From: Rod Swift
Subject: Mormons throw money at anti-gay causes...
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 12:44:56 +0800 (WST)

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, October 5, 1998
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, October 5, 1998
(E-MAIL: )
Church Funds Initiative to Ban Same-Sex Marriages in Alaska

The LDS Church has weighed into the battle over an Alaskan initiative seeking to ban same-sex marriages in a big way, pouring $500,000 into a campaign to pass the state constitutional amendment.

The donation, confirmed Sunday by Mormon church spokesman Michael Otterson, dwarfed the $100,000 total raised for the Ballot Measure 2 initiative campaign by the Alaska Family Coalition (AFC).

"We're pretty bowled over," AFC spokeswoman Kristina Johannes told the Anchorage Daily News.

So was Allison Mendel, an attorney who co-chairs the opposition "No on No. 2" campaign.

"It's outrageous that a group based in Utah would flood our state with money to try to purchase a change in our constitution," she said.

"We're not supposed to have religious institutions dictating our civil law."

With 10 million members worldwide, more than half of them outside of the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become much more than merely a Utah faith, Mormon officials countered on Sunday.

"We have 24,000 members of the church based in Alaska. It's a matter that members of the church in Alaska and people who share their views about the importance of traditional marriage as an institution feel strongly about," church spokesman Michael Otterson said.

The LDS Church is not alone in declaring its support of the Alaskan measure. A letter issued by the state's Catholic bishop last month also backed the measure.

"The church has always reserved the right to speak out on moral issues," Otterson said. "You don't become disenfranchised in our democratic process just because you happen to represent a religious viewpoint."

He said the church's contribution would go toward broadcast and print advertising to urge Alaskans on Nov. 3 to support a ban on same-sex unions.

The Alaska initiative was sparked by a judge's refusal last February to dismiss a lawsuit by two Anchorage men challenging the state's standing law against same-sex marriages.

A 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision opening the door to same-sex unions also attracted open LDS Church opposition.

Twenty-six states, including Utah, have laws banning same-sex marriages.

Utah's law, passed by the Legislature in 1995, also states it is not obligated to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Additionally, a federal bill, which became law in 1996, withheld tax, pension, health and other benefits from gay spouses.

Salt Lake Tribune, October 5, 1998 Hinckley Condemns Plural Marriage, Speaks on Homosexuality and Abortion (excerpt) BY BOB MIMS AND PEGGY FLETCHER STACK, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on Sunday reminded the Mormon faithful where they should stand on issues ranging from polygamy -- which he unyieldingly condemned -- to gay rights and abortion.

Speaking during the concluding day of the 168th Semiannual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hinckley reiterated the church's opposition to plural marriage, a practice abandoned by the faith 108 years ago.

In rare comments from the pulpit on the subject, Hinckley underscored in an ecclesiastical setting comments he made last month in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live.

"I wish to categorically state that this church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy," the 88-year-old church leader said. "They are not members of the church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law . . . they are subject to its penalties."

Recent publicity about polygamy in Utah -- including allegations of incest and forced plural marriages involving children -- prompted the firmer declaration by the church president on a practice the Mormon church rejected in 1890.

While polygamy is grounds for excommunication in today's LDS faith, several groups that split from the mainline church more than a century ago still practice it.

Hinckley told 6,000 Mormons packing the Tabernacle on Temple Square and millions more watching on satellite and cable television that he also was at odds with the news media's frequent characterization of polygamists as "Mormon fundamentalists."

"There is no such thing as a 'Mormon fundamentalist.' It is a contradiction to use the two words together," Hinckley said.

With more than half of the American-born church's 10 million members now living outside North America, the faith has had plenty of opportunities to reaffirm its stand in other cultures where polygamy survives.

"It is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the church teaches that marriages must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage," Hinckley said.

Plural marriage among biblical prophets is described and defended in Mormon scripture, and LDS men can be "sealed" in temple marriage for "time and eternity." The church has never clarified whether that means that there will be plural marriage in heaven.

In discussing homosexuality and abortion, Hinckley tempered admonition with compassion.

"People inquire about our position on . . . so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God," Hinckley said.

Still, Mormons with homosexual inclinations were counseled to abstain from fulfilling them. If they cannot, they risk the same church discipline as heterosexuals who "violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the church," he said.

In no case can the church compromise its commitment to marriage, which it teaches is ordained of God for procreation and for eternity.

"We cannot stand silent if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation," Hinckley said.

Concerning abortion, Hinckley said he was grieved to learn that, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.2 million abortions were performed in the United States in 1995.

"How can women, and men, deny the great and precious gift of life which is divine in its origin and nature?" Hinckley asked. "Abortion is an ugly thing, a debasing thing, a thing which inevitably brings remorse and sorrow and regret."

However, the man revered by Mormons as "prophet, seer and revelator" also counseled church members to leave room for mercy -- and some exceptions - on the issue.

"While we denounce it, we make allowance for it in such circumstances as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have serious, severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth," Hinckley said.

Such instances are rare, he insisted, advising that women with unwanted pregnancies should consider adoption instead of abortion.

He went on to . . . . . (end excerpt)


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