Mysterious Powder Sent To Mormon Church

November 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Fresno is home to one of the 150 Mormon Temples around the world. Despite the protests in Los Angeles, and the mysterious powder mailings to temples in L.A. and Salt Lake City there's not a big concern of threats or violence here.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Friday morning, the FBI said a letter containing a suspicious white powder sent to a Mormon temple in the southland was harmless.

Police evacuated the temple in Westwood until a haz-mat crew could examine the powder.
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LDS Church Spokesperson Cheryl Gardner said:"It has crossed our minds, yes, but Fresno has been very peaceful. The people here who have been protesting here have been very peaceful we have not had anything directed against the church at all."

But, that may be about to change.

Prop 8 Opponent Michael Esswein says:"We're planning a protest on Sunday at a Mormon Church. We feel that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been a major funder in the Prop 8 campaign. They have violated the separation of church and state here in America."

Esswein lead a noisy protest at Fresno City Hall this week. But he says the protest at the Mormon Church will be silent. And Esswein says his group does not support whoever mailed powder to the Mormon Temples.

"Intimidation fear and hate in any arena is inappropriate." He said. So you don't support that kind of action we asked? "No, not at all, and the people who did that should come forward quickly so they can be brought to justice." He said.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, who police say was the target of an e-mail death threat because of his support of Prop 8 isn't condemning all Prop 8 opponents. "I know that it's not representative of most of the people who voted against Prop 8. They would condemn those actions as well." Autry said.

Prop 8 Opponent Robin McGehee agrees most who support same sex marriage aren't looking for trouble. "Absolutely not. I believe with every social movement you're going to have those fringe extremist groups that are gonna act in a way that don't represent the majority of groups ." She said.

But Autry thinks more leaders in the gay community should speak out against intimidation. And Pastor Jim Franklin who was named along with Autry in that e-mail threat believes supporters of same sex marriage are going too far. "What this is, is religious bigotry that now religions are being targeted. It really shows what this was all about it really was about freedom of religion and freedom of speech." Franklin said.

Esswein says protestors plan to demonstrate at a local Mormon Church, rather that Franklin's Cornerstone ministry, because he says Mormons have donated far more to Prop 8 than Franklin's congregation.

A nationwide protest against California's Prop 8, which banned same sex marriage is slated to take place this coming Saturday.

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