04 November 2010

RANT: Political Neutrality??

So this week a front page article of the Daily Universe (BYU's Newspaper) was addressing the fact that BYU was politically neural and therefore couldn't endorse a member of the BYU community who was running for office. It kind of made me chuckle. Here is the statement in BYU's political neutrality policy.
The essential functions of the university require strict institutional neutrality, integrity, and independence regarding partisan political activities, particularly because perceived partisanship is often interpreted as endorsement by the university's affiliated sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Church"). This policy is designed to protect the neutrality of the university and the Church in the course of political activities that involve members of the campus community or university facilities and resources and to preserve the university's tax exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code.
Here is the Church's statement:
The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.
I guess for me I am just not sure what the church really means when it says it is "politically neutral." Since I was at school during the prop 8 campaign, I know very well how politically involved the campus was. Furthermore, since I am a resident of CA, I know very well how involved the church was. I would receive emails from BYU asking me to come in to a call center on campus to call Californians to tell them how they should vote on Prop 8. Although one could say that it may have been some person or organization not sponsored by the school that emailed me, whoever it was was given access not only to my email address that is registered with the school, but the information that I was a California resident. Clearly the school gave access to this information for this purpose.

One might also say that the call center was simply to encourage political participation. I guarantee that if I went into the call center and started telling people why they should vote NO on 8, I would be readily dismissed. There were endless amounts of volunteers on campus approaching students about prop 8. "Are you a CA resident?" "Are you registered?" "Come donate some time."

In CA, the church was running ridiculous commercials to support prop 8. One of them had my mission companion in it. haha. I can't find that one online anymore, but here are a couple:


There are worse ones. One thing that bothers me is that they often use "our children" for the reason why we need to vote yes. They use kids as a weapon. I just think it is wrong. Don't we think it is disgusting when bombs are tied to children as suicide bombers? I mean really, some of these children they are using for the reason to outlaw gay marriage are also gay. Are we not in one way using them as a suicide bomber? One day these kids will grow up and there will be some that will have to face the results of his/her parents using them as reason why they shouldn't be granted the right to marry. Some of those kids won't be able to reconcile the fact that their gay with the negative attitudes about the issue in church and society. Some of those kids will attempt suicide because of the pain and hurt they feel. Young suicide bombers. Not to mention all the completely untrue statements made (especially like ones in the second video above). Anyway, that is a topic for another day.

The point is, the church and the school and shout "Politically Neutral" all day, but it is "by their fruits that ye shall know them." There actions when it came to politics in CA clearly demonstrated they are not abiding by this rule. For all the talk about protecting families, they sure are tearing a lot of them apart by having got involved in this issue.


BLB said...

Politically neutral in partisan politics is key to the whole discussion, thus the LDS Church will not take sides when it comes to candidates running for office. However, ballot measures like Proposition 8 are non-partisan.

With that said, I think the involvement with Prop 8 was out of line, but not for tax-exempt reasons, but more with the whole "taking-away-consenting-adults'-right-to-marry" fashion. =]

Gay Mormon said...

I guess I feel like the church isn't very clear on the political neutrality stance it takes:


In that video it seems to me that members should not look to the church to know how to be politically involved, but are encouraged to be involved.

Also, on issues such as gay rights and immigration (which the church has also taken a stance on: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/50656971-78/church-utah-compact-bill.html.csp) have pretty significant links to political parties.

Conservative platforms tend to want to keep gay rights at bay. Liberal platforms tend to want to extend rights to gays. While both parties generally want more strict immigration laws, economic conservatives rally for open immigration.

So while the church doesn't DIRECTLY endorse a specific party, they sure do choose to endorse political decisions that favor the ideals of economic conservatives in the Republican party. If the church is so neutral, why is it that most members are republicans and that members that are democrats feel marginalized, isolated, and demonized? I've known a few families growing up that were strong democrats, and you'd think they had joined the devil's church the way members reacted to the news.

BLB said...

Well, one must look at the cultural context in which the church has built itself on. The church found its growth in Utah, thus the Mountain West, where conservatism rules the roost. One can look at neighboring Wyoming; last I checked being about 11% Mormon only, yet sharing the same political viewpoints. With conservatives at the helm of Church leadership, the church is marketed in ways that would appeal to like-minded people. You see the church have slightly higher percentages out West and down South than in the Eastern Seaboard or the urban Pacific Northwest. The partisan-based politically neutral part is to protect the Church from being taxed.

Justin said...

Yeah, I remember when so many of our classmates were spending hours at call centers to encourage people to vote for Proposition 8 and similar legislation in other states (wasn't there also something in Maine?). It kind of hurt.

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