Elder Oaks promotes strengthening the free exercise of religion

Becket Fund honors LDS Church leader with Canterbury Medal

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  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2013 10:31 p.m.

    re: Hutterite 5/17... You counter Tom in CA wonderfully. I'll add that Constantine used religion as way to consolidate his power and its gone downhill since.

    To SammyB 5/17... Organized religion invented & perfected the *do as I say not as I do* paradigm.

    May 18, 2013 7:09 p.m.

    Paraphrasing Joseph Smith: we are engaged in a "...war of words and tumult of opinions..." (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History 1:10)

    Paraphrasing a Book of Mormon verse: "When they are learned, they think they are wise..." (2 Nephi 9:28--read the whole verse!)

    Quoting Doctrine and Covenants 45:57: "For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day."

    Good grief, you "learned" critics of religion, can't you see where this is all headed? Your heavy reliance on reason will not bring you wisdom.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    May 18, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    The moral teachings of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, are societally based on the protection of Life (Thou shalt not kill), Property (Thou shalt not steal), Reputation (Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor), Marriage (Thou shalt not commit adultery) and the non-prosecutable, spiritual, law to avoid even coveting another's property, spouse etc.

    Those who oppose those teachings oppose the basis of human law; they suggest it might be permissible to kill the innocent, take another's property, break up homes, slander and libel. Those who support those teachings do, as one contributor noted, work to internalize those principles and to uphold those most basic laws.

    Individuals and groups may seek political power to alter the moral basis of society so they can "legally" steal the property of others, commit adultery without penalty, slander their opponents and ultimately kill those who prevent them performing whatever offence they imagine? Such governments are a threat to all of us. Yet consider this: that most of these actions are "legal" today if governments perform them. Individually home breaking and abortion are now "legal". A great revolution was effected and we were poor defenders of the Constitution.

  • caljimw Orem, UT
    May 18, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    Blue's final sentence reads: "The grasping for power for power's sake is coming entirely from religion, not government."
    It is first noted that he places the sentence in the present tense, suggesting that the phenomenon described is a modern trend. If this is his intent, it is incumbent upon him to justify his assertion. If he attempts to do so, he will fail. His claim that grasping for power...is coming entirely from religion, cannot possibly stand. One need only look to the most current of political events in this nation to realize how frequently elements of today's government have grasped for power without apparent justification, to belie his assertion. He certainly cannot look to history to justify his position. The literature is filled with examples of political lust for absolute monarchy. It would be interesting to read specific examples Blue might set forth purporting to show 21st century religion based quests for power for power's sake.

  • portlander Arlington, WA
    May 17, 2013 9:19 p.m.

    There seem to be those who are "of Religion" who "fear" the Lord (which helps to keep them on the straight and narrow). Then there also seems to be those of "irreligion" who also fear the Lord (which keeps them weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth). It seems to be this last group who want to wipe religion out, thus wiping out the "threat from above".

    Does that sound about right?

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    May 17, 2013 4:23 p.m.

    Freedom of religion is freedom from being persecuted for one's religious beliefs and worship.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 17, 2013 3:06 p.m.


    Let me first state that I do not see the influence of religion in public debate as bad or as something new.

    But reference the separation of church and state I think two things are important.

    First, that in Europe at the time of our founding, official religions were the norm. Historically, religious denominations (as opposed to the voting faithful) held much sway in some countries and this was seen as problematic.

    Second, that the primary beneficiary of this separation have been the churches. They are more vibrant and are free to move independently of politics and are able to concentrate on the soul. I think this is one reason why religious life is much stronger here than in Europe.

    The resistance many have (and I share) is the any installation of an official religion or religious test for our representatives. If you look hard at what some denominations say they want, this would be the result and it would be ugly indeed.

    That said, I am in full agreement with the religiously faithful of all stripes exercising the franchise and bringing their religious sensibilities into the public debate. I know I intend to.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    "The community, and government we form, is likewise free to not sanction the formalities gays observe as civilly commendable. No freedom is taken. We simply don't give them what is ours to give, our acceptance."


    I am going to have to disagree with these statements. We have a constitution that rules everyone in this country, no matter their religion or beliefs. As long as it still states that everyone is treated equally, it does not matter what your beliefs are.

    YOU, individually, are entitled not to accept any gay person, action or belief. You cannot, if laws are in place, discriminate against anyone in your business because of your beliefs. All are to be treated equally. Our government, especially, cannot support one group of beliefs over another because of traditions, beliefs or popular opinion. This goes against everything that we have fought for in America. Why have we been so slow to accept blacks, women and gays as our equals?

    Read the fourteenth amendment again and you will understand why you are watching Americans once again allow all to be equal under the law.

  • SammyB Provo, UT
    May 17, 2013 2:56 p.m.


    You state the old mantra that conservatives and/or religious people do not look critically at the facts. What you really mean is; if we had looked critically at truth, then we would agree with you on every point. Since we disagree with you, then that is your proof that we didn't do our homework in the first place.

    This kind of arrogant attitude keeps liberals in a state of hatred to those who have the temerity to disagree with them. Stop assuming we haven't done the homework with an open mind. Guess what, friend...I've done the homework, looking deeply into many angles of political and religious doctrine. I went to many churches, studied with their ministers...read many political views from their own mouths and I came out with views different from you.

  • MormonSean Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 2:23 p.m.


    I sustain Dallin H. Oaks.

    In the LDS Church, the most fundamental aspect of our existence is our freedom. But note that freedom and popularity aren't the same thing.

    In the LDS Church we believe in blessing and taking the Sacrament. The state does not interfere with this as it is our right to do it as we please. The state also doesn't have to endorse it, certify it, or accept it. All that matters is that we are free to do it.

    Gays are free to be gay.

    The community, and government we form, is likewise free to not sanction the formalities gays observe as civilly commendable. No freedom is taken. We simply don't give them what is ours to give, our acceptance.

    We the people have a right to observe and honor the traditions we choose to. There is no inequality in that. Our equality exists in our freedom to choose, not in whether it's popular or not.

    If you argue otherwise, then you must tolerate all acts (sexual or otherwise) in order to preserve the conditions you have placed on equality.

    Peace can't exist with moral relativism in law.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    May 17, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    Elder Oaks' advocacy for the free exercise of religion runs contrary to his and the other General Authorities' insistence that the Church should be involved in how the government chooses to define marriage—or that the government should be defining marriage at all.

    But I doubt he sees it that way.

  • kosimov Riverdale, UT
    May 17, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    Someone mentioned "separation of church and state.

    We use this concept as though it was meant to protect the government from a church, especially in these times. The simple fact is, America was founded by people who were escaping domination of the church by the state, and their aim was to PROTECT THE CHURCH FROM THE STATE. Why we have chosen to turn that upside down, and focus our energies and resources so heavily on "protecting" the state from the church, (as if any church could gain control of the US government in this atmosphere!), is beyond me.

    Consider what has been done regarding religion in America, the country most prominently created by "religion" to gain protection from "the state" in the rest of the world which was persecuting those with beliefs differing from an official state church, (which, by the way, was set up by "the state", and not by a church forcing itself onto a state!). Religion has been forced out of public life, and our youth are being taught a negative view of religion. So how is "religion" threatening "the state"? Seems to me its the other way around.

  • kosimov Riverdale, UT
    May 17, 2013 1:33 p.m.


    It is obvious you are a pretty smart fella, and you express your ideas well. I cannot compete with that, and in addition, there is not enough room here.

    When you make the statement:"The grasping for power for power's sake is coming entirely from religion, not government", you take an extreme position, which betrays your bias against "religion". While there may be some religions which "grasp for power", you cannot say RELIGION, a generic term meaning all religions, do so. If I believed that I would lose interest in them. I know of one religion which does not grasp for power, so your extreme position is disproven, since you claim all religions do.

    The rest of your statements, though very well written, are, in my opinion, also wrong. Lumping all religions together doesn't fly, and the burden of proof for your every assertion becomes quite heavy. I doubt anyone wants to see any group or person denied their constitutional rights (at least, any thinking person..). I can't agree with you.

  • Jared Average, SE
    May 17, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    Blue: "Our government is built on the Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence. It is significant that the Constitution itself is free from any religious reference _except_ to mention that government may not sponsor religion."

    That's true (mostly) but to ignore the Declaration of Independence and the writings and teachings of the Founders outside of what is delineated in the Constitution is taking their words out of context. Now, I'm quite a strict Constitutionalist but to ignore the role that ideas/values/morals of Judeo-Christianity, John Locke's philosophy, Edward Coke's ideas, and other people and documents had on the formation of the Constitution is to misunderstand the Constitution. This includes the Declaration of Independence.

    What you said is *mostly* true because the government not only cannot sponsor religion it cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion.

    I'd be interested in which Supreme Court cases specifically have stated that "civil laws are [not] based on religious beliefs." Many civil laws are not because it's not relevant to them but many are (e.g., compensation for injuries). All criminal laws are based on Judeo-Christian morals.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 17, 2013 12:51 p.m.

    Religion will forever be a mystery to those who for some odd reason, arrogance I guess, think that because they were able to read, from a source available to all, it automatically meant that what they read was superior to the open ended canon of the universe.

  • Longfellow Holladay, UT
    May 17, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Hutterite stated: "True free exercise of religion will have to mean it is limited to the sanctuary and the individual, and not the society outside of it."

    This nicely frames the belief that religion and religious expression should be driven from the public square.

    It encompasses the belief that people of faith should not have the right to engage in certain professions and that when religious conviction conflicts with newly enacted rights for societal groups, the force of the state should be used to force abandonment of those convictions or the exit of the individual from the profession.

    The power of the state should be used to force religions from sponsoring educational institutions, medical care institutions, and social welfare institutions. Implementing new government requirements is the tool of choice here.

    The power of the state should be used to silence public expression by people of faith when that expression offends some societal group. Labeling the religious expression as hate speech is the pretext. This is well advanced in practice in Canada.

    There is a war coming between people of faith and those antagonistic towards organized religion. Christians are ill-equipped psychologically to fight this war, but they will learn.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    I think the biggest conflict comes from religious people wanting special rights. Religious landlords, business owners, non-profits, etc...want to be able to refuse doing business with gays (for example). We've all heard of religious flower shop owners, photographers, bakers, adoption agencies, etc...refusing to do business with gays claiming that their First Amendment rights allow that, despite there being laws in place specifically that prohibit discrimination against gays in those locales.

    Courts are enforcing the laws and religious people are crying foul and want to be able to violate the law and discriminate against gays. If the courts sided with the religious, White Supremist oriented churches could claim the right to discriminate against Blacks and Muslims could discriminate against Jews and Christians....and Evangelicals could discriminate against LDS. Think about it.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    Jared, if I can't be free from religion then I do not have freedom of religion.

    I get a kick out of you folks who think I'm "blinded" by ideology. Do you ever think about all the ideology that you yourselves subscribe to that exist in the complete absence of supporting evidence, in the presence of massive contradictory evidence, and do you ever contemplate that disconnect? Your unwillingness to look critically at your own beliefs does not constitute "blindness" on my part. Again, projection.

    Our government is built on the Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence. It is significant that the Constitution itself is free from any religious reference _except_ to mention that government may not sponsor religion.

    You're welcome to believe that our civil laws are based on religious beliefs. You will be disappointed, however, by the track record of that belief when challenged in a court of law where rules of evidence apply.

    If religious leaders want to praise Mr. Oaks, that's their privilege. I'm just saying that a group of authoritarians congratulating each other for being authoritarians is antithetical to the principles of civil liberty.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 17, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    Blue is spot on. It's all about Christianity losing it's stranglehold on the vox populi and bully pulpits in the US. It's sad to see Elder Oaks engaging with this sort of crowd. They subvert progress, evidenced by their support of Hobby Lobby which is clearly using religion as a justification to discriminate in their for-profit business. There is no constitutional protection that extends to such an act, none whatsoever. Indeed, this is the same old "song and dance." Religious conservatives feel threatened by a group they perceive to be the "other" (Jews, women, blacks, gays, etc...) so they gin up some justification to treat that group as sub-human and claim it is religiously based, thereby solidifying support against the group de jour. Funny thing is, they eventually lose every time because ultimately reason trumps fiction.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 17, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    Religion is all about power, money and even sex in the here and now, and not nearly so much interested in anything in the hereafter. True free exercise of religion will have to mean it is limited to the sanctuary and the individual, and not the society outside of it. Because I think any given religion is, at best, a serious misrepresentation of the original intent and probably entirely fabricated, in all cases in an effort to wield power and influence. Since it refuses to offer proof to the contrary, it's free exercise should not be allowed to hold sway in a world where we need rational, reasonable thought to prevail.

  • Jared Average, SE
    May 17, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Blue: "So long as religion demands the right to direct the lives of citizens who do not subscribe to their religious beliefs and in violation of the basic liberties defined in the Bill of Rights, the proper and necessary role of government will be to intercede on behalf of all citizens."

    The Bill of Rights was written to make sure the U.S. Government supported the natural (meaning God-given) rights of men and women. The Bill of Rights does not create those rights. That this is the case is clear in the Declaration of Independence and in the writings and speeches of the Founding Fathers. Criminal law and many of our civil laws are based upon Judeo-Christian morality and religious beliefs. Those beliefs (not of a specific church but of broader Judeo-Christianity) are why we enjoy the freedoms we do in this country.

    If the government "intercede[s] on behalf of all citizens" that includes those who are religious. Problems come when governments support a particular religion at the expense of another. Problems also arise when the free exercise of religion is limited or prohibited. Separation of does not mean freedom from.

  • Eddie Syracuse, UT
    May 17, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    " ... The grasping for power for power's sake is coming entirely from religion, not government."

    Blue, I see that you have not been watching or listening to the news......The AP scandal, the IRS Scandal, ObamaCare along with the many other scandals that have come out of this and past "Government" administrations.

    Tom in CA is correct, you are blinded by your own ideology. Step out of your own little circle and see what is really going on.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a great speech at Chapman University School of Law. The transcript can be found easily by googling it. He articulates the benefits of preserving religious freedom for everyone and why in principle we ought to preserve our freedoms.

    He continually spreads the message of peace and freedom, those arguing against this surely do not appreciate their own freedoms or understand them. You either support religious freedom as being a core aspect of freedom of conscience, or you don't support your own freedom at all.

    We don't force others to worship at our pulpit, nor would we want to. Yet every time we build there is an outcry to do it elsewhere or restrict how we can design our own place of worship, and the cities and courts again feel justified in reconsidering our constitutional right to do things our own way.

    The Church's interest in alcohol laws only extend to protecting others, if we were 'forcing our religion' we'd be arguing for prohibition.

    Every time the Anti-LDS argue, one can note that their premise is rooted in a different voice in democracy automatically being an oppressive one.

    May 17, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    The separation of Church and State is a fine idea when you have a limited government. But, as the government grows and grows, it suddenly become separation of Church and commerce, Church and health care, Church and education, Church and entertainment, Church and sports, Church and culture and ultimately separation of Church and "Society outside of the sanctuary" as one activist put it.

    A secular (i.e. neutral) government is what I want, not one that attempts to foster, privileged and then enforce a secular society.

  • Tom in CA Vallejo, CA
    May 17, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    " ... The grasping for power for power's sake is coming entirely from religion, not government."

    Blue - you are a typical liberal (all) blinded by your own ideology.

  • TA1 Alexandria, VA
    May 17, 2013 5:27 a.m.

    All that the "Free Exercise of Religion" ever required was that the practitioners of the a faith live their Faith - i.e. - take care of their brothers and sisters, the poor and the needy, not merely profess to do so. Therein lies - in my opinion - the biggest challenge and problem.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    May 17, 2013 12:08 a.m.

    Two things,

    First, in the second paragraph, it should be "England's," not "Englands." I can't believe an organization that claims to be a newspaper didn't catch that.

    Second, the only thing the religious organizations gathering for this event have in common is a shared belief that efforts to apply constitutional protections of civil liberty to all citizens represents a threat to their ability to function. Let any of the religious beliefs represented at this event become ascendant in our government and all the other religions would loudly howl in indignation.

    Mr. Mumma's claim that, "Government wants to prescribe its own moral code in order to trump religious belief. This is about power," is a breathtaking example of psychological projection. The grasping for power for power's sake is coming entirely from religion, not government.

    So long as religion demands the right to direct the lives of citizens who do not subscribe to their religious beliefs and in violation of the basic liberties defined in the Bill of Rights, the proper and necessary role of government will be to intercede on behalf of all citizens.