Comments about ‘At BYU-Idaho, Elder Oaks calls LDS members, 'believers everywhere' to action as 'witnesses of God'’

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Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25 2014 4:00 p.m. MST

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Ft Thomas, KY

It is so good to see this kind of bold, courageous leadership. In this ever darkening world someone has to have the courage to stand up and say the truth . Thank you Elder Oaks!!

Salt Lake City, UT

"Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process." One either believes this or they do not; it is that simple really. Wheat and Tares.

American Fork, UT

The faithful also must unite "to insist upon our constitutional right to the free exercise of our religions". Amen, brother. By faithful you do mean those believers who have no problem with same sex marriage, correct? How about those that want sharia law? Or celebrate festivus? The shiite, sunni, sikh and scientologist alike? My observation has been that pronouncements like this one are never nearly as inclusive in intent as the rhetoric by which they are made portrays them to be, and lofty claims on freedom supposedly denied are by no means extended to all.
That's why freedom is a concept applicable to all people first and which must not be subrogated by the claims of any entity, collective or corporation, at least not without the intent of law. Somewhere before the practise of human sacrifice there is a limit in our society to what the free practise of religion is. That's the way it has to be.

Provo, UT


Like your name. Where did you get it?

Wheat and tares - can you expound on what you mean in context of Elder Oaks' talk? I think that he means that we are seeing a continuing slide in those who believe in God or any divine being and that Mormons and all people of faiths should hold steady to their beliefs.

I think the society will continue to believe less and less in a religion but will become more spiritual.

Salt Lake City, UT


As you can see with the quote cited, my comment was focused on the one statement by Elder Oaks. As you are aware, the Wheat and Tares is an imagery of separation between those that will follow God and those that will not. In the context of the quoted statement, this means that those who will allow "human reasoning to supersede divine influence" will be separated from those that continue to put "divine influence" first in their thought process and decision making. Obviously such a division is not future tense.

As for my name, I'm from the tribe of Dan.

Nanook of the North
Phoenix, AZ

Believers, he said, also "should use our political influence to resist current moves to banish from legislative and judicial lawmaking all actions based on religious convictions and motivations."
The fact is, the United States of America does NOT have a state religion. If a law or public policy doesn't have any good reason behind it other than "Some people think God wants us to do this" (or "not do this"), then it is NOT appropriate for America. Yes, every law and policy has a moral basis, but if it's not a moral basis that respects the rights of ALL Americans, and if it's not a moral basis that has a strong consensus among Americans, then it's a bad law or policy. Proposition 8 was shot down in the courts because all of the reasons put forward to defend it were either a) unsubstantiated, or b) based in religious beliefs that not all Americans share. Add to that previous rulings that marriage is a right, and the result was that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Period.

Yes, I AM an active and believing Latter-day Saint. But I think Elder Oaks is dead wrong here.

Centerville, UT

How many times in the past have "intellectuals" ignored the counsel of Apostles and Prophets and even subjected them to ridicule as foolish believers of an imaginary God only to be eventually proven wrong by all kinds of catastrophes including economic decline, drought, flooding, war, disease, and famine? Finally, after being humbled by these kinds of humbling events, men repent and pray to God for relief. Thank Heaven for inspired Apostles like Elder Oaks. We should follow his counsel, repent of our wrongdoings and ask God for forgiveness and mercy. We should pray and vote our conscience consistent with the commandments of God and reject evil practices that ultimately will bring the judgments of God upon our society, to put it nicely.

Salt Lake City, UT

Nanook of the North,

Elder Oaks was a lawyer, taught law at a prestigious law school and was a State Supreme Court Justice. I think he knows a thing or two about the legality and constitutionality of what he argues.

Provo, UT

If we are going to stick our necks out and go to the line, then religion must be more than words, ritual, and tradition.

Nanook of the North
Phoenix, AZ

Danite - Lawyers, law school professors, judges, AND Apostles have been known to be wrong before. I will continue to argue that Elder Oaks appears to be basing his views on a belief that America is somehow "a Christian nation". It is not. Start from an incorrect axiom, get incorrect conclusions.

Mesa, AZ

In the midst of the sensless noise thrown at us from all sides on a daily basis from every medium, it is good to hear Truth espoused. Thank you, Elder Oaks.

Dallas, TX

Nanook of the North-
I will do my best not to offend, but there was something you said that concerned me, and reminded me of people in the Book of Mormon. These people claimed to believe some truths, but failed to heed the voice of the prophets. In your own words you're an active believer of the faith. As an active believer, one shouldn't simply just pick and choose what commandment to follow. Laman and Lemuel both picked and chose what to follow, and disagreed with the prophets council from time to time. Soon they fell, along with their posterity. In fact they began to follow the ways of the world with no regard for any of Gods commandments. I'm guilty as well, but honestly ask yourself... How often do we take the time to do what Nephi did... Go to God and ask for direction with the things we don't agree with or understand to gain godly understanding? Instead we do more of what Laman and Lemuel did and just murmur and complain saying we don't understand or disagree with whomever is speaking. I know he is an apostle of The Lord.
Your friend

Provo, UT

I agree with everything Elder Oaks says here with regards to not being afraid to stand as a witness of God, but in so doing, does this mean to degrade and puff up against others who have opposing viewpoints? Too often we associate "standing as a witness" as if we are supposed to be a voice of opposition to the trends of the world, and that opposition turns to hatred and discrimination against those who don't fit the Christian or LDS standards. The problem is that too many people who try to stand as a witness of God are doing so without the love of God. You can't stand as a witness of God until you learn to show true Christ-like attributes of love, compassion, and empathy toward those with whom you witness.

Bob A. Bohey
Marlborough, MA

@Tumbleweed:"How many times in the past have "intellectuals" ignored the counsel of Apostles and Prophets and even subjected them to ridicule as foolish believers of an imaginary God only to be eventually proven wrong by all kinds of catastrophes including economic decline, drought, flooding, war, disease, and famine?"

Self proclaimed "Apostles" and "Prophets".

Harwich, MA

Anytime the subject of religion is bringing up the phrase "Absolute Truth" it's time to run for the hills. The two don't mix very well.

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

To expect a right of conscience, to expect a right to free exercise of religion, you must also expect to grant those to all others. Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and the many denominations of Christians (who regularly refer to each other as heretics, apostates, idolators, blasphemers and worse), are each and every one entitled to that same freedom of belief, right to worship, and to exercise their religion.

In such a diverse society, with such different views, dogmas, or lacks thereof, there really isn't a better approach than that of the United States Constitution, where the First Amendment prevents the government from endorsing any one sect over another or impairing the free practices of all. That very separation is the legal magic that makes true freedom of religion possible, and also has made the United States the most vibrant, religiously observant nation among all Western Nations.

To bewail the perceived increasing inability of the more powerful religious entities to influence secular law is to seek to sabotage the very foundation of religious liberty.

B Man
Orem, UT


Just a clarification. Prop 8 was never shot down by the Supreme Court. They did not rule on the merits of the case but merely sent it back to the circuit court because they stated that the organization defending the case (ProtectMarriage) did not have standing.

As of today, Prop 8 is still on the books as the law in California. The California attorney general has simply flouted his constitutional responsibility to defend the laws of his state and instructed county attorneys and clerks to ignore the law.

Those who claim to be active members of the Church but who believe that they know better than the apostles and prophets are on very slippery ground.

Midwest City, USA, OK

This is really interesting to me because it draws from something I've realized myself lately. Most of my life I've understood the constitution as guaranteeing "freedom to worship", but that is not the case; it guarantees the "free exercize" of religion. Indeed, people who criticize the use of religion in establishing law are themselves guilty of using their assumption that a given religion -isn't- true as equally biased grounding.

"Seperation of church and state" is not synonymous with "elimination of church from public", and it's this fallacy that people who oppose anything truly good hide behind in their naive pursuit to hide from their universal and divine responsibilities to their families, their communities, and their God.

And if someone's idea of "rights" means forcing people who own their own business to use that business and their labor for a cause contrary to both their unchangeable religious conviction and society at large, then that person should stop and think about the world from some point of view other than their own self-centered one.

Mapleton, UT

@Nanook of the North

Oh, but it is a Christian nation. As an active latter-day saint, you should be well acquainted with these scriptural words:

"I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose" (D&C 101:80)

Wilf 55

Elder Oaks' remarks are interesting in the American context, but would be incomprehensible in advanced Western democracies that carefully respect the separation of state and church. It is precisely the inappropriate demands of the "free exercise of religion" in spheres where it does not belong that makes religion suspicious and threatening to others. True democracies react negatively when a religion tries to impose its norms on the whole of society. Elder Oaks does not seem to realize that his remarks strike the wrong cord in the international context for the Mormon church.

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