Investigate church that bankrolled Prop. 8

The Latter Day Saints Church may have funneled funding through a front organization.

A California group known as Californians Against Hate has filed charges with the California Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate the extent of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsâÄô financial support for the California ban on same-sex marriages. The group claims that the LDS Church established the National Organization for Marriage in California as a front group to hide funding and didnâÄôt fully disclose its involvement in other non-monetary campaign contributions such as compensated staff time for senior church officials and the creation of 23 TV and Internet commercials. Only church officials know the validity of these accusations, but it seems an investigation would be a good way to shed light on the subject for everyone else. If the LDS Church has nothing to hide, it would be beneficial for it to cooperate to the fullest extent in order to vindicate itself. Recent disclosures by officials of the LDS Church revealed that it spent at least $134,774 in non-monetary support, $79,774 more than the $55,000 initially reported. This sudden number change shows the need for an investigation. If it can be proven that the LDS Church did indeed use the National Organization for Marriage in California to front its funding, that could serve a blow to its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, given to churches by the Internal Revenue Service. The possible effect the investigation could have on Proposition 8 is less clear. The California Supreme Court should have a decision within 90 days about Proposition 8âÄôs constitutionality, but even the most ardent gay rights supporters are skeptical that it will be overturned. Nevertheless, a probing investigation into the LDS ChurchâÄôs financial support of Proposition 8 is essential to preserve a separation of church and state and to send a strong and simple message to all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt bodies: Stay politically neutral or lose your favorable tax status. This column, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Utah Chronicle. Please send comments to [email protected]