deadCenter Review: ’8: The Mormon Proposition’
“8: The Mormon Proposition”
Directed by Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet
After Barack Obama’s historic election had been confirmed, California’s Proposition 8 became the focus of the country for many on election night 2008. The ballot proposition eventually passed, effectively banning gay marriage in California and bringing a conclusion to a campaign that brought in more money than any other except the presidential election that year, with around $40 million dollars pouring in from each side.
Narrated by Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Milk,” “8: The Mormon Proposition” posits that Prop. 8 passed in no small part because of the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which mobilized its congregation to oppose the measure, raising millions of dollars and effectively becoming a political action committee in the process.
As an expose of the Mormon church’s shadowy involvement in gay marriage cases throughout history, the film builds a solid and fairly thorough case. Internal memos reveal church plans to covertly influence ballot initiatives — prominently, one in Hawaii — by using front organizations and having church members give individual donations. The film parades lots of internal documents through, pulling out superimposed excerpts of key phrases like it’s a “20/20″ marathon.
The source of these documents is never clearly stated, although there’s no immediate reason to doubt their authenticity, as audio recordings of Mormon leaders send a similar message about Prop. 8 in California. A letter was drafted by head Mormon officials that was to be read at all Mormon churches in California, urging members to give to the campaign. Some sources claim that “code language” in the letter communicated to Mormons that they were in danger of losing their membership if they didn’t give.
“Mormon Proposition” maintains a pretty even keel throughout, even if its loyalties are abundantly obvious, but phrases like “a decades-long holy war” and Big Brother-inspired distorted talking heads of Mormon officials push the film into conspiracy territory perhaps a bit much. The LDS Church’s opinion on gays is no secret, but the film’s implications that at least some Mormon leaders want all gay people to be dead sounds kind of like a counterpart to the absurd “gay agenda” fear-mongering that asserts that the American way of life is somehow under attack by gay people.
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