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Ol Joe Smith was mostly broke; the current guys, not so muchHa, remember way back in 2008 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a tax-exempt religious organization based in Utah, poured a bunch of money and volunteer labor into the campaign that got gay marriage banned in California? And remember how a lot of people who were sort of startled when the proposition passed meekly said afterwards, “Uh, separation of church and state? Tax exempt status? Anyone, anyone? Hello?” Well, the Stalinist California Fair Political Practices Commission has deliberated on the matter, and has delivered an absolutely crushing blow to the church, ordering them to pay $5,538 in fines, which is roughly the amount the church collects every second in tithes. What specific vile crime did the Mormons commit to merit such a cruel and unusual punishment?

Here is the official statement of contrition from the Mormon Church’s own Web site:

The investigation revealed that the church unintentionally failed to file daily reports detailing approximately $37,000 in non-monetary contributions. The amount of contributions not reported represented the cost of staff time spent by church employees on activities to help the Yes on 8 committee during the final two weeks of the election.

Now, we aren’t lawyers, but: isn’t the point of fines not just to annoy people and add piddling amounts to state treasuries, but rather to serve as deterrents against law-breaking? So, if the Mormon Church illegally gave $37,000 worth of unreported in-kind contributions to a political campaign, shouldn’t the fine have been … more than $37,000? To offset the illegal contribution? Otherwise, why bother levying any fine at all? I mean, as it is it’s less a “punishment” than “the cost of doing business,” and next time around they’ll just do it again. Right? Right? Are we crazy?

But whatever, $37,000 is still chicken feed to enormous wealthy institutions like the LDS Church, and gays still can’t married, blah. The church probably just found their $5,538 in change under the couch cushions. “Oh, hey, this is like $200 too much,” the Fair Political Practices Commission said. “Whatever, keep it,” said the Mormons as they walked away. “Gays still are still second class citizens, right? Worth every penny.” [LAT]

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