Sunday, November 9, 2008

politics and religion

I'm disturbed that some of the legitimate anger over the massive Mormon funding for the Yes on 8 campaign is leading to anti-religious statements that will hurt our own progress forward on the marriage equality issue.

Let's remember that many religious folks and religious institutions were our powerful allies in this work, including Unitarian Universalist congregations, major help from The Episcopal church, reformed Jewish synagogues, and large numbers of pastors and congregations from mainline Christian denominations, and even some Mormons and Catholics. Calls to "tax the church" would take away money and organizing help from people who worked very hard on our side, as well as against us. Liberal religious organizations and liberal religious persons (remember MLK?) have been on the side of every civil rights struggle in our history and we need them in this one, too.

Religious organizations are allowed under the tax code to contribute up to 5% of their budget toward political causes (but zero to candidates or partisan issues). And individuals within congregations are free to give as much of their own money as they like, just like anyone else. The Mormon church as an institution did not give to this cause although they did spend some time and money encouraging their members to give. But as long as their organizational involvement wasn't greater than 5% (highly unlikely) and as long as members weren't coerced to give (they say they weren't) no laws were broken.

Instead of trying to silence one religious group (which if successful would silence our allies as well) let's work on gradually persuading people of all faiths to see that their religious principles are best honored by supporting marriage equality not fighting against it.

1 comment:

Steve Caldwell said...


The 5% limit only applies to issue lobbying in the legislature (local, state, federal).

Religious groups can spend unlimited amounts of money on issue advocacy for their members and the general public. The LDS can spend as much as they want on TV ads in favor of Prop. 8 and against marriage equality for all couples.

The UUA Washington Office has the restrictions on church political involvement on the UUA web site:

So ... the LDS church actions against marriage equality are legal. However, they are not exempt from counter-protests after the vote. Check out the article from the Box Turtle Bulletin: