Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mormon lies exposed.

It’s official, the Mormon Church lied. When I say it is official I am going straight to the source itself. The Mormon Church has now basically admitted that they publicly lied about their role in pushing Proposition 8 to remove marriage rights from gay couples in California.

The role of the Mormon sect in this anti equality crusade was heavily reported on at the time. The Mormon leadership feigned shock and said they were being victimized and discriminated against because it was just a bunch of lies. They claimed that they spent only $2,078 in support of Proposition 8. And obedient Mormons posted that claim on web sites and in letters to newspapers all across the country. The litany from Mormon apologists was that Prop 8 campaigns (pro and con) spent millions while the Mormon Church spent a paltry $2,078. Based on that to single them out as a major factor just shows prejudice and bigotry. Mormons love to play the victim card.

The problem was that there was plenty of evidence that the $2,078 figure was a lie. It was clear that the Mormon Church had spent much, much more than that and was illegally hiding those donations. It was proven that the church had operated telephone banks to get Prop 8 volunteers recruited from Mormon ranks. It was also known that a satellite link up was used to broadcast a top level Mormon speaking to hundreds of Mormons churches urging their members to volunteer for Prop 8 and to contribute money. All these “in kind” donations were left off the reports of what the Mormon Church had spent in the campaign.

Some Prop 8 opponents filed complaints with the state that the Mormon Church had been deceptive about the funding they gave to the measure. And with enough evidence to back them up the state was investigating the matter. Facing this investigation, which was going to show the church had lied, the Mormon leadership decided to file a new, updated report which admitted they had filed misleading financial reports before. They are now saying that that previously neglected to report 99% of their actual spending. When you neglect to report 99% of what you spent in a campaign you are not being forgetful. To neglect 99% of your contributions requires premeditated, intentional action on your part. While one might accidentally forget to mention an expense here or there it stretches credibility for anyone to think that 99% of spending was left off the reports due to an error.

The new report filed by the Mormons admits to spending around $190,000. Even when the complaint against their deceptive reporting was originally filed the Church insisted that they had reported everything that was required. But the new, amended report now admits that their previous denial was false. They say that the church spent $96,849 alone on church staff members who, while paid by the Mormon Church, were working for Prop 8. Dozens of air tickets were purchased for top officials from the Mormon sect to fly to California to rally the local Mormons behind the measure

I strongly suspect that this is still a fraction of the total that was actually spent by the Mormon Church. As a Church they have long history of secrecy and playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to their public statements. And there are areas of spending which I have reported on this site which I doubt are included in the amended figures which the Church reluctantly filed.

I also suspect that the reason they filed this report was that any investigation into their activities would easily prove these expenditures by the church. I have little doubt that Church officials are hoping that this admission will end any investigation and leave uncovered a even greater level of spending by the sect.

Even if this were all the contributions from the official church it is still misleading. What is critical to remember is what they did with the $190,000 that they now admit spending. What the Mormon leadership did was used this money to raise significantly more money from the Mormon faithful. Church leaders spent these funds sending messages to other Mormons to fund Proposition 8. Estimates have Mormons contributing $20 million in total to this campaign.

So the money spent was used to finance a fund-raising effort that ultimately provided the lion’s share of the revenue used in the anti equality campaign. The New York Times accurately reported that Mormon support “tipped the scales” for Prop 8. Considering how close the vote was in the state it is safe to say that without the $20 million in Mormon funding that Prop 8 would have failed.

So even if the $190,000 is the full amount the Church spent it directly lead to the raising of millions of dollars. The $190,000 spent by Mormon leaders surreptitiously was pivotal because it lead to millions more in campaign funds which were enough to turn a losing percentage into a narrow victory.

It is no surprise that the media is now reporting that Mormon officials were “unavailable” to comment on this admission by the Church. The fact is that the Mormon leadership lied about their role in Proposition 8. They lied about the money they spent and they knew they were lying. Only the impending investigation of their lies forced them come clean and admit they had reported only around 1% of the true figure. And I still alleged that there is a lot more hidden spending that can be uncovered. If the California state government goes ahead with their investigation I expect some new “amended” reports to suddenly be filed by the Church. And even then I wouldn’t bet that those would cover it all.

So what sort of credibility does this church have? They lied about the money they spent on the campaign. When they were called out on the lies they made accusations against those who caught them, and continued to lie Only when faced with an investigation that they couldn’t control did they suddenly discover that they a hell of a lot more then they previously admitted.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gay penguins marry, Mormons mobilize.

I’m not making this up. A Chinese zoo has had some issues with a same-sex penguin couple. While same-sex coupling is relatively common among penguins the zoo was unhappy since the two males had a tendency to steal eggs for their own nest. The zoo decided to try something different and they started giving the male penguins eggs that had been rejected by their mothers.

It turned out that the male couple were ‘the zoo’s best penguin parents” The zoo was so happy with the results of allow the same-sex couple to adopt that they decided to reward them by having a marriage between the two. They even dressed the couple up in some traditional Chinese outfits, played the Wedding March for them and served a wedding meal of fish, of course. Apparently the wedding photographer snapped this photo of the happy couple.

Two days later the Mormon Church raised $40 million to spearhead a campaign to pass legislation in China banning same-sex weddings for penguins. Rev. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, said that allowing the couple to raise rejected eggs would cause “gender confusion” issues for the chicks and urged an immediate ban on the practice. Rev. Dobson assured his listeners that if the penguins would just “accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour” they could be “cured of their affliction.” Ted Haggard has issued a press statement denying that he ever met the penguins.

Note: Okay, I made up that last paragraph but it sounds so right. The rest of the story appears to be the truth.

The End of the World

Monday, January 26, 2009

The scandal that just won't die.

The Ted Haggard scandal simply won’t die -- nor can it. As much as the fundamentalists want to believe the scandal is his fault, it isn’t. The true cause of this scandal is the absurd views that fundamentalists hold and their steadfast refusal to let reality have any role in their appraisal of life.

You may remember that Haggard ran a fundamentalist “megachurch” in Colorado Springs but it was revealed that he was a drug user who hired male prostitutes. Haggard lied about the whole thing and then admitted it was true. He was using crystal meth but then one purpose of that drug is to lower sexual inhibitions. So a guilt ridden fundamentalist, convinced he is doomed to hell for being gay, but who is nonetheless gay, might find this drug an easy means to being true to his own nature.

Haggard, of course, was not just a self-hating homosexual but one who expressed “Biblical” contempt toward other gays in public. That was the reason his prostitute friend decided to “out” Haggard to the media. And Ted’s house of cards came tumbling down.

One safe assumption to make about this was that the scandal wasn’t over. I say that because it was highly likely that Haggard had other same-sex partners in his history as well. While it was possible that the prostitute was the totality of his “experimenting” it was unlikely, not for someone his age.

Now, a 25-year-old church member has come forward and confessed that he had sex with Haggard as well. (See video above.) This young man is clearly another victim of fundamentalist theology. He is gay and also can’t accept himself. He had been a student at Moody Bible Institute, an ultra-fundamentalist school in Chicago (oddly located next to the main area for male prostitution in the city). This young man made the mistake of the telling the school that he thought he might be gay.

He says he had been class president for two years running. He had excellent grades and was just one semester away from graduating. But the guilt over his sexual orientation was eating him away and he went to the school for help. He asked them to help him deal with this and the school said they couldn’t help him and basically told him to leave. What lovely people, they wouldn't even let him finish his degree because he came to them for help. (I should note that any help they would have given would probably have been destructive anyways.)

Moody told the young man to go to Colorado Springs were various fundamentalist groups pretend to be able to “cure” homosexuals. And when he got to Colorado Springs he started attending church: Ted Haggard’s church to be precise. As the president of the National Association of Evangelicals Haggard was one of the most prominent fundamentalists in the country.

Haggard meet the young man and asked him what brought him to Colorado. The young man first lied to Haggard as to why Moody Bible Institute had kicked him out but then told the truth. The young man stupidly thought that the “Holy Spirit” was compelling Haggard to help him.

This young man and Haggard both suffered needlessly because of their religious beliefs. And it is clear that Haggard, while coming on to the young man one day, was horrified about it the next. Back and forth they spun from one emotional extreme to another, tortured because they sincerely believe their church was right.

Eventually Haggard was revealed and stepped down from the church. The church then sent Haggard off to “be healed” by some ministry that promised cure. Church officials proclaimed the healing was a success, something Haggard says is not factual -- although he still suffers from religiously-induced self-hatred.

This young man went to the church and told them what happened, how Haggard, instead of counseling him, masturbated in his presence. Of course, because this young man is infected with the same self-loathing, Haggard’s actions only made them both more miserable and disturbed.

The church then offered the young man a large sum of money for “counselling” provided he promised to not reveal the truth about what happened. All in all they were to pay him $179,000 for his silence. The young man said: “I really felt the church staff did what they could to get me to move to a different city, to get me to stop going to the church, to make these promises to do whatever they could to help, but their main focus was to cover it up.”

What is astounding is that the church played up how Ted Haggard had lied to them in order to appear the victim. But then they were quite happy to engage in public dishonesty themselves by attempting to cover up another incident which they knew about. And from what I understand there are yet more such incidents that may yet come to light.

The church still can’t tell the truth and insists that they gave the young man the money “to help him” so he can “get on with his life.” They call it “compassionate assistance... certainly not hush money.” Yet they insisted that the young man agree to silence in order to get the money. He wasn’t required to “get on with his life” or to use it for “assistance”, he was only required to stay silent. That sounds like hush money to me. It is also clear that the church leadership knew of this incident at the time that the male prostitute made his story public. So they consciously choice to hide the facts from the members and the public.

The young man, only named as Grant, says he tried to kill himself four times. Clearly this was, and is, a young man traumatized by the beliefs of his own faith conflicting with the facts of his own sexual orientation. What fundamentalists refuse to see is that they are creating mental cripples, they are destroying people. Hundreds of thousands of young people, raised in this toxic faith, are having their minds warped to such a degree that many of them will attempt to kill themselves. Many will succeed. This same hatred inspired millions of other fundamentalists to mount campaigns to strip people of their rights. Grant tried four times to kill himself -- precisely where did he learn that it is better to be dead than to be gay?

Look what happened when he turned to his faith for help. They could do nothing -- of course not, but they can’t admit the reason they can do nothing: their faith is in conflict with truth. Fundamentalists try to force reality to conform with their beliefs instead of their beliefs conforming with reality. And when you do that you commit psychological treason and there are consequences.

Christian fundamentalism is toxic. It is a mental poison. Ted Haggard took this poison, so did Grant. They imbibed it, they believed it and it turned them into sad, pathetic individuals who may never learn to accept reality. Even now many, many more such scandals are being carefully incubated by these beliefs.

Fundamentalist Islam creates individuals who terrorize others. Fundamentalist Christianity creates individuals who terrorize themselves. While it clearly less deadly to innocent people, it is destructive and utterly evil to those who embrace it, and to those nations where it flourishes.