I have been following the coverage, discussion and comments of the documentary "8: The Mormon Proposition" but have held off posting about it. However, after the review of the film in The New York Times I decided it was time to comment.
I have not seen the film. However, I have viewed the trailer, clips and read a great deal about it including descriptions of all it contains. Please take my comments in that context.
I do think there are some faulty assumptions perpetrated by the film and people's ignorance about the Church.
1. I recognize all the video clips from official Church sources and I can tell many of the quotes are taken wildly out of context. This is the filmmaker's deception.
2. These clips can hardly be exposes when the Church itself released them all on its official Newsroom web site. See this link and scroll down to "Video: Broadcast to Church Members in California."
3. Also on this link is a reference to the web site PreservingMarriage.org where it says the Church's teaching are more fully explained. The web site identifies itself as an "official" web site of the Church.
4. The Church does NOT teach its members to disown, kick out or otherwise disavow their homosexual family members as inferred in the documentary. If families do this it is a personal decision. I have homosexual family members and they have not been treated in this manner.
5. Members are never required to give money to any cause or even the Church itself. Members give because they choose to. There is no compulsion.
6. The Church is not one monolithic entity that is tax exempt. There are many different accounting funds in the Church. It has some profit making ventures and some that are borderline. It pays taxes on these aspects and has since the 1920s if I remember my modern Church history correctly. (From my religion class at BYU in 1984 from Church scholar and Professor, Dr. Richard O. Cowan.)
7. How can anyone possibly know how much of the funds for Proposition 8 came from Mormon individuals? Did people have to identify their religion when they contributed? How can something unknown and unknowable be known?
8. The film and others are confidently asserting that the Church contributed millions to defeating Proposition 8, yet the California Fair Practices Commission collected and investigated all the Church's disclosures and confirmed the total amount was just under $200,000 largely in in-kind contributions. Where is the proof for these wild assertions. The facts we have say otherwise.
9. The Commission investigated one individual's complaint. This individual asserted, and still asserts, the Church contributed millions. He never offers any solid proof. His outlandish accusation resulted in an 18 month investigation and a fine of about $5,000. Why is no one protesting his frivolous complaint and the amount of money a public institution spent in investigating it? I'm certain it cost much more than $5,000 to complete its investigation -- all of it is probably tax money.
10. The Church's position on homosexuality has always been consistent. Society has changed its stance, but the Church never has.
11. I do not think the Church was trying to obscure its involvement in Proposition 8 to deceive non-members. I think the Church was trying NOT to exert undue influence on members, thus the indirect approach it took. By the way it did things, it allowed Church members to hold a differing view and to pursue political means to that end without undue pressure.
12. Try as you might, you will never be able to prohibit, control or render illegal a Church's ability to instruct and guide its members and that is what the Church did -- instruct and guide its members concerning Proposition 8.
Note: Since I have no wish to revisit old issues, I will simply refer you to my "To Gays & Lesbians: An Open Letter to the Gay and Lesbian Communities after Proposition 8 passed in California -- from a Mormon" which is currently being displayed on my Google Sites page next to a Google placed ad for "8: The Mormon Proposition" which I think is a hilarious juxtaposition. Thank you Google. . .