The failure of the Utah Compact to promote more vigorous measures against illegal immigrants has attracted valid criticism from immigration restrictionists. One of the most prominent critics is ALIPAC (Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee). ALIPAC boss William Gheen has published a series of appeals on March 7th (HERE and HERE), on March 8th, on March 9th, and again on March 10th, urging people to contact various Utah public officials to oppose proposed legislation friendly towards allowing illegal immigrants to become "guest workers" and steal jobs from unemployed Americans.
All well and good. Unfortunately, on March 10th, William Gheen crosses the line in this post entitled "Update and Warning: New Strategy to Defeat Amnesty in Utah" and targets the LDS Church for "activism" as well, not only urging people to e-mail the LDS Church protesting its solicitous attitude towards illegals, but also urges them to play the "tax exemption card", the same way that gay activists did in opposition to the LDS Church's support of California Proposition 8 on gay marriage. Here's the pertinent part of the text of ALIPAC's appeal:
Step 4: Politely remind the LDS Church of their tax status
"I'm calling/writing the LDS Church to remind you that our government gives tax exempt status to churches for charitable work. We do not give you a tax break to pursue political activity as you have in the matter of HB 116 and the Utah Compact. The LDS Church's effort to influence Utah lawmakers to pass an Amnesty for illegal aliens is unacceptable. Around 70% of Americans oppose Utah's HB 116 and the efforts of the LDS church in this matter. I intend to work against the agenda of the LDS Church in Utah and across America as long as your church continues to try to aid and abet illegal aliens in violation of our existing federal laws."
LDS has several ways to contact:
50 West North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
Fax: (801) 524-4379
All calls and emails must be highly professional, civil, and respectful. You can be firm, but not over the top. Anyone who goes over the top will only help the cause of illegal aliens.
While the tax-exempt status does not permit religious leaders to endorse specific candidates from the pulpit, it does permit them to speak out on various issues. It's designed to better protect the constitutional dictum that "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of a religion, nor prohibit the free exercise thereof." For William Gheen to target the tax-exempt status of the LDS Church over this issue is a despicable form of blackmail.
I don't believe that William Gheen is driven by any anti-Mormon bigotry; I know of no prior public statements where he's criticized the LDS Church. But his call to target the LDS Church is likely to backfire and draw Mormons together to circle the wagons in support of the Church; it will have the opposite effect of what he intended. As it should.
The LDS Church has taken an unofficial position of benevolent neutrality on illegal immigration. They do call missionaries who turn out to be illegal immigrants, and at least one branch president in the Salt Lake Valley was recently outed as an illegal immigrant by the Salt Lake Tribune. However, the LDS Church obeys the law as it is currently written, which does not require them to inquire into the immigration status of its members. If stricter laws are passed, you can be sure the LDS Church will obey those laws, as they proclaim in the 12th Article of Faith, which states "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law".
Consequently, while I urge those who favor more robust policies against illegal immigrants to contact the various public officials identified by ALIPAC. I urge people to leave the LDS Church out of it.