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8: The Mormon Proposition
8: The Mormon Proposition

AIR DATE: July 12, 2010

Reed Cowan was a married father when he came out as gay. He was also a Mormon. Since then, Reed has made documentaries taking a closer look at Mormonism. His latest, 8: The Mormon Proposition, contends the Mormon Church influenced the Proposition 8 battle in California to stop gay marriage with hidden donations. We talk to Reed Cowan about his documentary, what he hopes to achieve with it, and what he's heard from the community.

Reed Cowan, Co-Director and Writer, 8: The Mormon Proposition; and TV news anchor, WSVN 7 News (Salt Lake City)
    comments powered by Disqus
    Let's ask the reverse question: Why would civil unions and domestic partner rights not be sufficient to those seeking same sex benefts? Call it a marriage if you must but why change tradition if current laws in many states and others soon to follow provide every legal benefit already afforded heterosexual couples? A private institution such as a church, school, or social club has more to lose in freedom of expression or " rights" to practice than those of the same-sex community has to gain with the currently available laws allowing same-sex benefts.
    RVJul 7, 2010 22:55:10 PM
    Again, one thing is to practice your religion, another is to go vote the views of your religion against a particular group. If somebody could please explain to me how gay marriage is going to "destroy" their own marriage or marriage in general. To this day nobody can explain that in an unbiased rational way. My husband and I will certainly not turn gay all of a sudden just because my nice gay neighbors with two kids get married, which they virtually already are living a married life. Enough with the bigotry disguised as religion and morality.
    GinaJul 7, 2010 22:06:53 PM
    Several points: - it was not a mandate by the LDS church to donate or support the prop 8 campaign. One's church membership was not in jeapordy if they didn't. - no general fund tithes or fast offerings were used only those monies donated by choice. - the church does not support political candidates or parties only issues they see as morally impacting their ability to practice such - heterosexual marriage is the traditional norm - as for not being affected by same sex marriage, it is conceivable that the LDS church could be forced to perform gay marriage or have gay clergy - the majority voting bloc of prop 8 supporters were minorities (Obama supporters) - I am a physician and there has been talk in the medical literature of forcing all doctors to learn to perform abortions in their training so "same sex marriage doesn't affect the LDS" falls on deaf ears
    RobertJul 7, 2010 21:35:58 PM
    I guess the problem is that religious groups want to impose their views on the land. The land laws were meant to be secular, with each person practicing their religion for themselves and their families privately, but not trying to impose their religious views on others by using the political process. The political process should remain secular with equality of human rights, including marriage equality.
    AmyJul 7, 2010 21:29:33 PM
    One of the great things about NPR is that it legitimizes and gives voice to its guests. One of the terrible things about NPR is that it legitimizes and gives voice to its guests. In this case the program has invited and thus legitimized someone whose work is nothing more than a suppressed expression of revenge by a person who blames someone else for all his life's problems, finally brought to light because an opporunity presented itself for the poor man to get back at that big bully. Just as he blames the LDS church for his selfish act of toying with his ex wife's emotions, he is now attempting to manipulate the emotions of those (myself included) who supported "No on 8." All this in the hope that we will turn our anger and vitriol against his former church instead of where it really belongs: against the majority of California's voting public.
    SJNJul 7, 2010 19:35:22 PM
    @ Nick:

    "The homosexual community," as you called apparently everyone who voted no on prop. 8, didn't get outspent by supporters of Prop. 8. check out the article from the LA Times that I linked to below. Supporters of gay marriage donated about $5.4 million dollars more than those who opposed it.

    That's my whole point: money clearly isn't the only (or even major) reason for the turnout. A documentary that says that The LDS is responsible for the passage of proposition 8 because they donated so much money is ignoring two very big facts, and that really delegitimizes the whole film. Fact: the LDS church donated less than 1/2 of one percent the total contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign. Fact: The No on 8 campaign outspent the Yes on 8 campaign.

    How then can you say that the Church itself is responsible for the passage of that bill?

    chrisJul 7, 2010 11:21:29 AM
    I doubt the homosexual community will allow itself to be outspent by any other organization the next time this fight comes to the courts. That's really what this is about: one group out maneuvering and outspending another group to influence public opinion. A battle was fought and won/lost (depending on your perspective), but I think it's fair to say this war is far from over. Thanks NPR for the debate. Not sure where I am on this issue yet.
    NickJul 7, 2010 11:05:05 AM
    I think that the point all these callers are making is not that religious individuals shouldn't be allowed to vote, it's that a tax-exempt organization (like a church) should not be allowed to lobby to change policy to align with their dogma. And many of them say that this is not even what a church should be focusing on anyway. It does not hurt churches for people to have equal rights.
    Yohannah McNeeJul 7, 2010 10:45:47 AM
    I expect that every church member is fully aware of what their money supports, and this discussion seems to have become about the right to participate in the political process. Of course people have the right to participate, but this is about a tax-exempt organization engaged in the business of denying equal rights to American citizens, and that is fundamentally objectionable to those of us who do not wish to subsidize discrimination.

    Those who claim this is about religious freedom (exercising their God-given right to deny equal rights to their fellow citizens) must admit that it is in equal measure about denying freedom to those with whom they disagree.

    Jeff JohnsonJul 7, 2010 10:39:57 AM

    There was a study that concluded that teens raised by lesbian parents were better adjusted and had fewer behavior problems.

    The caller and the speakers notion that children need a mother and a father is challenged. To uphold this as the secular reason that Prop 8 should be passed is questionable.

    MasonJul 7, 2010 10:20:35 AM
    I tend to agree with separation, because even though I'm religious, I think it is disastrous to have religious law become state law. If we were majority, say, Muslim, should we enforce halal food restrictions? Or if Jewish, kosher? Or if Buddhist, vegetarianism? If we'd be upset about something fairly trivial like food type, how much more marriage and family?
    PaulJul 7, 2010 10:12:37 AM
    I think there is a divine loophole in Prop 8. Since the pre-prop 8 marriages are upheld, any gay couple who tries to marry post prop 8 is being denied equal rights. Hopefully churches don't have as much power in the high courts.
    M MasonJul 7, 2010 10:09:39 AM
    It doesn't mater the cause or reason a church gets involved in political issues, no church or Non-profit should be allowed to get involved in politics when the organization is tax exempt. This includes Political issues, endorsements, or lobbying. If you don't pay taxes you do not get representation. The members of these organizations have every right as individual tax payers to endorse, lobby or run advertising for issues.
    Kevin FloorJul 7, 2010 10:06:17 AM
    Did the LDS Church encourage their members to participate? Absolutely. Did the Church itself donate any cash? No. They contributed in-kind (non monetary) donations for things like travel expenses and audiovisual production services, but their total in-kind donations total $189,903.58 (check out the "Newsroom" on That's less than 1/2 of one percent of the total donations to the "Yes on 8" campaign. People keep saying "The Mormon Church donated X amount of dollars" when it was individual members who did the majority of the donating. The film quotes one man as saying that the Church threatened to revoke memberships if members didn't donate. That is ridiculous. The Church won't revoke membership if members don't donate to the Church itself, much less some political cause.

    By the way, a fact totally ignored in this discussion is that there was more money donated toward the "No on 8" campaign (see,0,2198220.htmlstory). And 52% of Californians still voted Yes. Mormons, by the way make up something like less than 2% of the pop. of CA.

    chrisJul 7, 2010 09:49:17 AM
    I think Reed Cowan hit the nail on the head when he talked about the church's tax position

    If a church really wants to engage in what it an overt political campaign, it should be allowed to do so - but then its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status should be removed

    This would of course really hurt them financially - but is the price they MUST be forced to pay

    ChrisJul 7, 2010 09:34:16 AM
    I think it is a mistake to judge any organization, church or otherwise, against the yardstick of someone who has decided for personal reasons to attack it. It seems that Mr. Cowan is in the midst of his own spiritual struggle and blames the church he grew up in. That said, I think it is fair to point out that the Mormon church did encourage their members to participate in a big way. But I know of no law preventing any group from encouraging it's members to get involved in the political process. The Catholic church has done as much for millenia. So has Islam. Indeed, most well-established churches do, to one extent or another. I wish KNPR had approached this in a more balanced way; it pains me to think you have taken sides here.
    Keith PickardJul 7, 2010 09:27:15 AM
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