LOS ANGELES Oct. 23, 2008 - The Courage Campaign, an online organizing network of over 110,000 members in California, today condemned the blackmail-like action of the Prop 8 campaign, after the Associated Press reported that the Prop 8 campaign had demanded equal donations from people who have contributed to the "No on 8" campaign, threatening to list their business names if the contributors did not comply.
The Associated Press reports that ProtectMarriage.com, a group that includes Mark Jansson, a self-described member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "sent a certified letter this week asking companies to withdraw their support of Equality California, a nonprofit organization that is helping lead the campaign against Proposition 8. The letter reads:
"Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error. Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.'
Four members of the group's executive committee signed the letter, including campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.
"This is part of a pattern of intimidation by the Mormon Church to raise money to pass Proposition 8 and dictate public policy to Californians," said Rick Jacobs, Chair of Courage Campaign Issues Committee. "We call on President-Prophet Thomas Monson to condemn LDS member Mr. Mark Jansson and the Proposition 8 campaign's blackmail of businesses. If President-Prophet Monson will not condemn blackmail and the breaking of the ten commandments, for what do he and his Church stand?"
The Associated Press and San Diego's CBS affiliate reported tonight that donors who gave money to the "No on 8" campaign have "received blackmail letters demanding money" from the Prop 8 campaign. The campaign has confirmed "they sent around 30 companies the letter."
The CBS report quotes Jim Abbot, a local San Diego businessman targeted by the letter because of his $10,000 donation to Equality California. "I feel like it's blackmail, and as you can imagine, real estate business has been tough lately and to have someone come at you like this... it's very distressing," he said.
"This conduct is purely reprehensible and the Prop 8 campaign and Mormon Church President-Prophet Thomas Monson should be ashamed," added Jacobs. "Intimidation tactics like these should have no place in public discourse, particularly in connection with a major religion like the Mormon Church that professes to be beyond reproach."
Before the blackmail story broke this evening, the Courage Campaign Issues Committee launched an online petition at 2 p.m. this afternoon urging Church of Latter-Day-Saints President-Prophet Thomas Monson to cease funding the campaign for the misguided "Yes on 8" campaign, which has released misleading TV and radio ads claiming that children would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage in school -- a claim rejected by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association.
The Courage Campaign online petition urges the Mormon Church not to impose their religious doctrine on other churches, on the rest of society, or to dictate public policy to Californians.
"We are troubled the church is funding television and radio ads that are lying to Californians about the effects of a 'No' vote on Proposition 8," said Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign Issues Committee. "We are especially disappointed the Mormon Church has chosen to break the Ninth Commandment - 'thou shalt not bear false witness.' The ads funded as a result of an edict from Prophet-President Monson to his followers lie, breaking the ninth commandment, by telling Californians parents that they do not have the right to remove their children from sex education classes, unlike in Massachusetts."
According to an AP article dated October 8, Mormons, under pressure from the church, have been the chief financial contributors to the "Yes on 8" campaign, giving an estimated 43 percent -- approximately $8.4 million -- of the total funds contributed as of that date. Earlier this year, LDS President Thomas S. Monson wrote a widely circulated letter to California Mormons to give their time and money to pass Proposition 8. Since that time, millions of dollars have flowed from Mormons in Utah and other states funding a deceptive campaign.
The petition to President-Prophet Monson can be viewed here
The full CBS story, including TV news report, can be viewed here
The Associated Press story on the Prop 8 campaign's blackmail of businesses can be viewed here
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