I have seen nothing that would give either side (or at least, the extreme on either side) the moral high ground. A group called "Bash Back"? How is that much better than Fred Phelps and his ilk?
I realize that my source might be considered a biased one, but I have seen vitriolic statements for myself. (Nevertheless, here's an AP story that would collaborate somewhat that there is viciousness still going on.) Voices that have pleaded for moderation, and to build bridges through discourse, have been viciously attacked. (Do a search on Chad Thompson and you'll see what I mean.) It is a sad commentary that human beings are sometimes inclined to support their position alone, and to freely attack the opposition with ironic cries of hate, intolerance, and hypocrisy as seems to suit them best. From what I have seen, read, and experienced, it seems like guerilla warfare– and I don't mean with guns and physical weaponry, but propaganda, vandalism, and civil disobedience.
I've been less than pleased with some of the reactions from members of my faith. About a month ago, I received a chain e-mail that asserted that support of the measure was necessary, or we would lose our rights to attend our temples or some nonsense like that. Here was some of the dialogue (edited for reasons of privacy):
I don't know how my message reached you because in checking my e-mail list, neither does your name or address appear on my list; I don't even know who you are. That message was intended for a very select few Are you a member of The LDS Church? I don't send spam messages. Please let me know.
I think you're confused because I have two different e-mail addresses I use…Yes, of COURSE I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I am surprised that you do not remember me from Heart t' Heart at all, but then again, I have a very long memory.
I was married in the Bellevue (Seattle) temple almost 10 years ago; this December 12th will mark the date. Do not mistake my objection to be that of an outsider. Let me count the reasons why I find the message objectionable:
1. It is extremely unlikely that we will honestly ever lose our right to attend the temple. I am not saying it is impossible, but most intellectuals and so-called "opponents" would see that to be a clear violation of the separation of church and state.
2. It is a scare tactic. I object very strongly to anything that uses fear and/or intimidation in any form to motivate people to vote or politically act in a certain way.
3. The Church maintains the right to speak out on certain issues according to free speech, but never will it force members to vote or act in a particular manner. There is nothing stating membership is in danger nor that someone will become a "bad Mormon" if members do not actively politically support Proposition 8.
My wife and I have both struggled with SSA (or SGA, depending on which term you prefer). We have always quietly let our marriage be an example and have spoken often of our love for each other and what it means to us. We share our stories of overcoming when we believe it to be appropriate. For me, my message is my involvement. I have spoken with the Evergreen International office concerning the matter and will be asking my local Church leaders the same, but it has ALWAYS been abundantly clear to me that the Church WILL NOT strongarm anyone into voting a certain way, as it would be against the guidelines of "voting your conscience" as has been repeatedly stated year after year in a regular statement read in Sacrament meetings during the election season.
I have studied the Church's position and involvement with Proposition 8, and none of this would pass official sanction that I can see. It is the tomfoolery of individuals.
4. Many of the allegations have no documentation of proof, which often bears the earmarks of urban legend. Unless the original e-mail author can produce links to actual news articles, the testimonials cannot be verified as true. I have every right to demand proof that these things actually happened, no matter how informal the e-mail may be. It is no excuse for academic laziness.
In fact, here is proof that this is another chain letter that has a few variations: http://isocrat.org/blog/?p=136 Note that some phrases aren't quoted in the message you forwarded, but the allegations are the same.
Stephen E. Robinson, in "Believing Christ", speaks out against members promoting and spreading rumors. If that is not enough, consider President Harold B. Lee's words:
Pres. Harold B. Lee on gullibility and sensationalism:
"There are some as wolves among us. By that, I mean some who profess membership in this church who are not sparing the flock. And among our own membership, men are arising speaking perverse things. Now perverse means diverting from the right or correct, and being obstinate in the wrong, willfully, in order to draw the weak and unwary members of the Church away after them….
"I should like now to make reference to some of these. The first is the spread of rumor and gossip (we have mentioned this before) which, when once started, gains momentum as each telling becomes more fanciful, until unwittingly those who wish to dwell on the sensational repeat them in firesides, in classes, in Relief Society gatherings and priesthood quorum classes without first verifying the source before becoming a party to causing speculation and discussions that steal time away from the things that would be profitable and beneficial and enlightening to their souls….
"I would earnestly urge that no such idle gossip be spread abroad without making certain as to whether or not it is true….
"As I say, it never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are in broadcasting these sensational stories, or dreams, or visions, some alleged to have been given to Church leaders, past or present, supposedly from some person's private diary, without first verifying the report with proper Church authorities." (Pres. Harold B. Lee, Ensign January 1973, p. 105)
(For more about LDS Internet Hoaxes and Mormon urban legends, see: http://www.shields-research.org/Hoaxes/LDSWorld_Internet_Hoaxes_and_Mormon_Urban_Legends.htm)
I was fortunate to receive a favorable reply:
Thanks for enlightening me. I that the it was reliable because it came from a friend that I went through high school with and was a member of the church since 1958 and a High Priest! I guess he was taken in too. I will call Catholic Charities in Boston on Monday; I think that they are still operating. I don't want to help spread rumors either. In the future the only "warnings" if any like that will have to come from The First Presidency or my Bishop before believing it. I will then contact every one that I sent to and let them know that it is a hoax; some of them may not believe already. By the way I still haven't found your name or "the other address" either. Perhaps it's a miracle.
Unfortunately, because I can't be sure that I will or will not be attacked, I must state quite clearly that I am not interested in contentious debate here. If I find such statements here, they will be immediately removed and the posters will be blocked. As much as I hate the notion that I am encouraging bobbleheading here (in other words, responses of agreement in a brown-nosing fashion), this really isn't the space for angry iconoclasm. It's also not too likely to be productive, as I already stated I have abstained on the issue.