Sometime Bloggernacle commenter Chino Blanco has a post up at the prominent liberal blog Daily Kos encouraging protest of the Church’s letter in support of the proposed amendment to the California state constitution. Contra Chino Blanco, I don’t consider the letter a betrayal and I don’t consider it hypocritical. I don’t want to debate that here, though. I do want to point out that I think Chino Blanco is mistaken in both his assessment of how Mormons in general will react to the letter and in how they would respond to acts of protest inside and around their own chapels.
With regards to how Mormons will react to the letter, Chino Blanco sounds as if he believes that at a significant proportion of active members will react negatively to the letter being read in Church on Sunday. Chino Blanco refers to this coming Sunday as “a day when many [Mormons] may not be feeling all that pleased with what they’ve just heard come down from the pulpit.” He goes on to say that Mormons’ “worship” of the family is a reason that “so many Mormons feel ill about what their leadership is doing (again) with this letter.”
I’m not sure what precisely Chino Blanco means by “many” and “so many,” but to me it sounds like he thinks there is a large contingent of active Mormons that will react negatively to the letter. Reading his post, it sounds like he’s drawing his conclusions by surveying what us ‘nacle nerds are saying. I don’t think that’s a good idea. This is debatable, but in my view we’re not real representative of rank-and-file Mormonism, even if some of us consider ourselves to be rank-and-file. Based on the way I use the words “many” and “so many,” and on my long experience in the Church, I would not agree with Chino Blanco’s contention that there will be many California Mormons feeling ill about the First Presidency letter on Sunday.
With regards to how acts of protest would be received by Mormons attending Church this Sunday in California, I think Chino Blanco is off base again. He approvingly cites Latter-day Guy’s suggestion here that non-member gay couples attend fast and testimony meeting on the first Sunday in July and step up to the pulpit and request that the congregants not vote to harm their family. Chino Blanco cites Latter-day Guy as an active member, as if that means that there would be a lot of active Mormons happy with that kind of demonstration. But, again, I think it would be a mistake to consider this one blog commenter’s attitude as representative of a significant proportion of Mormons. Most Mormons would be offended by such an intrusion into their worship service. It would be about as welcome as an anti-SSM activist taking the mic at a gay rights rally and asking the audience to stop attacking the traditional family. Probably less so. And I disagree with Chino Blanco and Latter-day Guy that such a gesture would change any minds. It would be more likely to engender antagonism.
Chino Blanco also reports that he asked some Mormon bloggers how they would feel about activists protesting outside Mormon chapels this coming Sunday. He says, “they were cool with it. In fact, some of them even came up with their own suggestions for protesting.” Again, I think it would be a mistake to take this to mean that a significant proportion of Mormons would be “cool with” protesters picketing chapels this Sunday.
None of this means that people shouldn’t demonstrate their opposition to the First Presidency’s position if they want to. It’s a free country, after all. But people shouldn’t believe that their activities would be welcomed, generally speaking, by the Mormons present. It would be experienced as an unkind act of aggression. They won’t be cool with picketing and they most certainly will be offended by any intrusion into their worship service. I know there are activists who feel like we would deserve that kind of treatment. That’s fine. If you want to cause affront, follow Chino Blanco’s suggestions. If you don’t want to cause affront, ignore him.