Comments about ‘Former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt tells UVU conference now is the time for discussion on religious liberty’

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Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 10:45 p.m. MDT

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Kaysville, UT

Honesty, Integrity and being true to your faith is important in our relationship with people and with governmental principles. This land had very few occupants and was only visited a couple of times by Europeans in the first 1500 years of our accounting. However, the people from Europe came here for a reason besides expansion of territorial rights and privileges. The Founding Fathers had a plan for our country and it was to have freedoms but also have the opportunity to have faith in God without state religions.

This last election on both sides practiced religious bigotry and a bias against a person because of religion. Some would rather have a person elected that would and has subverted what Constitutional Law in the United States of America means. The law and order of a country entails practicing the basic commandments of getting along together, sort of like the 10 commandments and have it with a separation of religion and government. That doesn't mean you have people without religion in government. There is no state religion but the principles of God have lived for millennia in people's lives that have freedoms. Despots don't like religion/scriptures in people's lives.

Salt Lake City, UT

I don't think people even know what FREEDOM means anymore.

All the politically correct silliness has desensitized Americans.

Castle Valley, Utah

"Religious freedom" mostly means freedom to discriminate. And the reason it's become such an issue is because religions are feeling the pressure to be more fair.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

My religion tells me to force everyone to live by a code that is 4,000 years old then I get angry when the so-called progressives want to live by a more up to date code. My religious freedom should be protected from belief more recent than 4,000 years.

Salt Lake City, UT

America is actually becoming the Britain we sailed away from and had to fight a bloody war on our own shores to liberate our people.

As they say, History repeats itself.

Saint Louis, MO

Gay marriage is only a smokescreen for a "hidden agena". As someone once said, "it all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is". Even as Mr. Clinton was elusive, there are forces at work to destroy religious differences. This is all about national socialism and the efforts to make everyone essentially equal. It is all about power and the redistribution of wealth on a world stage. It would appear that the family and the children which it protects are only in the way of a true world utopia.

Orem, UT

My comment above (second comment) has a typo. Should read:

Without morality as the base, we will LOSE our freedoms and nation.

Vince here
San Diego, CA

Historically, the loss of religious liberties has not been at the hands of gay groups. Other militant groups have created political influences whereby people could not and in some countries cannot observe their religious liberty.

Wherein are gay groups guilty of denying people to worship as they will?

The right to marry - has been taken by religious groups and no legislation has prevented religious organizations from marrying partners --- as an example, the Catholic Church deserves its right to marry whom they will. The Church marries, and further, places further stipulations on temple sealings. How are these rights taken away by the government or by any other way?

Bear in mind, further that marriages are state-sanctioned. If it were not so, ministers, clergy, priests, etc. would not say "By the power vested in me by the State of X, I declare you husband and wife..." The people obtain a marriage license through the state, not the Church.

That said, the religious component of marriage remains intact.

Parkesburg, PA

How ironic is it that those who have misused religion as a sledgehammer to get their way in the political sphere now cry fowl that society seeks to limit those rights.

Salt Lake City, UT

Losing your ability to use your personal system of magical beliefs, even if it's popular with your neighbors, to opress people who don't believe in your brand of magic, or in magic at all, is not a repression of your rights.

It's just the application of justice and a small dose of sanity.

When I listen to the ridiculous complaints among Christians that they're being represed, I can't help but think of Michael Palin and his famous, "Help help! I'm being repressed!" scene from Holy Grail.

Salt Lake City, UT

"if the Gay community insists on preemptive capture of religion's sacred sacraments and reduces them to secular license, it will be hard for the adherents of each commitment to co-exist."

Marriage is already a secular institution, that's what happened when the gov't got involved with it.

"Churches have been sued for not allowing gay weddings on their property."

Maybe that church shouldn't have registered that property as for public use with the tax benefits that entailed. Besides... that was New Jersey, a state without same-sex marriage.

Salt Lake City, UT

Is there any institution which is cut more slack than religion? Religious leaders are not questioned as to the rationality of thie views, moreover, religions get government services provided for FREE! I hardly think religious liberty is threatend.

Lebanon, TN

@JBQ --

"and the efforts to make everyone essentially equal. "

Wait -- I thought it was our US Constitution that did that. You know, "all men are created equal"?? Now the Constitution is supposed to be some sort of Vast Left Wing Conspiracy?? Really???

Sandy, UT

I agree that we should not use society to force our religious views on others. However, freedom has to be a two way street. There is no law which prevents a church from marrying two men or two women. (A polygamous marriage is illegal) Utah and (currently) the Federal Government simply do not recognize the gay marriage. Nothing is stopping a gay couple from living together or traveling to a state which allows for such unions.

My biggest concern with the gay marriage debate is that many people view "freedom" as getting what they want - even to the point of forcing other people to participate. I think that shrimp is the best food on the planet and I am a big fan of ham and cheese sandwiches. Do I have the right to require that all convenience stores sell shrimp and ham and cheese sandwiches - even if they are run by Muslims or Jews? Do I have the right to insist on a Jewish owned business be open on Saturday for my shopping convenience? Freedom would say I can by Shrimp on Saturday at any store that is open and sells such delicacies. Freedom is a two-way street.


@RBB- Suing someone, and actually winning that lawsuit, are two different things.
Specifically name cases that have been won by pro nets of gay marriage.

I can't think of any situation where a religious group was forced to perform a marriage, but there was the case in NJ where a Methodist group owned a boardwalk pavilion in Ocean Grove, NJ used in weddings who lost their tax exempt status for that property after refusing to allow a gay marriage to be performed there.

There is the current case in Washington ongoing of the state against a florist who refused to do wedding flowers for a same-sex marriage. An injunction has been filed and the florist would be required to pay $2,000 per violation.

There is a similar case in front of Oregon's Attorney General to potentially act against a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for similar reasons (both of these states have legalized gay marriage AND passed anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBT community).

All that said, church-houses and religious leaders, as far as I know, have never been forced to perform a marriage against their religious beliefs.

Steve C. Warren

It's good that this conference on religious freedom was held in Utah County, where religious freedom thrives. In Highland, for example, voters last fall exercised their religious freedom by mandating that all businesses must close on Sunday. And Utah County communities also exercise their religious freedom by beginning City Council meetings with prayer, usually of the Mormon variety. Those who don't like this practice are free to quit complaining about it, or, if it really bothers them, to move somewhere else. No one is stopping them. It's a free country.

Lebanon, TN

@WisCoug --

"a Methodist group owned a boardwalk pavilion in Ocean Grove, NJ used in weddings who lost their tax exempt status"

This one has been addressed already. The property was designated for **public** use. Legally, therefore, they had no right to discriminate.

"a florist who refused to do wedding flowers for a same-sex marriage."

Private businesses have not been legally allowed to discriminate since the days of the lunch counter sit-ins. This is nothing new.

"church-houses and religious leaders, as far as I know, have never been forced to perform a marriage against their religious beliefs."

RIght. "Religious freedom" means the right to practice your own religion WITHIN YOUR RELIGION. It does **not** mean imposing your religious beliefs on everyone around you.

Anti-discrimination laws have been around for decades. People are only upset now because anti-discrimination principles are being applied to a group of people that many would still like to discriminate against. Well, tough. Our US Constitution says NO discrimination -- and that applies, within the limits of the Constitution and federal and state laws, to EVERYONE -- whether you happen to like them or not.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

Perhaps such a discussion could start by defining the term "religious liberty."

Freedom of religion is certainly part of it but isn't freedom from religion important too?

Mike Leavitt may be surprised to discover that the voice of religion was softest after the American Revolution. Church membership hit an all time low in 1800. It is far higher today. In addition, the history of the Early Republic was one of the dismantling of established churches and curbing their power over government. Giving special exemptions to religious groups from obeying the law of the land was the furthest thing from the minds of those who wrote the Bill of Rights.

The tricky part of the Constitution is balancing all those rights we have voted ourselves. We can't talk about religious liberty in a vacuum.

St Louis, MO

It's hysterical to me that, after (presumably) reading an article that pointed out how the religious tend to act the victim frequently with very little reason, so many of you post to complain of being victimized. Yes, it's a secular plot to ruin religion. Of course it is.

To my chagrin, I find myself surrounded by family members who feel the same way. Whenever they start ranting gibberish about an assault on religous liberty -- typically using very rare, one-off examples to illustrate their point -- I hold my tongue as long as I can before asking, very camly "What exactly do you want to do that you're being prevented from doing?"

The answer is always "well, nothing right now . . but just you wait!" It's all theoretical, "slippery-slope" paranoia based on emotion and groupthink. But, hey, it makes for a rousing conversation between Sunday School and Elders' Quorum meetings, don't it? It sure makes for entertaining listening.

Eagle Mountain, UT

People often mistake morality with sexual chastity. The two are completely seperate ideas.

Religious freedom means I am just as free to practice your religion as I am to not practice your religion.

There is nothing to keep me from going to Church this Sunday with my family. There is nothing prohibiting me praying with them this evening. No one is forcing me into a same sex relationship, or to participate in an abortion. My religious rights are just as intact now as they were the day I was born.

The problem with using religion to encode law is, whose do we choose? My beliefs are just as sacred to me as an Islamists are to them, so why should mine be given priority before the law?

There are no absolute beliefs. If that were the case, I would expect to see hordes of people petitioning for Warren Jeffs' release, after all he was just doing what he felt God told him.

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