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LDS Church sends members to the phones in support of Calif. proposition

LDS Church sends members to the phones in support of Calif. proposition

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is beefing up its stance on gay marriage in California by putting its members where the phones are.

The Church is asking members who are former California residents to help man phone banks in support of Proposition 8. That's the ballot initiative that would define marriage in the Golden State as between one man and one woman and is meant to overturn a court ruling that makes gay marriage legal.

The volunteers would only call voters if requested by the Protect Marriage Coalition.

No calls have been made yet, but Church officials expect a test of the system soon.

Meanwhile, some are wondering if this active effort to pass Proposition 8 jeopardizes the Church's tax-exempt status.

Legal experts say any church has the right to try to influence opinion on abortion or influence the vote on alcohol and same-sex marriage.

"That kind of free speech is protected and does not jeopardize a tax-exempt status for a church," said civil rights attorney Brian Barnard.

Barnard says churches do have First Amendment rights, but their tax-exempt status is threatened when they cross the line. "If a church supports a particular candidate, they jeopardize their tax-exempt status," he said.

So their status is protected if they talk issues but don't tell you for whom to vote.

The Church has scheduled a satellite broadcast for tomorrow evening in California. Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton will address the Church's doctrine of marriage and participation in the Project Marriage Coalition.

For more information the Church's plans to man phone banks, click the related link to the right of the story.


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Becky Bruce and Tom Callan


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