Comments about ‘My view: Restoring the right of religious conscience with an amendment’

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Published: Sunday, March 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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Springville, UT

This overwrought hand-wringing is wearisome. There is no war on religion. And certainly no attack on freedom of conscience. When the institutions do foolish things, overstep their bounds, seek to impose their will on others, seek special benefits and protections from government, and so forth, they will find resistance. This is not the same as an attack on conscience.

When Mr. Smith and others who see institutional interests as the same as individual freedom of conscience come out and support the overturn of Reynolds v. U.S. (1878) and companion cases, then talk to me about conscience. Until that time, Mr. Smith and others are really arguing for protection of certain institutional interests and views, plus essentially arguing for state sponsorship of their views to the detriment of views of others. Theirs is a misleading and deceptive argument.

salt lake city, utah

"Madison responded that the free exercise right could only be limited when the exercise of that right deprived another of an 'equal liberty'". Thankfully since the time of Madison what constitutes a liberty/right has been greatly expanded and now includes preventative health care, and is rapidly including marrying whom you wish. Times and circumstances do change. 2012 is not 1787.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Do business operations in the public square, have immunity from civil laws that regulate businesses, because they are owned and/or operated by a religious entity?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Is the operation of a church owned business a part of the prohibiting the free exercise thereof?

If religious people have the right to refuse to obey the law because of personal convictions, do other people also have that right whether they are religious or not.

My personal conviction is that I should not allow my taxes to support religion, charities, and other non governmental services. Do I therefore have the right to refuse to pay taxes?

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

"Madison responded that the free exercise right could only be limited when the exercise of that right deprived another of an "equal liberty" and when that exercise of conscience "manifestly endangered" the "existence of the state.""


There IS a war on religious liberty and freedom of thought. I have never forced my beliefs, or rather my opinions into law. I have democratically voiced them. This is at the very core of democracy. Where others have rejected voting altogether in favor of their own superior morality. People claim they have a right to more than democracy, to more than what others give freely, to more than what they can gain with their own two hands and own choices.

People claim "tyranny of the majority" anytime a vote is lost now. Voting democratically and freely is an open decision by society to engage in. In voting there must always be a majority and minority. The existence of a majority opinion that "tells us what is lawful and not lawful" is not tyranny, imposing, or in conflict with freedom. Tyranny is "a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler." (Webster) Absolute power cannot exist in a democratic act. We all have rights as citizens that are unbreakable by democracy. This protects all citizens from others. If my vote has not taken your freedom to think, press, worship, meet, bear arms- then my vote has imposed nothing more than what your vote has done. We all have an equal right to vote. When others claim that they have more rights than WE have placed in our constitution. When courts imply rights in order to negate votes then you have taken an "implied right" to negate an ACTUAL right in the constitution- even my right to vote.

Claiming religious oppression from a democratic vote is logically no different from claiming "I have no freedom to win every vote I want".

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

EveryoneÂs freedom depends on the restriction of freedom imposed on the other members of our world by our government.

We have the freedom to move about because our government will punish those who would do us harm.

We have the freedom to eat food and drink not of our own making because the government enforces rules of proper preparation of commercial foods upon food producers.

It is a true fact that every freedom that we have is allowed us because as a group we agree to limit our personal freedom to harm others.

ItÂs not a perfect system, and there are many freedoms that we would rather not give up. But in the exchange of rights we agree to give up those things for the better freedom we get back.

Religious freedom is a special case. Because of the intensity of personal conviction and the fierceness of competition between religions, a truce of sorts was created by the first amendment of our Constitution. Basically the idea was that government, the only thing more powerful than religions, would not take sides and favor any religion over another.

While reluctantly agreeing to that, the religions and churches are constantly straining against the limits of that agreement. With some success, on our coins, public prayers, religious advertising and sometimes special accommodations.

A seemingly general rule is also that religions cannot take away from individuals any of the rights given American citizens by the American government. Thus the notion that some of us have that a religious business operated in the public domain may not exempt it self from compliance of civil law. Even if the civil law is in conflict with the church's doctrine.

If somehow churches should gain that right, it should also be given to all citizens.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

There are no shortage of people who believe Mormons are not Christian and would love to make use of such a religious exemption to deny Latter-day Saints their right to operate in the public sphere.

The constitution is an imperfect instrument for distributing power. Sometimes the rules you may chafe under are the very rules that protect you.

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

Bountiful, UT

I can understand it is a slap in the face of conservative Catholics to force them to go out of their way to provide birth control. I don't understand why the compromise offered by Obama continues to be a problem.

They say if the insurance company pays for it, this money comes out of their pocket. While true, .. what is the point? Since when does an employer (or anyone) have control over money they pay out to other people. Once the money is paid out, it is that person's or organizations money to do with what they want. Don't many employees of Catholic organizations already use the money they earn to get their own birth control?

Catholics ought not try to dictate something like birth control to the wider population. I can understand them trying to influence the law and debate about abortion, because abortion is purposely taking the life of an innocent person. I applaud them in this effort. However birth control doesn't hurt anyone or take away anyones rights. It is an arbitrary religious rule.

Hank Pym

The alleged "war" is the result of blowback.

Religions (doesn't matter which) try to influence policy & then get called out by secular types. The result is for Religions to play the victim card.

There is no Amendment needed! Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli takes precedence IMO.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

Since there's such constitutional amendment will ever be passed, why was this article published? The relevant facts are these: the Constitution already has an amendment defining religious liberty. And nothing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violates it.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

Sorry, I messed up. I meant to say 'since NO such constitutional amendment will ever be passed.'

American Fork, UT

I made a good point in a post that didn't make it and that point is this: Religious people do some pretty nasty stuff as a choice of conscience. Either we have to keep the wings of religion clipped or religion is going to start doing some pretty crazy things. If this is the case, as a matter of conscience, me and my agenda are joining them.

Salt Lake City, UT

With the American public becoming less religious and also more religiously diverse, Historic Christianity's influence over public policy and the culture is waning. Governments are less likely grant religion special rights. I do, however, side with the catholics on the birth control issue. Obama was asking the Catholic Church to directly fund something it doctrinally opposes. Obama caved and is now wanting to have the insurance companies pay for the birch control. 3 problems - 1. The government does NOT have the authority to force a company to give away something for nothing. 2. The insurance companies will simply raise the monthly rates of those employed by the Catholics by a few dollars so that the cost of any birth control will be covered. 3. Even if 1 & 2 were wrong, the person receiving the birth control will be receiving it due to the Catholic Church employing them. By simply hiring the individual, the Church is promoting that individual's availibility to birth control. This is a clear violation of their religious freedom.

The special rights religion had be given in the past (prayer and Bible reading in the schools for example) rightly should be eliminated, but forcing a church to directly promote something that is contrary to its teachings is wrong.

Huntsville, UT

The religious are using their "conscience" to violate the rights of other American Citizens these days; what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Respect other people's rights and perhaps they'll respect your own in turn.

Huntsville, UT


Until and unless you are willing to put your own right to marry up to a popular vote, you have not business putting the right of Other Americans up to the vote. Otherwise, you bet your sweet patootie that it IS Tyranny Of The Majority.

Today, religion IS conducting a war against Secular Society; and our eyes are open, you will lose.

South Jordan, UT

What rights have men and women had to fight for since the time of Madison?? Voting rights, equal rights. Now the gay community are fighting for their rights. All men are created equal. Men ,women, Gay, straight, Black and white. All men. Why is it infringing on your rights but you dont give a hoot about the plight of Gay and lesbian peoples rights. HYPOCRITES. If you want to quote the constitution, then be ready to live by what it says.

Salt Lake City, UT

Religious oppression? News to me. Maybe I don't see what rights I'm losing when I've gone to mass every week this year and am reading my Lenten Devotional on school grounds.

Oh, and fyi... over half of catholic hospitals/universities already offer birth control in their insurance coverage. Churches are exempt as they should be but business entitites are subject to labor law. It's not like Catholic universities don't have to follow minimum wage laws. The health insurance mandate would fall under labor law.

Salt Lake City, UT

Beware of simple solutions to complex problems and beware the law of unintended consequences. I suppose, under the amendment that Mr. Smith is supporting, that anyone could claim constitutional protection for any religiously supported act, including female circumcision, polygamy, and even ritual human sacrifice. There are more religions in town than just one, you know.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "cjb" the "compromise" offered by Obama is nothing more than a shell game. While the University is not directly paying for contraception, they are paying indirectly for it because now the insurance companies will have to pay for it, and will increase the fees they charge places like the Catholic Universities and Hospitals to administer their insurance.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Why do the very same Conservatives - who tell us they love and chersih, and "defend" the Constitution,
are always the 1st one trampling it and trying to change it?

Balanced Budget Amendment?
Federal Marriage Amendment?
Re-Pealling the 14th Amendment?
Flag desecration Amendment? [Orrin Hatch]
Human Life Amendment? [Oriin Hatch, again]
School Prayer Amendment?
Protecting God in the Pledge and Motto Amendment?
Contunity of Governing Amendment? [Orrin Hatch, 3rd times the charm?]
Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment? {Orrin Hatch -- anyone see the trend?!]

Trying Living the Constitution,
and Please stop changing it to just suit YOUR defintion of life.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "LDS Liberal" it isn't trampling on the Constitution to ammend it. Just because you don't like it does not mean that it is wrong. You forget that they are following the letter of the law to make those changes.

Your liberal buddies are the ones who are destroying it through their unconstitutional laws and errosion of our freedoms.

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