Mormons Bankroll Anti–Gay Marriage Amendments in California, Arizona

By pdimaso

Originally published on October 22 2008 12:00 AM ET

The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has mobilized followers
to give an estimated 77% of donations to support
California's proposed marriage ban.

Against Hate released figures Tuesday showing that $17.67
million was contributed by 59,000 Mormon families since
August to groups like Yes on 8. Contributions in
support of Prop. 8 total $22.88 million.
Additionally, the group reports that Mormons have
contributed $6.9 million to pass a a similar law,
Proposition 102, in Arizona.

"It is a
staggering amount of money and an even more staggering
percentage of the overall campaign receipts," Fred Karger of
Californians Against Hate said in a press release. "The
Mormon Church, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has
hijacked the campaigns in both California and Arizona,
where voters face constitutional amendments to end
same-sex marriage."

Karger said
Californians Against Hate came up with the figures by
cross-referencing donor information from the California
secretary of state with Brigham Young University
alumni lists, church memberships, and other personal
documentation that could identify Mormon Church members.
He said the surge in support has been an attempt to boost
the church's social standing among the greater
religious community.

"For whatever
reason, they're trying to get some respect from other
religions," he told The Advocate Tuesday.
"They've always been looked down upon by the
Christians, the Catholics, and evangelicals."

Success with the
marriage amendment would give the church credibility,
Karger said.

The Latter-day
Saints Church says it has approximately 770,000 members in
California, accounting for about 2% of the
state's population. Senior church elders
broadcast a call to Mormons October 8 for increased
volunteer efforts and donations for the marriage fight.
The hour-long message went out to churches in Utah,
Hawaii, and Idaho as well as California.

Members of the
Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the second-highest church
governing body, explained their plan to pass the ballot
initiative. They asked each California congregation to
commit 30 volunteers to donate four hours a week to
Proposition 8. They also urged young people to use
technology -- such as social networks, text messaging, and
blogging -- to spread the word. (Michelle Garcia,
The Advocate)