A pro gay-rights organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., has placed a full-page advertisement in today's Salt Lake Tribune, decrying the arguments made by religious leaders in an earlier full-page ad defending Mormon involvement in passing California's Proposition 8, a ballot measure that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
The ad that ran Friday in the New York Times was headlined, "No Mob Veto," and condemned any attacks on people of faith, especially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have taken the brunt of the hostility. In the final paragraph of the ad, created by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., signers pledged to oppose and publicly shame "anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry, against any faith, on any side of the cause, for any reason."
That conclusion enraged Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, the nonprofit organization that placed today's ad. "I had to set the record straight."
The new ad carries the headline, "Lies in the name of the Lord," and features a cartoonish figure of Pinocchio and a Bible emblazoned with the words, "King Colson, Donohue and Cizik Version," referring to three signers of the earlier ad, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship, William Donahue of the Catholic League and Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals. The ad blasts the New York Times ad as "misleading," especially its characterization of recent protests at Mormon temples as "mob rule."
Those protests were "remarkably peaceful," Besen said. "They took isolated incidents of people misbehaving and exploited that to make it seem like mob violence. It is immoral."
Brian Brown, executive director of National Organization for Marriage, has a different perspective.
"There was not just one instance of vandalism," Brown said. "I was there in Westwood, [Calif. at the LDS temple protest]. I saw signs saying, 'Mormon scum,' and others encouraging the sort of hatred and violence we condemned. There have been fairly widespread attempts at intimidation, like calling Proposition 8 supporters at 2 a.m. and screaming into the phone."
Beyond the issue of whether gay protests constituted a "mob," Besen argues that the signers of the earlier ad are hypocrites for saying they will not use anti-religious rhetoric.
"These new defenders of the Mormon faith have long been the most prolific Mormon bashers in the nation," Besen said. "They have nothing in common but their anti-gay rhetoric. Promoting legal discrimination [against gays] with a group that would happily discriminate against you is a strategic disaster in the long run."
Note » This is a corrected version of a story online and in print. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., created the ad that run in The New York Times; the ad's headline read, "No Mob Veto." The original version of the story offered an incorrect headline and creator for the ad.