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That’s the headline in a longish Time story on Mormons, “The Church and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood?” It’s a fairly balanced story, although the author still manages to impute “seamless unity” to the Mormon community while, at the same time, quoting two Mormons (a gay activist and the editor of an independent Mormon periodical) who plainly voice their own opinions, as can any Mormon who wants to. Interestingly, when the story was first posted last week, it carried a different title, “The Storm Over the Mormons.” Here are the first couple of paragraphs.
Last November, Jay Pimentel began hearing that people in his neighborhood were receiving letters about him. Pimentel lives in Alameda, Calif., a small, liberal-leaning community hanging off Oakland into the San Francisco Bay. Pimentel, who is a Mormon, had supported Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. And that made him a target. “Dear Neighbor,” the letter began, “Our neighbors, Colleen and Jay Pimentel” — and it gave their address — “contributed $1,500.00 to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. NEIGHBORS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THEIR NEIGHBORS’ CHOICES.” The note accused the Pimentels of “obsessing about same-sex marriage.” It listed a variety of local causes that recipients should support — “unlike the Pimentels.”
Pimentel, a lawyer and a lay leader in the small Mormon congregation in Alameda, is markedly even-keeled. Yet the poison-pen note still steams him, even though in May the California Supreme Court validated Prop 8 as constitutional. He is bothered less by the revelation of his monetary contribution, which he stands by, than the fact that the letter’s author didn’t bother to find out that every other Saturday for 15 years, he or someone else from Alameda’s 184-member Mormon ward has delivered a truckload of hot meals to the Midway Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children — one of the organizations the Pimentels allegedly wouldn’t support. “The church does a lot of things in the community we don’t issue press releases about,” he says. “And when people criticize us, we often just take it on the chin. I guess you could say I’m not satisfied with the way we’re seen.”
It is still an exercise in doublethink to reconcile the gay view of things with the facts. Mormons who deliver truckloads of food to homeless shelters are mean and hateful. Gay activists who circulate “poison-pen notes” about Mormons are wonderful people who not only feel justified targeting Mormons in this and other ways, but expect you to give them a pat on the back for it, equating themselves with civil rights crusaders while acting like people who would burn crosses in your front yard.