Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More from Joanna Brooks on the Steep Price of Bigotry

Another passage this morning from Joanna Brooks's The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (NY: Free Press, 2012) commenting on the amount of money her Mormon community spent to remove the right of civil marriage from the gay citizens of California with prop 8:

When it is all over, Proposition 8 passes by a margin of 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.  
It is the most expensive ballot initiative fight over a social issue in California history: eighty-two million dollars.  Mormon individual donors account for at least 50 percent of the money raised in support of Proposition 8.  
An oral rehydration packet for a child with diarrhea costs about 10 cents.  Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children worldwide.  Diarrhea kills five thousand children each day, almost two million children each year.  Eighty-two million dollars buys almost one billion oral rehydration packets, enough to provide life-saving treatment for every child on the globe with diarrhea for a decade to come (p. 174).

And as I read this, I think of the article that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published yesterday, on the huge amounts of money the Knights of Columbus are now spending in Minnesota to get Catholics to vote to amend the state constitution to outlaw marriage equality.  Baird Hegelson notes that the Knights have historically been known for their support of works of charity, but in recent years, have given more and more of their annual contributions to the anti-marriage equality cause.

He also notes that some Catholics in Minnesota are angry that money they had thought they were giving for works of mercy is being used to remove rights from a minority community, instead.  Some commentators see an element of deception in the way in which the Knights sponsor parish events, suppers, and so forth, to raise money for their organization, without disclosing the political use to which the funds they gather will be used.

And as I think about Brooks's report, I also remember, of course, that the Knights gave millions to the battle to pass prop 8 in California.  They actively colluded with the Mormon community in removing the right of civil marriage from gay people in California.  And the tactics Hegelson says they're now using in Minnesota--phone banks, seminars, and so forth--are right out of the LDS playbook that Brooks documents in her book.

Churches behaving very, very badly--as I saw many churches also behaving during the Civil Rights struggle in the American South.  White churches that actively defended discrimination during that period have now had to apologize for using scriptures and religious faith to support the indefensible.

Just as the Mormon church has begun to do after it gave itself such a black eye with prop 8.  And as the Catholic church will one day have to do as well--though by that point, there may be so few members left in the church that the apology will be moot.

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