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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Phoenix, AZ

There is no religious liberty because it is a war of propaganda with no basis for verification or accountability. Real issues like: the history of Mormonism from Monotheism to Cosmic Henotheism is swept under the rug and never debated for thought and choice of believe and religion liberty.

Silver Spring, MD

Yes, we do need a conversation about religious liberty, especially about such important issues as the campaigns in Congress and the states to divert public funds to religious private schools through vouchers or tax-code vouchers (which Utah voters twice defeated by landslide margins); the ongoing efforts to weaken women's religious freedom and rights of conscience on reproductive matters; and the increasing attempts to undermine the religious neutrality of our public schools. One excellent stimulus for discussion is Randall Balmer's book First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty, published in 2012 by Covenant Communications in American Fork, Utah. -- Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty


I couldn't agree with you more. Unfortunately, in my Ward, the paranoid talk doesn't just take place between Sunday School and Elders' Quorum meetings, it pervades our meetings too. I guess there's nothing like an outside perceived threat (even an imaginary one) to stir up and "unify" a group of authoritarian followers.

terra nova
Park City, UT

@Ultra Bob writes:

>The purpose of religion is to enslave the minds of men and women,<

Not so. The etymology of the word "religion" has the same root as ligament. Ligaments help your knee allow your leg to move as you walk. To call this "slavery" is gross misuse of the term. It is willing cooperation. Slavery is not. Religious ties enable people at different places in their lives and understanding to relate with and serve each other.

> the reason for religion is to garner the wealth and efforts of it's members<

Any group working together harnesses the wealth that efforts of its members. Just so, your foot assists your head in getting where it wants to go. One wonders how it assists you if it is in your mouth. But, to each his own.

>Success in the religion cause is counted in the number of members.<

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:24

The number of adherents is immaterial. Truth is what matters. One man and God is a majority.

terra nova
Park City, UT

Ultra Bob wrote:

>The American experiment of allowing all religions to believe and act as they wanted, worked well for churches in the beginning.<

No they didn't. Salem witch trails were not good. Driving the LDS people from the US wasn't good. The KKK was not good. The fact that a Catholic was not elected until 1961 was not particularly good.

>Populations were small and distances were great.<

As if this had anything to do with why things work or don't work. Please study history. Populations were small and distances were great when Genghis Kahn roamed the steppes too, but it doesn't raise the value of his pillage, rape and excess.

>However the American experiment of allowing people to believe and do as they please, is anti-theoretical to the purpose of religion and is demeaned through the propaganda of morality.<

Polish up your linguistic skills. Try "antithetical." But either way, your logic crashes with "propaganda of morality." If morality could somehow propagandize itself (it cannot), it begs questions about your own brand of morality (or the lack thereof) and the dime-store propaganda you press in your posts.

Saint George, UT

Joe Blow and others: To say or even imply that this is about someone being 'miffed' or 'paranoid' about religious freedom is quite ludicrous. This is about those who have watched on the sidelines as the athiests, the amoral, and the immoral have proudly moved out of the shadows. So, here are the self-evident truths: families are important, marriage is important, babies are welcome, education is dependent on knowledge of things as they were, are, and are to come, and that God exists and has THE plan of happiness. Remove God from the equation, anything is acceptable, hardly something I want for anyone,let alone my children. Those who believe otherwise have no rational basis for disagreement, for to disagree is to exercise faith in humanity, which doesn't have a very good record for civility. Actually, exercising 'faith' in anything is a non-sequitor. Without 'faith' in God, there is no purpose, other than surviving from day to day. To say you have purpose without God has no more validity than a an injured moose asking for civility to a hungry pack of wolves.

The Skeptical Chymist

@Steve C. Warren

At first I thought your comment was sarcastic. You comment about how in Utah county, religious freedom thrives. Then you go on to say that in exercising their religious freedom, the voters there have mandated that all businesses must close on Sunday. Does it not strike you as an odd use of language to claim that requiring a business to be closed on a particular day is an example of a thriving freedom? The voters certainly had plenty of freedom before this law was enacted - they could shop on Sunday or not. So did the businesses - they could stay open on Sunday or not. By passing this law, both the shoppers and the business have had their freedom reduced.

This strikes me as exemplary of the attitude that religious freedom is when one religion has the opportunity to impose its rules and regulations on everyone. It is a good example of Orwellian reversal, as in "Freedom is slavery".

Eagle Mountain, UT

One of the problems I am seeing from the religious commenters is that they do not realize that there are at least two kinds of morals. There are the morals that span a wide range of religious and secular belief, such as the golden rule. I'll call those kinds of morals "Ethics." The second kind of morals are imposed by a particular set of beliefs with no basis other than tradition, religious texts and the words of religious leaders, such as the Word of Wisdom. I'll call these morals "Standards."

With a secular government, such as we have, it is improper to expect the laws of the land to impose a particular religion's set of Standards, but it is reasonable to expect that Ethics be enforced. For example, it is not reasonable to expect the government to enforce the Jewish Standard of not eating shrimp, but it is reasonable for the government to have laws against murder. Some things, like abortion, are in a gray area so it is reasonable to be on both sides of the issue. Same-sex marriage is not in a gray area, it is clearly a moral Standard with no proven harm.

Lebanon, TN

@bandersen --

""families are important, marriage is important, babies are welcome, education is dependent on knowledge of things as they were, are, and are to come"

Yes, absolutely! And every single person who supports gay marriage would probably agree with you on every one of these points.

"Remove God from the equation, anything is acceptable"

This is absolutely NOT true.

"Those who believe otherwise have no rational basis for disagreement"

I would strongly advise you to do at least a little bit of reading in the field of Ethics before you make such an outlandish claim.

It is, indeed, very very possible to act from very practical moral/ethical systems that do not refer to God in any way.

Here's a few good moral philosophers for you to start with:

Socrates and Aristotle -- virtue ethics
John Rawls -- the social contract, justice as fairness, the liberty principle
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill -- utilitarianism/consequentialism -- doing that which produces desired results
Kant -- deontology, acting from duty, the good will

I hope these will help you in your search for greater moral understanding.

(And Thank God this country isn't a theocracy!)

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

"I am tolerant and anyone who diagrees is a bigot"

As soon as those who think there is no threat to religous liberty comprehend the duplicity of that statement - the sooner they will realize why they are viewed by many as being the consumate perpetrators


I am a pWithout 'faith' in God, there is no purpose, other than surviving from day to day

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

Mike in Cedar City
"The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but it also guarantees freedom from religion."

NO - it emphatically does not: It guarantees non-establishment and non-interference and freedom of speech - not one of those items gives anyone the right to silence, or be free from, religion - you can choose not to participate in any religion but you cannot be guaranteed freedom FROM religion any more than anyone can be guaranteed freedom FROM atheism or freedom FROM Judism, etc. They exist - deal with it: You don’t have to join but you do have to tolerate.

If you mean the freedom not to believe – that is an entirely different matter – yes; you have that

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

How ironic is it that those who have misused political correctness as a sledgehammer to get their way in the political sphere now cry fowl now that those they hammer, dare talk back.

Syracuse, UT

The purpose of religion is to free the minds of men and women.

Lane Myer
Salt Lake City, UT

Counter Intelligence

Explain to me about being free FROM religion is wrong when there are those who would like parts of Sharia law enforced in some parts of this country. If the majority of the people were to vote for that, do you think it would be constitutional?

Saint George, UT

contrarius: Thank you for validated my very point. What if I don't believe in Aristotle, Socrates, and your brand of religion ('ethics')? What is ethics without a bias toward 'ethical' thinking. Again, yours is a religion of relativism that has faith in 'ethics' as a foundation for something, I don't know what, but certainly isn't valuable to me. Hitler, Stalin, and Ghenghis Kahn had 'ethics' too (After all,in Hitler's case, the trains did arrive on time). Yours is the ethics that allows abortion, sex without restraint, only collective freedoms, and absolute government control, hardly 'ethical' in my mind. If you say that is a farce, how do you reason such? If there is no God, everything is acceptable. 'Ethics' is meaningless, just another word to strap your own version of morality on the backs of those who have a different idea. Give it up! If you are to stand by your position, then you must be consistent. How is your 'ethics' any different than anybody else's 'ethic's? Weak?

Lebanon, TN

@banderson --

"What if I don't believe in Aristotle, Socrates, and your brand of religion ('ethics')?"

You don't have to "believe" in them. Blind belief is anathema to rational thought, after all.

However, you would benefit greatly by **learning** from them.

That's the wonderful thing about rational thought. You can decide for yourself based on facts and logic, rather than having beliefs spoonfed to you. That's one of the things that distinguishes rational thought from religion.

"Yours is the ethics that allows abortion, sex without restraint, only collective freedoms, and absolute government control"

Don't assume that you know anything about my personal ethics. You know that old saw about making assumptions, right? ;-)

"How is your 'ethics' any different than anybody else's 'ethic's?"

You'll have to be much more specific before I can answer that question. But we can turn it around and ask -- how is your religion different than anybody else's religion?

There are many religions out there, and they often disagree on important issues -- including gay marriage. There are plenty of religious people who SUPPORT gay marriage. What would you say to them? Why should your God win over theirs?


@ banderson

I am a faithful person, but your comment "Without 'faith' in God, there is no purpose, other than surviving from day to day" is way over the top in my view.

I can imagine an atheist whose sole purpose is to make the world a better place for his children and grandchildren. What is wrong with that purpose? How is storing up riches or other benefits for oneself in heaven a better purpose than making the world a better place for one's grandchildren?

Richland, WA

The Attorney General of Washington is prosecuting a florist in my city who declined to take on the job of creating special floral arrangements for the same sex marriage of two gay men who were her customers for nine years. She does not hste Gay men but declines to have her name associated with a same sex marriage due to her religious convictions. The couple could easily get flower arrangements elsewhere but they decided they want to punish her for withholding her affection. What impirtant right is the Attorney General vindicating here? Has he ever prosecuted a tradesman who declined to participate in a Mormon wedding reception? This is religious persecution to force people to love gay marriage.

Reasonable Person
Layton, UT

Religion is not under attack.
HOWEVER, there is a large profit motive by corporate religions and right-wing media, in pretending that it is so.

Many in Utah disrespect others and call them "gentiles", but then come to us for money for your functions.

If religion was truly under attack, you'd all lose your gigantic tax-exempt status (which the rest of us taxpayers are forced to subsidize locally and federally). We subsidize your property, we subsidize your income, we subsidize your "nonprofit" status even though it's obvious that billions of dollars are available for the construction of huge shopping centers.

Please. Worship as you wish.
Just don't force anyone else to agree and PLEASE loosen the laws so that Jews can buy cars on Sunday.

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