Capdiamont\’s Weblog

Prop 8 myths and misconceptions
Tuesday 2 Dec 2008, 08:48
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Where did the money come from?

Opponents of Proposition 8 have criticized the Church for donations to the “Yes on 8” campaign. Records filed with the State of California indicate that the Church did not make any contributions with the exception of an “in kind” contribution (non monetary) for some travel expenses. All other LDS-related money was contributed by Church members individually, not by the Church.

The amounts contributed to both sides were very high. It is reasonable for critics to question why their greater contributions to defeat Proposition 8 didn’t carry the vote as they expected, but to imply that the participation of Latter-day Saint citizens—most of whom were California residents—was improper is inappropriate. Such an accusation is an exercise in empowering a straw man of their own creation.

In-State Donations Out-of-State Donations Total Donations
For Proposition 8 $25,388,955 $10,733,582 $36,122,538
Against Proposition 8 $26,464,589 $11,968,285 $38,432,873
Totals $51,853,544 $22,701,867 $74,555,411
Source: Tracking the money, Los Angeles Times

Note that out-of-state contributions to the “No” side were over $1.2 million higher than the out-of-state contributions to the “Yes” side and that out-of-state contributions to the “No” side constituted a higher percentage of the overall “No” funding than out-of-state contributions did for the “Yes” side.

There have been various estimates of monies donated to the “Yes on 8” campaign by LDS Church members, ranging from $14 to $20 million. No firm figures are available because the State of California does not request or record the religion of donors.

Estimates of LDS-related monies also do not include donations the “No on 8” campaign received as a result of LDS Church involvement in the campaign. For instance, Bruce Bastian, a onetime Mormon, has publicly stated that he donated $1 million to the “No on 8” campaign in response to LDS involvement as an effort to “level the financial playing field.”

There’s a fact you don’t see, more money came from out of state for No on 8, than for yes on 8.

Link for rest

Did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contribute money to the “Yes on 8” campaign?

The Church as an institution made no direct monetary contributions to the “Yes on 8” campaign. All monetary donations came from individual Church members, who decided if and how much they would contribute.

The Church did, however, make two in-kind donations with the equivalent values of $2,078.97 (October 25, 2008) and $2,864.21 (November 1, 2008). The term “in-kind” represents donations that are made to the Church in some form other than cash (For example, the payment of tithing using stock constitutes a in-kind donation). In this case, the in-kind donations were to cover out-of-pocket expenses such as airfare and lodging that were incurred by several Church leaders who travelled to California in support of the proposition. The Church declared these donations, as required by law, and they are part of the public record.

Did the Church violate its tax-exempt status by participating in the “Yes on 8” campaign?

From the Internal Revenue Service:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office…Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office.

The church did not participate in or intervene in any of the political campaigns for any of the candidates running in the 2008 election. The IRS does, however, permit a Church to take positions on issues:

Under federal tax law, section 501(c)(3) organizations may take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office. [2]

According to Barry Lynn, executive director of “Americans United for the Separation of Church and State” (and who, for the record, was “outraged by the Prop. 8 victory”):

“They almost certainly have not violated their tax exemption…While the tax code has a zero tolerance for endorsements of candidates, the tax code gives wide latitude for churches to engage in discussions of policy matters and moral questions, including when posed as initiatives.” [3]

Nonprofit 501c(3) organizations are prohibited from spending more than 20 percent of their budgets on political activities. “The 20 percent threshold means that the Catholic or Mormon churches, whose organizations span the globe, would have had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars—if not billions—to violate their tax-exempt status.”

Oops again, quote from someone opposed to prop 8 saying the Church didn’t violate tax rules.

Were the contributions made by Church members tax deductible?

California members who chose to donate to the Prop 8 campaign were explicitly told that their donations would not be tax deductible. None of the funds donated to the campaign are allowed as deductions.

Did the Church invest more money in Proposition 8 than in all of its combined humanitarian efforts?

The question is not relevant, since the Church as an organization did not donate any money to “Yes on 8.”

Members contribute to humanitarian efforts sponsored by the church based on their specific abilities. For example, fast offerings are donations to a fund for assisting local and other members who are financially struggling. These funds represent a generous offering of the value of 2 meals abstained from on the first Sunday of each month. The combination of personal sacrifice (fasting) and financial sacrifice make such contributions particularly meaningful for both the donor and the recipient.

The Church also manages a significant humanitarian effort known as “LDS Humanitarian Services”. This organization provides relief and assistance for disasters and other urgent humanitarian needs. The amount contributed by the Church to humanitarian causes far outweighs anything that individual members contributed toward the effort to pass Prop 8. According to a 2007 report from the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, external humanitarian efforts exceeded $1 billion in cash and material contributions from 1985 until 2007. This does not include contributions of many millions more as part of the Church Welfare program.

Other humanitarian efforts include:

* Perpetual Education Fund
* Deseret Industries
* Employment Services

Many Latter-day Saints make significant contributions to humanitarian efforts outside of LDS sponsored channels. For example, in 2007, high profile Latter-day Saints John and Karen Huntsman donated more than $672 million for charitable causes not associated with the LDS Church. Utah in general was ranked #2 of all 50 states in charitable contributions in 2007.

How does the Church reconcile its opposition to same-sex marriage when it once supported plural marriage?

The same type of question was asked when, after supporting polygamy for years, the Church ceased its practice. The Church no longer practices polygamy, and should not be confused with splinter groups who continue the practice. Prop 8 protesters, however, do like to raise the issue of polygamy, and make no distinction between the LDS Church and splinter groups.

It is important to realize that 19th century Mormons who practiced plural marriage did not seek federal recognition of their marriages. They would have been pleased to simply be left alone, instead of being subject to spy networks, home invasion by federal marshals, loss of the right to vote simply for being members of the Church even if they were not polygamists, jail time, and threats of military occupation by the Congress.

Homosexuals in California with access to domestic partnership laws have far more legal protection and benefits for their cohabitation relationships than 19th century Mormons ever had. Homosexuals who choose to simply cohabitate are likewise unmolested by the state, unlike LDS polygamists of the 19th century.

LDS opposition to the use of the term “marriage” for same-sex unions derives, however, from a belief that homosexual behavior is wrong, contrary to the commandments of God, and something which believers should not support. Homosexuals are free to make their own choices about behavior, but Church members cannot in good conscience encourage that behavior by lending their voice to efforts which socially sanction it.

MYTH: Mormons were motivated to do this merely as a vehicle to be considered more mainstream Christian

Latter-day Saints object when others attempt to classify us as non-Christian, however, this does not mean that Latter-day Saints are attempting to become “mainstream” Christians. We appreciate being invited to participate in the coalition by our Christian brothers, and did so willingly because we share many of the same family values, even if our theologies differ. Likewise, we welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with Muslims, Jews, and others who share our values and concerns for society.

MYTH: The church sent thousands of missionaries door to door in CA handing out fliers

NO missionaries were asked to participate in the distribution of flyers. Missionaries do not participate in political activities while on their mission.

MYTH: The Church sent large numbers of out-of-state people in to assist with the “Yes-on-8” campaign

Support from the campaign was generated from within congregations in California under direction of the Protect Marriage coalition.[8] There were no “busloads” of out-of-state people brought in.



Thank you for providing this!

Comment by Eric Nielson

This is great, I needed this over on “beliefnet” great info, great defensive ammo.

Comment by Jeff

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