Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mormon "P.R. Fiasco"

Since the Mormon church was instrumental in getting Prop 8 passed I think Californians are right to strike while the iron is hot -- and while we have the Mormons on the defensive, with the leadership beside itself over the protests -- and get another ballot measure up as soon as possible. Equality California is in fact getting the petitions ready to put this on the ballot in 2010, not relying on the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. That is a very smart move.

Not only have the protests helped to create a big enough shift among those who voted for Prop 8 which shows we might win even if there were a vote right now, but it seems highly unlikely that the Mormon church would get as involved as before -- if at all -- in another referendum any time soon.

This article in the Salt Lake Tribune underscores what several guests on the show have said over the past few weeks. On Monday, in fact, I interviewed the preeminent scholar and historian on Mormonism on the show, Jan Shipps, emeritus professor at The Polis Center at Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis.

Shipps said the LDS church, according to her sources inside, was definitely in a crisis over this, not having expected the backlash, and the leadership, according to her sources, is quite astonished. She wasn't certain if the church would get involved again any time soon. The article in the Tribune quotes another scholar who seems even more definitive:

"The Olympics had this nice afterglow for Mormons and, boy, is that gone," said Sarah Barringer Gordon of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies LDS history and culture...

...It is not clear, however, whether the LDS Church will soon jump into another political fray."Politics is a tough game, especially at this visceral level where one side is talking about religion and the other about rights, " said Gordon, the Penn scholar. "I would be surprised to see them do this again. They really need to heal some wounds."

We're on the right side of this, and they, in the long run, are on the losing side, and they know it. Getting out front has cost the LDS church big time on something they're going to lose in the end anyway, enough that the leaders are probably re-thinking their strategy. We can win this at the ballot the next time around.