Comments about ‘Elder Oaks encourages U.S. citizens to exercise religious freedom’

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Published: Tuesday, May 27 2014 1:25 p.m. MDT

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Mesquite, NV

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.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"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.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

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.

Church member
North Salt Lake, UT

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.

Far East USA, SC

"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.

centerville, UT

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.

Here, UT


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.


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.

Dallas, TX


"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?

Here, UT


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).

seattle, WA

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.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT


'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.

Springville, UT

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.

Woods Cross, UT

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.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@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…

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

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.

American Fork, UT

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.

Far East USA, SC

"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.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

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.


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?

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