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Radical Thoughts on Mormon involvement in Prop 8

Homophobes like to scare people with the idea that the gays recruit innocent straight kids and that homosexuality is but one slippery slope away from pedophilia and bestiality.  I endorse the opposite approach: the more anti-gay you are, the more I want to keep you away from the kids.

For years the Catholic Church has gotten the rap for the child sex abuse scandals they hath wrought.  So when there is a hurricane to blame on gay folks, you know it’s good Catholics like Pastor John Hagee who step up to the plate. (Whoa, major fail on my part.  I can’t keep track of which religion hates who anymore!)  In this latest Prop 8 gay marriage battle in California, there was significant involvement (cue Dr. Evil, “One million dollars!”) on the pro-8 side by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization.

But then there is the Mormon Church.  Initially, there is the rank hypocrisy of a state/religion that turns a blind eye to its fundamentalist polygamists and their child brides, that then has more than significant involvement (“Twenty million dollars!”) fighting to end the marriage rights of monogamous adults.  

(NYTimes) ST. GEORGE, UtahPolygamy is probably here to stay. But child abuse in the polygamist world must be eradicated at all costs.

That was the two-part message here on Thursday night from top state officials from Arizona and Utah, who spoke – sometimes in impassioned tones, sometimes in exasperation – to a packed audience of fundamentalist polygamists and curious local residents.

“We do not plan a raid to end polygamy,” said the Utah attorney general, Mark L. Shurtleff. “I know you’re worried about that. We’re not going to do it.”

Then there is the irony of their “prophet’s” sudden “revelations” about polygamy and black people when it becomes politically expedient — though the polygamy “revelation” took 28 years after Congress outlawed it (11 years after SCOTUS upheld it) and the less “white and delightsome” folks “revelation” took 14 years after the Civil Rights Act, so I use the term “sudden” loosely.  Yet the Mormons stubbornly insist that this time God is absolutely sure about this whole gay marriage thing and couldn’t ever change his mind?

If you ask me, the gays and lesbians have picked the right religion to picket.  Catholic God takes 359 years to change his mind.

One thing I know, having grown up Mormon, is how well they can keep a secret.  Keeping in mind the Mormons donated half of all the money given to support Prop 8, that’s a whole lot of anti-gay for me to want to keep away from the kids.  Could there be a few underaged skeletons in the temple closets?

AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth

We know how widespread the Catholic problem is. But, the Mormons have done a better job of hiding abuse. Last year, the PBS show, Expose: America’s Investigative Reports, did a show on Peter Zuckerman, a reporter in Idaho Falls, Idaho, who busted open a scandal involving sex abuse, the Boy Scouts and the Mormons. Apparently, the Mormons pretty much control the Boy Scouts in several Western states. The perp involved in the case molested a lot of young kids and a lot of adults in the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. In fact, they kept putting the perp in positions where he was in contact with kids. They went to great lengths to cover it up. After Zuckerman exposed the scandal, he was attacked personally. And, that included going after him because he was gay. Yeah, surprise. Supporters of the Boy Scouts and Mormons played dirty and launched homophobic attacks on the reporter. According to Zuckerman, there were times when he was actually fearful for his life.

One Idaho Falls business leader, Frank VanderSloot of Melaleuca, “The Wellness Company,” (which owns Nicole Miller Skin Care), who is also a Mormon, bought full page ads attacking the series — and the reporter who wrote it. One ad included an attack on Zuckerman’s “homosexuality” claiming the gay reporter had a “personal ax to grind” because the Boy Scouts didn’t allow gay reporters. Interestingly, Belinda Vandersloot, who appears to be the wife of Frank, donated $100,000 to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. That family can’t get enough of the gay-bashing.

Zuckerman’s full series, which originally ran in 2005 in the Idaho Falls Post-Register, can be found here. This wasn’t an isolated incident. Subsequent investigations uncovered several other pedophiles in the Boy Scouts. The series led to a change in Idaho’s laws on child abuse — ending the statute of limitations for reporting the incidents.

I was a Boy Scout in Idaho for about three weeks.  The reporter has it down; in my town, Boy Scouts and Mormon Church were essentially the same thing.  Oh sure, you could join if you weren’t Mormon, but you’d then be meeting at the Mormon Stake Center*, surrounded by Mormon kids, taught by Mormon Scoutmasters (who were the youth pastors on Sunday at the temple), introduced to Mormon scripture and practices, and forced to eat Jell-O.  My God, the Jell-O!**

The whole thing set off my then-12-year-old creep-o-meter.  I have no knowledge of anybody fooling around with the kids, but I didn’t stick around very long to find out.* Mormons have a whole regimental hierarchy of people, places, and things.  A central meeting place in any reasonably-sized Mormon town is the Stake Center, which usually has a shrunken basketball court / stage / auditorium, some meeting rooms, and a chapel.  

Often, these Stake Centers would hold Stake Dances for the adolescent Mormon boys and girls.  Slow dancing was allowed, but only if there is enough room for the Book of Mormon and Pearls of Great Price to be placed between the two dancers.  I used to always joke that the Stake Dances should be held at the Sizzler.  

One time, the very first rock band I was ever in, at age 15, played for a Stake Dance.  We were told cut one of our cover tunes, Pat Benatar’s “Hell is for Children”.  We tried to explain that it was a song against child abuse, but they wouldn’t have us singing, “Hell is for… Hell is for… Hell is for Children!”

** Jell-O is like the official snack food of Mormons.  The area of southern Idaho where I grew up is part of “the Jell-O belt”.  Last I checked, Utah led the nation in per-capital consumption of Jell-O, and it is the State Snack Food.  Nobody seems to know why, but my theory is that Mormons have large families and Jell-O is a cheap, easy, way to feed and entertain lots of toe-headed Mormon kids.

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