Said Elder Oaks: "Along with many others, I see a serious threat to the freedom of religion in the current assertion of a 'civil right' of homosexuals to be free from religious preaching against their relationships. Religious leaders of various denominations affirm and preach that sexual relations should only occur between a man and a woman joined together in marriage. One would think that the preaching of such a doctrinal belief would be protected by the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion, to say nothing of the guarantee of free speech. However, we are beginning to see worldwide indications that this may not be so."
He labeled as alarming recent evidences of a narrowing definition of religious expression and an expanding definition of "the so-called civil rights of 'dignity,' 'autonomy' and 'self-fulfillment' of persons offended by religion preaching."
And he took exception to the suggestion by President Barack Obama's head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a "sexual-orientation liberty" could become such a right that it should prevail over a competing "religious-belief liberty."
"Such a radical assertion should not escape analysis," Elder Oaks said, because it condemns the notion of a centuries-old fundamental right of freedom of religion to becoming recast as a simple "liberty" ranked among many other liberties. It also would create sexual orientation as a fundamental right called "sexual liberty" and to the conclusion that religious expressions can be overridden by a fundamental right to "sexual liberty."
The result: Legal definitions of traditional marriage and family are deteriorating and under attack.
"All of this shows an alarming trajectory of events pointing toward constraining the freedom of religious speech by forcing it to give way to the 'rights' of those offended by such speech," Elder Oaks said. "If that happens, we will have criminal prosecution of those whose religious doctrines or speech offend those whose public influence and political power establish them as an officially protected class."
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