Sheri Dew at the Republican Convention

August 31, 2004 | 166 comments
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As many of us know, Sheri Dew was selected to give the invocation at the Republican National Convention. The prayer she gave, as transcribed, was rather simple and probably uncontroversial:

Heavenly Father, we come before Thee as citizens who care about this nation to express our gratitude for this land of liberty where we have the freedom to live, vote, and worship as we choose. We are grateful for the evidence of Thy hand in the founding of this nation. We are grateful for every man and woman in uniform, and ask Thee to bless them and their families. We pray for the wisdom to protect and defend all families, for our nation is only as strong as its homes. We are grateful for a Commander in Chief who seeks Thy guidance. Wilt Thou bless him with wisdom and courage. We plead with Thee for peace and continued freedom-not only freedom from those who would terrorize us and encroach upon our peace of mind, but also freedom from acrimony. We pray for Thy Spirit to be with us today, that we may be wise and
discerning. We love Thee, Father, and we thank Thee for loving us. We worship Thee in many ways. But as a follower of Jesus Christ, and in behalf of all who believe likewise, we offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

As many of us may know, Sister Dew has had a number of prominent callings and positions, including Relief Society Presidency member and CEO of Deseret Book. She is also, famously, unmarried.

Sister Dew has come under fire for a recent article where she condemned gay marriage and compared gay-rights activists to Nazis. In particular, Atrios, one popular left-leaning blog, served as a forum for very bitter anti-LDS commentary, which Lyle Stamps has pointed out.

Myself, I’m conflicted. I’m happy that the Republicans think highly enough of the church to place a church member in a highly visible role at the convention. And I’m thrilled that they picked an LDS woman. However, I’m a little nonplussed that the member chosen is one who has recently compared gay-rights activists to Nazis. I don’t think that gay-rights activists are Nazis or that gay marriage is like the Holocaust, and I don’t want others to think that I have those views. (But maybe her presence will start conversations, where I can clarify that sister Dew is not 100% representative of my own views). In the end, I think Sheri Dew at the Convention is a mixed blessing for church members. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

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166 Responses to Sheri Dew at the Republican Convention

  1. Russell Arben Fox on August 31, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    Andrew Sullivan has also commented negatively about Dew, here.

  2. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 2:49 pm

    I completely agree with you, Kaimi (apparently 100% of the time!) and this points out something I’ve been thinking about.

    It seems that no community can completely represent all its members and their widely differing views, properly.

    My view on same-sex marriage is fairly well-known here — I’m for it, I don’t find it a big deal at all, and I’m a little surprised that the Church doesn’t let it happen (for those outside the Church) since it adds a little morality to some relationships.

    I wouldn’t want the world to think that Sheri Dew represents me. And yet, her community is my community, and I’m proud to have that community represented some way. It’s a conundrum.

    Meanwhile, though a Democrat, I wouldn’t want my name associated with that thread on Atrios. Those Democrats don’t represent my viewpoint at all, that all people’s choices should be tolerated, as long as they don’t hinder other people’s choices.

    Clearly, a mixed blessing.

  3. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 3:03 pm

    I’m not sure about the “better than nothing.” You’re operating from a “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” viewpoint, which may be true if you’re trying to sell widgets, but doesn’t necessarily apply in the case of spreading the gospel.

  4. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 3:08 pm

    I think you are selling people short. Most, Atrios posters excluded, realize two people of the same faith can have different opinions. I am not foolish enough to think all Catholics agree with everything the Pope says, much less John Kerry, or Cardinal O’Connor.

    As far as atrios goes, the situation just brings out already existent preexisting prejudices of some on the left against the religious, a topic I have brought up in the Bush League thread. After reading through their comments, they make evangelicals look civilized.

  5. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    Bryce

    A Question: Do you think members of the Church, especially more notable members, should mute (in the sense of not taking outspoken public stands on controversial issues) themselves when it comes to political matters?

    BTW on the whole Nazi issue, It seemed to me she was comparing the situations, the traditional marriage is under a grave threat that people must take sides on to Europe under threat from Hitler, not the people.

  6. Mark on August 31, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    Don’t all these references to the President as “our Commander in Chief” bother anybody else?

    Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says that “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States . . .”

    I suppose that it is reasonable to infer that he’s also C-in-C of the Marines and the Air Force, but, he surely isn’t mine, or any other civilian’s.

    One would hope that an editor or writer or publishing executive would recognize that words matter, that they have meaning, but, alas, she either doesn’t know the words, or hasn’t considered the implications of what she’s said.

  7. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    So, Nathan, you think that the religious right has no pre-existing prejudices of the left? Some pro-life adherents have actually murdered people for their cause.

    Truthfully, I can’t believe that everyone in this country can be put in one of only two camps. Conversative or liberal, Mormon or Gentile, vitriolic or civilized.

    I am all of these things, at any given moment, depending on the day.

  8. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 3:46 pm

    D.,

    I am just pointing out the people who claim to be embrace diversity really don’t. At least evangelicals in their hate do not make these types of claims. Of course every side has its bigots and hatemongers (David Duke anyone?). Did I say otherwise?

  9. Geoff B on August 31, 2004 at 3:54 pm

    Kaimi, I’m surprised you have any problem defending what Sister Dew had to say. Obviously, gay “marriage” is a critical and core issue to the Church, or else the Church would not have come out with public pronouncements on the issue. Sister Dew is a prominent member of the Church. If the Church has a core value such as opposition to gay marriage, you would expect her to share it.

    I agreed with her comments completely and thought she expressed them quite eloquently.

    If you believe in the restoration of the Gospel, you believe that there will be critical issues such as this on which the Church will place its emphasis. The Proclamation on the Family has made it clear that the Chrurch believes that gender roles are clearly God-given. Given the timing of the Proclamation on the Family (I believe it was about a decade ago), it appears clear to me that the Prophet and the Apostles had inspiration that the whole issue of gay marriage would come up in the coming years.

    The Church’s position — and Sheri’s — are quite clear and I believe not really controversial for a member of the Church: any attempt to change the nature of the traditional family is an assault on a God-given institution. Calling a relationship between two men and two women a “marriage” is clearly an assault on this institution.

    The mistake that supporters of gay “marriage” make is to assume that opposing an attempt to redefine marriage is somehow an attack on gays. I couldn’t care less what gays do in their own homes. I have compassion and love for them as fellow sons and daughters of God. The only reason I care is when gays attempt to impose their values on me by redefining an institution that has had a clear definition for about 6,000 years now.

    Sister Dew’s point is extremely valid — gay “marriage” is a bedrock values issue, just as Hitler’s rise was a bedrock values issue. Will Church members be fooled by the propaganda, just as millions of Germans were, or will they actually read what the scriptures have to say on the issue and follow what the prophet and the apostles have to say? Sister Dew is coming down on the side of following the prophet and the apostles.

    I know we have debated gay marriage to death, and I probably have not put forth any arguments that any regular poster on this board has not read at least a dozen times. But I feel it is important to point out that nothing Sister Dew said is out of the mainstream of LDS thought.

  10. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    Also note I said “some on the left.” The vast majority of Democrats are fine, upstanding, friendly people. Being in the Ivory Tower for so long, has brought me into contact with the more radical and hate filled variety quite a bit though.

  11. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 4:08 pm

    Uggh, one thing I really don’t get is why the SSM issue seems to be THE single defining issue of our generation.

    Geoff has just said, “I couldn’t care less what gays do in their own homes.”

    Except marry each other, Geoff, eh? And why would this be imposing their values on you?

    Yes, the Proclamation on the Family was designed with actual intent to ward off possible future questions about marriage. It wasn’t foresight at all — Proposition 13 (I think) was already on the table in California.

  12. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 4:19 pm

    D.,

    It would be “forcing” because it changes the what marrage is culturally for all in the country, a culture that Geoff belongs to and has a say in. Laws do change cultures, and I can cite a few examples for you, if you want.

  13. danithew on August 31, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    Bring up Nazis and homosexuals in the same sentence and you’re likely to get yourself in a lot of trouble. I can see why there was a controversy with what Sheri Dew said and I probably wouldn’t have expressed myself that way, though I, like Sheri Dew, oppose gay marriage.

    This mini brouhaha brought to mind an interesting article I read that was linked to by aldaily.com that discusses the odd links that seem to exist between fascism and homosexuality (which is even more surprising when one thinks about how the Nazis systematically killed homosexuals):

    http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=407

  14. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    Nathan–

    I’m not opposed to prominent members of the Church expressing their opinions on hot button issues, and in many cases I think that they are under some obligation to do so.

    However, I also believe that high-profile Church members should be extremely careful about how and where they make their views known. It’s asking almost too much, I know.

    My apparently too-short comment was meant to be a commentary on the effect of Sister Dew’s appearance at the RNC on the perception of the LDS position on the subject of gay marriage. Any positive effects of her appearance (LDS voters get warm fuzzies: “They like me! They really do!”; some evangelicals get the message that LDS voters have arrived as a political force) seem to have been largely overwhelmed by the negative effect of having the LDS position on gay marriage reduced to a simple, negative statement in the minds of many: “LDS? Oh they think gays are Nazis.”

    Never mind that Sister Dew does not speak for the church, or that her remarks are best understood in the larger context of her faith and her personal biography. The damage is done. I’m sure she could not have anticipated the effect that her appearance at the RNC could have had. I know that if for some reason she had asked me a month ago if it were a good idea to appear there, I would have told her “yes.” In retrospect, however, knowing how it all played out (“all” in the very narrow sense — anticipating objections about “planting seeds”), I think on balance the appearance was a bad thing.

    Of course, I base this opinion on a number of assumptions that may be false. I’m assuming that the Hitler comments have been fairly widely read among people whose opinions have influence, and that there aren’t many benefits to her appearance other than minimal exposure to a fairly small (albeit influential) group.

    I guess the take-home message is that like all public figures, high-profile LDS members must be very careful about how and where they express their views, since in the current political/information climate, you never know when and where your words will be used against you.

    BTW (paralleling Nathan’s post): For those of you who are unfamiliar with Godwin’s Law (you missed my post on the other thread), you should click here. Quoting from the linked Wikipedia article:

    Godwin’s Law (also Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage in Internet culture that was originated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states that:

    As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

    There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made in a thread the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

    Finding the meme of Nazi comparisons on Usenet illogical and offensive, Godwin established the law as a counter-meme. The law’s memetic function is not to end discussions (or even to classify them as “old”), but to make participants in a discussion more aware of whether a comparison to Nazis or Hitler is appropriate, or is simply a rhetorical overreach.

    Many people have extended Godwin’s Law to imply that the invoking of the Nazis as a debating tactic (in any argument not directly related to World War II or the Holocaust) automatically loses the argument, simply because these events were so horrible that any comparison to any event less serious than genocide or extinction is invalid and in poor taste.

    The point being that invoking the specter of Hitler and the Nazis is widely considered to be a rhetorically empty gesture (to the point of having a well-known “law” describing its use) and is most likely to be viewed as hateful and fear-mongering drivel instead of serious-minded discussion by thoughtful people. Sister Dew makes a gesture towards recognizing this in her speech, but fails miserably in making the case that the threat of gay marriage is somehow equivalent to the threat that the Nazi regime posed, given all that we know about the history of that period. She might be right, but she’s got a lot more convincing to do.

  15. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 4:32 pm

    Commenting on something else in Kaimi’s post, he notes that Sheri is “famously, unmarried.”

    Women who aren’t selected for marriage are upheld in our Church as righteous and entitled to exaltation. Sheri’s acclaim is one clear example of this.

    But men who are chaste and celibate are eyed with suspicion. As an example, a single man of a certain age will not be allowed to work at BYU.

    Why the double standard? There’s an unspoken belief that the men are “choosing” improperly, that the proper thing to do would be to marry, at any personal cost. Of course, this is easier said than done for some men.

    Obviously, some of these men are celibate because they might have same-sex attraction, which they are holding at bay.

    One thing the Church could provide is a Doctrine of Celibacy. Certain men (and women, equally) could be choosing singleness, and might be supported, at the pulpit and in the Temple, in their choice. Without this, unfortunately, there will always be that suspicion of the older single men.

    I’m 46.

  16. Geoff B on August 31, 2004 at 4:44 pm

    D. Fletcher, I cannot answer your question without turning this into the inevitable SSM debate. Perhaps I will come up with some new arguments??? Probably not, but here goes.

    How would this be imposing their values on me? Let me count the ways…

    1)Any attempt to normalize homosexuality by making it mainstream means that homosexuality becomes more accepted and common in a culture. It means that it is OK for teenagers “questioning” their sexuality to experiment and see if they like it. After all, if gays can get married, then it must be OK. This directly contradicts what we teach our youth in young men’s and young women’s — wait until you are married, control your thoughts, etc, etc. If homosexual “marriage” is commonplace in 10 years when my children are in their teens, then this means my message to them — control your thoughts, wait for a temple marriage — become increasingly meaningless. This has a direct affect on me and my values.

    2)Marriage is the central institution in society. Family law — and indeed many of the most important institutions in this country — are built around the idea of the nuclear family and the central role it plays in raising healthy future generations. Any denigration of the nuclear family and traditional marriage — increased divorce, for example — means decay in the society. We have already seen the affects of increased divorce on crime rates, drug usage rates, abortion, AIDs, etc, etc. This all has a direct cost in terms of welfare, increased police protection, increased health spending, increased homeless populations, increased spending on drug prevention programs. This has a direct affect on me in terms of quality of life and, yes, higher taxes.

    3)The Founding Fathers had a very clear idea of the role of the nuclear family as essential to the growth of the Republic. The Founding Fathers had a different understanding of the purpose of marriage than their European monarchical counterparts. Marriage was a central pillar of founding a society based on equality of opportunity. Raising civic-minded children in marriage was especially important for the future prosperity of the republic. The central importance of marriage in the Founding Fathers’ plan began to unravel in the 1960s. Legalization of gay marriage would be another blow to this important social institution — with catastrophic results for society.

    See the following arcticle for more: http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_gay_marriage.html

    An attempt to stray from the central role of the nuclear family has a direct affect on me by lessening quality of life.

    4)SSM proponents have not completely thought through many aspects of this radical change. How will the myriad aspects of family law be changed? How about immigration law? What about health benefits at work, estate law? Will two straight men who are roommates — one with health insurance, one without — pretended to be married so they can both get health benefits from one of their employers? (this is not at all far-fetched, btw) All of these radical changes will have a direct affect on society and therefore me and may mean that some employers no longer can afford to pay for family health benefits.

    5)Numerous studies have shown that promiscuity is much higher in the gay community. Gays — even those who have gotten “married” in Canada and Europe and Massachusetts — have a different standard of marriage compared to straights. They are much more likely to call for “open marriages” and much less likely to believe in fidelity. This continues to degrade the institution of marriage with obviously negative affects on society.

    6)Finally, the SSM agenda is not simply about getting a “civil right.” It is about hunting down and destroying any institution that does not line up to their radical agenda. The Boy Scouts are an excellent example of this. Any Church member should be outraged to see how gay “rights” supporters have relentlessly pursued the Scouts. The hypocrisy involved is phenomenal. Anybody who kept his sexuality to himself would never be hounded out of the Scouts. The Scouts are against openly gay people being members (the key word is “openly”) because the last thing teenage boys need to think about is sex, especially in the one refuge where traditional values are emphasized. As a father who will hopefully have a son in the Scouts some day, this is a direct attack on my values.

  17. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    Bryce,

    It was an unfortunate use of rhetoric. It seems strange that the same comment is rhetorically shallow and yet inspires so much consternation.

  18. Clark Goble on August 31, 2004 at 4:51 pm

    “Finally, the SSM agenda is not simply about getting a “civil right.” It is about hunting down and destroying any institution that does not line up to their radical agenda.”

    While I oppose SSM, it seems that the above is incorrect. While I’m sure there are some who fit your description, most simply want the right to marry. The problem is that when people say what you say, moderates tend to think that you not the homosexual lobby are the radicals.

    This was the error with Sis. Dew’s comments. Maybe among Mormons her comments weren’t radical. But among the population at large they were.

    This is always the danger. Everyone always thinks they are the mainstream. Typically people who feel strongly about any issue aren’t the mainstream.

  19. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 4:57 pm

    Nathan –

    It’s not that strange when you think about it. Propaganda and invective depend primarily on rhetorically shallow (not complex) structures that are nonetheless strongly marked (usually emotionally). I think most of us posting and commenting here are most worried not so much by rhetorically complex arguments, which are likely to have some force of reason behind them, or if not, will not appeal to anyone not already holding the same opinion, but by simple, reductive arguments that have emotional impact: Democrats hate Mormons, gays are Nazis. I can argue with the first, but to counter the second, I’m more likely to have to deploy propaganda of my own.

  20. Geoff B on August 31, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    D. Fletcher,

    Just one point of fact. You wrote:

    Yes, the Proclamation on the Family was designed with actual intent to ward off possible future questions about marriage. It wasn’t foresight at all — Proposition 13 (I think) was already on the table in California.

    The Proclamation on the Family was printed in 1995. Proposition 22 passed in California in 2000 and was not really on the table in 1995. Keep in mind that President Clinton and the vast majority of Congress supported the Defense of Marriage Act (which clearly opposed SSM) in 1996. So, the Church comes out against SSM in 1995, Congress overwhelmingly opposes SSM in 1996, California votes 61 percent against SSM in 2000, yet here we are in 2004 and the Massachusetts Supreme Court says SSM is a “civil right” and many observers begin talking about SSM sweeping the country. It seems like we have gone 180 degrees in a short amount of time, and the Church’s position on this was quite prescient.

  21. john fowles on August 31, 2004 at 5:21 pm

    I’m surprised that no one has yet pointed out that Dew was not comparing gays to Nazis at all. She was comparing the situation of complacency with gay marriage with the situation of complacency with the Nazis coming to power.

    What she said was actually quite clear: before the end of this, everyone will have taken a side, either in favor of the divinely appointed traditional family (whether out of religious reasons or otherwise) or against it, even those who have not expressed a view, because that will line them up against the family, since “if he does not act, that is an act”–for gay marriage. Her comparison was cogent but distracting (which is evident by the fact that even Kaimi, usually so capable of pointing out what he perceives to be my own oversights, did not notice the substance of it, jumping instead on the bandwagon that scoffs at the use of “gay” and “Hitler” in the same paragraph, regardless of what is actually being said by such a juxtaposition).

    In other words, Dew is saying that just like the fact that what Hitler was doing forced everyone to take a side either for or against him (those being apathetic or complacent being for him by default), the current situation with unrepresentatively loud gay rights activists clammoring for SSM is going to force every American to take a side on the traditional two-parents-of-opposite-gender family, either for or against it, and the apathetic or complacent will fall out on the side against the traditional family. You can’t seriously argue that she was comparing gays to Nazis substantively; moreover, how can you in good faith ignore the substance of her comparison by superficially stopping at Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogy?

    I think it was an unwise comparison precisely because of Godwin’s Law, but please be honest about what you actually think she was saying with the comparison and whether she isn’t actually right. (Whatever your views on SSM are, can’t you agree that this issue is so hot that it will cause everyone to take a side?)

  22. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 5:22 pm

    Clarification: I did not mean by my last post to imply that Sister Dew’s comments should be viewed as “propaganda and invective,” only that propaganda typically does not rely upon complex arguments. The comments “gays are Nazis” is meant to be illustrative of the type of statement I am referring to, and not as my paraphrase of Sister Dew’s remarks (although others may indeed “paraphrase” her in this way in their own arguments against her position — this is my point).

  23. bill on August 31, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    In 1993 the Hawaii supreme court rule that the denial of a marriage license to two men was equivalent to discrimination and a violation of the state constitution. This was widely discussed in the the media and in the church at the time. The issue was in the air and causing panic well before 1995.

  24. john fowles on August 31, 2004 at 5:34 pm

    Clark wrote, Typically people who feel strongly about any issue aren’t the mainstream.

    Funny observation there Clark. You seem to be implying that only the apathetic are “mainstream.” Well, I guess that Kerry might be mainstream after all then, on that criterion at least.

  25. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 5:36 pm

    You’re right, Bill, it was Hawaii.

    The Proclamation was issued in September, 1994. It was delivered at the Relief Society conference, a week before General Conference. (Printed in the Deseret News the next day).

    I was playing the piano at Gordon Bowen’s wedding reception at the time, in SLC. President Hinckley and Sister Hinckley came over after the meeting, and my sister asked Sister Hinckley if there was anything new at the conference (like the Proclamation which had been read that night!) Sister Hinckley replied, “no, same old, same old.”

    LOL

    P.S. By the way, my sister just told me that the Tribune thought to do a story on the Dew controversy, but they didn’t find it had merit. Sister Dew didn’t compare gays to Nazis, but just the tenor of the (changing) times. Her point was to stand up for what you believe in. Of course, gay activists were all over it, and it wasn’t very… elegant… choice of Sister Dew’s.

  26. Mark B on August 31, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks to John Fowles for saying cogently what I wanted to but couldn’t.

    Just a few additional comments:

    It’s likely that Dorothy Thompson, speaking in 1941, was concerned not only with the Nazis rise to power in Germany, but their successes in conquering Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France and, depending on when in 1941 she gave her speech, Yugoslavia, Greece, Crete, the Baltic states and large parts of Russia. Since the US was neutral until Pearl Harbor was attacked just three weeks before the end of 1941, it may be that Americans were the primary focus of her remarks. “Get off the fence America, or, by failing to choose to fight Hitler, you’re effectively choosing to support him.”

    It’s also unlikely that it was Nazi atrocities that triggered Ms. Thompson’s comments. In 1941, the Holocaust was unknown in the West, and, in fact, had not reached the levels of horror and “industrialization” of slaughter that it did after the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, and the establishment of Vernichtungslager such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. (There were crematoria at Auschwitz since 1940, but the first gassing of prisoners occurred in the autumn of 1941.) I suspect that instead Ms. Thompson was calling for people to stand up to tyranny and agression, but not to the specific kind of horror that the Nazis carried out against the Jews (mainly) and others.

    Since that was likely the point of Ms. Thompson’s speech, Sheri Dew would have been better served to have used a different evil–how about the “godless atheists” that used to run the USSR?–rather than the Nazis, who seem to have achieved a greater rank in the scale of odiousness than even Uncle Joe Stalin.

    Words matter, and context matters. Even when we’re waxing rhetorical.

  27. Clark Goble on August 31, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    Funny observation there Clark. You seem to be implying that only the apathetic are “mainstream.”

    I think there is a difference between apathy and passion. The mainstream exists between those two poles.

  28. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    John Fowles –

    Actually, she (Sheri Dew) is not even specifically talking about gay marriage, but threats to the family in general. The entire section in question begins with this paragraph:

    I was watching one of the prominent news shows on January 2 of the year 2000 as they predicted what the trends this century would bring. At the end of a long list, they said, “At the end of this century the family won’t look like it does now.” Unfortunately, my friends, it doesn’t look as though it is going to take nearly that long unless we are able to launch a serious defense of the natural, traditional family–by which I mean, mother, father, and children, living and working together. There are many threats with which we must contend. Let me only mention two.

    She then goes on to describe a conversation about the Kobe Bryant case, and the now well-known description of her reaction to the Newsweek article.

    So really, she’s lumping the adulterers (Kobe Bryant) with the gay marriage proponents explicitly by the examples she cites, and all others who support non-traditional family structures (presumably live-in boy/girlfriends, single parents by choice, etc.)

    Unfortunately, the gay-marriage section occurs right before her grand conclusion, so the bloggers can quote her and not even have to include a damning ellipsis. Otherwise, the adulterers and swingers lobby would be calling for her head as well.

    I’m assuming you’re responding to one of my posts (threaded comments please), so I’ll address your point. You say:
    “You can’t seriously argue that she was comparing gays to Nazis substantively;”

    Why not? She does. Here’s her text: ” At first it may seem a bit extreme to imply a comparison between the atrocities of Hitler and what is happening in terms of contemporary threats against the family—but maybe not” She knows exactly what she’s doing.

    Again, your point: “moreover, how can you in good faith ignore the substance of her comparison by superficially stopping at Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogy?”

    That’s exactly what Godwin’s Law describes — by knowingly making a comparison to the Nazis, Dew is asking her listeners to make a connection. She could just as easily have invoked scripture: “He that is not with me is against me”, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” But she chose a much more loaded and charged example, one that cannot be claimed to be emotionally neutral.

    The problem is that by doing so, she practically begs her listeners to reduce her argument to “gays = Nazis.” I used that equation in my previous posts to make a point — not that I think that’s what her argument was, but that that’s what most readers will end up remembering about her opinions.

    In a way you’re making my point for me. I never expressed my opinion on the content of her statement one way or the other. I only lamented the fact that it invites others to view her opinions — and by association, the church’s position — on gay marriage in a negatively reductive sense. Yet somehow, we’re still talking about gays and Hitler. It’s because throwing Hitler into the mix muddies the waters. It essentially says, I’m giving up on my argument, and appealing to your emotion. The problem with that strategy is that it invites emotional, rather than rational, response. Thus, we don’t talk about the content of the speech, but rather the images used in it.

  29. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 6:15 pm

    Mark B–

    You’re exactly right in situating Dorothy Thompson’s speech in a historical moment.

    However, you’re wrong in thinking that somehow that the initial intent of Thompson’s remarks can be divorced from the context that Sheri Dew uses them. Dew knows the historical context in which her listeners/readers will interpret her remarks. This is her acknowledgment: “At first it may seem a bit extreme to imply a comparison between the atrocities of Hitler and what is happening in terms of contemporary threats against the family—but maybe not” She is drawing upon that understanding to make her point. She doesn’t make the point that Thompson was not referencing the Holocaust because she wants to trigger the association with the Holocaust in her listeners minds.

    So yes, indeed, words matter, and context matters. And using the words “Hitler” and “atrocities” in the context of 2004 America, we are forced to conclude that she means to make a reference to the Holocaust.

  30. greenfrog on August 31, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    Also, for historical referents that make clear that the timing of the Church’s Proclamation was quite contextual, it is worth remembering that Colorado adopted its Amendment 2 (which prohibited legislation that itself prohibited discrimination against gays and lesbians) in 1992, with the political support of the LDS Church. That Amendment was subsequently overturned by the US Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans in 1996.

  31. greenfrog on August 31, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    D.

    In response to your earlier post on this thread, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about the article in this month’s Ensign by the Name Withheld author who talks about the ways that he encourages the Church members to interact with single males who may experience same sex attraction.

  32. Kristine on August 31, 2004 at 6:38 pm

    Geoff B.,

    Not only was gay marriage in court in Hawaii before the Proclamation was written, but the church was trying to get itself named as a co-defendant in the case (which seems like a very strange legal maneuver to me, but I know nothing about why one might try to do that). The judge asked for evidence that teachings on the family were central in Mormon doctrine, and there really wasn’t very much in writing, at least nothing that looked official to outsiders. There’s speculation that the fact that the Proclamation was read in the Women’s Conference had to do with the court calendar of the Hawaii case, though I’ve never seen anything that looked like proof of that allegation.

    So, D. is right that whatever else the Proclamation may have been (and, more importantly, may have become), it wasn’t particularly prescient on the issue of gay marriage.

  33. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    I’m a little embarrassed that I don’t have all the facts, dates, etc. at my fingertips. But Greenfrog and Kristine, and Bill are all correct. The Proclamation was specifically written and timed as events were unfolding. When I initially read it, I knew precisely its intent. By the way, it wasn’t presented as revelation.

    Greenfrog, surprising even myself, I read that piece in the Ensign. I think it was a bold move for the Ensign to put something like that in there. I applaud them and the author. And yet, I’m uncomfortable with his ultimate view, that he had “repented” of his same-sex attraction, and would ultimately look for a heterosexual mate. One can repent of same-sex sexual behavior, of course, for it is sinful, according to our doctrine. But I’m convinced that same-sex attraction isn’t a choice, and therefore I must conclude that it isn’t sinful. I think this is in keeping with the current feelings of the Brethren. I also believe that same-sex attraction isn’t changeable, or reversible. It is… a lifetime problem. Though I would urge to Church to reconsider same-sex marriage, I know this is a long shot. Perhaps in the meantime, we could take babysteps. One of those would be to love and support those with same-sex attraction, by letting them speak of it freely, to help them in their celibacy. Let’s not encourage them to keep quiet, and then quietly implode from their pain.

    It’s just a baby step, but it is something.

    I’d be happy to discuss more of these ideas with anyone who wishes, privately or here.

  34. Geoff B on August 31, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Kristine, you will note that my original post was based on the Proposition 22 reference, and was really intended to set the record straight on that. In a general sense, it is correct that gay marriage was discussed in the early 1990s, and there were court cases involving the issue, but it was clearly on the margins and was not nearly the issue it is today. I’m not sure how you can possibly argue that the Church wasn’t prescient on this issue. It is one of the few political issues on which the Church has taken a clear, unequivocal stand. In the early 1990s, for all anybody knew, the issue could have simply disappeared from public discourse. Gay rights advocates could have decided, for example, not to press the issue of SSM because it was too difficult a fight. Even today, there are many gay rights advocates who say the “right to marry” is not as important as other issues for the gay community. Nobody — except the Church — appeared to see that the issue would take center stage so quickly. Seems pretty prescient to me.

  35. Mark B on August 31, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    First, a confession. I posted a few times in the past few days as Mark, and then, when I saw another using the same name, changed to Mark B. Most of the recent “Mark” posts (especially the funny ones) were written by me. But not all. Now that you’re all clear on that:

    Bryce I:

    Thanks for your clarification of what I had intended to say. I had meant to imply (esp. by my suggestion that Shari Dew might have been better served by dredging up a different analogy) that she had opened herself up to criticism by her sloppy use of the Dorothy Thompson statement. If she had avoided the reference to Nazi atrocities, or if she had placed the comment squarely in its historical context, she may have been able to avoid the problem. Or, if she had picked on those poor “godless atheist” Commies, as we all enjoyed doing back in the dark days of the cold war, she could also have avoided it.

    Of course, maybe she was making a different point: that those who kill the body are not to be feared as much as those who would destroy the soul, and that assaults on the family, from whatever quarter, are therefore of such a nature that the atrocities of the Nazis pale in comparison.

  36. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    D. said:

    But I’m convinced that same-sex attraction isn’t a choice, and therefore I must conclude that it isn’t sinful.

    Sorry D, but that is just not historically true. One example from my field was homosexuality during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where such action was accepted. You can read in the writings of many literati about their numerous affairs with men (sometimes with both men and women), then going on to live a lively life with their wives and concubines (If you really did not like women could could just have a wife to have children with) with plenty of children. Were these men not exercising choice in attraction?

    I can provide more examples if you want.

    The point is that the view of same sex attraction as a non-choice does not hold up historically or across cultures. I will admit though that for some it is a hard choice not to make. I would encourage you to look at the broad history of homosexual behavior before drawing such conclusions, if you have not already.

  37. Geoff B on August 31, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    D. Fletcher, at the risk of sounding long-winded (not for the first time, I’m sure), I’d like to applaud your post on the whole issue of the Ensign article. You wrote:

    “One can repent of same-sex sexual behavior, of course, for it is sinful, according to our doctrine. But I’m convinced that same-sex attraction isn’t a choice, and therefore I must conclude that it isn’t sinful. I think this is in keeping with the current feelings of the Brethren. I also believe that same-sex attraction isn’t changeable, or reversible. It is… a lifetime problem.”

    I grew up in a very liberal environment in San Francisco, and I have known literally dozens of gay people. I am completely convinced that there are people who are “born gay.” They began having same-sex attractions when they were small children. So, I agree with you that same-sex attraction is not a choice. It is something that some people are simply born with. Did God err in making them with same-sex attractions? I don’t believe God makes these types of errors. (We could go into the issue of whether people had same-sex attractions in the premortal existence and simply carried them into this world, but that is obviously just speculation).

    But the clear issue, as you have eloquently discussed here and in other posts, is what people do with their attractions. I have all kinds of thoughts regarding the scantily clad women I see walking in downtown Miami every day (women who are not my wife), but the point is that I don’t act on any of these thoughts. In fact, I find myself turning my head so I won’t have to deal with the thoughts their lack of clothing stirs within me. I’d like to reach the point where I stop having those thoughts, but I don’t know when I will.

    That is why we are here on the Earth — to learn how to control ourselves and our thoughts. To paraphrase President Hinckley: “the only conquest worth boasting about is the conquest of self.”

    Meanwhile, we as Saints also have a test: how do we treat the people around us who are going through these tests. Do we make them feel more comfortable, give them love and support, help them overcome their difficulties? Isn’t that what the Savior would do?

    I don’t think the solution for people with same-sex attraction is SSM, which will only normalize behavior that causes a lot of pain. But I do believe you made some excellent points in your post.

  38. Mike on August 31, 2004 at 7:49 pm

    In response to D. Fletcher-
    There has obviously been a lot of talk already on the board about whether or not ss-atraction itself is a sin. Although I don’t think there has really been a consensus reached most people (including me) seem to agree that the actions not the attraction are the sin- although the question of when one passes temptation and begins to lust in their heart is obviously a tricky one.

    I think that the ensign article was good overall, though I agree with the criticisms tht you have- although I think that sometimes the conclusions reached by this particular person are legit- BUT need to be spelled out in a much more clear manner.

    FIRST I think that the kinsey scale would be a pretty good place to start. Few people are actually purely heterosexual, and few people are purely homosexual. Whether or not your position on the scale can shift a bit- or whether or not you can develop one side more than the other is obviously hottly contested. BUT the church seems to believe that homosexual desires can be developed to a greater extent, and heterosexual desires likewise. Even if this is true- I think that it would require some one not to start at either extreme. If some one is just a zero or a six on the scale even if movement is possible- it probabbly isn’t for them.
    Regardless- what it means is that for most people it is possible to be attracted to some one in a heterosexual manner, and thus even if in the past their only relationships have been homosexual they are capable of having a fully involved heterosexual relationship. If a man is very attracted to 30% of the men he meets and 5% of the women it is still possible to have a heterosexual relationship. (although those who are a pure 6 on the scale shouldn’t try to fake it by being in a heterosexual relationship that isn’t real)

    SECOND if developing one more than the other is possible- doing so in the homosexual direction could be construed as a sin. Further, even if change is not possible- focusing on homosexual desires in a negative manner would require the same repentance required of a heterosexual man who lusted after a woman.
    Thus- I think that there are parts of same sex attraction that would need to be repented of- either devoping that attraction further or lusting after others-
    But I think that when we simply say some one needs to repent of same sex attraction that is a flawed statement- it doesn’t really explain what is going on- it creates the picture that some one is a sinner for who they are more than for what they do or how they act. Repentance is required for things we chose to do- and is only required for the things we feel when those feelings are caused by choices as well.
    I think most church leaders agree with this, I think that explanation should be more open and more clear.

    The problem becomes that it also seems that the Church or it’s leaders don’t really believe there are any pure sixes- and that every one is capable of heterosexual attraction. I think that as long as that mindset exists either officially or unoficially the problems you point to will remain.

    I don’t think that the church will ever sanction ssm. But, if the church were to recognize that yes, some people can change attraction- but not all- and likely not most- and follow that by supporting those who feel they can not change in their choice of celibacy that would be a huge step, and one that I would be pretty happy with. (although, there are still mixed feelings on my part as to what would be the best policy, belief, or course of action by individuals)

  39. David Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for your compliments, Geoff. Now that we’re talking, I sadly have to reject one of your central points in this last post.

    Homosexual temptations are not akin to heterosexual adulterous temptations.

    I can illustrate this best by an example, using yourself, before you were married.

    Presumably you felt attracted to women, perhaps more than a few. If you were a good Mormon teenager, perhaps return missionary, you restrained yourself from overt sexual activity, choosing instead to postpone this kind of activity until you had found a single, eternal partner, whom you married in the Temple before indulging.

    But go back to that time before you were married. Now imagine if you are told, not only can you not touch these women, you cannot EVER touch them, you cannot marry them, you cannot love them, even the ones who might reach out to you to love them. And you really shouldn’t be touching yourself, either. And while you are trying to restrain yourself from any sexual activity, you may not even mention your difficulties in public.

    Heterosexuals have an outlet for sexual needs. Homosexuals living within the Church don’t, at least, don’t have the one they want, even though it wasn’t their choice to feel that way.

    Homosexuals aren’t just overly-sexualized heterosexuals.

  40. greenfrog on August 31, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    D. wrote: But I’m convinced that same-sex attraction isn’t a choice, and therefore I must conclude that it isn’t sinful.

    To which Nathan Tolman responded Sorry D, but that is just not historically true.

    Excuse me but D.’s quoted remarks focused entirely on his own beliefs. I for one think, his statement about his beliefs is historically true — they are his beliefs. This isn’t supposed to be a SSM thread, so I’ll refrain from the rest of the ideas that come to mind.

  41. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 8:02 pm

    Should not beliefs be subject to verification in the world to some degree? I believe that Bush is, overall a good president, but there are many who disbelieve this and bring facts to bear on it. Why should this be any different?

  42. Chad Too on August 31, 2004 at 8:10 pm

    Putting the SSM part of the thread aside for now, asking Sheri Dew to give this prayer is a brilliant and calculated move on the part of Karl Rove and his minions.

    If I’m an undecided LDS voter and I see President Hinckley’s biographer/president of Deseret Book/former General RS Presidency member on TV saying a prayer at the Republican convention, what message am I to take from that? Of course, that the LDS Church is aligned with what is about to take place.

    And for those LDS who are already among the GOP faithful, another affirmation of their belief that God is on the Republicans’ side.

    It’s too bad that Sister Dew, who is quoted in today’s Deseret News as having voted for Democrats “many, many times,” allowed Karl Rove et al to use her connection to the Church to shore up Mormon votes. Which is exactly why they invited her to do it.

    I’m sooooo tired of party politics, and it’s not even September yet.

  43. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 8:21 pm

    How about the Republican party wanting to genuinely show true religious diversity in the party?

    Do you feel the same way about the Imam that gave the prayer at the Democrats’ convention? (I feel it was for the reason I stated above, to make myself clear).

  44. Randy on August 31, 2004 at 8:26 pm

    Chad Too, how many undecided Mormons do you think are out there? What, a couple dozen? I think this is more panderning to the religious right than attempting to bring in undecided voters.

  45. Bryce I on August 31, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    Randy –

    Count me in as an undecided LDS voter.

    If I weren’t in a swing state, I would vote for a third party to improve their chances for ballot access in the next election cycle.

    As it is, I may still do so.

    Mark B.–

    Thanks for clearing that up. I realized after I posted that I might have misread your initial statement re: Dorothy Thompson, and I see that I did.

  46. Nathan Tolman on August 31, 2004 at 9:02 pm

    Randy said:

    I think this is more panderning to the religious right

    Most people on the conventional “religous right” do not have a high opinion of Mormons. If anything it could turn them off a bit.

  47. Adam Greenwood on August 31, 2004 at 9:06 pm

    For the record,
    Sheri Dew’s comments were not at all as bad as some have made out. At worst, she used the reduction ad hitlerium that all of us have used at some point. More to the point, she’s pretty representative. It seems that if you’re ashamed of her, you’re ashamed of all of us.

  48. lyle on August 31, 2004 at 9:19 pm

    John/Adam: Thanks…you simply brought out the blanket hysteria re: Sister Dew’s simply analogy…blown way out of proportion.

    D.: With all respect…your surprise is…well…surprising. The Restored Gospel teaches that homosexuality is sinful. So, whether SSM becomes legal by the law of Rome, the law of Zion isn’t going to change. Sum: Your comment about ‘adding’ morality to an immoral practice, seems absurd to me. No offense. :)

  49. Maren on August 31, 2004 at 9:37 pm

    Well, first I must say that I truly believe that Sheri Dew was making a comparison to the situation in general, not comparing gays to Hitler. Second, if anyone has ever followed Sheri Dew’s talks, they would know that she never says things that will be seen as politically correct. She says what she believes. I read somewhere that she often got letters from members of the church complaining about her talks in conference, so no wonder a speech and a prayer at a National convention gets a lot of heat. Third, I am surprised that people would be so unkind to D. Fletchers remarks. He is exactly right. There is no way to talk about and cope with SSA. People will shun you, and tell you to just get over it, etc. People will look down upon you for living a celibate life, though really there is no other choice. Is a person just supposed to marry someone they are not attracted to, so that they can be truly acting a heterosexual life. I admire a person who has chosen to live a celibate life because God commands marriage to be between man and woman. It is not that they don’t want to follow God. They want it so much that they give up the only attraction they have, because they are willing to follow God. We with our primitive understanding look down upon the man who is 46 and unmarried, but I believe that God holds him in the highest regard for giving up something that he feels is a core part of him because God asked him to. No sacrifice goes unnoticed.

  50. Chad too on August 31, 2004 at 9:38 pm

    I didn’t say there were thousands upon thousands of LDS undecideds, only that it’s not much of a logical jump to assume that what LDS undecideds are out there might be swayed by this reach out to Sheri Dew.

    I too see pandering, though not to the religious right per se. There are plenty in the religious right who would be aghast at having a *Mormon* say a prayer (invoking the name of Jesus Christ no less!) at what they consider to be a quasi-religious function.

    I’m sure the ultimate target of this action are the LDS faithful, particularly in the western states where they have sufficient population to affect a state’s outcome. Not that this would EVER happen (not in my lifetime, anyway, but had any one of those states not gone with Bush last time, the outcome would have been very different; a fact not lost on Mr. Rove and company I’m sure.

  51. Chad too on August 31, 2004 at 9:43 pm

    Oops, I meant to write “if any one of the states Bush won not gone with Bush…”

  52. Jeremy on August 31, 2004 at 10:12 pm

    Nevada’s definitely a battleground state — as of a week ago Kerry led by less than 2%, so it’s quite likely Rove & Co. had that in mind in choosing Dew.

  53. Jonathan Green on August 31, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    Even if you think that SSM is the defining issue of our time–I don’t, but we’re not debating the point here–it was a stupendously bad comparison for Shari Dew to make.

    If you haven’t read it yet, you should read the whole reaction to Sheri Dew on atrios.blogspot.com. (Don’t bother with the comments; they haven’t been worth following for months.) The citation from SD is followed up with a letter to the editor of the SLC Metro. The letter writer points out that Shari Dew, prominent LDS person and CEO of Deseret Book, should know better than to compare choosing sides on SSM to Germans choosing sides on Nazism: Her own company has published three books documenting how our church encouraged its members at the time to be loyal German citizens. Making Nazi comparisons is not just rhetorically foolish, it’s rhetorically suicidal.

  54. D. Fletcher on August 31, 2004 at 11:24 pm

    Very interesting point, Jonathan, that I hadn’t considered about Dew’s piece.

  55. lyle on August 31, 2004 at 11:52 pm

    Chad2: Don’t worry. The RNC & B/C 04′ have a full court press on for the ‘mormon’ vote. ’tis nice to be courted for once.

    Jonathan: Have you read the books published by DB re: Huebner, et al? If not, I’m sure Kaimi can refer you to a past T&S thread that discussed this. The Church was in a bad place, and before you criticize, perhaps you should ask yourself what you would do…if you were the branch president in question, wondering when the Nazi’s would come to take your flock to Auschwitz because you belonged to an American church.

    Rhetorical suicide? Maybe. Reminding LDS citizens (who were the target audience for the article in question) that ignoring the First Presidency on the SSM issue could have drasitc consequences? yup.

  56. Josh Kim on September 1, 2004 at 1:18 am

    Sister Sheri Dew said a prayer…what the freak is wrong with saying a prayer…no matter who says it? If a gay guy said a prayer at the Democratic National Convention some of you guys wouldn’t have any problems over it, but a wonderful women who has served in several Church callings in her life and who stands as a sterling example to all Latter-day Saints, oh no, that’s just not right.

    If any of you have a problem with what I just said then please email me and let me know why…I can use a good laugh
    I think some of you guys are just looking deeper into this than it really is.

    Kaimi, you are right by saying that Sister Dew does not represent the Church…

    Sister Sheri Dew does represent Christ however in the manner which she has lived her life. She is an awesome example to me…and I’m a man!!(Ladies, please take this as a compliment)

    If you can’t enjoy the fact that Sister Dew said a prayer as just that…a prayer…then you have some serious issues…

    I’m sorry.

    The way some of you people take everything good and seek to scrutinize it just makes me sick…

    I suppose when your children get baptized or ordained to the priesthood you’ll be asking the person performing the ordinances what party they belong to right?

    By the way, Homosexuality is a sin…The Lord can’t abide by sin. He dearly loves the sinner…we’re all sinners for all have sinned and falen short of the Glory of God. The atonement is meant to bridge the way for those who are striving to keep the commandments no matter how many times they falter.

    Of course, the First Presidency has a right to come out against same sex marriages. As special witnesses of Jesus Christ they have that right and duty to speak out against such abominations. If you don’t believe they are speaking for the Lord when they issue important statements such as the Proclamation on the Family then you have something wrong with you.

    And if their stand on the issue of marriage is the same as the Republican Party then let the chips fall where they may…

    Just because alot of LDS faithful adhere to the GOP doesnt give me a problem…That’s like saying Mormons are in league with the tie industry.

  57. Mark B. on September 1, 2004 at 12:04 pm

    Except for the twenty people who read this website, did anyone else notice who was praying at the RNC at 10:00 EDT on Monday morning?

    As I said above, the only thing troubling was her reference to the President as our Commander in Chief. He’s the C-in-C of the armed forces, not of the United States.

    If I still had my draft card, I’d pull it out and burn it!

  58. Charles on September 1, 2004 at 1:16 pm

    I think there have been some really good talks here on this and some good open debate. Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is pointed away from the article and is frequently hijacked by SSM.

    There is nothing wrong with the talk Sheri Dew gave in the Meridian article. She is comparing the stance we take on this issue to the stance people took, or didn’t take, on another issue. This is a valid comparison. The family is a very central part of the social order and any attempt to change it will utlimately change society.

    Surely, she could have used scripture to make her point as well. But according to the article there were numerous people of different faiths at this conference. It is likely she wanted to keep this interfaith and more secular in some of her examples. Just a thought, I can’t speak for her.

    I also feel that she is focusing on two strong cases. The current trend of SSM which is breaking down society as well as the failure of men and women to keep their covenents with eachother. These two things are the most serious issues threatening the familiy and ultimately society.

    The entire debate on her previous comments and her invocation at the RNC is paramount to ludicrous anyway. I don’t know how she was introduced, but I doubt the nation at large would know who she was or that she had such strong ties to the LDS church and certainly wouldn’t know about her remarks at a temple visitors center.

    It appears to me that what the anti-Dews are up to is to use the catchy gay = nazi paraphrasing without considering the actual quote or its context. She said she was reminded of a quote used to describe the conditions of the world in the nazi era and how closely it resembles the plight for families now.

    If we look hard we can make all kinds of associations between organiztions like the nazis and other seemingly innoculous organizations. Heck the Nazis took a religous symbol, the schwastika, and turned it into something of thier own. Likewise, the gay community has hijacked the rainbow. Its a rediculous comparison. Her quote was not. Any attempt to make Sheri Dew or the church, by her association, anti gay in the vien of anti semetism and nazi comparisons is in itself a slanderous act.

    We must stand for marriage or by default we show our support of its destruction. As LDS this is a very central point of doctrine. The purpose and role of the family. An attack on it is an attack on our faith.

    A freind of mine suggested that perhaps what we truly need is for the church, Catholic, Mormon, Jew, and Protestant alike to reclaim marriage as thier own. Perhaps the state should just stay clear.

  59. Charles on September 1, 2004 at 1:39 pm

    I would like to address breifly some of the things brought up aside from the Sheri Dew comments.

    Yes George Bush is our comander in chief. The title Comander in Chief refers to his role in the military. The Marines are a subdivision of the Navy. I’m not sure about the Air Force but I’m sure its implied. As for the civillians. He is the president, which is the head of the political system. That makes him like the CEO of the USA and that does put him in charge over our political system. And if you look at the war on terror involving everyone, and all of us as citizens are participants then he is our Comander in Chief in that regard as well.

    More seriously though. The issue about Same Sex Attraction, SSA. I would agree that this is indeed a choice. The very notion of this being a “lifestyle” also supports that view. I choose to drive a Lexus, live in a big home, vacation at Park City and date…women. Its a choice.

    I do applaud the observations that someone can be gay and still choose celibacy to avoid acting on thier feelings. But I also beleive that, that can be the first step in renouncing those feelings.

    After a person gets married they renounce the urges to act on attraction to others. Eventually, they cease to entertain those thoughts and urges that someone may have once had. If someone removes themselves from the environment that promotes what we know to be wrong a person can influence thier thoughts.

    Its the same with addictions. Change the freindships, change the habbits and other things that can lead to temptations and you will help to remove those thoughts.

    I recall discussions regarding the phrase “as a man thinketh”. While I have not read the book, I understand that actions are born of our thoughts. Hence we must cultivate our thoughts to avoid sinful thinking.

    While this may not help to develop an attraction to the opposite sex, it should help to reduce and possibly remove SSA. If a person believes in the gospel and believes that God has sent prophets to lead us, it becomes abundantly clear that homosexuality is a sin. If that person wants to repent then they owe it to themselves to do everything possible to do so.

  60. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 1:41 pm

    TEST COMMENT.

  61. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 1:46 pm

    test

  62. Jack on September 1, 2004 at 1:52 pm

    Charles: thankyou for that refreshing point of view on Dew’s talk. John fowles also expressed a similar take on her use of the Hitler regime. She was simply putting forth the question – as it relates to the erosion of the basic family unit – which camp will you find yourself in by *failing* to take a firm moral stance. Will you be *for* the family, or *against* it. I don’t think it was inappropriate for Dew to liken the seriousness of that decision (or lack of) unto catastrophic social/political events from the past. I hope that we would not be so naive as to believe that anything could be more destructive to society than the collapse of the family.

  63. Mike on September 1, 2004 at 2:11 pm

    Sorry for participating in the ssm hijacking.

    In response to Josh- I don’t think most people are bothered by the prayer, or think that it in itself was a bad thing. I think that the big question is why the republicans asked Dew to offer the invocation-
    It seems to either a. be sending a clear message that the republican party was not bothered byt he rhetorical device used recently by Sr. Dew and further that they support the ideas behind it.
    and or b. the republican party is strongly courting the mormon vote.

    I think it is legit to ask those questions, and doing so isn’t just taking everything good and criticizing it.

    In response to Charles,
    I agree that many of the “Anti-Dews” are trying to take comments out of cantext and make it seem like conservatives and or mormons believe gays are as horrible as nazis. This of course is not what Sr. Dew said.
    However, I think the criticism of those who actually look at the rhetorical device is valid. Sr. Dew knew the historical context and that is why she used the comparison she did.
    Further- I think it was an unwise choice. The argument that if you sit the fence you are actually taking sides with the wrong team may indeed be valid. And, it may actually be true that in an eternal sense this issue is more important than which side you took when the Nazis came to power. And although I understand there wee legitimate reasons the Church encouraged its members to be loyal German citizens- that very fact means that Sr. Dew should not have used that as her comparison. If she says- look at this historical example where not taking sides was the same as taking sides with the bad guys- today is exactly the same, she sure as heck should not have picked a historical example where the church’s official policy was not to take sides.
    If not taking sides in this instance is exactly the same as not taking sides when the Nazis came to power- either the Church was wrong then OR it is ok to not take sides in this instance as well.

  64. Geoff B on September 1, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    David Fletcher, a belated response.

    I cannot minimize how difficult it must be for you to have to overcome these feelings of SSA. You are correct that comparing opposite-sex attractions to SSAs is a stretch, but my purpose was not to compare the two directly. My purpose was to point out that we all have temptations and tests. The issue is how we deal with them.

    I personally imagine the premortal existence as someplace where we are warned that we will have very difficult tests once we come to Earth. And everybody has different kinds of tests. Some people are born blind, others lame, others in violently dysfunctional families (my particular test). Some people are born into a desperately poor family and have to struggle to eat every day. And yes, some people are born with same-sex attractions.

    Heavenly Father knows all about our tests. He understands the difficulties overcoming them. He will judge us on how well we follow His commandments and he will take into account the difficulties of the tests involved.

    At the end of the day, His laws are immutable. We will know this with a perfect clarity sometime in our existence, and we will judge ourselves and feel overwhelming guilt if we did not repent from breaking His laws or overwhelming happiness if we have repented and changed our behavior. People who overcome extremely difficult tests such as SSA and have learned to control their behaviors will be rewarded beyond our imagining.

    SSM is set up to justify and normalize behavior that breaks one of the immutable laws. It does not help anybody overcome the difficult tests involved and instead will cause more and more people to abandon and ignore the immutable laws. I can’t see anything good coming from it for anybody.

  65. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    TEST

  66. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    test

  67. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:26 pm

    test

  68. Nathan Tolman on September 1, 2004 at 2:26 pm

    Many have raised the possibility of Mormons being a voting block. Could this be because the margins between the two candidates are so close that the Mormon population of certain states, even outside the West? Most states have a Mormon population of 2-3% or so, from what I can gather, and this will be just enough in many places.

  69. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:28 pm

    TEST

  70. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    TESTING

  71. Bryce I on September 1, 2004 at 2:48 pm

    I hate to keep revisiting this, but I feel like my position on Sis. Dew may have been misinterpreted bo some readers here.

    I do not necessarily disagree with the basic content of Sis. Dew’s remarks.

    I am concerned that the public attention created by her appearance at the RNC may have the effect of having my opinion on the subject of SSM and the family (none of which I have offered up in this blog). Her appearance prompted bloggers on the left to investigate her views and to publicize some otherwise obscure comments she made in which she compared the choices over the family to the choice over Nazism in the early 1940s.

    The reporting of the speech has the effect of causing non-careful readers of those reports to make the (inaccurate) characterization of Sis. Dew’s position on SSM as equating the gay rights movement with Nazism. Such a position is generally considered extreme, and may be dismissed out of hand by a considerable fraction of the population. To the extent that Sis. Dew is associated with the church, the church’s position on SSM may also be dismissed out of hand by readers of the biased reports of Sis. Dew’s speech. To the extent that I am associated with the church, my own opinions may be dismissed out of hand by association with inaccurate or misleading reporting of Sis. Dew’s expressed opinions.

    All of this leads me to wish two things:

    1) That Sis. Dew had not made the comparison in question. While it may have played well as a speech to a conference of like-minded individuals, outside of that environment it only invites observers to mistakenly conclude that she is at best a not-serious commentator on the subject, and at worst a hate-filled demagogue.

    2) That she had not been invited to give the invocation at the RNC, given that she did make the comments in question, and that they are publically available via the internet. It certainly was appropriate for Sis. Dew to have accepted the invitation. There is no way that she could have anticipated that doing so would be anything but a positive experience. Unfortunately, I think that the resulting negative publicity is more damaging that any good coming from her appearance. Thus I wish that she had not been invited in the first place.

    Finally, the reason I worry so much about this is not because I disagree with the substance of Sis. Dew’s remarks, but rather because I largely agree with her. Unfortunately, her position will no longer be taken seriously by those who have read the reporting on her and not taken the time to get to the bottom of the story.

  72. Kaimi on September 1, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    TEST

  73. Bryce I on September 1, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    I hate to keep revisiting this, but I feel like my position on Sis. Dew may have been misinterpreted bo some readers here.

    I do not necessarily disagree with the basic content of Sis. Dew’s remarks.

    I am concerned that the public attention created by her appearance at the RNC may have the effect of having my opinion on the subject of SSM and the family (none of which I have offered up in this blog). Her appearance prompted bloggers on the left to investigate her views and to publicize some otherwise obscure comments she made in which she compared the choices over the family to the choice over Nazism in the early 1940s.

    The reporting of the speech has the effect of causing non-careful readers of those reports to make the (inaccurate) characterization of Sis. Dew’s position on SSM as equating the gay rights movement with Nazism. Such a position is generally considered extreme, and may be dismissed out of hand by a considerable fraction of the population. To the extent that Sis. Dew is associated with the church, the church’s position on SSM may also be dismissed out of hand by readers of the biased reports of Sis. Dew’s speech. To the extent that I am associated with the church, my own opinions may be dismissed out of hand by association with inaccurate or misleading reporting of Sis. Dew’s expressed opinions.

    All of this leads me to wish two things:

    1) That Sis. Dew had not made the comparison in question. While it may have played well as a speech to a conference of like-minded individuals, outside of that environment it only invites observers to mistakenly conclude that she is at best a not-serious commentator on the subject, and at worst a hate-filled demagogue.

    2) That she had not been invited to give the invocation at the RNC, given that she did make the comments in question, and that they are publically available via the internet. It certainly was appropriate for Sis. Dew to have accepted the invitation. There is no way that she could have anticipated that doing so would be anything but a positive experience. Unfortunately, I think that the resulting negative publicity is more damaging that any good coming from her appearance. Thus I wish that she had not been invited in the first place.

    Finally, the reason I worry so much about this is not because I disagree with the substance of Sis. Dew’s remarks, but rather because I largely agree with her. Unfortunately, her position will no longer be taken seriously by those who have read the reporting on her and not taken the time to get to the bottom of the story.

  74. Bryce I on September 1, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    1…2…3…sibilanccccce…

  75. Charles on September 1, 2004 at 3:13 pm

    Bryce,

    I often find that the media only covers the thin film on the surface of any issue. I personally have not seen any mainstream news source citing Sr. Dew and her comments or comparisons.

    I think we as mormons may be giving too much credit. We saw one of our own in a very prominent setting. Many people would begin patting themselves on the back, vis a vis “we’ve arrived”. Then when criticism is raised, quickly try to distance themselves, even when they share her particular point of view.

    If we were to examine every speach and document created by every person at the RNC or DNC we would be able to find similar humanistic flaws.

    Sure Gv. Swartzenegger (sic?) made some pretty bad comments in the past. But he’s a governor, he should be allowed to speak, right? What about the actors that are coming out. They don’t have any political experience, surely they have said or done things in the past some would take offense to. Does that mean that the RNC or DNC supports those positions. Thats redicoulous and paramount to saying that you support smoking just because you buy cheese that is produced by the same company that was bought out by RJ Renyolds.

    I sincerly doubt that the RNC chose her for anything other than her affiliations with various non profit organizations. If they chose her because of a specific issue she supported or held a view on, I’m sure they would have had her speak rather than just provide the invocation.

    For that reason it is certainly acceptable for her to have been chosen.

    Her choice to use the comparison may also have been along the same lines as providing reference. When you write a paper and use a quote or paraphrase a quote from another source, it is good journalism to cite that source. She was citing the quote and the context of the quote. It doesn’t hurt that the issue in question was one that in retrospect cannot be argued as neutral or good.

    The use of the nazi era demonstrates that this is an issue to take a side on. Where others might try to say that SSM is rather innoculous and does not deserve such debate. Her comments clearly demonstrate how dire this age is and how necessary the choice is.

  76. Mark B. on September 1, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    To use an analogy that probably should not be used on this thread, calling the President the Commander in Chief of the United States is just a small step from thinking that he’s Der Fuehrer. I am not a soldier, and I am not subject to the commands given by the President.

    The (inspired) Constitution says that he’s the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. I’ll grant you the other armed forces. Anything beyond that is surely uninspired.

  77. Nathan Tolman on September 1, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Bryce I said:

    While it may have played well as a speech to a conference of like-minded individuals, outside of that environment it only invites observers to mistakenly conclude that she is at best a not-serious commentator on the subject, and at worst a hate-filled demagogue.

    I agree with you.

    It seems strange that this is a topic while Howard Deans statement “[this is] an administration where they like book burning better than reading books.” Fell under even less scrutiny than this. Like Dew Dean made this comment to like minded people in Cambridge, MA in a speech outside the Democratic convention. Whereas Dew’s statement has been misinterpreted, Dean’s is clear, but without even the paltry outcry associated with Dew’s remarks. Indeed, we should remember who has been using the most rhetorical refrains to Hitler of late. Perhaps Godwin’s Law should apply to them too.

  78. Aaron Brown on September 1, 2004 at 4:32 pm

    Mark,

    I just have to say that your preoccupation with the “Commander in Chief” statement has to be about the most bizarre concern I’ve ever heard.

    Aaron B

  79. Mark B on September 1, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    Aaron,

    Why post in this semi-anonymous forum if one can’t be a little bizarre from time to time (or for all the time, for that matter)?

    My point is simply that words matter, that the Constitution means what it says, that calling the President our commander in chief is not only silly but also suggestive of a relationship between the President and the citizens of this country that does not and should not exist in a democratic republic such as ours.

    Will such sloppiness in the use of words result in the downfall of the republic? Is this the cut that reduces the cords holding the constitution to a slender thread? No, I don’t think so. That doesn’t, however, excuse the sloppiness in this case. We ought to use the right words all the time, not just when we think failure to do so will be the proximate cause of some great evil.

    Cordially,

    Mark B

  80. Chad Too on September 1, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Charles sez: “I sincerly doubt that the RNC chose her for anything other than her affiliations with various non profit organizations. If they chose her because of a specific issue she supported or held a view on, I’m sure they would have had her speak rather than just provide the invocation.

    For that reason it is certainly acceptable for her to have been chosen.”

    There isn’t one speaker, prayer-giver, singer, or song chosen for either convention that wasn’t very specifically considered before-hand to maximize political yardage, you can be sure of that. This wasn’t some Bishop scrambling to assign the invocation three minutes before Sacrament Meeting started. It is known to Republican politicos that the LDS are a prayerful people generally faithful to the GOP, hence, there is something to be gained by choosing a Latter-day Saint. There are also those within the party who would be unhappy with an LDS person giving a Christian prayer, so by choosing a relative unknown outside LDS circles the prayer likely slipped by the Christian-right portion of the party unnoticed.

    And as an aside, you will note that I never said Sheri Dew shouldn’t have been chosen, or that is was inappropriate for her to have offered that prayer. You are right that it is perfectly acceptable for her to have given that prayer. To question the motives behind the choice is not to question the choice.

    I still think that it was a brilliant move on Karl Rove’s part. I can appreciate a good play even when it’s not my team that is handling the ball (aside: Does BYU even stand a snowball’s chance against Notre Dame this weekend?).

  81. Jack on September 1, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    Yu know, the bulk of her talk had to do with the importance of the family as an institution and how individuals can positively influence others to support the it’s survival. We’ve heard a lot about the loud reactions that the pro-SSM folks may have to her talk. However, ironically there will only be silence from the less than faithful conservatives who were cut to the quick by her bold declarations on chastity and marital fidelity. (which, incidentally, she spent a lot more time discussing than the SSM-Hitler comparison)

  82. Philocrites on September 1, 2004 at 7:00 pm

    Your gay-friendly liberal Unitarian “Times and Seasons” fan chiming in here:

    (1) I don’t read Atrios because my liberalism isn’t anti-religious, and I find the commenters infuriating. I continue to oppose the anti-religious bigotry of some on the left – and I have criticized my fellow liberals on a range of other issues, too – but I think it’s only fair to point out that sanctimonious religious people share some of the blame for secularists’ animosity.

    (2) I’m glad a Mormon was invited to give a prayer at the RNC. You’re likely to have a strong candidate for the presidency in four years, too, in Mitt Romney. On the right, Mormons and Evangelicals have a lot of work to do in figuring out which of them gets to be “true” and which gets to be “false,” but the fact that prominent figures from both groups are talking to each other is a promising sign as far as I’m concerned. Whether they find reasons to embrace real religious tolerance remains to be seen, however. Imagine a Unitarian being invited to give the opening prayer at the RNC. Okay, stop laughing now.

    (3) Sheri Dew’s speech makes me wonder whether she thinks Hitler took the right stand on homosexuality. That’s the problematic implicit comparison that offends liberals: she unintentionally echoes the fact that the Nazis “stood up for traditional family values” in, for example, their repression, persecution, and execution of homosexuals. Of course, Dew is explicitly trying to say that Americans were right to stand up to the Nazis, but you simply can’t bring up the Nazis as part of a moral call-to-arms about homosexuality without stumbling over the fact that the Nazis slaughtered gays. That wasn’t just rhetoric, guys. That was principle on steroids.

    I would add, however, that the US waited a terrifically long time before declaring war on Germany. FDR avoided responding to allegations of the mass slaughter of the Jews in part because anti-Semitism and isolationism were widespread in the US. Pearl Harbor brought the US into the war – not moral clarity about the repressiveness of the Nazis.

    (4) Dew also apparently knows too few actual gay and lesbian people, because almost everything she says about them and their families flies in the face of everything I know from personal experience as a straight friend of many gay and lesbian people. Principles that can’t account for the reality of actual people’s lives amount to little more than demagoguery, the enemy of clear thought. In the Unitarian churches I’ve been part of and in my wife’s Episcopal church there are gay and lesbian couples who are raising wonderful children marvelously, who are devoted to each other, and whose visible presence in the church is a blessing to the rest of us. You can come see for yourself.

    I’d much rather have the exemplary lives of these actual people, whom I know as friends, than the false clarity of Sheri Dew’s principles.

  83. Kristine on September 1, 2004 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you, Philocrites. I wish I could have swallowed my fury enough to be that articulate about Dew’s speech, but you’ve said it better than I would have anyway. Your point #4, in particular, applies to almost all Mormon rhetoric about gays, imo.

  84. Jack on September 1, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    Philocites, Well I guess we can all read into S. Dew’s talk what ever floats our boat. IMO she did not make a direct comparison between nazis and gays. She made a comparison between the results of a morally ambivalent attitude toward the Hitler regime and a like attitude toward those elements in our society which are destroying the family – of which SSM is only one.

    Also, if you want to get into the debate over how anti-semitism delayed our entrance into WWII, go have a look at another thread entitled “A Recent Change in the Political Neutrality of the Church” (if memory serves me correctly)

  85. Rosalynde Welch on September 1, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    Two comments (and I know there are epic SSM threads on this site, which I have not taken the time to review, so I may not be contributing anything new):

    1. The dichotomous choice/biology causal debate is reductive. It seems clear to me that sexual preference, while inextricably related to physiology, is also profoundly overdetermined by and unavoidably interpreted through cultural (meaning social, familial, legal, etc) constructs–sometimes below or before the level of conscious choice. Anybody who has read widely in cultural history knows that the human experience of embodiment, while retaining certain recognizable features, of course, varies widely across time and place. Thus it is worth our while to work for a society which enables and encourages healthy heterosexual relationships–but also it is also possible to accept the avowals of our gay friends that their attractions are not a matter of choice. Of course, some homosexuals (lesbians especially, it seems) do choose their orientation–and creating a gay marriage will probably encourage more to do so.

    2. Philocrates’ rosy assessment of gay families and and Dew’s dire predictions are probably both wrong. Looking at the monumental changes changes in family structure and practice over the past four or five decades (ie separating marriage from reproduction via birth control and non-marital sex, women entering the workplace in large numbers, increasing divorce rates, etc), it seems to me that it’s the weak and underprivileged who are most adversely affected. Kids from families with money, education, and opportunity will probably do pretty well no matter what, or at least no worse than kids from more or less dysfunctional heterosexual families. But poor and uneducated women and children will suffer the most–in ways that we probably can’t predict from this vantage point, just as we could not predict the effects of other massive social rearrangements at their inception.

  86. Adam Greenwood on September 1, 2004 at 7:58 pm

    I find myself having to agree entirely with Bryce I.’s latest posts. Though they are a little temperate. :)

    People talk a little looser to friendly audiences. They share assumptions and good will. In a wired world no audience is ever fully friendly.

  87. CB on September 1, 2004 at 8:01 pm

    Philocrites,

    I agree. Your anecdotal evidence that gays and lesbians can be decent parents is also backed up by solid academic research. John Gottman, who is often cited in the Ensign as an expert on marriage and the family, has concluded that children raised by homosexuals display no appreciable differences (including sexual orientation) from children raised by heterosexuals.

  88. Chris Grant on September 1, 2004 at 8:06 pm

    Philocrites writes: “you simply can’t bring up the Nazis as part of a moral call-to-arms about homosexuality without stumbling over the fact that the Nazis slaughtered gays”

    Can you similarly not bring up the Nazis as part of a moral call-to-arms about, say, Communism without stumbling over the fact that the Nazis slaughtered Communists?

  89. Nathan Tolman on September 1, 2004 at 8:06 pm

    Philocrites

    What Evangelicals are talking to us? If you mean Bush, he seems to be more of an easy going type who wants himself and others around him to do good (which represents many of the evangelicals I grew up around), as opposed to the Grand Inquisitor – Mormons are Heretics type (which I have run into many times).

    Mmmm, Grand Inquisitor. Reminds me of a certain Monty Python routine.

  90. John H on September 1, 2004 at 9:32 pm

    “FDR avoided responding to allegations of the mass slaughter of the Jews in part because anti-Semitism and isolationism were widespread in the US. Pearl Harbor brought the US into the war – not moral clarity about the repressiveness of the Nazis.”

    The most unbelievable aspect of Sheri Dew’s Nazi/Gay allusion was her utter ignorance of Mormon history. As I’ve pointed out in other topics, the LDS Church issued exactly *zero* statements against Hitler and the Nazis. Church leaders visited Nazi Germany and shook hands with Nazi leaders. Photos appeared in the Church News of Church leaders on their visits, Nazi banners with the swastika and all in the background.

    So, by Dew’s own logic, the LDS Church was one of the guilty parties that stood by and did not openly fight Hitler. I suppose she’s too busy continuing to lay off employees at Deseret Book to wander downstairs and pick up a book and read about the Church’s position during the war.

  91. Nathan Tolman on September 1, 2004 at 9:58 pm

    Do you think that if she knew what you are saying, she would not say it. If it was right during WWII, it is right now. She obviously does not feel personal shame about decisions she had now power over.

    I guess you are too busy seeking fault with others to see this.

  92. Nathan Tolman on September 1, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    excuse me, *no* power over.

  93. Clark Goble on September 1, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    My understanding was that just how bad Jewish treatment was under the Nazis wasn’t that well known in the 1940′s. I think there were a *lot* of people who cast a blind eye towards Germany. Unless I’m mistaken I believe that Utah was, like many states, fairly isolationist at the time. I’d have to check my various books to be sure. That combined with our view of supporting governments so as to keep missionaries undoubtedly meant that we as a whole didn’t do what we should have done.

    Exactly how that invalidates Sis. Dew’s comments though escapes me. Surely if we *didn’t* react early then, that gives us that much impetus to be sure we don’t make the same mistake twice.

    Oh, while the Nazis slaughtered communists, let us also not forget that for a while Hitler and Stalin were allies. Both were fascist variations of socialism. The reasons for the Hitler and Stalin break are somewhat complex. Certainly opening up that front wasn’t wise – especially in light of the previous century’s experience when Napoleon dealt with Russia. But as the saying goes, often the wicked are punished by the wicked. Sadly with nations, that means the weak in those nations offer suffer along with their rulers. But the conflict between Hitler and Stalin probably helped hasten the end of the war and bring about the Allied victory.

  94. Jack on September 1, 2004 at 10:49 pm

    John H. Your knowledge of historical events can be truely impressive at times, but your feel for the world view of individuals passing through those events baffles me. Do you really believe that the Church leaders in question espoused the kind of anti-semitism that led to the slaughter of six million jews? Is that why they were there “shaking hands” with nazis? Also, what does Dew’s “lack of understanding” about church history have to do with her position on the family? Is she right or is she wrong about the problem of moral ambivalence? If she’s right, then we have a decision to make just like those who opposed naziism or anything else with the potencial to turn society on it’s ear for the worse. You seem to feel that the Church was ambivalent toward naziism because there were no explicit warnings against it from the First Presidency. John, almost the entire christian world went to war in order to stop it. What more do you need?

  95. Bryce I on September 1, 2004 at 11:06 pm

    Mark B.

    A question: In re-reading your posts on the “Commander-in-Chief” issue, I see that your initial post begins with this observation:

    “Don’t all these references to the President as “our Commander in Chief” bother anybody else?”

    However, in re-reading the transcript of Sister Dew’s prayer, I read this:
    We are grateful for a Commander in Chief who seeks Thy guidance.

    You seem to be basing your criticism on the use of the possessive. Are you referring to some other statement that I am missing? Because it seems to me that the phrasing used in the transcript has no constitutional inaccuracies. “A Commander-in-Chief” merely stands in for “a Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”

    Nathan Tolman and Adam Greenwood –

    Although I argue to be understood, and not for self-affirmation, thanks for the support.

    In that spirit: Amen to Chad too. I find myself nodding at everything you’ve posted.

    Adam Greenwood–

    I can be as intemperate as the next guy. Unfortunately, too many of you know me and could find out where I live, hunt me down, and spit in my milk.

    Which leads me to a question: I just discovered that I know Mark B. I have been in the same room as Mark B., danithew, Adam Greenwood, Chad too, bill, and Jonathan Green, who have all posted here on this topic. Can anyone here top that? Or do the rest of you all go the same ward or something?

  96. Jonathan Green on September 1, 2004 at 11:53 pm

    Clark,
    While you’re checking your various books, be sure to look up “Nuremberg Laws,” “Mein Kampf,” and “Kristallnacht.” How long after the Nazis came to power in 1933 did Jews and others start fleeing Germany? Less than 24 hours. In many cases, that wasn’t fast enough. Some Germans chose to oppose Hitler openly, whatever the consequences. You don’t have to decide whether or not the Church’s policy at the time was a good idea or a bad one. But any time a prominent LDS person talks about choosing sides with a comparison to Hitler, he or she will lose the ensuing argument.

    Where I live, it’s common to see bumper stickers sporting the motto “marriage = (man)+(woman),” an idea that strikes me as the greater danger to our idea of the family: the last time I checked, the answer to “(man)+(woman)” was actually “sex,” but we believe that marriage is something very different than that.

  97. Jack on September 2, 2004 at 12:36 am

    (man)+(man) or (woman)+(woman)=sex as well. So what’s your point?

    Also, a few people fleeing like scattered sheep is not the same thing as a major counter offensive attack.

  98. John H on September 2, 2004 at 12:56 am

    “I guess you are too busy seeking fault with others to see this.”

    Nathan:

    Since you disagree with me, you accuse me of only seeking to find fault with others? C’mon, if you have a real argument, I’d love to hear it.

  99. Jeremy on September 2, 2004 at 1:59 am

    Is Grover Norquist going to be near a mic at the RNC? If so, maybe he’ll restate his comparison — insane, but bafflingly genuine — between the government taxing the rich and the Nazis slaughtering the Jews. And then everyone will forget all about Sheri Dew’s Nazi analogy.

  100. obi-wan on September 2, 2004 at 2:17 am

    I confess I’m having a bit of trouble seeing what all the shouting is about.

    Like Kaimi, I’m not entirely comfortable to have Sheri Dew represent before the world, if not me, at least a voting bloc of which I am part.

    But to be frank there are, when I think about it, very few prominent Mormons who could have been chosen to give the invocation at the RNC whose past statements would not, as Kaimi put it, have been a “mixed blessing.” (Orrin Hatch? Mitt Romney? Jay Bybee, anyone?).

    Somebody’s going to be embarassed about something regarding whoever was up there. So it might as well be Sister Dew, I suppose.

  101. obi-wan on September 2, 2004 at 2:19 am

    I confess I’m having a bit of trouble seeing what all the shouting is about.

    Like Kaimi, I’m not entirely comfortable to have Sheri Dew represent before the world, if not me, at least a voting bloc of which I am part.

    But to be frank there are, when I think about it, very few prominent Mormons who could have been chosen to give the invocation at the RNC whose past statements would not, as Kaimi put it, have been a “mixed blessing.” (Orrin Hatch? Mitt Romney? Jay Bybee, anyone?).

    Somebody’s going to be embarassed about something regarding whoever was up there. So it might as well be Sister Dew, I suppose.

  102. obi-wan on September 2, 2004 at 2:21 am

    Apologies for the double post; I got an Apache server error message in between.

  103. John H on September 2, 2004 at 2:49 am

    Jack:

    I’m sorry that I wasn’t more clear. No one in their right mind would believe that Mormon leaders somehow supported the Third Reich’s treatment of Jews. I’m very sorry if I gave the impression that I believed that.

    The Church didn’t speak out against Hitler because, like everyone else, they had no idea just how horrible he was. They had no idea of the “Final Solution” or what it entailed. There were hints at the time of anti-Semitism in Germany, but there was anti-Semitism in America too. But there’s a big difference between anti-Semitism and genocide. I think Church leaders, just like others, deserve the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

    But the reality remains, they didn’t condemn Hitler. If you really dig, you might find half a dozen quotes referencing Adolf Hitler that denounce him, but that’s it. If you review statements from the First Presidency or General Conference addresses, you won’t find criticisms of Hitler or Nazism. Quite the contrary, you find statements that endorses people fighting for the respective governments – an understandable position, but hardly one that draws the line in the sand between good and evil.

    This information doesn’t change Sheri Dew’s views on family, and it doesn’t necessarily make her wrong (even though I think she is). What it does unequivocally do, IMO, is demonstrate that she’s not careful with her words or what she says. She cited a quote that said, in essence, if you’re not decisively against Hitler, you’re for him. The Mormon Church was never decisively against Hitler.

    Also, as others have pointed out, the Nazis slaughtered thousands of people because they were homosexual. Again, this doesn’t necessarily invalidate Dew’s views of the family, but it does, IMO, show how foolish she is when choosing her words.

  104. Hidarigahen on September 2, 2004 at 3:20 am

    How about comments made about Mormons outside the Republican convention?

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110005557

    Gotta love the anti-religious “tolerant” left.

  105. Matt Evans on September 2, 2004 at 9:01 am

    “If you really dig, you might find half a dozen quotes referencing Adolf Hitler that denounce him, but that’s it. If you review statements from the First Presidency or General Conference addresses, you won’t find criticisms of Hitler or Nazism . . . The Mormon Church was never decisively against Hitler.”

    John H,

    Is the church against Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida? Were they against Saddam Hussein? The Hutu slaughter of the Tutsis?

    The church hasn’t condemned any of them in General Conference or in a First Presidency message. By the standard you’ve presented, the absence of such criticism suggests the church has yet to decide whether it is for or against terrorism, oppressive tyranny or genocide.

    I believe the church’s position against these evils is self-evident. Church leaders applaud freedom, peace and love. These principles are obviously contrary to terrorism and tyranny, and Mormons are unambiguously opposed to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. All good people are.

    As in the recent military operations against al-Qaida and Saddam, thousands of Mormons risked their lives to overthrow Hitler and to rid the world of Nazism. Dozens of the current Mormon heirarchy were among them.

    It is not fair to say the church didn’t decide if it was for or against Hitler because it never condemned him at General Conference.

    Sherri Dew would gladly accept the involvement of groups in the SSM struggle whose attitude mirrored that of the church toward Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Groups with members that intuitively know SSM is wrong, as Mormons did with Hitler and bin Laden, are good partners to have.

  106. lyle on September 2, 2004 at 11:13 am

    John H, et al:

    my question & charge remains unanswered:

    If you were the Prophet during WWII, would you have denounced Hitler, knowing it would mean the death of 1000s & 1000s of Latter-day Saints living in Occupied Europe?

    I’ll take a yes or no answer please, then you can explain.

  107. Mark B. on September 2, 2004 at 11:27 am

    Bryce,

    I suspect that I did conflate some other speaker’s “our Commander in Chief” with Sheri Dew’s “a Commander in Chief.” I should work on my memory and, in addition, be more careful with the placement of my quotation marks.

    Still, do you think that she was thinking of him in his constitutional role as C-in-c of the armed forces, or in some vague sense as the C-in-c of us all? I suspect it is the latter, and it’s that that troubles me.

    But not enough to beat this dead horse anymore–especially since I’ve now moved from bizarre to outre or beyond.

    I’ll now move on to some other nit that I can pick to death. :)

  108. lyle on September 2, 2004 at 11:32 am

    John H, et al:

    my question & charge remains unanswered:

    If you were the Prophet during WWII, would you have denounced Hitler, knowing it would mean the death of 1000s & 1000s of Latter-day Saints living in Occupied Europe?

    I’ll take a yes or no answer please, then you can explain.

  109. lyle on September 2, 2004 at 11:33 am

    John H, et al:

    my question & charge remains unanswered:

    If you were the Prophet during WWII, would you have denounced Hitler, knowing it would mean the death of 1000s & 1000s of Latter-day Saints living in Occupied Europe?

    I’ll take a yes or no answer please, then you can explain.

  110. Charles on September 2, 2004 at 12:03 pm

    Philocrites,

    I think many others have done a fine job responding to your third point. I will only add my agreement to them that what she was comparing was the attitude the world held against the nazis and the attitude many take on the family. It is also important to remember that homosexuality was not her key note. SSM and adultery are the two things she identified as destructive elements to the family.

    Your fourth point, however, shows the same general prejudice twards mormons that you are claiming they hold against gays. No one can argue that there aren’t same sex couples out there that are qualified and good parents. There are always exceptions to the rules that are out there.

    What most poeple I know personally believe is that the ideal family environment is a man and woman with children, pets are optional. This provides children, both boys and girls, the opprotunity to discover the various gender roles in the family and society. Mormons do have a fundamental belief (see the proclamaition of the family) that men and women have different roles. We are different but equal. We cannot always rely on society to teach these roles to our children so it is best learned in the home with loving parents.

    This all leads to the idea that it is preferable to have a man and woman care for a child over a same sex couple, which is probably more prefereable to a single parent without some kind of support system for them.

    As a side example, my wife and I grew up out of the church. We have 3 gay couples in our neighborhood. They are all good people. She has had several freinds and even a few roomates that were gay. I have known several gay persons from work relations. Most of them are good people. Just like most people, gay or not, are good people. Some of them were quite immature or immoral, just like some people, gay or not, are.

    I would go out on a limb to say that no one in my ward works for the church or in such a closed buisness that they may not know other gay people. They work for the railroads, the banks, IT organizations, law firms and hospitals. Surely there are no gays working in those offices that any member of my ward might not be friends with? Right?

  111. Charles on September 2, 2004 at 12:20 pm

    Chad Too,

    I understand what you are saying that the choice of who speaks or performs or offers prayer is carefully chosen. After all this is marketing just like advertisements.

    I was responding to Bryce’s comment (if you are he, then it was yours too) regarding his 2 wishes. The first being that she did not make the comparisson.

    The second was that she not be asked to offer the invocation given that she made those comments.

    This may have been an assumption, but to me, if you wish for these two things then it is implied that you feel they were wrong. Therefore, if it is wrong for her to have offered the prayer it is inappropriate, and she should not have been asked.

    My comment regarding the RNC’s choice is that I’m sure they didn’t review every transcript of what she or any other speaker has said, and chosen them because of specific things they have said, but rather for their overal views and positions.

  112. Charles on September 2, 2004 at 12:32 pm

    Lyle,

    I’ll try to answer your question. Short answer Yes. I would denounce Hitler, but here are the qualifiers.

    I haven’t done enough research to know what we knew about him at that time. I am basing my answer on hindsight. Even in today’s world, communication has improved so much that we know more about our foreign leaders than we would have known in the 40′s. Provided communication was as good then as it is now, I feel that we would have a pretty good idea of how evil he was. Without that knowledge my answer might be different.

    I also believe that Its possible to denounce Hitler himself while possibly drawing attention that we ask our members to support the government and laws of the land in which they live. Perhaps we could say that we disagree with his policies and we believe he will not last and ask our saints to endure to that end.

    I don’t know if this would appease Hitler enough to not retaliate against our saints or not. I also can’t speak for a prophet who may feel that true inspiration from the Lord says to keep quiet on this one. I certainly think the church is wrong to have remained neutral, but I don’t know what the circumstances were. I don’t know what we knew. I do know it must have been very difficult for a fledgling global church to deal with an issue like this.

    Perhaps this was revealed, or incorrectly believed to have been a political issue rather than one of values. But I think my short answer would be yes.

  113. Paul on September 2, 2004 at 12:35 pm

    I went to fundrace.org and typed in the names of all the apostles (so I had a little spare time). As an interesting note, Richard G. Scott was the only one on there…he contributes to the RNC.

  114. John H on September 2, 2004 at 12:42 pm

    Matt:

    How many photos have appeared in the Church News in the past 20 years with Church leaders shaking hands with Iraqi leaders, or with Al Qaeda members? Your statement also fails to address the issue that Church leaders made statements telling German Latter-day Saints to fight for Hitler.

    If you can find evidence that suggests Church leaders openly and actively fought against Hitler, which is what Dew’s quote requires, then maybe I can get on board with your argument. All else is simply mind-reading Church leaders intentions, something that you’ve carried over from another topic discussing similar issues. You continue to mind-read what Church leaders were thinking, why they were thinking, and now you’re doing the same for Sheri Dew, putting the kindest possible defense on what, IMO, are indefensible words.

    Lyle:

    I think the Church did the best it could at the time. It is easier with hindsight to look back and say Church leaders should have done such and such, and I don’t think it’s fair to them.

    You’ve entirely missed my point, however. I’m not being critical of the Church for their choices towards Hitler and the Nazis. My point always has been, and remains, that Sheri Dew’s comments were unwise at best, and painfully ignorant and inflammatory at worst.

  115. Chris Grant on September 2, 2004 at 1:08 pm

    John H writes: “How many photos have appeared in the Church News in the past 20 years with Church leaders shaking hands with Iraqi leaders, or with Al Qaeda members?”

    If you push the time window back a few years, it’s likely you can find pictures of Church leaders shaking hands with Erich Honecker. And I suspect there are photos of Churchill shaking hands with Stalin. Was Winston sympathetic with Bolshevism?

    “Your statement also fails to address the issue that Church leaders made statements telling German Latter-day Saints to fight for Hitler. If you can find evidence that suggests Church leaders openly and actively fought against Hitler . . .”

    Do you really think that “fight for Hitler” is the best choice of words? Are you really being consistent when it comes to reading “Hitler” between the lines of First Presidency statements?

  116. Nathan Tolman on September 2, 2004 at 1:10 pm

    John H.,

    Since you disagree with me, you accuse me of only seeking to find fault with others? C’mon, if you have a real argument, I’d love to hear it.

    Did you not read my post?

    She obviously does not feel personal shame about decisions she had now power over.

    What I really do not get is what you are saying. Are you saying that because she is LDS she can not make statements like she did, and by extenuation, I can not denounce Hitler?

    Was it wrong for her to say one should have been against Hitler, when the Church was not issuing regular proclamations against Hitler, when as some have implied, “a dozen or so” is not enough?

    If I had ancestors who were slaveholders, can I not denounce slavery now, or say it should have been done away with earlier?

    On German solders and the Church encouraging them to follow their government:

    The average German solder was not evil. He, as far as he knew (speaking in General here), was fighting in a conflict similar to WWI, not one that included the extermination of Jews. Germans of that time should not bear the mark of the beast.

    Compare this to the Japanese who had news reels of the decapitation of prisoners (Lu Xun, the founding Modern Chinese author, discusses one he saw as a medical student in Japan). Reports came to them through newsreels and newspapers on slaughter and killing. The average Japanese solder was more informed about their governments activities than the average German.

    Perhaps it is a symptom of a Eurocentric duologue that in the discussion before this one on this topic we just talked about Germany. While I do not know about the Church condemning Japan, I know the Church did pull Missionaries from Japan in the 1924, and the US did take actions against Japanese aggression before WWII in the form of an Embargo against Japan for the invasion of Manchuria.

  117. Chris Grant on September 2, 2004 at 1:14 pm

    I wrote: “And I suspect there are photos of Churchill shaking hands with Stalin.

    Well, this is close.

  118. Jack on September 2, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    John H. I see that I read to much into your comment about church leaders meeting with nazis. My apologies. However, in Matt’s defence (and he’s far more capable of defending himself), I would ask: how many members of the Church are there in Iraq or Afghanistan? Does the Church have the same kind of vested interest in meeting with those governments as it did with that of Germany?

  119. Ronan James Head on September 2, 2004 at 1:29 pm

    I have two words for Sheri Dew if she wants to compare the “fight” against gay marriage with the fight against Hitler: Helmuth Huebener. This brave young LDS boy actively worked against the Nazi regime in Germany and was not only executed for his efforts but also excommunicated. The Church’s history vis-a-vis Hitler in Germany is not one to be proud of. Wrong comparison, for many reasons, Sister Dew.

  120. Bryce I on September 2, 2004 at 1:31 pm

    Charles –

    You said:

    I was responding to Bryce’s comment (if you are he, then it was yours too) regarding his 2 wishes. The first being that she did not make the comparisson.

    The second was that she not be asked to offer the invocation given that she made those comments.

    This may have been an assumption, but to me, if you wish for these two things then it is implied that you feel they were wrong. Therefore, if it is wrong for her to have offered the prayer it is inappropriate, and she should not have been asked.

    This is indeed an assumption, and a false one at that. Just because I wish after the fact that something had not happened because of unanticipated negative consequences does not mean that I think that the choices leading to the actions leading to those consequences were wrong.

    Sometimes we do thing with good intentions, but without knowing the full consequences of our actions. For example, I might clean up the kitchen table in an effort to help get ready for dinner, but in doing so unwittingly destroy a project that my wife had been working on. In such a case, my actions would not be wrong, but I would probably wish that I had not taken them.

    Alas, re-reading what I have just written, I see that I have been clear as mud. I wish that I had not started (although doing so was not wrong in the first place) :) .

  121. ed on September 2, 2004 at 1:59 pm

    I’m surprised about the exclusive focus on the Hitler issue (which for me has been beaten into the ground). Here’s the part of Dew’s talk I think is interesting:

    What kind of chance do those girls have being raised in that kind of setting? What will their understanding of men and women, marriage and families be? Is there any chance that, as adults, they could expect to marry and enjoy a healthy relationship with a man, including rearing children together?

    The answer is obviously “yes, there is a chance.” I don’t really know what the research on this topic says, but Dew sounds pretty hysterical. Her opinion seems a lot different than people on this thread who actually know gay couples.

  122. cooper on September 2, 2004 at 3:14 pm

    I have as little problem with what Sis. Dew said as I have with some of the opinions voiced here.

    We all have the agency to say and do what we wish. To infer someone “has influence” and should be censored is, hooey, folks. Either we all have the right to speak or none of us do.

    While I tend to be far right of right, and am incensed at the flip attitudes of some expounded herein, I do not wish to shut you down. The thinking man will always seek out truth. The ignorant man won’t be bothered and unlimited amounts of energy on another’s part, to convince him of his error, will not prevail.

  123. John H on September 2, 2004 at 4:17 pm

    Jack:

    I think your points about Church members in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., are more than fair. I suppose I’ve been too busy defending my position to look at this in a balanced way.

    I suspect if you could’ve chatted with Heber J. Grant in 1943 and asked him what he thought of Adolf Hitler, he wouldn’t have been too kind in his remarks. I have little doubt Church leaders disliked Hitler and Nazi Germany. I don’t want to paint a different picture.

    But, they didn’t openly denounce it. And contrary to what Matt is trying to imply, I don’t think it’s because they didn’t need to because denouncing it would be the equivalent of denouncing bin Laden today. Church leaders were faced with many German and European Latter-day Saints who could be in danger had they spoken out. I respect and empathize with that harsh reality.

    The point remains: Church leaders do not fit Sheri Dew’s requirements for fighting against Hitler. Some people in this topic seem to be so determined to defend Sheri Dew that they are approaching this inconsistency by assuming Sheri Dew is correct, and then spinning what Church leaders did! I approach it from the opposite perspective – Church leaders did the best they could (which was pretty dang good) under the circumstances, and Sheri Dew’s analogy was lame and thoughtless.

    Not to get sidetracked to another discussion altogether, but there were religious groups that did denounce Hitler and encouraged their members to fight against him, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. So there were alternatives, particularly for those who believe life extends beyond this mortality. The above mentioned story of Helmuth Heubner is a good point.

  124. Bryce I on September 2, 2004 at 4:17 pm

    Obi-wan sez:

    But to be frank there are, when I think about it, very few prominent Mormons who could have been chosen to give the invocation at the RNC whose past statements would not, as Kaimi put it, have been a “mixed blessing.” (Orrin Hatch? Mitt Romney? Jay Bybee, anyone?).

    Somebody’s going to be embarassed about something regarding whoever was up there. So it might as well be Sister Dew, I suppose.

    The big difference between Sen. Hatch/Gov. Romney and Sis. Dew is that most non-LDS political observers know who Hatch and Romney are, and are likely to view them as political figures with well-established records on a variety of issues.

    Sis. Dew, on the other hand, is unknown outside of the church. The only mention of her that most people will have heard is in connection with the outcry over her speech on the family, so instead of “Oh, he’s that Mormon senator” or “He’s that Mormon governor,” people are likely to respond, “Isn’t she that Mormon nutjob who compared gays to Hitler?”

    I would have preferred Hatch or Romney to Dew in this instance, in hindsight.

    Stepping back, it seems to me that the RNC has been all about projecting an image of moderation, tolerance, diversity, and compassion (although I haven’t watched a minute of it). This suggests a counterattack plan from the left that attempts to paint a picture of as many of the participants as possible as extremist, intolerant, racist homophobes.

    Sis. Dew seems to have fallen victim to this type of strategy. A more high-profile member of the church with an established political profile would have been more difficult to demonize.

  125. Matt Evans on September 2, 2004 at 4:54 pm

    John H,

    I honestly don’t know why you’re accusing me of mind-reading the church leaders. You and I have both offered explanations of why they did what they did, while neither of us has access to their minds. You had argued that the church failed to condemn fascism and Nazism (except for those times when they did) because (as you read their minds) they were reflecting a cultural bias that didn’t have a big problem with Hitler and Nazism until the war began. I showed that your claim of American indifference toward Hitler and Nazism, was without merit. Before WWII, Americans were overwhelmingly hostile toward Hitler and Nazism, and a 1938 poll, to cite one contemporary piece of evidence, found that 94% of Americans disapproved of Nazi treatment of Jews.

    While I haven’t seen the photos of Nazis in the Church News, my guess is that they were published between 1932 and 1936. I’d bet dollars to donuts they were not taken after Kristillnacht in 1938, nor after 1941, when Dorothy Thompson declared, in the quote Sheri Dew used, that everyone must make a stand regarding Hitler.

    Now, given all that the world learned about Hitler and his intentions between 1932 and Thompson’s call in 1941, it does not seem fair to say that because church leaders had their picture taken with German leaders in the early 1930s, that church didn’t make a decision against Hitler in 1941 or “before this epic” was over in 1945.

    Nor do I understand why you admit that the church leaders spoke against Hitler while arguing that they were indifferent. Had the church applauded the Nazis in General Conference or in a First Presidency message, it would make sense to expect an equally prominent, proportionate, denunciation. But because you’re inferring church indifference to Nazism based on photos in the Church News, or AF12, it seems disengenuous to dismiss their denunciations by virtue of their not being made at General Conference.

  126. John H on September 2, 2004 at 7:50 pm

    Matt:

    I think we’ve discussed this issue as much as it can be discussed. Typically, people of good will can come together and see where one another is coming from, even if they ultimately don’t agree. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance.

    I’ve tried several times, particularly in the other topic, to clarify hastily written statements and explain what I mean. You continue to ignore those, or use them as evidence that I’m not consistent, rather than approaching my comments in an attempt to understand my point. I’ve said several times I don’t think the Church did the wrong thing in regards to Hitler and Nazism, and that I only raised this point to demonstrate that Sheri Dew’s choice of words was ill advised (or, IMO, downright stupid). But you continue to hash over the same arguments, bringing up the same points time and time again, and use labels like disingenous, etc.

    You seem to be someone who has plenty of time to write carefully reasoned, time-consuming posts filled with citations and references. I simply don’t have that kind of time. I show up to T&S to engage in lively dialogue with people of divergent opinions. I never once pretend that everything I say is meticulously thought-out or spot on perfect. I suspect if I reviewed my posts on this issue, there’d be plenty to clarify or even correct. But I don’t see the need. I do my best, as others do, and hope for folks who can try and appreciate what my overall point is, again, even if they don’t agree. But you seem too busy trying to win a debate that doesn’t exist to see that. Kaimi tried to explain this to you in the other topic, but you seem to think his advice has little merit.

  127. Clark Goble on September 2, 2004 at 8:46 pm

    “How many photos have appeared in the Church News in the past 20 years with Church leaders shaking hands with Iraqi leaders, or with Al Qaeda members? Your statement also fails to address the issue that Church leaders made statements telling German Latter-day Saints to fight for Hitler.”

    Church leaders were seen photographed with various communist leaders while trying to allow east German saints the right to worship. It was a strong PR campaign prior to the end of the cold war. I think reading too much into these is a bit much. It is only slightly better than making similar connections between Reagan and communism because of all the photo-ops with various Soviet leaders. A photo doesn’t mean much divorced from context.

  128. Chad too on September 2, 2004 at 11:29 pm

    Jeremy: Don’t forget Colorado, too. All polls I’ve seen show that those 9 electoral votes are too close to call. LDS Coloradans could definitely make the difference.

  129. Jeremy on September 3, 2004 at 12:33 am

    Not to veer this thread away from the ever-rich topic of Nazi comparisons (by which I mean to say, in order to veer this thread away from the ever-rich topic of Nazi comparisons), I’d like to revisit a phrase from Sis. Dew’s speech:

    We plead with Thee for peace and continued freedom-not only freedom from those who would terrorize us and encroach upon our peace of mind, but also freedom from acrimony.

    Perhaps Zell Miller and Dick Cheney missed the opening prayer?

  130. Jeremy on September 3, 2004 at 12:34 am

    Not to veer this thread away from the ever-rich topic of Nazi comparisons (by which I mean to say, in order to veer this thread away from the ever-rich topic of Nazi comparisons), I’d like to revisit a phrase from Sis. Dew’s speech:

    We plead with Thee for peace and continued freedom-not only freedom from those who would terrorize us and encroach upon our peace of mind, but also freedom from acrimony.

    Perhaps Zell Miller and Dick Cheney missed the opening prayer?

  131. Marc B. on September 3, 2004 at 1:42 am

    I just read this blog today, so some of my responses may seem to be coming a little late. 1) The Proclamation to the Family did seem to be issued at a time when the issue of gay marriage was beginning to brew. It wasn’t a proposition in California, but a court case in Hawaii rather. A case involving three gay couples who sued the state for the right to marry had been reinstated by the Hawaiian Supreme Court in 1993 and was working its way again through the Court System. It should be noted that the ruling in this case ultimately brought about a Constitutional amendment in Hawaii banning same-sex marriage.
    2) Doesn’t the length of this blog itself and the passions which Sister Dew’s comparisons involving the Nazis seem to have stirred speak for themselves? The comment obviously has taken away from the point she wanted to make and, in hindsight, was clearly a mistake.

  132. Marc B. on September 3, 2004 at 1:44 am

    I just read this blog today, so some of my responses may seem to be coming a little late. 1) The Proclamation to the Family did seem to be issued at a time when the issue of gay marriage was beginning to brew. It wasn’t a proposition in California, but a court case in Hawaii rather. A case involving three gay couples who sued the state for the right to marry had been reinstated by the Hawaiian Supreme Court in 1993 and was working its way again through the Court System. It should be noted that the ruling in this case ultimately brought about a Constitutional amendment in Hawaii banning same-sex marriage.
    2) Doesn’t the length of this blog itself and the passions which Sister Dew’s comparisons involving the Nazis seem to have stirred speak for themselves? The comment obviously has taken away from the point she wanted to make and, in hindsight, was clearly a mistake.

  133. Marc B. on September 3, 2004 at 1:49 am

    I just read this blog today, so some of my responses may seem to be coming a little late. 1) The Proclamation to the Family did seem to be issued at a time when the issue of gay marriage was beginning to brew. It wasn’t a proposition in California, but a court case in Hawaii rather. A case involving three gay couples who sued the state for the right to marry had been reinstated by the Hawaiian Supreme Court in 1993 and was working its way again through the Court System. It should be noted that the ruling in this case ultimately brought about a Constitutional amendment in Hawaii banning same-sex marriage.
    2) Doesn’t the length of this blog itself and the passions which Sister Dew’s comparisons involving the Nazis seem to have stirred speak for themselves? The comment obviously has taken away from the point she wanted to make and, in hindsight, was clearly a mistake.

  134. Marc B. on September 3, 2004 at 1:51 am

    Sorry about that… rookie mistake I guess. The browser kept popping up an error message so I thought my post hadn’t gone through.

  135. diogenes on September 3, 2004 at 2:01 am

    Was anyone else troubled over Dew’s phraseology about “believers in Christ?”

    I know that Bush has managed to run most of the Muslims out of the Republican camp, and certainly the majority of Jews tend to gravitate toward the Democrats, but there are at least some non-Christian Republicans who can’t have felt very included by her formulation.

  136. D. Fletcher on September 3, 2004 at 2:11 am

    Actually, Diogenes, I think she made a little mistake (or perhaps a mistake was made in transcription).

    Since she was going to end the prayer with “in the name of Jesus Christ,” she softened it by saying, “But as a follower of Jesus Christ, and in behalf of all who believe likewise, …” and I think she meant to say, “I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ” but the transcription says “we.”

    I don’t think she meant to offend anyone, but merely to say that she (and others) end prayers this way.

    Perhaps only slightly more troubling, praying to “father” as opposed to a more generically-gendered “god.”

  137. Tom Sanford on September 3, 2004 at 3:40 am

    I read the article by Sister Dew and didn’t find her comparison offensive at all. She just stated that the process was similar and that one day everyone would have to chose to be either pro-family or pro gay marriage. Just like the Nazis had to chose to either support Hitler or not. Why does everyone hav to always make something seem so much worse that it really is? Some poeple can be offended by anything!
    Tom Sanford
    Bullhead City AZ

  138. Maria on September 3, 2004 at 9:47 am

    Have you seen today’s NY Times op-ed piece that references Ms. Dew’s prayer?

    Feel the Hate, by Paul Krugman
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/03/opinion/03krugman.html

    “The convention opened with an invocation by Sheri Dew, a Mormon publisher and activist. Early rumors were that the invocation would be given by Jerry Falwell, who suggested just after 9/11 that the attack was God’s punishment for the activities of the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, among others. But Ms. Dew is no more moderate: earlier this year she likened opposition to gay marriage to opposition to Hitler.”

    No more moderate than Falwell? That others might have that perception of her (and thus, by association, me) is a little unnerving.

  139. Maria on September 3, 2004 at 9:48 am

    Have you seen today’s NY Times op-ed piece that references Ms. Dew’s prayer?

    Feel the Hate, by Paul Krugman
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/03/opinion/03krugman.html

    “The convention opened with an invocation by Sheri Dew, a Mormon publisher and activist. Early rumors were that the invocation would be given by Jerry Falwell, who suggested just after 9/11 that the attack was God’s punishment for the activities of the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, among others. But Ms. Dew is no more moderate: earlier this year she likened opposition to gay marriage to opposition to Hitler.”

    No more moderate than Falwell? That others might have that perception of her (and thus, by association, me) is a little unnerving.

  140. maria on September 3, 2004 at 9:56 am

    Have you seen today’s NY Times op-ed piece that references Ms. Dew’s prayer?

    Feel the Hate, by Paul Krugman
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/03/opinion/03krugman.html

    “The convention opened with an invocation by Sheri Dew, a Mormon publisher and activist. Early rumors were that the invocation would be given by Jerry Falwell, who suggested just after 9/11 that the attack was God’s punishment for the activities of the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, among others. But Ms. Dew is no more moderate: earlier this year she likened opposition to gay marriage to opposition to Hitler.”

    No more moderate than Falwell? That others might have that perception of her (and thus, by association, me) is a little unnerving.

  141. Chris Grant on September 3, 2004 at 10:48 am

    John H writes: “I only raised this point to demonstrate that Sheri Dew’s choice of words was ill advised (or, IMO, downright stupid). . . .
    I suspect if I reviewed my posts on this issue, there’d be plenty to clarify or even correct. But I don’t see the need.”

    I think a lot of us would be happy if, when it comes to past statements, you held yourself to the same standard to which you evidently hold Sister Dew.

  142. Chris Grant on September 3, 2004 at 10:57 am

    D. Fletcher wrote: ‘Perhaps only slightly more troubling, praying to “father” as opposed to a more generically-gendered “god.”‘

    And don’t forget the word “Heavenly”. That’s bound to offend people like Gore Vidal who detest “sky-god religions”. Perhaps Sister Dew should have addressed her prayer “to whom it may concern”.

  143. Charles on September 3, 2004 at 11:12 am

    D –
    I find nothing wrong with the way she ended or began her prayer. I can’t speak to whether it is a transcript issue or if she mis-spoke or if she said what she intended to and it was transcripted correctly, but there is nothing wrong with saying on behalf of those who do believe, we offer this prayer in his name.

    As for the address to God as father. He is our father. There are several invocations and benedictions given that addressed him as such. Most of the texts that are used by the majority religions refer to him as such. Its only been recently when people have chosen to dictate who and what God is that they have shyed away from male references.

  144. John H on September 3, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    “I think a lot of us would be happy if, when it comes to past statements, you held yourself to the same standard to which you evidently hold Sister Dew.”

    I’m happy to hold myself to that standard, when I’m publishing something in a magazine, as she was doing. But what I’ve been saying isn’t being published, is it – it’s part of an online community. Pretty different.

  145. Chris Grant on September 3, 2004 at 2:23 pm

    John H writes: “I’m happy to hold myself to that standard, when I’m publishing something in a magazine, as she was doing.”

    The remarks in question were made in a speech in the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center.

    “But what I’ve been saying isn’t being published, is it – it’s part of an online community. Pretty different.”

    Not so different. When her speech was subsequently published, it was in an online-only magazine. Your remarks were in a blog. Is there that much difference between the two? In both cases, your remarks were–as the saying goes–as public as if they were on the front page of the New York Times.

  146. Times and Seasons » Holocaust as Metaphor on November 20, 2004 at 5:27 am

    [...] nomenological and semiotic aspects of the problem. The basic issue gets back to the whole Sheri Dew Nazi reference. Over on LDS-Phil we had this (to me) extremely interesting discussi [...]

  147. Charles on September 3, 2004 at 6:25 pm

    Probably more public since you dont have to log into times and seasons like some newspapers.

  148. Kristine on September 3, 2004 at 6:25 pm

    “As for the address to God as father. He is our father.”

    Well, there is that whole plural Elohim, and the doctrine of Heavenly Mother…

    [Sorry, I just figured if we could do partisan politics, same-sex marriage, Hitler, and Heavenly Mother all in one post, we'd probably set blogosphere records for comments. Now if only we could work in abortion somehow... :) ]

  149. Bryce I on September 3, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for the link, Maria. I have the same concerns that you do. Unfortunately, Krugman has *a few* more readers than atrios and patriotboy.

  150. john fowles on September 4, 2004 at 12:48 am

    Jeremy, Miller’s speech was no different than the bitterness and inaccuracy evident in Al Gore and Sharpton’s words, although at least Miller’s words were entertaining. Also, it is telling that he as a Democrat did this. From what I understand, what pushed him over the edge with his party was the fact that Daschle called for Dems to strike down homeland security measures unless they were filled with labor-union pork. It seems to me that such a move (which the maj of dems went along with) reveals a lot about the agenda of the dems and who controls them, and it should cause those on the left to think twice before they accuse Republicans of being beholden to special interests because the dems are just as enslaved to them. The difference is that the dems’s special interests are more dangerous to the traditional social order (this statement is meant to be noncontroversial) than the republicans’ special interests. When as a political party, NOW, NARAL, PP, ELF, ALF, labor unions, and the same corps who are also contributing to the republicans, are calling the shots, then there is little you can do as a party to counter the impression that it is not a party of conservative values, which are the values of the majority of Americans.

  151. john fowles on September 4, 2004 at 12:52 am

    Kristine wrote Sorry, I just figured if we could do partisan politics, same-sex marriage, Hitler, and Heavenly Mother all in one post, we’d probably set blogosphere records for comments. Now if only we could work in abortion somehow. . .

    Hilarious! I think I may have made a segway to abortion with my last post to Jeremy. The key is not just to get these things mentioned but to get a row of comments on each of them. That would truly be impressive. But I am worried that any such attempt will get swallowed in some criticism of the Church being in bed with the Nazis (because I’m starting to become convinced that all topics lead eventually to this point).

  152. Jack on September 4, 2004 at 2:41 am

    John Fowles: Talk about hilarious! I can’t stop laughing at your last comment. (and I mean *with* you not *at* you) I can hear Woody Allen saying, “But I am worried that any such attempt will get swallowed in some criticism of the Church being in bed with the Nazis (because I’m starting to become convinced that all topics lead eventually to this point)”. His voice tops it off with the perfect ironical tone. I don’t know how much humor was intended on your part, but I think we’ve come to that point were the only thing left to do is laugh. I like how Gandolf laughs at Sauron’s ridiculous posturing. Sometimes laughter can cut to the quick more effectively than a thousand words.

  153. Bryce I on September 4, 2004 at 10:08 am

    Is that Fowles’ corollary to Godwin’s Law?

    As the length of the Times and Seasons thread goes to infinity, the probability of someone criticizing the Church for being in bed with the Nazis approaches one

  154. Jonathan Green on September 5, 2004 at 3:29 pm

    What I still can’t figure out is, if she knew that this controversy was coming, why didn’t she just have Lambchop offer the invitation?

  155. Jonathan Green on September 5, 2004 at 3:30 pm

    What I still can’t figure out is, if she knew that this controversy was coming, why didn’t she just have Lambchop offer the invocation?

  156. john fowles on September 5, 2004 at 6:36 pm

    Jack, be careful–I’m sure there is a Lord of the Rings corollary to Godwin’s Law, so watch those comparisons/references to Gandalf and Sauron.

  157. Jack on September 5, 2004 at 7:51 pm

    Whoops! I meant *Saruman* not Sauron. But then again, we must be careful not to laugh too loudly at idealists that know not how evil the evil is from whence their ideologies spring. For, as sure as the sun will rise, it will dawn on us that we were laughing at ourselves as well.

  158. john fowles on September 5, 2004 at 10:23 pm

    Jonathan, I don’t understand your comment (maybe I’m just uninformed). Please expatiate!

  159. Jared Green on September 6, 2004 at 12:57 am

    From Wikipedia –
    “Lambchop was a children’s television show created by Shari Lewis, which was shown on PBS in the United States. Lambchop was also the main character of the show; like most of the other characters, she was a puppet. Appropriately, Lambchop was a sheep; other characters were puppets of other farm animals, including a horse.”

    So, Jonathan was making a clever play on Sheri Dew’s name. I have vague memories of watching Lambchop when I was younger, but it always seemed inferior to Sesame Street.
    Don’t worry, Jonathan, I thought it was funny. Though, as with any joke that requires an explanation, I suppose I’ve killed the humor.

  160. john fowles on September 6, 2004 at 1:50 am

    Was this Lambchop puppet a Nazi or something?

  161. Jonathan Green on September 6, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    Not the same person? Man, I really should pay more attention in General Conference. And after spending all those years waiting for the General RS President to bring out her special puppet friend. I still think Lambchop would have been perfect for the RNC invocation.

  162. Bryce I on September 7, 2004 at 1:03 pm

    I think many people are still waiting to see the hand behind the life-sized presidential puppet that seems to be running our country.

  163. danithew on September 7, 2004 at 1:07 pm

    Some of our evangelical friends might have an answer for you Bryce. :)

  164. Maria on September 24, 2004 at 10:12 am

    FYI: this still hasn’t gone away…see today’s article in the Trib below.

    Web site squelches ‘Hitler’ talk
    Paul Rolly and JoAnn Jacobsen-Wells
    Salt Lake Tribune
    http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2419086

    A speech delivered last February by Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew has been deleted from Meridian Magazine, an online magazine geared toward LDS readers, after complaints that she compared the gay rights movement to the rise of Hitler.
    A story on the Web page of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, says that “two weeks after the Human Rights Campaign and the National Black Justice Coalition called on President Bush to repudiate Mormon leader Sheri Dew for controversial remarks posted on the Meridian Magazine Web site, the speech was removed from the site.”
    Dew had given the prayer at a session of the Republican National Convention, prompting the groups to write to Bush that “featuring individuals on the stage of your convention who compare a group of Americans to Hitler . . . is divisive and irresponsible,” according to the Affirmation story.
    Dew’s remarks on the Meridian Web site implied that the gay rights movement threatened the traditional family, and she warned against complacency, stating that people ignored the dangers of the rising Nazi movement in the 1930s until it was too late.
    “At first it may seem a bit extreme to imply a comparison between the atrocities of Hitler and what is happening in terms of contemporary threats against the family – but maybe not,” said Dew, who had been considered by several Republican Utah gubernatorial candidates as a possible lieutenant governor running mate prior to the GOP state convention.

  165. Kevin Ashworth on October 4, 2004 at 7:47 pm

    It’s still not going away. http://ec.gayalliance.org/articles/000567.shtml

    Don’t compare anything to Hitler unless you really have to. Else you will be lumped together with Rush Limbaugh, surely an unpleasant experience for any woman.

  166. Jaybs on November 3, 2004 at 3:02 pm

    I have read all Sher Dew’s Books, though I am not a meber of The Church, it does hurt a little to hear this comment from Sheri.

    Brought up in a true Christian Family I was taught that Only ONE Can Judge, that is “Our Loving Heavenly Father” – we can follow what we believe, but that is difference for me than judging others!

    John

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