Sep 30 2008
Dear President Sleight,
I hope you were able to spend a pleasant Friday evening with your family since you did not have to travel to Kearney to deal with what must be a rather unpleasant part of your responsibilities. As you know, you and I have only met once, and that was a brief meeting last month. I want to assure you that I wish you no ill will, and am truly sorry for any discomfort you feel in having to deal with me and this situation that we are both in.
As I indicated to you in my e-mail of last Thursday, I am not clear on what conduct you believe I have participated in that was “unbecoming a member of the church” or how you reach the conclusion that I “have been in apostasy.” I would appreciate some more information about those things so that I may prepare a proper response for the disciplinary council.
Because I have asked you to explain yourself, I think it only fair that I explain myself. Inasmuch as I have had a little fun at the expense of stake presidents, mission presidents, temple presidents, and area seventies, I want to offer my sincere apology to any I may have made feel uncomfortable in any way with my letters of late July and early August. As I explained in my two-part YouTube video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeJtp0OEWRo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw70YMKCpYY ) those letters were designed essentially as a publicity stunt, and it met with success beyond my wildest dreams. I hope there are no lingering hard feelings over this stunt of mine. I hope that it is clear that while there are certainly leaders and members all throughout the church who disagree with the First Presidency’s stance on Proposition 8, there was no serious attempt to organize people into secret combinations, using code words, tokens, secret handshakes and other such nonsense.
I have now had a few days to contemplate what to write to you. There are many, many things I wish to both say to you and to ask you, but in the interest of brevity I will keep it to just a few.
First, it seems that the church’s current position is in direct opposition to the eleventh and twelfth Articles of Faith, and verses in D&C 134. The right of civil marriage exists in California for gays and lesbians, as clearly stated by the California Supreme Court. Regarding the Twelfth Article of Faith, the church’s efforts are clearly not to obey, honor and sustain the law as it now exists, but to overturn that law. Further, many other religions currently have the spiritual and religious right to solemnize marriages for gay or lesbian couples and our church is seeking to deny them these spiritual and religious rights. Our Eleventh Article of Faith and D&C 134 both clearly state that we don’t feel we should interfere with the spiritual or religious rights of others, and D&C 134:9 specifically states we feel it is inappropriate to mingle religious influence with civil government where that fosters one religious viewpoint, but proscribes spiritual privileges and individual civil rights of others. I know that we claim the right speak boldly about our own moral convictions, but D&C 134:4 clearly limits the exercise of our religion where it “infringes upon the rights and liberties of others.” Marriage is a “right” in this country (as clearly stated in Loving v. Virginia in 1967) and that right is recognized by the United Nations’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the United States is a signatory. It seems clear to me that the church is attempting to force its own moral standard upon others, and in so doing, depriving them of religious and spiritual privileges and civil rights. I am opposed to such action, as are many other church members.
Second, the hymn “Do What Is Right” (Hymns #237) resonates with me, and I am willing to “Do what is right, and let the consequences follow.” I also take great comfort in knowing that President Thomas S. Monson agrees with this sentiment, for he said in the April General Conference:
You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience. . . . (“Examples of Righteousness” – Priesthood Session, April 2008)
The disguise that the church is attempting to foist upon others is that there will be some damage to society if gays are allowed to marry. The disguise is that this bigotry and intolerance come from God. The disguise is that this bigotry is not bigotry at all, but unconditional love. The disguise is that this bigotry seeks the common good, rather than to continue the Mormon-centric and paternalistic false traditions of our Mormon, Christian and Abrahamic fathers.
Most of my friends for the last twenty years have been members of the church. Even as those friends now urge me to either join with them in their intolerance or stand silent while they attempt to deprive others of their rights and privileges, I will stand up and try to stop them, even if I must stand alone.
There are many more things I could say, President, but I will close with these questions for you to contemplate, and hopefully answer as your time and energy permits.
When gay marriages began to be performed in Massachusetts and later California, did it cause you to want to leave your wife? Did it cause you to become gay or want to become gay? Did it cause your you or your wife to abandon or want to abandon your children? Did it cause you to fall into a life of debauchery and sin? Did it cause you to change your life in any way for the worse? If none of these things happened to you, was that because you are superior to others, or because there is no real harm to come from gay marriage? If you didn’t experience these terrible things and I didn’t, and President Monson didn’t, and I can find no one else who did, then what harm is there to the family? Please, tell me what catastrophes or terrible outcomes await us if gay marriages continue as opposed to if they are stopped? Would not the precedent of a religious minority able to codify its own morality offer a greater risk to Mormonism and to society than gay marriage? Is going down the slippery slope of taking rights away from minorities really a good idea?
I look forward to hearing from you, and I wish you and your family well.
Andrew D. Callahan