Comments about ‘At UVU, Elder Oaks sees hope despite 'alarming' religious liberty trends’

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Published: Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:00 p.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

Religion is being marginalized to the point of ending up where it should be. No longer the automatic ruler of the roost.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

Any mention of notable atheists or secularists in the audience?

I didn't think so.

Until you reach across that aisle, believers are not serious about "religious freedom". You still fight for the rights of believers at the expense of non believers, which only perpetuates the hegemony of religion.

Mission Viejo, CA

Certainly Elder Oaks realizes that the First Amendment only protects you from censorship by the government. Yet, the cases he cites were all situations where others exercised their own free speech rights as well. In the case of Eich and Mozilla, the outcry came mostly from within the company and it was clear he would not be able to lead the company with this distraction. I wouldn't weep to much for him either. I'm sure he negotiated an excellent severance.

Even today, the National Organization for Marriage, who has an ongoing boycott on Starbucks, has called for a boycott on Mozilla. These are not infringements on First Amendment rights, these are examples of the First Amendment in all its glory.

Salt Lake City, UT

I believe in free and open dialogue in as many arenas as possible. I am all for freedom of expression of religious views and other views. People should not feel muzzled.

Unfortunately the muzzling of people happens all the time, and not just with regard to religious expression. When one goes to work for an employer, that employer often imposes restriction however informally on that employee. For example it's not a good idea to say the word "union" at Wal-Mart or Fedex. Various academic programs impose vicious orthodoxies on their students' expressions of view. There are many other examples. In general we have a hard time with free speech.

Heber City, UT

I respect and sustain Elder Oaks. I, too, am alarmed when people are gunned down for religious reasons by racist bigots, or kept from building mosques or are restricted from exercising their right to any type of religious speech (including Wicca or voodoo) under our divinely inspired Constitution.

Thank goodness my own religion has not experienced anything remotely close to that. A few buildings vandalized have not kept me from worshipping how, when and what I please. My church gets millions in tax breaks. An army of young people (including my own son) go door-to-door largely unmolested. Even the fundamentalist picketers are protected in this country. There is every reason for hope since the trends for religious liberty in the U.S. remain as positive as ever for Christians.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

It seems to me that our claim to religious liberty is weakened when our leaders are found in the White House supporting those who break the law AND the commandments.
Must we join in the amnesty campaign and support non-enforcement of existing law?


I can understand some of his frustration. However, people who are marginalized are going to make any legal arguments they can to advance their cause.

For example, when blacks were denied the Priesthood prior to 1978, it was not unreasonable for black to claim they were being discriminated against and that the practice was bigoted. Ultimately, society and the Church agreed and the policy was changed.

Now, gay people are asserting that criticism leveled at them is not based on anything factual but is rooting in bigotry. Time will tell whether the Church policy will continue to change on that front. I just don't think it is realistic to expect people to sit quietly being called sinners - sometimes with no evidence to support the assertion of sin.

Ref Geek
Cowley, WY

I find it deeply ironic that the example Elder Oaks gives of freedom of religion is the Prop 8 campaign in California. In that example, the LDS chuch and SOME of its members were exercising their freedom of religion and speech to prevent gay and lesbian couples from the ability to choose who they want to make a personal and legal committment to.

South Jordan, UT

I, for one, am grateful for this talk and Dallin Oakes' strong stand for the freedom of religious cause and liberty in this country as guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution! His concerns are mine with regards to the ill-treatment of supporters of Prop 8 in California.

Bountiful, UT

Elder Oaks'comment,"I believe that in time, with patience and goodwill, contending constitutional rights and conflicting personal values can be brought into mutually respectful accommodation," is something that all religious people can work toward to make this "mutually respectful accommodation" occur more rapidly than if we religious people are quiet.

Pleasant Grove, UT

Elder Oaks is confusing the non-existent government restriction on religious beliefs with public criticism of religious practice and belief. The latter is part of our freedom of speech, protected by the same First Amendment that provides for religious freedom. Few, if any, of us would want to live in a nation where it is illegal to criticize churches or religious beliefs. This includes criticism of churches that lobby for restrictions on the freedom of others or that push for legislation that forces religious beliefs on non-believers. If God is behind a religion, then it doesn't need the power of the state to enforce its beliefs. If not, then no amount of legislation will help it in the long run.

Springville, UT

I strongly disagree with the bunker mentality reflected by the speaker's comments. What he is more concerned with is the erosion of the interests of religious institutions. The rights of the individual have probably either not changed or are actually better. Freedom of religion does not mean unfettered rights of the institution. And I would say that the power, wealth and influence of the Church is greater now than ever, and there seems to be walls being built by the leadership to fight for the interests of the institution, which are often different than individual rights. In a church that claims to rely on common consent, that principle is never actually applied.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

If nonbelievers were to become the majority in America, nothing about our Constitution would need to be changed. It is already based in secular reasoning. All belief systems, including religious ones, would continue to have its protection.

If any one version of a religion were to take over the government, especially a version that purported to be "the one and only," how long do you think those protections would last? The believers would see it as a duty, even a kindness, to stifle other forms of belief.

So I maintain that it is the religious that pose the greatest threat to religious freedom. Our founders understood this, thus the language in the First Amendment. Elder Oaks fails to recognize that those fighting to maintain the proper boundaries are doing his religion a great favor.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

Do the uber-religious types ever get tired of playing the martyr complex?

Their Joseph McCarthy like quest is getting tiresome.

If they stop imaging the boogeyman is everywhere they might find things aren't so bad. Its not like the Spanish Inquisition... oh wait... sorry bad analogy.

Salt Lake City, UT

Elder Oakes gave good counsel:

"In this circumstance of contending religious rights and civil rights, all parties need to learn to live together in a community of goodwill, patience and understanding."

I hope our gay friends in the community will demonstrate goodwill, patience and understanding toward the straight point of view as many of us straights are trying to do for the concerns of the gay community. However, if gay citizens continue to call religious/straight folks "bigots", "inhuman", "selfish", "haters" and to disregard our concerns then you do your cause a diservice. Remember, to straight folks much in the gay life style is offensive. Consider the consequences when you gays imply that we are bad people because we disagree with your life style. If we were doing things in our life style which you perceived was harmful to you - you would be concerned too!

seattle, WA

The LDS church is against same sex marriage. No law forces anyone to get same sex married. The LDS leaders and followers give money to political campaigns to eradicate same sex marriage. No law says you may not do so. The LDS leaders assert that criticism of their stance against same sex marriage causes them and the Church harm as it labels them as purported "bigots". The LDS leaders are free to make this claim in a court of law, and ask for a variety of sanctions against those who label them so. Yet this has not been done. A man resigns his position as head of a private non-profit company when it is discovered he gave money to an anti-same sex marriage campaign (as well as to other far right wing politicians and causes). No government act compelled his resignation nor of his Board to accept it.

Just precisely where is the injury here? What does this Church want? Freedom to make the laws to their religious sensibilities? Freedom of religion and speech mean freedom for those views you may find abhorrent as well as those with which you agree.

Here, UT

@BYUalum says:

"I, for one, am grateful for this talk and Dallin Oakes' strong stand for the freedom of religious cause and liberty in this country as guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution! His concerns are mine with regards to the ill-treatment of supporters of Prop 8 in California."

Were you equally "concerned" about the religious freedom of the LGBT people and their churches that were infringed upon by Prop-8 preventing them from practicing their religious beliefs that SSM is not bad? No? Hypocrites were rejected by Jesus you know.

Values Voter

Meckofahess wrote:

"I hope our gay friends in the community will demonstrate goodwill, patience and understanding toward the straight point of view . . ."


"Remember, to straight folks much in the gay life style is offensive."

You seem to be mighty comfortable speaking for ALL straight folks. But do you? I'm afraid if you'll look around, events might have over-taken you. More and more straight folks I know simply don't make the assumptions about gay people you seem to make.

And what is a "gay life style" again?

Let it Go!
Omaha, NE

I agree with him on the point that religion is becoming more censored or condemned in our society. I think that is happening because people do not want to offend other people. They have to be "politically correct" in order to address everyone. But when they do that, they limit their testimonies of their faith and,even worse, start to not believe in it.
This is after all a country where we do have the right to say whatever we want. We do have the right to share our testimonies of the gospel, whatever religion we are in. The problem lies in people choosing to be offended. Should I be offended when someone says that Mormons hate gays? If that is what they believe, let them believe it, but tell them that is not the case.


I wish Elder Oaks had provided more explanation for his belief that freedom of speech is diminishing. The court cases in particular seem to rebut that belief. The courts have given ear to every argument that opponents of SSM have mustered, including religious arguments. What the courts have not done is *agree* with those arguments, but that is a far cry from restricting speech. The problem with religious arguments in courts is not that they are not allowed, it is that they offer little-to-no substance.

Let's try one example. Suppose that State enacts a law disallowing marriage between people of Race X and Race Y. A majority of the citizens of State believe the restriction is justified because their religion teaches that, in a prior existence, people of Race X were righteous and people of Race Y were not. These citizens believe god has commanded that the two races not mix. What should a court do with this belief? Should the belief matter in deciding whether the law violates civil rights? If the court rejects the belief, is that a violation of the freedom of religion? Or the freedom of speech? Clearly no.

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