The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets well-deserved scrutiny and disdain in the documentary “8: The Mormon Propo$ition,” which opened in limited theaters Friday. We saw it at Harkins’ Camelview in Scottsdale.  It chronicles the painstaking effort of the Mormon Church to overturn same-sex marriage in California when Proposition 8 was put on the November 2008 ballot.

The  activism and money by Mormons turned the tide and got the measure approved 52 to 48 percent.  While only 2 percent of California’s population is LDS, it appears that 71 percent of the financial support ($40 million) came from the Mormon Church, a veritable river of money from the Mormon stronghold of Utah.  The film takes advantages of records to show how carefully the church worked to establish a coalition with Catholics, evangelical Christians and clergy to bring an unabrupt end to same-sex marriage in the largest state by population.  Some documents included the words of Mormon leaders who repeatedly said they wanted to give every appearance that the church was not involved and sought to work it so blame never came back to them.

But investigators found an insidious practice of Mormon authorities down to the ward level using their “obedience” hammer and members’  income records to  exact heady donations from them to use for the battle to “preserve traditional marriage.”  Much of the film features the rhetoric of church authorities and Mormon politicians condemning homosexuals and their argument that being gay is chosen and the result of troubled personality and identity.  Many gay Mormons told their stories of being cast out by their families who chose church doctrine and teachings over their children.    Included in the film were Carol Lynn Pearson of Walnut Creek, Calif., whom I have interviewed several times about her story of staying in a marriage with her gay husband  as Mormons until he died of AIDS.   Another of my past interviewees in the film was Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who was astonished at the audacity for the  Mormon Church to shamelessly carry out political action and advocacy while trying to preserve its tax-exempt status.   Far, far lesser acts by churches in the political arena have been  punished by the IRS.

Of course, like most faiths, the Mormons hide behind the notion that what they are doing is only what God wants done.

There are detailed accounts of Mormons tortured by their sexual identity and family shunning to the point  of  committing suicide and attempted suicides.  One male couple from California, throughout the film, asked repeatedly why their love for one another and the happiness that had brought wasn’t what all Mormon parents would also want.    The film revealed the homophobia in the Mormon Church but did not touch on the same homophobia that permeates the African-American community whose members also contributed in high vote counts to the passage of the nasty proposition in a state where conservative tripe normally has less chance for adoption.

It is hard to see how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will ever have the public acceptance and respectability it covets as it remains  hellbent on denying the humanity of gays and lesbians and their right to be equal in every way in the human family.  It has been repeated so many times that it seems weird that a religion so persecuted for its theology and practices would persecute gay people.   Certainly much of it lies in the groupthink/peer pressure world of very old men who took so many years to get to the high places of authority in the Mormon Church.    Now, they are not about to change  hateful, perverse  practices and policies embraced by their forbears.   There’s just no way light and enlightenment can reach them.

Those who hold up religions for ridicule because of the terrible and unthinkable  things they do to others surely have easy-going with stalwart Mormons who don’t get it right with marginalizing women and rejecting their gay brethren.

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