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Young Mormons in California and Californian Mormons studying on Brigham Young University campuses should use texting, blogging, videos, podcasts, Twitter and Facebook to "go viral" in support of a California ballot initiative that would ban gay marriage, said an LDS apostle on Wednesday.
"I must admit I don't know how all this works, but you do," M. Russell Ballard said during a videotaped conference shown at LDS chapels across California and on campuses in in Utah, Idaho or Hawaii. "God will bless you as you do your part."
Ballard's remarks were part of a one-hour presentation titled, "The Divine Institution of Marriage Broadcast," during which he and Apostle Quentin L. Cook as well as L. Whitney Clayton discussed the church's support of Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God," Ballard said. "It has the natural biological power to create life. Its misuse undermines the fabric of society."
Because of such beliefs, Ballard said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was willing to join the Protect Marriage Coalition, an umbrella organization of several religious bodies including Catholics and Evangelicals.
Cook, who lived in California for decades before being named one of the church's top 12 leaders, assured the Mormon faithful that the church's involvement is perfectly legal.
"We have the privilege and obligation to let our voices be heard," Cook said.
Then Clayton, who has been the church's liaison with the coalition, laid out a three-phase plan of action to drum up more support for Proposition 8 during the final weeks before votes are cast on Nov. 4: canvassing to identify voters; advocacy and persuasion; and get out the vote.
"We are looking for 30 people in every ward in California to commit 4 hours each until the election," Clayton said. "On the last weekend, November 1 through 4, we have an additional 100-hour program that we will describe later."
The instructions echoed a letter that was circulated in Idaho last week.
"The goal is to get as many members as possible who would be willing to make phone calls for two to four hours a week from now through election day," Robert Chambers, an LDS area authority for Pocatello, Idaho, wrote in a letter to stake presidents in the Rexburg area. "We ask you to commit initially to a minimum of 150-200 volunteers from your stake."
Another segment of the video was a question-and-answer session with Apostle David A. Bednar and a handful of students. He answered hypothetical questions about the church's view of the legal issues with the proposition. He spoke to LDS fears if the churches failed in this effort.
"If tolerance is the premise, it should go both ways," Bednar said. "There could be sanctions against us for teaching our doctrine."
About three dozen students watched the video broadcast at the University of Utah's LDS Institute of Religion. Several said the speeches motivated them to start calling friends.
"I didn't realize what a big deal it was until I went home for a visit," said Samantha Jones, 23, of Walnut Creek, Calif. "My parents are very involved. I knew I needed to take a stand so I read a lot of material on the church's Web site. It gave me a better idea of why I believe what I do. I'm ready to help."
Brianne Burhan, 19, thought the presentation was well-organized and thorough.
"You could feel the love from the apostles," she said, adding she is planning to make a video for Facebook.
That reaction likely would have pleased the three LDS leaders, who wanted especially to reach plugged-in Mormon youths.
"Because you are here tonight," Clayton said into the camera, "there is hope for the family."