The Church of Latter-Day Bullshit
I was surprisingly—almost shockingly—polite when I was in Salt Lake City last month. Nonsense-spouting Morbots took me on tours of Temple Square and Brigham Young's house, and I didn't say one nasty thing, not even, "Keep your goddamn hands off my rights." There I was in the belly of the beast, amidst puerile piety, polite proselytizing, pretty good architecture, and hopelessly kitschy "art." And I wimped out.
Sometimes I really disappoint myself.
Now, my boyfriend and I have this ongoing disagreement: he seems to think that Mormonism is no more stupid than any other religion, while I steadfastly insist that it is. "You can't point to hard-and-fast evidence," I'll say, "that the burning bush didn't talk or that J.C. didn't rise from the dead. But you can absolutely prove that the American Indians didn't emigrate from the Middle East, that Joseph Smith's 'translation' of the so-called Book of Abraham papyrus is bullshit. Ergo, stupider."
All of this would make little objective difference, of course (at least to me), if the Church of Latter-Day Saints didn't insist on sinking its holier-than-thou claws into the lives of queer people. This became clearer than ever when I caught, just a few days after getting back from SLC, the new documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition, which was shown at Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. While hardly a perfect film—it has a tendency to ramble a bit—8 has the power to surprise and appall even those of us all-too-familiar with the Church's jihad against same-sex marriage. Filmmakers Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet expose in detail the inner workings of the LDS stealth campaign to ban gay marriage in California, its coalition of convenience with the Catholic Church, and the crusade's very real cost in human happiness.
But there's an excellent reason, it turns out, not to allow queers to wed. One of the loony notions of Joseph Smith—oh, sorry, God's profound revelation in the Book of Mormon—is that marriage is eternal, see, and that after the long goodbye, good little LDSers will head for the highest of three heavens, where they'll be reunited with the pre-deceased members of their family, and where polygamy, though banned on Earth, will be practiced, which might lead to something of a gender imbalance, but never mind, it's all in the plan of the Heavenly Father, who was originally a human and still is in fact a being of flesh and bones, married to God the Mother, and we can all do the same thing and become deities ourselves. As long as we breed. Or something like that. I will say that when the heaven thing was explained in the film, we pagan queers in the audience actually laughed. Laughed! We are so not going to become gods.
What was decidedly not funny, though, was 8's revelation of how the Church wheedled and extorted big bucks from its flock, which it then used in a stealth operation against gays. Even more chilling were the stories of church-sponsored aversion therapy, Mormon-boy suicides, and the like. But as one interviewee pointed out, when it comes to the Great Heavenly Hetero Plan, destroyed gay lives are just "collateral damage."
Now, in the grand scheme of things, the Catholics and Muslims have more queer blood on their hands than the Mormons, though granted the popes and mullahs did have a head start. But when it comes to sheer, organized, antigay lockstep campaigning, 8: The Mormon Proposition makes it pretty clear that the LDS is leading the way. And doing so with a big, caffeine-free smile.
I do wonder about the Catholic-Mormon theological clusterfuck when it comes to the marriage issue. After all, Joseph Smith said that Catholicism was an "abomination," and it's hard to imagine the Pope going for the multiple-wives-in-Heaven hoo-hah. It's kind of like the Hitler/Stalin pact, huh? But hey, anti-bedfellow politics makes strange bedfellows. At least the evangelicals—who view Benedict as the antichrist and the Mormons as one step short of Satanists—haven't joined in the fuck-up-the-fags fun.
Anyway, this all left me sitting there in the theater thinking how I should have told the sweet little shiksas who'd shown me around the Tabernacle that their goddamn religion was not just a farce, but theo-fascism. Sure, I could have made a fuss when, asked by my honey how many wives ol' Brigham had, our tour guide said, "Only one in this house," conveniently neglecting to mention he had twenty-six more of 'em stashed elsewhere. But hey, I was their guest, after all. Not to mention the fact that two boys got busted for kissing in Temple Square last year, and I had a plane to catch. So I held my peace, just barely, and our Mooneyish guides remained unchallenged. However, the next time I run across a pair of cute, credulous little Mormon missionary boys, traipsing through San Francisco, ministering to the heathens whilst protected by their magic undies, they won't be so lucky.
Because, despite all the arguments otherwise, 8: The Mormon Proposition makes it quite clear that queers can't marry in California because of the crusading of a particular religion, and a particularly stupid religion at that. (Sorry, honey.) This all may change when the Federal Court's decision on Prop 8 finally comes down. Or it may not.
But either way, my boyfriend and I got a photo out of our visit.
A picture of us kissing in Temple Square.