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No LDS campaign in Illinois

Published: Thursday, March 5 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Wednesday that an e-mail authorized by the bishop of an Illinois congregation did not reflect the church's position on a bill before the Illinois Legislature and is not part of a larger campaign.

The e-mail urged members of the Nauvoo 3rd Ward to call legislators and ask them to support traditional marriage by voting against the civil unions bill. The e-mail was sent Tuesday by the administrator of the ward's Web site and included a note that Bishop Chris Church authorized the message.

Gay-rights activists associated with the Human Rights Campaign regarded the e-mail as a sign the LDS Church was launching an organized campaign to defeat HB2234, similar to its efforts to support Proposition 8 in California last fall, said Bruce Bastian, a gay Utahn who is a member of the HRC's board of directors.

A statement released Wednesday by the LDS Church's Public Affairs Office said the e-mail was not part of a coordinated effort but an isolated act.

"As is widely known, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of traditional marriage," the statement said. "The Church has not taken a position on any legislation currently being considered by the Illinois State Legislature. The Church did not send an e-mail to its members in regards to House Bill 2234, although a false report to the contrary has been circulated. An e-mail was sent from a local Illinois church leader to his congregation — one of 129 congregations in the state — who was free to express his own views."

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