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Elder Oaks encourages U.S. citizens to exercise religious freedom

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    June 1, 2014 4:54 p.m.

    Use it or lose it, I guess. Well, 80% of Americans use it and we're still losing it anyway. The problem is people advocating most strongly for "religious freedom" don't really understand what that means. They want freedom for themselves, but not others. Yes, everyone should be free to practice whatever religion they choose (or none at all), providing they don't harm anyone else or infringe upon the rights of others. But with that comes the requirement that government not try to codify religious teachings into law and coerce other people into following them against their will. This is where free agency comes into play--a principle explained better in LDS doctrine than that of any other religion, yet of which Latter-Day Saints themselves seem to have a very poor understanding. This bitter irony isn't lost on me and continues to bewilder me as I encounter ever more Church members who don't seem to understand this vital principle.

    "Civilized society is held in place by obedience to the unenforceable. And it's religion that teaches people to obey the unenforceable." --Correct. But the unenforceable consists of much more than what Elder Oaks seems to realize.

  • Mr. Smitty Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    @OlderGreg: With respect to escalating PDA, You ask, "would the 'protected class' be permitted to carry on." Which protected class are you talking about? Heterosexuals? If so, the general public in Utah would allow a straight couple make out much more than if a gay people gave each other a quick lip to lip kiss. Given that televised gay kisses makes headline news should tell something about the extend of people's irrational objections.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    June 1, 2014 12:19 a.m.

    @Maudine
    the term is "carte blanche".

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    May 31, 2014 6:32 a.m.

    @Ranchhand

    If someone is blately homosexual and walks into your bakery it is blatantly obvious they are living in sin. Homosexuality is a sin.

    Yes, you are not supposed to judge but no judging is required! They are living in sin it is blatantly obvious they are walking around the town holding hands or whatever or they come up and tell you that they want to get married. Whether they or you accept it or not it really doesnt matter it is a sin and no judging is required.

    It also says to be in the world but not of the world. If I was running a bakery I would kick all sorts of people out of my bakery. People who are lewd, use profanity while in my bakery, or simply use God's name in vain. I
    let them back in once they cleaned up their act tho.

    A business has a right to religious freedom and acting upon religious beliefs as well.

  • Avenue Vernal, UT
    May 30, 2014 10:47 p.m.

    @Ranch

    No one should be coerced to do anything, unless as punishment for a crime. Having a religion and acting on the principles taught by its leaders is no crime at all.

  • ideasnstuff Orem, UT
    May 29, 2014 2:25 p.m.

    A serious question not intended to inflame: Could there be a legal distinction between a public accommodation and a creative service?

    The principle of free speech clearly affirms that nobody can stop me from saying what I want to say. But doesn't it also mean that nobody can make me say what I don't want to say?

    If I'm not mistaken, artistic expressions (including artfully created wedding cakes?) have been interpreted as "speech acts" or at least forms of expression. Can the law make one create art that expresses something they disagree with? Could there be a difference between refusing to sell a ready-made cake to someone from the freezer case (public accommodation) and a refusal to create a work that celebrates something you disagree with?

    I'm a translator. If a gay couple came to me and asked me to translate their wedding vows for a bilingual ceremony, I would be uncomfortable, in spite of no ill will towards them (truly). I now refuse other jobs that are against my moral principles, such as gambling and "adult" websites. Am I violating my duty as a public accommodation?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    May 29, 2014 1:19 p.m.

    To "Ranch" and "Frozen Fractals" so let me be clear, you are ok with gender discrimination as long as it favors women. You are also ok with racial discrimination as long as it favors a minority group. You are ok with businesses that discriminate against racial groups as long as they favor a minority group. You are ok with government discrimination as long as a minority group is favored.

    You do realize that you are doing exactly what you say you want to end. Just because you like the results of your discrimination does not make it right.

    Isn't one of the liberal mantras fairness and equality? How is it fair or equal treatment to give preferences to a group based on their gender, race, or other classification?

  • teeoh Anytown, KY
    May 29, 2014 1:02 p.m.

    On the one hand, you have a customer who experiences hurt and shame by not being viewed in the same light as other customers. He just wants equal treatment.

    On the other hand, you have a business owner who experiences distress and unease at being compelled to endorse (in his view) a rite that goes against his moral perspective. He just wants to be free to make a living in his own way.

    Both sides have legitimate pain and angst. Anyone who completely dismisses the other side is living in a bubble. Is the pain of rejection greater than the pain of coercion? Everyone has a different opinion on that.

    Which do you value more, equality or freedom? (It's the classic left/right battle.) We can never have complete equality or complete freedom. We struggle as a society to find the balance that satisfies most people. The tug-o-war continues.

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    May 29, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    In evaluating the discussion I see the same elements coming up that condense into the standards of the new age of thought. There is no truth, then there are no lies. There is no right, then there is no wrong. We are all right, but I am more right than you. Equality is on my terms. I want the right to lives as you even if I have to destroy your life to get it.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    @Redshirt
    "By mandating they serve you, does that change their biases?"

    Doubtful, but it helps preserve equal protections.

    "Are you going to protest the BET cable station because their programming does not cater to whites, hispanics, or asians?"

    But white people can still watch it. That'd be like protesting Panda Express because they didn't make the burrito you wanted to order.

    "Do you cringe when the government has Black Heritage Month, Pacific Islander Month, or any other month where the government emphasizes one minority group?"

    No, because symbolic gestures don't bother me and I don't see why they should.

    "Are you going to be going out and protesting the Negro College Fund, and all similar scholarships that discriminate against whites?"

    Did kinda bug me that one time someone who got a lower PSAT score than me got that one scholarship that's only available to black students... however, the point of these sorts of things is to try and make up for the inequality of opportunity in this nation, something that is a legitimate problem.

    I thought liberals were the ones always crying bias. You've got a grievance list.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 29, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    @Avenue;

    Is it really "slave labor" if I PAY the exact same amount that the provider charges everyone else? If you're need to be "coerced" into providing the service your business provides, you aren't a very good businessperson and really ought to find another line of work.

    You are wrong about businesses having the right to "refuse service to anyone". Check into public accomodation laws. The business must have a legitimate reason to refuse service; dislike of the customer or their sexual orientation is not a legitimate reason.

    @RedShirt;

    If a business serves women, fine, as long as they serve all women equally. Your comparisons are apples/oranges.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    May 29, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    @Avenue wrote: "While slaves don't get paid, they are forced to work and are threatened if they do not do so. This can include the threat of a fine, such as the fines imposed by activist judges when Christian business owners respectfully refuse to celebrate the abomination that is same-sex marriage."

    There is no "respectfully refuse" here. The businesses in were illegally refusing service of customers simply because they were gay or lesbian.

  • Avenue Vernal, UT
    May 29, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    @Understands Math

    While slaves don't get paid, they are forced to work and are threatened if they do not do so. This can include the threat of a fine, such as the fines imposed by activist judges when Christian business owners respectfully refuse to celebrate the abomination that is same-sex marriage.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    May 29, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    @Avenue wrote: "Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone."

    Does a business have a right to refuse service to a customer on account of the customer's race? No it does not.

    And in 20 states*, businesses do not have a right to refuse service to a customer on account of the customer's sexual orientation.

    *(Plus numerous individual cities and counties that protect LGBT rights when the state itself does not.)

    "Forcing a business to provide service to anyone is nothing less than slave labor."

    Slaves don't get paid.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    To "RanchHand" so having a bias is wrong for business.

    So, you are going to be joining liberals in protesting outside of the nearest LadyFitness protesting their gender discrimination?

    Are you going to be going out and protesting the Negro College Fund, and all similar scholarships that discriminate against whites?

    Are you going to protest the BET cable station because their programming does not cater to whites, hispanics, or asians?

    Do you cringe when the government has Black Heritage Month, Pacific Islander Month, or any other month where the government emphasizes one minority group?

    What about government procurement policies where minorities, women, and veterans are given preferrential treatment over all other people?

    Are you really concerned with discrimination against all people, or just your pet project groups?

  • Avenue Vernal, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    @RanchHand

    Slave labor - noun; labor that is coerced and inadequately rewarded, or the people who perform such labor.
    Coerce - verb; persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats.

    Last time I checked, slave labor was illegal in our country. Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone. Forcing a business to provide service to anyone is nothing less than slave labor.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 29, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    @ Paul in MD;

    Does it really make a difference whether the "sin" is obvious or not? Do you think that your god, who will judge you all in the end, is going to make an exception for the baker's bigotry because it was "obvious" to him that those he refused to do business were "sinners" instead of their "sin" not being so obvious?

    In many cases the repeat adulterer is quite obvious (Newt Gingrich's 2nd & 3rd marriages for example). Often the baker can tell the hetero couple is living together - but still bakes the cake.

    Why should an LGBT couple have to go from business to business to business to obtain the same service the business provides to everyone else.

    Finally, Paul, do you really think it is going to be less offensive to tell me "We don't serve your kind here" if you do it "politely"? Polite bigotry is still bigotry.

  • Paul in MD Montgomery Village, MD
    May 29, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    @Ranch gives some other examples where a baker might not display a conscientious objection to providing services, but I think the examples are not equivalent. In the case of SSM, the issue the baker objected to was publicly obvious. In the cases of a repeat adulterer or cheating couple, those are usually kept quite private, and unless a man walked in and asked for a wedding cake, but don't tell my wife because she doesn't know I'm dumping her yet, the baker would have no idea they are participating in something they find objectionable.

    So, the comments here make it plain that telling a SSM couple that I won't bake a cake for them but here are some other vendors who would be happy to serve them isn't an acceptable approach. How about this - I tell them I'll accept their business, but first I must confess that I have a personal objection to their event and may not be able to put my heart and soul into the work as I normally do. Just wondering.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 29, 2014 6:58 a.m.

    @Lermentov;

    Frankly, I read that scripture more as an indictment against those taking advantage of others (payday lenders, for example) rather than a condemnation of doing business with sinners.

    Jesus said that we should treat others the way we'd like to be treated in return. He gave it by way of commandment (Do unto...); if you're truly a follower of Jesus, you simply can not claim "religious conscience" as a valid reason to refuse to do business with LGBT couples. That is nothing more than a violation of Jesus' commandment to love thy neighbor and treat them well.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    May 28, 2014 9:29 p.m.

    @ Redshirt: Legislators in Mississippi passed a "religious freedom" law to get rid of the "regressive laws" that allow people to sue businesses for discrimination based on the business owners' religious beliefs.

    In response, several Mississippi business owners have decided to display signs stating, "We don't discriminate. If you're buying, we're selling."

    Now the group that pushed for the law is claiming discrimination - if consumers know which businesses don't discriminate based on religion, consumers might choose to seek out those businesses to do business with and thus discriminate against businesses that may be choosing to discriminate against LGBT customers.

    In other words, businesses should get to discriminate, but customers shouldn't get to know which businesses discriminate.

    And you will notice Oatmeal is all about his right to discriminate but terrified to be the recipient of return discrimination.

    Apparently those who like to discriminate want to be able to do so free of any repercussions - legal, social, or monetary.

  • Lermentov PROVO, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:27 p.m.

    Ranch: When you said, "There is NOT ONE scripture ANYWHERE that tells you to refuse to do business with those you consider "sinners". Not. One." I don't think you know you're scriptures too well. Since there is so little space here, I'll just put one up, but there are many:

    "And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

    And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise."

    Seems like a pretty strong scripture talking about not doing business with those that tread on one's personal sacred ground.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    May 28, 2014 4:49 p.m.

    "One is to insist upon their right to be heard in the public square." Hear hear! But what hierarchy is really wanting is religious preference rather than a preservation of their freedom.

    Oaks seems to suggest religious practice is not subject to government oversight because of religious rights. However US Government action over the years has affected religious groups (LDS Polygamy fight) and shows the US Govt reserves the right to counter exemption claims based on religious freedom to preserve the rights of others. In the South a similar religious freedom defense was used to fight desegregation and the Civil Rights movement and was overruled.

    LDS have complained about retaliation for Prop 8 against LDS business/people... boycotts, confrontation and the like but these same people demand it's their right to verbally condemn actions of others they consider immoral. They want to avoid the consequences of their actions & silence those critical of their chosen morality. They don't want equality under the law but special treatment.

    LDS leadership forgets Freedom of Religion means people are free to believe in no religion or deity at all and are wrong to think that only religion can produce moral law-abiding people.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 28, 2014 4:31 p.m.

    To "Frozen Fractals" I say we get rid of the regressive laws that people use to sue businesses in an effort to force those bussinesses to serve them. If somebody wants to be a bigot, let them. If their community supports them, then you know right away what type of community you live in. The same can be said if the business is shunned and has few customers.

    Why force people to think a certain way? By mandating they serve you, does that change their biases?

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 28, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    How curious and interestingly coincidental that Sen Hatch is now vowing to put into play a Constitutional Amendment regarding the free exercise of religion. This further politicizes the notion that religious people (and in this case the dominant Christian fundamentalists) feel put upon because the majority of the population do not buy into their anti-gay and anti-choice agendas.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    @Redshirt
    "You see, discrimination can be a tool used for good just as it can be used for evil."

    Your point is clear. However, that doesn't change the core argument which is that your side believes that discrimination against LGBT people is good and my side thinks that it's evil.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    @Oatmeal
    "It runs against my religious beliefs and conscience to use my creative gifts in any way that essentially endorses SSM.
    ...
    We all often talk of tolerance, the Golden Rule and that we should accept that fact that other people have rights, so "live and let live." I do not see this tolerance of religious belief from the Gay Rights movement."

    But you just said one paragraph earlier that you don't tolerate taking pictures of same-sex marriages.

    @OlderGreg
    PDA isn't a "protected class".

    @LibertyForAll
    "How are we to teach our children that Hedonism is wrong,"

    Anna, Jimmy, get over here, I need to talk to you about something...

    Incidentally, nobody is born a bigot, that's something that's learned.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 28, 2014 2:05 p.m.

    @RanchHand and @Wraith

    Despite the fact that I tend to lean in the direction of freedom and markets, I am more convinced by your comments than I am my thought experiment. Thanks for the enlightening discussion.

    And even though I believe religion has as much tendency to poison our minds as enlighten them, I sympathize with true believers (vs. bigotry masquerading as religious conviction) on this issue. I would only suggest that the Bible is not nearly as conclusive on two gay adults in a committed relationship as some of the talking heads on the Religious Right would lead you to believe.

    Contrary to a previous posts, the Lord (which is Jesus for most of you) never said one word about homosexuality. But he said a whole lot about love…

    @RedWings – “The only "religion" preached in public schools is atheism.”

    That’s quite a scary (fantasy) world… hope you have a strong fighter, a wise cleric, and a powerful magic user in your party and roll lots of 19’s & 20’s.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 28, 2014 1:31 p.m.

    @patriot 12:54 p.m. May 28, 2014

    go ahead and just try to exercise "religious freedom" and watch yourself end up on the IRS - Obama - audit list.

    ------------------

    Sorry. That comment is not accurate.

    I am a person of strong and enduring faith (I'm LDS, having converted to the faith as an adult), and have been a person of faith all of my life. I NEVER have any problem exercising "religious freedom" in my life (except, of course, for the treatment I endured when my family discovered I had converted -- I am one of the people who were disowned by my family because of my conversion, beliefs and religion). I believe as I choose, worship as I choose, live in accordance with my faith as I choose, and discuss my beliefs as I choose (among other manifsetationsof my faith). I have never been put on anybody's "audit list" as a result.

    The only thing I don't try to do is impose my faith and practices on anyone else. I believe too strongly in the concept of free agency to do that.

  • pbunny Salt Lake, UT
    May 28, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    Dear Liberty For All, you are right. No one thinks about the poor little children in all of this. Business owners have rights to determine what to expose their children to. Their families go to church do their best to follow the teachings and laws of their prophets. They learn the difference between what is right and what is horribly wrong and sinful. We teach our children to be kind to those women who show their faces in public but we teach our children that it is sinful for a woman to show her face. Then they are forced to go against their 1st Amendment freedoms and serve and encourage these women who brazenly show their faces in public, to violate their conscience and pretend the law can make something moral that the Lord has said "Not So!" We cannot expose our little children with impressionable young minds to sinful displays of immorality and immodesty and teach them that these behaviors are acceptable. Children should not learn a double standard, that what the Lord says only applies to people in our religion. How are we to teach our children that immorality is wrong, if our government violates religious freedom?

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 28, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    RedShirt says:

    "You see, discrimination can be a tool used for good just as it can be used for evil. How do you choose to use your ability to discriminate?"

    None of the examples you mention include harming other people in the application of that "good discrmination" you're fond of. Fighting the marriages of LGBT couples actually does do harm, Red. Actual harm: financial, legal, mental, emotional. For no good reason other than your relgious prejudices. That discrimination is called "bigotry" and it is the "evil" kind you also mention.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 28, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    RedShirt

    I see what you are saying, but it is much different then a business discriminating against an individual. That is the big difference. You can (do) have an individual bias, but a business cannot. A business cannot discriminate against a person because of their color, race, religion, or sexual preference. If I opened a business and refused to serve mormons because I believe they are not of god, then I would probably be prosecuted to some extent, especially in Utah. At the end of the day, a bakery bakes cakes. Baking a cake in a same sex marriage wedding is not supporting same sex marriage. It is providing a basic service - baking - for a consumer - a person. People want to use their businesses as a format to show others what they believe. It is the wrong format and place to do that.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    To "Brahmabull" I am not comparing a sex offender to same sex marriage. I am saying that we all discriminate every day, we just don't call it discrimination. That is the only point I was making. You are reading far more into it than I wrote or intended.

    Lets again, show how you discriminate against other people, and how it is actually ok to do so. Think about your spouse or significant other. Now, what is the trait or traits that attracted you to that person the most. Now, think of a person who is similar but lacks the trait or traits that you like about your spouse or significant other. Congratulations, you discriminated against somebody because of a bias or prejudice that you have.

    You see, discrimination can be a tool used for good just as it can be used for evil. How do you choose to use your ability to discriminate?

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    go ahead and just try to exercise "religious freedom" and watch yourself end up on the IRS - Obama - audit list.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:47 p.m.

    @Tyler D;

    While I agree with your comment to a degree, there is a problem with that type of "just let it slide - for now" attitude.

    What about the small town with only one bakery? Should the couple have to drive to the next town to get the same service that any other townsman would get? That creates a hardship on the one being discriminated against.

    Why should we meekly go from baker to baker to baker until we find one willing to provide the service they happily provide for everyone else? These businesses don't post signs "We Discriminate on Religious Grounds"; how are we to know they're bigots until they actually create emotional harm? Have you ever had to go into a business and be told "We don't serve 'your kind' here"?

    @Oatmeal;

    Jesus said: "You reap what you sow". There's another word for it: 'Karma'. I don't think being a bigot is going to get you through heaven's gate.

  • suhein Farmington, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    Uh... RedShirt, I've read Wraith's comments several times no and not one time did he imply that all white people are racist. Nor does his argument rely on that assumption. He simply pointed out that if discrimination were allowed Jim Crow era laws would resurface. I'm pretty sure that is a FAR cry from saying all white people are racist. Just like all heterosexuals are not bigoted against homosexuals, just some of them are. And they should not have the right to discriminate against them either. You will do better with your rebuttals if you don't clearly and obviously put words in peoples mouths.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    May 28, 2014 12:30 p.m.

    @ RedWings:
    You wrote:
    "Discussion of religion is vehemently excluded from the classroom. The only "religion" preached in public schools is atheism."

    I work in education for the last 20 years and I can say that we do not promote any religion. However, not to promote a single religion is does not mean we promote atheism. On the contrary, because we value our children and their experiences we encourage them to share and explain their beliefs.

    In science we teach evolution, because is what we know and have evidence. However, every so often we have students who present Creationism as part of their set of beliefs. We listen and discuss that as a class. Of course, the class will be tested in evolution.

    Social Science a/o Philosophy classes are excelent arenas where religion and other current of opinions are openly discussed and exchange of ideas is heavily promoted.

    I just wanted to clarify a false notion that is taken root in many people's minds. In most school we have teachers who practice a religion, others do not practice but have some belief in divinity, some agnostics,others are Atheist. All equally noble ideas.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 28, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    RedShirt

    Comparing a sex offender to same-sex marriage is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard on these comment boards. Obviously one involves harming a minor or a child against their will, or another adult against their will and it is a crime. Two individuals of legal age who choose to engage in intimate relations is quite a different story. If you can't see the difference in the two, then I doubt anybody can help you understand it.

  • equal protection Cedar, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:19 p.m.

    “Many believe what their ministers and scriptures tell them: that a marriage is a sacrament instituted between God and a man and a woman for society’s benefit. They may be confused —even angry—when a decision such as this one seems to call into question that view. These concerns are understandable and deserve an answer. Religious beliefs and societal traditions are vital to society. Each faith, minister, and individual can define marriage for themselves, at issue here are laws that act outside that protected sphere. Once the government defines marriage and attaches benefits to that definition, it must do so constitutionally. It cannot impose a traditional or faith-based limitation upon a public right without a sufficient justification for it. Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law, does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons. The beauty of our Constitution is that it accommodates our individual faith’s definition of marriage while preventing the government from unlawfully treating us differently. This is hardly surprising since it was written by people who came to America to find both freedom of religion and freedom from it.”. Heyburn

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    @RedWings
    "10 years ago, kids 8 years and up were being taught that homosexuality was OK in the schools."

    Classic rights in conflict. RedWings is asserting the religious position that homosexuality should not be "OK" and that it is a voluntary deviant behavior. Homosexuals argue that they are merely demanding the right to be themselves. I vote for the gays. Religion (some) cannot comprehend them.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 28, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    OlderGreg

    Your thinking is that you think that a photographer at a same sex wedding is somehow participating in the sin? Wow. The photographer is taking pictures, not jumping into bed with them. And no, I don't really agree with same sex marriage, but I also do not oppose it as it does not affect me personally. very odd way of thinking.

  • Kally Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 12:04 p.m.

    @ Liberty: There are a great many things that are legal that violate dictates of your religion. How do you teach your children those things are wrong?

    Why, if you are able to teach your children a belief in modesty of dress, celibacy until marriage, no drinking coffee or alcohol, and no smoking (amongst many other things), are you unable to teach your children to engage in only heterosexual marriage?

    Your children, unless they never leave the house and you closely watch and edit what they watch and listen to, are exposed to all kinds of foul language, sexual innuendo, and other negative behaviors. Do you not teach them those things are wrong?

    I, personally, am a very capable parent and am well able to teach my child what is expected and acceptable. I do not need to pass laws forcing my beliefs on society for fear my child will be exposed to something with which I disagree.

    I find it so odd that those who scream loudest against the "PC" movement and government intrusion into their lives are so adamant that the government parent their children for them.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    To "Church member" actually, we can and do discriminate every day. Would you hire somebody who is on the sex offender registry to babysit your kids for an evening? If you wouldn't hire them, then you are discriminating.

    To "The Wraith" the problem with your argument is that it assumes that all whites are racist. Most whites are not racist. Most business owners are not racist either, they know that if they put up signs saying "Whites Only" that their business would be gone as soon as their money ran out. As for wedding cake decorators and photographers, outside of vengance, why would you sue to force somebody to provide that service? Do you think that if you threaten to sue somebody that they will do their best work for you?

    We need to get rid of some of the equal rights laws because they have gone from allowing equal access to goods and services to a tool to be used to take revenge and force others to do your bidding.

  • RedWings CLEARFIELD, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    JoeBlow: "However, the term "public square" means something very different when we talk about religion. Public square now includes school classrooms and auditoriums. Students are captive audiences. They are not free to walk on by."

    You are correct with this statement, except in the fact that it is not religion that is holding the captive audiences. Discussion of religion is vehemently excluded from the classroom. The only "religion" preached in public schools is atheism.

    Any wonder why the tide of popular opinion has swung in favor of SSM? 10 years ago, kids 8 years and up were being taught that homosexuality was OK in the schools. Now they are of voting age. Public schools are nothing more than indoctrination centers for the atheist and secular lifestyle and belief system.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    May 28, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    @ Liberty for All:
    You wrote:
    "We cannot expose our little children with impressionable young minds to sinful displays of immoral affection and teach them that these behaviors are acceptable."

    As LGBT parents we are fighting sinful displays of immorality against our children everyday. We fight the immorality of discrimination and oral violence against our families. Yet, as parents we teach our children to understand the limitations and forgive the actions of people who "feel" our families are wrong.

    I disagree with Elder Oaks and his claim that "One is to insist upon their right to be heard in the public square,"
    I would say everybody should have a right "to speak in the public square" contrary to demand "to be heard" which is an imposition on other people. Therefore is a violation of their rights.

    I also fear that the term "heard" may imply acquiescence and compliance on the part of the listeners. That wouldn't be religious freedom but religious dictatorship i.e. Iran, Taliban, Inquisition, and many, many others.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    The logician Michael Oakshott made the point that if we extend any two rights far enough, they will collide. The right of religious practice is no different. Extended sufficiently far it will collide with other rights. The right of religious practice is NOT absolute. Many European countries face this with Islamic law.

  • 1978 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 11:09 a.m.

    Businesses do not have the right to exclude serving people based on identity.

    Businesses do have a right to not participate in an event they disagree with.

    This is called the first ammendment. Should that be thrown away because of P.C.?

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    I respect Elder Oaks opinion.

    However...

    I have not experienced any of the problems he has identified.

    One reason I have not experienced any of the problems he has identified is that I don't insist on my right to be heard in the public square...or anywhere else for that matter.

    Insisting has a my way or the highway ring to it...which usually ends discussion

    BTW...

    Perhaps... it would help move this discussion forward if someone (for example: Elder Oaks) defined exactly what was meant by public square.

  • Liberty For All Cedar, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    No one thinks about the poor helpless little children in all of this. Business owners have rights to determine what to expose their children to. Their families go to church each Sunday and to their best to follow the Proclamation to the world, listen to their profits, seerers and revelators. They learn the difference between what is right and what is horribly wrong and sinful. We teach our children to be kind to those who have committed horrific sins and may struggle with same-sex attraction. We teach our children to believe in the natural family and that every child needs a mother and father. Then they are forced to go against their 1st Amendment freedoms and serve and encourage these people, to violate their conscience and pretend the law can make something moral that the Lord has said "Not So!" We cannot expose our little children with impressionable young minds to sinful displays of immoral affection and teach them that these behaviors are acceptable. Children should not learn a double standard, that what the Lord says only applies on Sunday. How are we to teach our children that Hedonism is wrong, if our government violates religious freedom?

  • Kally Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    @ Oatmeal: "If this hits the internet, gay activists would support a boycott of my small business.

    We all often talk of tolerance, the Golden Rule and that we should accept that fact that other people have rights, so "live and let live." I do not see this tolerance of religious belief from the Gay Rights movement."

    So, you have a religious belief that you feel should protect you from doing business that supports same-sex marriages, but you object to people having a religious belief that protects them from doing business with businesses that don't support same-sex marriage?

    If you truly believe "live and let live" meets the definition you put out there, publicize your business name and let us make the same determination to not do business with you as you are making to not do business with couples that tell you they are gay.

    @ OlderGreg: If a business has a universally enforced rule against PDAs, that rule will apply universally to everyone - gay or straight. However, if a business has a rule that targets some couples but not other couples, that rule is discriminatory. It is actually a very easy determination and not rocket science.

  • pbunny Salt Lake, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    Dear Oatmeal, do you photograph remarriages? Because, as I'm sure you know, those marriages are explicitly condemned by Jesus as adulterous. Or is it just the gay people whose marriages are beneath you? If your deeply held religious beliefs are really the issue, I guess you won't photograph any weddings that could be considered sinful. If your bigotry against gay people is really the issue, I guess you just won't photograph their weddings. Which is it?

  • Susan in VA Alexandria, VA
    May 28, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    Until the 1950s it was illegal for Mormons to be in the city(where I live)after dark. Essentially discrimination against LGBT is the same thing. Look at the way Mormons have been discriminated against in our history.... and so much of it was because of so called Religious freedom. We are repeating history ... only with a different name attached. AND, this time WE are doing it. Shame on us as a Church. I wonder how Heavenly Father and Jesus are feeling about our behavior?

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    @OlderGreg

    I would not view PDA in a public place between a homosexual couple any different than I would between a heterosexual couple. I sense in your post a personal belief that homosexual couples are going to come into my theoretical restaurant and start groping and stripping as if this is all they do. Have you never been around homosexuals? They act exactly like the rest of us. I've seen many a display between straight people that I thought was inappropriate. My wife and I have been out with our gay friends many a time and guess what, we sat down and ate a meal together! Or went to a movie where they held hands. Really the PDA thing is one of the silliest arguments I've heard in a long time.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    @Macfarran 8:00 a.m. May 28, 2014

    The cases concerning the wedding cake, etc., have nothing to do with religious freedom. When these people went into business, they had to obtain a business license. In order to get a business license, they had to affirmatively agree to follow and abide by all of the laws in existence, or to come into existence, concerning the operation of a business. Once of those laws, which they had agreed to follow, prohibited denial of services based on sexual orientation. I understand that the cncept of SSM is against their religion. However, they willingly make weeding cakes, or provide other wedding services, for people who commit a multitude of actions which are against their religion. The law does not allow them to discriminate against one sinner/sin when they provide services to other sinners/sins.

    When they refused to provide products for SSMs, they broke the laws against denial of service for discriminatory reasons they had AGREED to obey. THAT is the basis for the actions against them, and it has nothing to do with religion.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 28, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    At least we are having an honest discussion of concrete matters about what the gentleman intends.

    My question is thus: Person A does not believe that same sex person B & C should legally wed. Person A is not obligated to marry someone of his/her gender, but the law allows that B & C can legally marry. Person A is allowed to have his religious belief, and the government does not censor any speech he may utter that only opposite sex couples should marry. Person A is allowed to educate his children, proselytize non-adherents of his religion, and even protest the fact that Persons B & C can be legally married. Just where is the injustice to Person A? That Person A might have to sell his/her goods and services to Person B & C, is not a violation of religious freedom. If Person A lives in a state or city that defines discrimination in public accommodation to include sexual orientation (in addition to race, sex, age, disability, etc), he/she is obligated to provide that service. Until the specter of gay tolerance appeared, no one ever argued about the public accommodation laws where they have been implemented.

  • riverofsun St.George, Utah
    May 28, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    Such a panic lately.
    Those who have chosen a religious denomination, participate.
    Those who wish to recreate on Sunday, recreate.
    Those who get all upset when one or the other does these things, mind your own business.
    Remember our Constitution provides freedom and equal rights for all.

  • cval Hyde Park, UT
    May 28, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    @Ranch: There is NOT ONE scripture ANYWHERE that tells you to refuse to do business with those you consider "sinners". Not. One.

    It's just plain old fashioned bigotry to refuse to serve an LGBT couple pure and simple.

    In some cases you are correct Ranch... But in many cases, it is not about the wedding cake, but about creating a spectacle, and drawing a business owner into a battle that they would never choose to be in... Making them a pawn in someone else's agenda.

    Those with an agenda are often not satisfied unless they force everyone to take a position relative to their agenda. They just don't want to be used as a pawn. You are always talking about live and let live, but if a business person tries to stay out of the battle, you want to force them to take sides, or destroy their business.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    May 28, 2014 9:47 a.m.

    I think Oatmeal has it. There is a difference between serving/loving someone who is a sinner as opposed to endorsing/ celebrating/ participating in the sin.

    I cannot but help to wonder how Wraith would respond to escalating PDA (public display of affection) by anyone in a family restaurant. Would the "protected class" be permitted to carry on?

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 28, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    Sadly Tyler history shows that the businesses who discriminated would do just fine. They would also serve to legitimize discrimination and segregation. As was shown in the case of Brown vs. Board simply separating two groups caused inequality. In fact Black children who were subject to segregation were shown to prefer to play with white dolls rather than dolls with a skin color similar to their own. Allowing businesses to discriminate would do harm to those who were discriminated against. Allowing businesses to discriminate would return the country to the era of Jim Crow laws. Do you doubt for a second that if was made legal that there would be businesses across the country who would become "whites only" again? I do not want to live in such a society and neither should you or anyone else.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 28, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    "I explain my situation to the couple, and politely turn down their proposal that I photograph their wedding. I suggest other photographers that do photograph SSM ceremonies. "

    You know, I think that done the way you explained, very few would take exception. However, one would have to believe that those who deny services to SS couples are typically much more abrupt, probably scornful and possibly hateful.

    You paint a rosy picture that is most likely not close to the norm.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 28, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    I insist, then, that the Satanists get to build their monument in the park, that druids be allowed to etch their directives in granite at the courthouse, and the church of Beyonce gets to lead prayers before a city council every now and again. Freedom of religion was way easier when religion could silence any and all it considered undesireable. Now, either the tent has room for everyone or the concept really isn't being endorsed. Everyone.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 28, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    Then you need to close your business Oatmeal. What you are doing is no different than saying that it goes against your religious beliefs and conscience to use your creative gifts in any way that essentially endorses inter-racial marriage. If you are unable to serve the public then you should not be operating a public business.

    When it became against the law to discriminate based on race there were a great many business owners who closed down because they could no longer serve "whites only". You may disagree that homosexuals should be a protected class but it won't matter. Many states already have laws on the books recognizing LGBT as a protected class and those laws will soon be national. At that point you will no longer have the right to discriminate against them. So, either close your business or treat all members of the public equally.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 28, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    @rushc – “The trend in thinking by many that religious freedoms are a lesser right than other constitutional rights, or perceived rights.”

    It’s all a matter of perspective – if the history of your country and indeed your entire civilization going back thousands of years has been one where your religious views have been dominant and have in fact received special treatment by governments (beyond what even the Constitution allows), then any diminishment of these privileges will, from the point of view of the religious person, look like you now have less rights.

    But the truth is your rights are simply being given equal status (to compete in the marketplace of ideas) as everyone else (i.e., the Constitution has never allowed religion to be an excuse for violating the law).

    @Ranch and @Wraith

    I sometimes think we should just let people discriminate and pay whatever price for that discrimination the market will dole out (i.e., I have little doubt they would be less profitable than those business’ that don’t discriminate).

    Otherwise, aren’t we simply feeding their paranoid persecution complex even more?

    Just a thought…

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    It runs against my religious beliefs and conscience to use my creative gifts in any way that essentially endorses SSM. I explain my situation to the couple, and politely turn down their proposal that I photograph their wedding. I suggest other photographers that do photograph SSM ceremonies. In some states what I have done is against the law. If this hits the internet, gay activists would support a boycott of my small business.

    We all often talk of tolerance, the Golden Rule and that we should accept that fact that other people have rights, so "live and let live." I do not see this tolerance of religious belief from the Gay Rights movement. Elder Oaks' comments are spot on. Freedom of religion is freedom of conscience, and it applies to all. Without freedom of conscience, all other freedoms are meaningless.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    As noted by others, it cuts both ways. I know of no real opposition to freedom of religion or expression except by those who want only their views to prevail.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    @Macfarren

    'Civil rights' do not include the right to force someone to make a wedding cake for you

    Actually that's exactly what it means. The only part of the equation that is changing is who the wedding cakes are being made for. No one in this country could open up a wedding cake shop and then refuse to make wedding cakes for Black couples, or Hispanic couples, or couples from a religion other than their own (such as a born again christian refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a Mormon wedding - which they would view as evil). That's what the lunch counter sit ins of the 1960's were all about. Cafes refused to serve Blacks so they protested, forcing those cafes to serve them or close down.

    So yes, Civil Rights dictates that if you open a business to the public you are forced to severe the public. The LGBT community is simply taking their rightful place as a protected class.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 28, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    We ought not to dance around the subject too gingerly.

    What the man is alluding to obliquely is the theory that religious freedom extends to discrimination. Or more specifically the specious theory amongst religious conservatives that if you don't like same sex marriage, you ought to be able to discriminate against same sex couples.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    @Macfarren;

    Sorry buddy, refusing to bake a wedding cake for a SS couple is not "practicing your religion", nor is it "practicing your religious conscience".

    There is NOT ONE scripture ANYWHERE that tells you to refuse to do business with those you consider "sinners". Not. One.

    It's just plain old fashioned bigotry to refuse to serve an LGBT couple pure and simple. This is pretty evident when that same baker will bake a cake for a repeat adulterer or a fornicating heterosexual couple. No "religious conscience" involved; rather quite the opposite. If you were actually exercising your "religious conscience" you would do as Jesus said: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (which quite obviously negates any "religious conscience" argument for refusing to bake a cake for someone).

  • Macfarren Dallas, TX
    May 28, 2014 8:00 a.m.

    @ranch

    "Or are you referencing the "uniquely explicit coverage" that lets you put into law your personal beliefs in such a way that they violate the religious beliefs and civil rights of others? That "uniquely explicit coverage"?

    'Civil rights' do not include the right to force someone to make a wedding cake for you, and yet that is now where we are as a society.

    How can anyone today not see the curtailing of the free exercise of one's religious conscience in the public arena?

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    May 28, 2014 7:54 a.m.

    Religious ideas are more than welcome in the public square - but they are subject to the exact same scrutiny as all other ideas in the public square.

    "My religion said so," is not a valid reason for carte blanc acceptance of what you are saying. And questioning what you are saying is not silencing you and it is not an infringement in your freedom of religion.

    And if you are going to sit there and condemn others for violating your religious beliefs while at the same time you are acting in ways that violate your religious beliefs, be prepared to be called out on that.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 28, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    @rushc;

    Are you referring to the "uniquely explicit coverage" in the Constitution that allows you to refuse to provide a product or service to a patron of your business simply because you consider them beneath you and "sinners", just because they violate some perceived religious tenet of yours (although you're perfectly willing to provide that product/service to all other groups who also violate one of your perceived tenets)?

    Is that the "uniquely explicit coverage" you reference?

    Or are you referencing the "uniquely explicit coverage" that lets you put into law your personal beliefs in such a way that they violate the religious beliefs and civil rights of others? That "uniquely explicit coverage"?

    I don't think that the 1st Amendment means quite what you think it means if that is your idea of religious freedom in the public square.

  • rushc centerville, UT
    May 28, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    Tyler D...
    If you read Elder Oaks comments in full, you will find that his concerns are based on a couple of points.

    1-The argument made by many that any argument made on an issue that has been based on a religious influence or belief is inadmissible and unwelcome in the public square.

    2- The trend in thinking by many that religious freedoms are a lesser right than other constitutional rights, or perceived rights. He makes the argument that religious freedoms were at the core of American history, and have uniquely explicit coverage in the constitution and should not be now discounted.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 28, 2014 4:59 a.m.

    "One is to insist upon their right to be heard in the public square," Elder Oaks said."

    Public Square. We hear that a lot. Often cities have one in the center of town.

    And the idea that religious people of any persuasion could talk about religion in the public square makes perfect sense. Public squares, as I see them, are where people can freely come and go. They can stop and listen or they can keep walking. They are free to do what they want.

    However, the term "public square" means something very different when we talk about religion. Public square now includes school classrooms and auditoriums. Students are captive audiences. They are not free to walk on by.

    There are many other instances where "public square" is anything but, when it comes to the interpretations of the religious.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    May 27, 2014 8:09 p.m.

    I agree with Tyler D

    Let religions have an equal part in the public square. But they must compete, and not get offended, with all the other view points that are out there. And when they loose an argument, like they are now with weed and gay marriage, they shouldn't pout and complain.

    I wonder how Elder Oaks will feel when the FLDS, Scientologists, and Satanists want statues and monuments of their sacred things on public lands. We can't discriminate.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 27, 2014 5:21 p.m.

    No religious person should have their speech quelled in the public square.

    But that is far different than losing your millennia long monopoly on having your beliefs codified into law and then when society begins to reject your bronze-age prejudices in favor of Enlightenment Age values (i.e., rights of man), claiming your right to “exorcise” your religion is somehow being infringed.

    There’s nothing special about religion in the public square… it has to compete just like everyone else in the same democratic marketplace of ideas.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 27, 2014 3:42 p.m.

    "I’m very concerned about an argument that’s being made by some scholars that religious freedom doesn’t really add anything to free speech, that as long as ministers are able to speak and as long as people are free to worship — all of that comes under free speech and there’s no reason to be concerned about the free exercise of religion," Elder Oaks said.
    ______________________________

    Constitutional rights apply to all Americans without condition of religious belief. Freedom of religion isn’t an extra for believers. The Bill of Rights belongs to all of us equally.

  • Xplor Mesquite, NV
    May 27, 2014 2:37 p.m.

    It would seem Mr. Oaks is making a valid case for dropping the defense of Amendment 3 when he says, "And if that law is enacted solely to enforce the religious belief of one group, it passes the limit." I commend him for his honesty in pointing this out. I would hope the Governor and Mr. Reyes will find it in their hearts to pay heed.