Comments about ‘In our opinion: Banishing free exercise of religion from the public square’

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Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

As you no doubt know, Governor Brewer vetoed the Arizona measure. Had she signed that measure here is my understanding of what would have ensued (absent a court challenge):

If a person declared openly or to himself that any of the following violated his religion he could:

deny a motel room to anyone.
not hire anyone.
not sell something to anyone.
not provide a service to anyone.
not medically treat anyone.
not sell a prescription to anyone.
not provide insurance to anyone.
as a public employee not issue a driver's license to anyone.
as a police officer or fireman not render aid to anyone.
and do all of the above within the law simply by asserting religious freedom.

Do I apprehend this correctly? I may not fully understand the implications of the measure. If I don't please correct me.

Salt Lake City, UT

"The largest mystery is why so many people are falling prey to the siren song of the secularists."

Mystery? What mystery? There's no mystery. The secularists make a far better, a far more convincing argument.

For instance, look at this muddled mess of an editorial. Do you really think you are going to convince anybody except the true believers?

Salt Lake City, UT

Would it be oppression of the religious to get rid of Sharia law in a primarily Islamic nation?

Salt Lake City, Utah

"In all of these controversies, those motivated by religious convictions are being pressured to leave the public square — to put their religious convictions out of sight, sequestered from public debate about vital moral issues."

No - in all of these controversies, individuals are being told they cannot use their religious beliefs to deny rights and freedom to others.

You are free to practice your religion, you are free to discuss your religion, you are free to try to convert others to your religion - you have never been free to use your religion to harm others or force them to live according to your religious dictates. That is what the First Amendment protects.

Stephen Kent Ehat
Lindon, UT

PART 1 OF 2:

I've been waiting for someone who wants same-sex marriage to be the law everywhere to come to me and request that I write an appellate brief for them, supporting their view. Shouldn't I be required to do so? Just the day before yesterday I filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Tenth Circuit in the appeal from the decision of the federal district court in Oklahoma striking down that state's law defining marriage as a one-man, one-woman institution. I wrote:

"The injustice of the miscegenation statutes rejected by Loving [v. Virginia] is not at all the same type of injustice gay and lesbian couples face today. What gays and lesbians face today are lack of respect, lack of honor, and lack of recognition. They face discrimination against them for their lifestyle, they face hatred, they face unjust persecution, and whatever other forms of unfair treatment are unjustly foisted upon them. These should all be (and are being) rightly remedied.

Stephen Kent Ehat
Lindon, UT

PART 2 OF 2:

"But neither was the institution of marriage created nor does it exist to provide respect, to confer honor, or to provide recognition to anyone who enters into a marriage. The institution of marriage was neither designed nor intended by society to eliminate unjust discrimination, to combat hatred, or to remedy the results of persecution. While it is proper to argue that gays and lesbians, who indeed are deserving of respect and equal treatment in our civil laws, should enjoy all of the individual rights which the Constitution and the laws exist to protect, that is not sufficient reason to alter the institution of marriage."

I could have added that the institution of marriage does not exist to ensure dignity for any person or relationship. It's central, core goals are much more profound: to make sure as best as possible that each child have both a father and a mother, something that only a man-woman marriage can supply.

I might have spoken differently had the state forced me to advocate a different position on behalf of someone who demanded I do so.

Ogden, UT

Neither religion nor religious expression nor free exercise of religion has been banned from the public square. The only thing being contested is the right to impose religion on the public, contrary to the provisions of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

I don't recall the DN editors supporting the religous rights of Muslims seeking to build an Islamic Cultural Center in New York,


The Satanic Temple religion trying to erect a 7 foot statue of a Satanic Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that's often used as a symbol of the occult.

In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.

In America -- we are to be equal under the Law.

If you expect public access for your religious views,
you MUST allow that same "equal" access to those with different views.

Personally -- I'm good with it,
so long as we are all treated fairly and equal.

Far East USA, SC

"But our nation is ill-served when federal judges impose a definition of marriage — one that is not sanctioned by the Constitution — on states like Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Texas."

And what "definition of marriage" IS sanctioned by the Constitution?

Can someone point me to the section of the US Constitution that defines marriage?

I have long thought that the government should provide a legal framework for a contract between two people. How about we call it a "Union License" since people get all worked up about the term "marriage"

Then churches can choose to, or not choose to "marry" people.

NO church should ever be required to "marry" people, or be prohibited from it either.

So, while your church may not marry a homosexual couple, another church is free to. Why does a predominant religion get to define "marriage" for everyone?

How does that infringe on anyone?

Here, UT

States do not have the right to violate the Constitutional right to equal protection of citizens of the USA. Religion does not give you the right to discriminate against others in the public square.

Jesus said love thy neighbor, he never turned anyone away.

Stephen Daedalus
Arvada, CO

From the editorial: "But some of the controversy [in Arizona] is inspired by the fear that individuals and business owners will be required to respect a conception of the good with which they disagree. 'The prototypical scenario [the Arizona law] is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony.'"

This mischaracterizes the issues discussed. New Mexico has a statute that bars discrimination in public accommodations against certain protected classes -- photographers offering services to the public are one such business, and LGBT are one such class. Arizona has its own public accommodation statutes, but LGBT, unsurprisingly, are not included in the protected classes (race, age, gender) In other words, an AZ court simply could not come to the same conclusion that the NM court did (upholding fines imposed on photog by NM Human Rights Bureau).

The now-vetoed AZ bill created a loophole under the guise of "religious freedom" that effectively eliminated AZ's existing anti-discrimination laws (protecting race, age, gender, religion). Arizona's efforts actually seem to debase religion: state actors using "religion" as a profane weapon to achieve secular political objectives.

A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY

That First Amendment, that first entry of the Bill of Rights, begins with the "Establishment Clause." Here is the text of it:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" (This includes State and Local government, btw.)

As you see, there are two parts necessary to the establishment of Freedom of Religion. The second part is that government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. In order to make this possible, however, the first part prohibits the government from implementing religion in its laws. This is necessary. Failure to do so would be coercive and restrictive of the free exercise of other religions.

There can be no Freedom of Religion if the government supports one over another. In fact, there can be no Freedom of Conscience if the government endorses any religion at all. (For an example of early American theocratic experiment, see "Boston Martyrs.")

Matters of conscience and spiritual practice are matters for individuals, and for their churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, meetings, longhouses or other congregations. It is not a matter for the public square.

Sandy, UT

The problem with this bill is how can it be right or legal to discriminate against one group and not another. Repealing the civil rights act would have to be repealed because if you should have a right to discriminate against one group you should have the right to discriminate against anybody.

What if a photographer was asked to take pictures of an interracial marriage. Should this person be able to refuse because it is against their religion.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

The government's prohibition to legislate religion is the first part of the 1st Amendment. It was the first thought on the minds of our forefathers when they put absolute guarantees in the Constitution, fearing that corrupt politicians would turn and twist the limits placed on them by the people until some would think that rights come from government and not from God.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It is self-evident that God, not government gave us freedom. Government's purpose is to protect those rights.

There is nothing more fundamental in life than the right to NOT restrict conception. God is our Father. We are His children who have the sacred duty to never restrict His children from being born. If we engage in sex, we are inviting children into our lives. The religious doctrine of being a spirit son or daughter of God is fundamental.

It is government's duty to protect life and to promote life, not to prohibit it or to abort it.

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

At some point exercising one constitutional right will start to infringe on someones else's rights. We abridge free speech by banning someone shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, and we modify someone's "right" to smoke when others are subjected to their second had smoke.

These court cases are more nuanced than the editorial writer recognizes. We have every right to restrict free expression of religion when it starts to infringe on other people's rights to marry, gain access to healthcare, and to seek employment.

There is a big difference between one's right to practice religion and their "right" to impose their religious beliefs on others!

Bountiful, UT

People of religious faith often cannot see how freedom of religion in secular affairs can easily become anti-freedom for others (which is understandable).

Here's an example that might help religionists see how freedom of religion can easily turn into anti-freedom for others:

In some muslim sects, those who do not ascribe to the belief of Mohammed as the last prophet, and Allah as the one and only god, are viewed as "Infidels". As we saw 12 and half years ago, in some interpretations of Islam, it is desirable to destroy Infidels as a means to one's own salvation.

Is it an expression of religious freedom for extreme groups to begin preparing for what they see as an ultimate war of good vs evil by privately tracking information on others?

Would you rather see federal judges deciding that compilations of lists of "infidels" is a protected expression of religious freedom, or have them striking down bans on same sex marriage?

This is an extreme illustration for example, but at what point does freedom of religion in the public square begin to seriously erode the freedom and rights of others?

Eugene, OR

"...secularists insist that religious beliefs and viewpoints be made private."

No, they insist that "because God said so" isn't a valid reason to restrict the personal choices of others. There's a big difference.

clearfield, UT

Banishing religious freedom of speech from the public square. Regardless of the issue, that is what the secular left in America really wants. They want the religious people to go into a closet like the homosexuals once were. Or at most keep it in a church. But the only religion I know of that does not want its people to take part in public debate and exercise power in politics is the Jehovah Witnesses. Otherwise, all other citizens, religious or secular have the same standing to put forth views. Dangerous in a democracy to forget that. If anyone believes the United States of America is somehow immune to tyranny, you are very naive. Want to know when that tyranny has arrived? The first sign will be when there is no opposition debate to be heard. Many of you liberals see yourselves as being very tolerant. Are you really? From what I see in the news and read here, it doesn't seem like it.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Define "Religion".

You should not be imposing your religious beliefs on anybody else in the public square, but you should still live your religious beliefs (even in the public square).


IMO... Environmentalism is "Religion" for some people. It is their "religious belief".

So... you should not be imposing your Environmentalism beliefs upon others in the public square... legislating that everybody adopt YOUR level of radicalism on Environmentalism, etc.

The radical-left has no problem pushing and legislating that everybody adopt THEIR moral standards (Environmentalism, atheism, redefining marriage, and many other things the left pushes down our throats). Why not legislate other standards of Morality?? (I'm being felicitous of course)


Obama Worship is elevated to the level of "Religion" with some people. Should we prohibit any mention of Obama and their constant Obama worship from the public square?


LGBT community is trying to legislate THEIR version of "Morality" into law. Should that be banned?


Atheism is "Religion" to some.


It's not just Christian "Religion" that belongs in our life, but not in legislation.
The Left brings their morals to the public square and tries to legislate them all the time.

Eagle Mountain, UT

There is no such thing as an absolute right in our society. Our social contract with each in forming a government limits, to some extent, every right.

We have an inalienable right to life; but under some circumstances, we have determined that right can be forfeited and administer a death penalty.

We have a right to religion, and to practice it as we see fit; but we cannot infringe upon other's rights. I cannot claim my neighbor's property to be a sacred site and force him to forfeit his claim on his home. I cannot cause harm to another in the name of free exercise of religion.

Religious expression can only be protected, if all forms, to include the decision not to participate, are included. If my religion preaches against the consumption of alcohol, and my neighbor's includes alcohol in its rituals neither can expect the force of law to enforce what they deem to be acceptable.

We are still free to practice our religion, according to our conscience, as long as no to society, or another individual, can be shown in a court of law.

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