolerant, as bigots, and as homophobes. Why? Because we want to exercise our First Amendment Rights to practice our religious beliefs, and free speech. Be prepared for this onslaught, for it will surely come.
The main stream media will and already has picked up the story. The San Francisco Chronicle is running an article today on the subject. This article, is actually quite factual, and objective–but others in the future may not be:
The Mormon Church, a major backer of the 2000 ballot measure that reaffirmed California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is asking its members to “do all you can” to support a November initiative that would reinstate the ban as a state constitutional amendment.
“The church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God,” the church’s governing First Presidency said in a letter to be read Sunday to all congregations in California. It urges members to donate “your means and time” to the ballot measure campaign.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which estimates its California membership at 750,000, is one of the largest and best-organized of several denominations expected to be active in the initiative campaign.
The Chronicle points out that the Church’s involvement in this moral debate is not only legal, but an appropriate exercise of protected religious freedom:
It’s all legal, says the Internal Revenue Service. Long-standing federal law prohibits churches and charities from endorsing or opposing political candidates, at the risk of their tax-exempt status. But they are free to work for or against legislation, including ballot measures, as long as they don’t devote a substantial part of their activities to those efforts.
The distinction between candidate endorsements and legislative activity is based on free speech and freedom of religion, said Ellen Aprill, a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles. She said proposed laws may raise moral issues that touch “what churches and religious organizations think are at the core of their mission.”
Here in the Bloggernacle, Geoff B at Millennial Star has already posted a couple of good posts on the subject. I encourage you to read them both:
I am certain there will be other less supportive posts as time goes along. While I am the weakest of those who are or who can be called a saint, I will do what I can to support the First Presidency’s call and support this amendment. I encourage all California saints to do likewise.
LDS Church backs proposed California ‘one man-one woman’ marriage amendment (Salt Lake Tribune)
LDS Church backs marriage measure on California ballot (Deseret News)