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Look what landed in my inbox today: Urgent Alert: Help Stop Maricopa Community College Misguided Transgender Policy

If you belong to a church, community or political group that has an email list you can also help by obtaining permission to have this alert sent to these lists.[1]

This past May, Kerry Eleveld brought us all up-to-speed on Sharon's shenanigans at the UN. Now, the fight has apparently moved into Sharon's backyard, as the MCCC community college system (the nation's largest) considers adding "gender identity" and "gender expression" to its nondiscrimination policy.

I first became aware of Sharon Slater and her Family Watch International during the Question One contest in Maine. An entity calling itself "Family Watch Maine" made an appearance on a website titled "Marriage Facts Maine Coalition" and since the name sounded strangely familiar, I asked the folks at Sharon's FWI office if they were involved. Yes, they were, according to Lynn Allred, their Communications Director. Sadly, all communication ended when I asked Lynn if she could direct me to anyone who was, you know, actually residing in Maine while representing their Gilbert, AZ-based organization.

We've been here before with the Illinois Civil Unions bill. If Sharon pursues this and manages to enlist local Mormons in Arizona to broadcast her appeal to ward email lists, I'd like to offer her my assurance that we'll also see a repeat of this headline in the days ahead: Update On That Mormon Email: LDS Backs Away

And the opening graf will read something like this:

The leader of a right-wing organization, who made a name for herself by pushing abstinence-only based programs in Africa and has ties to the virulently antigay Ugandan pastor, Martin Ssempa, is stepping up efforts to block nondiscrimination policies on Arizona's community college campuses.

Does the country really need reminding that most of these actors are Arizona Mormons and that Sharon Slater is one of several reasons why?

[1] This "Urgent Alert" arrived by way of an ├╝ber-Mormon Arizona source that justifies my reading of the generic "church, community or political group" language as a wink-and-nod reference to LDS ward email directories.

x-posted at Main Street Plaza

Update:  FYI for anybody in AZ who might wander by:

That link has date, time, place, and all the other info for attending the board meeting and also contacts and content for sending emails to the board.

Originally posted to Chino Blanco on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 07:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why not it worked when they wanted (4+ / 0-)

    to get Prop H8te through.

    Did you think there was a separation of church and state?

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 07:22:23 AM PDT

  •  Respect and tolerance of religions and religious (7+ / 0-)

    diverseity are core American, Democratic, and progressive principles.

    However, when religious parties choose to push their religions into the public political arena, and/or use religious assets, infrastructure, membership lists etc, for polical causes they give up, in part, their right to claim discrimination, and abuse when the expectable political backlash occurs.

    After the GLBT responded to the Mormon churhes support for Proposition 8 in California, some complained of "anti-Mormonisn," but those complainst are not valid.  

    Similarly, when the Catholic church engages in political campaigns with regard to abortion, it simultaneously legitmizes a response.

    And, if the Church, refuses to cooperate with civil inestigations of pedophila and church rotations of priests, or shipping Cardinal Law to the Vatican out of reach of warrants, it can not complain that police and state Attorney General are anti-Catholism.

    This has been one of my lessons and insights from our recent community moderation discussion, banning, punishments, and boycotts.

    We all should be extra cautious of mixing aggressive political discourse with accusations of "-isms," and use, and abuse of the HR, and community moderation systems to counter political opionions we disagree with.

    When we mix controversial and aggessive political expression with accusations of religous  intolerance, hate speech, or "-isms," both politics and religions tend to suffer in the long-term.

    This isn't at all to say that those with strong political beliefs can not be bigots, and "anti-xxxxx."  Just that those countering might be wisest to choose one, angle or the other as their counter-attack and leave it too others to do the other.

    So, if you main passion in life is political and ideological warfare, why not leave the community moderation and HR campaigns to others.

    Likewise if commuity moderation and protecting various groups from bigots and hate speech is your main passion than leave taking the lead on political campaingning to others.

    But, the more important lesson, here, is if you do not wish your religion to be the brunt of political push-back from the wider community do not voluntarily use your religion, church, and its assets, infrastructure, pulpits, and other connections to propagate political battles.

    And, when the push-back, and counter-attacks comes do not expect as much sympathy if you then cry "anti-_" and ask for help.

    Those who engage in political attacks must accept a much higher bar and threshold criteria before the community will come to their aid for hate speech battles.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 07:49:55 AM PDT

    •  This. (7+ / 0-)

      I jumped into this discussion earlier over at the transgender forum on reddit, and as a former Mormon missionary, comments like these leave me feeling sad for my former belief community:

      You know, as an aside, I've met a lot of Mormons over the years, many of whom I like and deeply respect. When Katrina hit, the LDS Church did an incredible job providing relief which is something we all owe them a heartfelt thank you for. At the same time, all of that good will that was earned is effectively lost when this kind of closed-minded hatred is publicized without the church and the community officially distancing itself from radical actions like this.

      My sense is that, even after all the crap the institutional LDS church has dished out, most LGBT folks (and straight allies like myself) are still not interested in a scorched earth response, we just want the targeting to stop.

      •  This comment is worthy of a post Chino. (4+ / 0-)

        I grew up in a community that was about half Mormon, and have taught courses to the top administrator in Salt Lake.  

        I know many good people in the church.

        It's sad when a few loud and domineering voices besmirch and overshadow a whole community.

        Hang in there.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 09:02:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  People should be very suspicious (3+ / 0-)

    Of any religion that deprive you of your free will too think and question it authority ,  

  •  What I want to know is..... (4+ / 0-)

    How do we get their tax-exempt status revoked? Any religion advocating to their members regarding politicals and human rights issues, as far as I'm concerned, has forfeited their right to be called a church, and thus should not enjoy tax-exempt status.
    Any tax-law folks out there who can illuminate this issue?

    The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato

    by manneckdesign on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 08:38:33 AM PDT

    •  I am not a tax pro, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I do know that IRS Form 13909 is the one to file if you want to make an official complaint about the political activity of a church or other 501(c)3 organization.

      •  Thanks - appreciate the information (0+ / 0-)

        Even if droves of people filed this form it probably wouldn't get their tax status yanked, but it might make them back down from their more egregious advocacies......and then again, maybe not.  :-(
        I just scratch my head over how these "religious" people justify taking such hateful stances over other peoples' civil rights.

        The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. Plato

        by manneckdesign on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 10:01:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am a Mormon and church policy forbids (4+ / 0-)

    use en ward lists for business or political purposes.  An outside group is not supposed to be able to communcate through church lists.  This could be an offense worthy of excommuncation.  Wheter or not the church used these lists or allowed them to be used by outside groups during Prop 8, I don't know, but any documentation of this would be interesting to me.  If a church member is promoting the idea of using church lists for lobbying efforts against LGBT issues, I find this disturbing and worthy of more inquiry.   The church claimed its actions against prop 8 were on moral grounds, which in its  eyes is justification (I disagree) this might be a step further beyond.  I would be incredulous if Salt Lake authorized her to  delve into church ward lists, or for members to data mine them for her.  Is she a member in good standing in the LDS church?  Members have been exed for less.    

    I am not saying that this isn't happening, I am saying that if it is, it is against church policy, and if the church top brass is condoning this, I need to clarify some things with my leadrship.

    •  Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, irishwitch, slksfca

      This is actually the whole point of this narrowly-focused diary.

      According to my understanding of the official LDS line, Sharon should be worried about sending emails or broadcasting "alerts" asking for Mormons to entreat their officials to grant access to email lists for non-church announcements.

      But she did.

      And my guess is she did it because she doesn't see herself as "outside" at all... if you look at her org, it's financed by Marriott family members and other insiders.  The kind of folks who tend to operate with impunity within the community because of their standing.  

      If there's a takeaway here for those folks, I'd like it to be that they think twice next time before assuming nobody is paying attention.

    •  Seriously? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, irishwitch

      I'm not willing to put the focus on such a narrow sliver of the LDS church's involvement in politics when the whole is so much greater.

      During the campaign for PropH8, the church was involved from top to bottom. They were phone-banking from BYU Idaho campus. A video was shown in every ward in CA. Bishops were ordered to require their ward members to canvass neighborhoods in favor of PropH8. They flew in people from other states. The raised and spent millions.

      This was all documented by disaffected Mormons. No, she should not be encouraging people to use ward mailings lists--but that's only a drop in the bucket.

      (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

      by homogenius on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 12:19:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a culture of gossip (3+ / 0-)

        The LDS church can officially claim they are politically neutral, but it has many unofficial ways of spreading political positions among the faithful.

        Often nothing is mentioned during the meetings of their multiple church groups- they have groups for men only, women only, singles only, teens only, young marrieds only, and others. Each group mingles after the official meetings are ended, and church positions are spread unofficially.

        They are a culture where gossip is a constant presence as well. They gossip about each other, about non-members, about the excommunicated, you name it. The LDS are institutionally and temperamentally conservative, and  it is often a very closed loop that has little non-church influence creeping in.

        They have lists for everything. Using one non-officially would be easy, and the church doesn't have to endorse or oppose anything officially.

        Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

        by Idaho07 on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 01:06:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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