On June 14,2016 Elder Keetch of the 70 introduced a nice piece of propoganda at BYU-Idaho during a devotional. It has since been posted to the official news room titled: Defending Religious Freedom and Respecting Differences.
There are a few small gems hidden in the video that deserve to be praised, however, they are so sparse we will not bother to pick them up and examine them but will focus on the diamonds of disturbance that are everywhere to be seen.
The opening scene shows a teacher and a group of students having a discussion about religious rights and freedom. We are introduced to the two protagonists in the story. Samantha is the kind, thoughtful, apologetic member who never launches personal attacks and wants to understand other people’s views. Her adversary is Miki the defender of LGBT rights who for the purposes of this video is somehow opposed to religious freedom.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the name “Miki”. It rhymes with icky and is a masculine name(Hebrew for Michael). I had the impression it was to show she is probably gay because only gay people are for LGBT rights. For some members, this will put her on the other side of the table in a negative light.
Miki is immediately portrayed in a negative light be engaging in personal attacks on the very kind Samantha who represents the true believing Mormon.
“Your church is bigoted, that makes you a bigot!”
“You are incredibly naive!”
“Your opinion is clouded by religion!”
Samantha on the other hand defends God, saying “Most of the country does believe in God.”
I have two problems with this statement. First, it is classic logical fallacy of begging the question since the real issue is not religious freedom but religious oppression against a group of people who are fighting for civil rights. Their purpose is not to attack religion. In fact many are pro religion. Second it sets up a” us vs them” mindset in which the forces of light are fighting for religious freedom vs the atheistic LGBT community who want to force their views on the oppressed members of the Mormon Church. Cough, cough!
The second scene has us inside the chapel where members are clearly engaged in a service project because as we all know, that is what members do 24/7 when they aren’t fighting against the civil rights of others.
Samantha goes to her handsome and understanding Bishop to get help against people who fight against her freedom. This scene was disturbing on a few levels:
First he makes this statement to her: “When we look at people, we have to determine if they are going to be an enemy or be a friend.” Really! That is the first thought that goes through his mind when he meets someone? I don’t know about anyone else, but that is not the first thought I have when I first meet someone.
Second is a huge problem in Mormonism. Women have to rely on men. I mean she could not think this through herself? She could not speak with her mother about it? How about the Relief Society President? No, she had to go to her all wise, male Bishop to get answers. This message permeates the thinking of the church. I would bet dollars to donuts when they were making this film, they didn’t give this scene a second thought about the negative connotations this message sends to all women. Shame on the them!
Third issue I have with this is a continuation of the second. The Bishop explains where his answers come from-they came from male church leaders who are the expounders of doctrine in the church. Follow the Prophet is the mantra of the day except of course on those times when they were wrong. Almost without exception, the leaders were opposed to civil rights for the African American community and created all kinds of religious reasons to keep a people oppressed. Now that they lost that fight they are digging in their heals against the LGBT community.
Samantha does follow the Bishops advice and reads conference talks, scriptures, and prays.With her new found wisdom, she heads to school to meet Miki. Samantha may be in the cafeteria but she is no cafeteria mormon. The message here is that members are to get their information from “approved sources” and stay away from the evil internet where you get unfiltered information that could lead to doubts about church claims..
Miki says, “I don’t believe in religion,” as if the fight for civil rights is an affront to the Mormon Church. This statement once again reinforces the theme of “us vs them” where religous people should fight against gay marriage. It is classic black and white thinking where you are either one or the other.
Samantha then resorts to mind milieu as she represents the thoughts of church leadership and tells us how to think about these issues.She said:
“I want everyone to be treated fairly.” That sounds harmless enough if you are not aware of the history of the church and how they have done everything in their power to make sure the LGBT community is not treated fairly. She uses a straw man argument to show how reasonable her side is. In the first example she tells Miki how unfair it is for doctors to be forced to perform abortions, and therefore we should support religious freedom. The problem is that doctors are NOT forced to perform abortions. They choose which type of medicine they practice and no one is forcing doctors to perform any type of surgery. In fact,most doctors are not surgeons.
The second example is about a counslor who is forced to counsel a gay couple when their union offends his or her sensibilities. Again, they have wide discretion and do not need a widening of religious rights to protect their profession. Typical straw man argument that avoids the real topic. She also throws these thought gems at us:
“Gay bigotry toward reasonable religious people”
“Civil laws are good”
“Churches have ALWAYS influenced communities for the good”
Samantha, LGBT people are not being bigots when they want to have the same marital rights that heterosexual people enjoy! You turned the word bigot around with that comment. I don’t see LGBT people spending obscene amounts of money and time trying to stop heterosexual people from getting married. I do see the church engaging in this against LGBT people.
Yes, civil laws are good so why is the church seemingly always on the wrong side of the civil right fight. They have a long ugly history of opposing civil rights. David O Mckay,Delbert Stapley, Mark E Peterson, and so on long opposed civil rights. Now you have the audacity to say you are for them when the church is now in Mexico opposing civil rights for LGBT people.
The church needs to quit pretending they are an incredible force for good. The brethren have created a negative culture that is dishonest on this topic. Their idea of fairness for all means that LGBT people should not be allowed to have a civil marriage because that offends the religious sensibilities of the top leadership. They even took it a step further and excluded their children by not allowing them to be members.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me,” said Christ. He had no negative words for LGBT people but often condemned religious hypocrisy in high places.
The final point I find disturbing about this video is how the church spends the widow’s mite. Tithing money was spent to make this bit of propaganda. How much, I cannot say. The church operates like a secret combination when it comes to money. There is nothing sacred about this-just secret. Instead of helping the homeless or building a well in a Third World Country, they use the widows mite to brainwash members to fight against the civil rights of others. That is their definition of “fairness for all.”
Isn’t it time to have charity for all?
Postscript: On General Conference weekend, a series of videos were uploaded to the internet. They showed the Apostles in various meetings being briefed on various topics. One topic involved Wikileaks and cyber security.After the presentation, the Apostles were obsessed with knowing if the participants were gay. That was their entire focus. On another video, Dallin Oaks exhibited some paranoid delusion about mass media covering up any negative message regarding the LGBT community. During the religious rights briefing,it was clear the central piece of the brethren’s views on this topic involved using whatever means necessary to oppose civil rights for LGBT people in regards to marriage. The videos showed a group of geriatric leaders who clearly have homophobic issues and want to oppress people based on their own religious views. No sign of charity could be spotted in the meetings!