At UVU, Elder Oaks sees hope despite 'alarming' religious liberty trends

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  • Mexican Ute mexico, 00
    April 21, 2014 7:20 p.m.

    Poohbear: It's in the Mormon Newsroom.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 21, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    Ogden, UT


    I am deeply religous as well.
    I'm also a student of my ancestors who loved our country despite their religous rights being trampled and STILL stayed in it.

    When a State denies my right to vote,
    murders our prophet,
    buy and sell,
    and issues an extermination order against me for my religous convictions --

    THEN I wiil say he have lost of religous rights.

    It's also when my ancestors gave up and left America for Mexico in the summer of 1847.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    April 21, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    Oaks is acting as a de facto attorney, arguing a case in the court of public opinion. He is selecting, construing and misconstruing factoids in a way that will best fit the argument he is trying to make, and to heck with the full, factual FACTS in existence. Nothing surprising there -- that's what attorneys do when they are acting as advocates for a client or an issue.

    For the record -- I am a person of deep and abiding faith. I am deeply religious (LDS). There is no threat to my religious liberty or the practice of my religion. They have not been threatened or impaired in any way, nor has their been any threat or impairment to or of the religious rights or liberty of anyone else in the country. The only "threat" is to the ability of religious organizations and people to impose their beliefs and belief systems on the country and its people, and especially on those who believe differently from them. In other words, a "threat" to their attempt to have the government create an unconstitutional establishment of their religion on the country.

  • Pooh Bear Saint Louis, MO
    April 20, 2014 3:20 p.m.

    Will Elder Oaks' talk be available verbatim - would like to read the whole thing.

  • Demiurge San Diego, CA
    April 19, 2014 11:31 p.m.

    If something is a sin, don't sin. Nobody will make you sin, hopefully in America. That is a long way from trying to make everyone else not sin as you see it, which is what SSM is all about. If you don't like it, don't do it. Otherwise it has zero impact on you.

  • Don37 Nottingham, MD
    April 19, 2014 4:41 p.m.

    Please remember that this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is not the church of, name your president from Joseph Smith to Thomas S Monson. Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ can or will make major changes such as with the priesthood being given to all worthy males.
    I had concerns about the black and the priesthood. At one of many bishopric and clerk training sessions an apostle, I can not recall, asked for questions at the end of his presentation. The first one was regarding the black and the priesthood. A great change came over that apostle, he replied this was discussed in our weekly meeting just yesterday. As you know President McKay loves all people. He said the Lord is the head of our church. End of discussion for that meeting. I have never before nor after felt quite as strong about hearing the Truth spoken.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 19, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    I hope there will soon be a way to view this on youtube.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    April 19, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    As always Elder Oaks has made a very well-thought-out and timely argument. What people seem to forget is that the civil rights movement was religiously motivated, and carried on the religious fervor of its participants.

  • Deliriousdd Benicia, CA
    April 19, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    I must add to the conversation that although the members of the LDS church worked actively to support Prop 8, the majority of voters who supported it were not LDS.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    April 18, 2014 6:04 p.m.


    Actually religion CAN promote its agenda.
    That is the whole point of the first amendment.

    They have every right to promote their views in the public square, just like any other person or group.

    At the expense of the American people? Ye bet, as much any other person or group can.

    It is by hearing those views and by voting by our representation that law is made.
    All laws created are at the expense of the American people, we just hope by our system the best laws are created, and if not, they can be changed later by our system or ruled by unconstitutional if found so by the judicial branch.

    Any group can push views their on the American people if they can get the support of the majority representation (and unfortunately through judicial activism), whether left or right, gay, or even the religious.


  • Old But Not Stupid Moorpark, CA
    April 18, 2014 2:00 p.m.

    Karen R.
    Houston, TX

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

    How can you believe there will be any "protection" after observing the selective and arbitrary upholding of the constitution by the current regime in Washington?

    Also you must not be aware that in the current environment it is chic to denigrate Christianity, but it's "death to you" if you blaspheme the Muslim faith? And the government's executive branch does nothing.

    Your correct that the document does not need to be changed; but the founding fathers always postulated fair and honorable citizens (i.e., not corrupt professionals) would hold our high government offices.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 18, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    I trust that Dallin Oaks knows there is no nation that provides greater protections for free speech and worship than does this one. But his remarks were addressed to an audience that rallies to cries of victimhood. That’s become their signature defense and Elder Oaks seemed to be playing to it.

    On the news, I hear grievants smearing adversaries with cliché epithets like racist, socialist, sexist, or worse. If there is any crisis in free speech in this country, it’s in the lack of calmness and coherence.

  • HeresAThought Queen Creek, AZ
    April 18, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    As to Elder Oak's comments: He is correct in his opinions of the growing animosity toward people of faith. Whether it's attempts to weed out any public displays of armed service men and women of religious beliefs, or David Silverman leading his army of atheists to remove yet another war memorial cross, the evidence can't be ignored any longer. The church's position on gay marriage continues to be a highly contested point in Deseret News stories, and I continue to notice far more criticism of the church than support thereof.

    Uchtdorf stated (paraphrased) that God is perfect, but works through imperfect beings. If the church falters or realizes that a better path can be blazed to accepting and loving all without the need to pass judgment, so be it. But prop 8 was supported ~75% in the black male vote, as opposed to 49% of white males (src=Coulter, Mugged). And while Mozilla CEO "resigned", I'm sure the options were about the same as what Willie Robertson faced on DDynasty. I will cast my vote when it is on the ballot according to my conscience and what I believe to be right and true.

  • HeresAThought Queen Creek, AZ
    April 18, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    Regarding the office of priesthood: My uncle recently emailed me several articles on an LDS missionary brutally murdered in Georgia because of the overall fear of Mormonism in its infancy. The community incorrectly surmised that all women converts were being shipped off to Utah in a mass exodus for polygamous relationships. John Standing was shot over 18 times in the neck and head; his companion pleaded for his life and was spared. I tell you that to tell you this: Had black men been freely offered the priesthood at that time, and had been encouraged to become missionaries, I can tell you that the John Standing incident would have been dozens, if not hundreds of murders. My opinion is that the Lord mercifully spared those people of color that horrible fate of having to knock on white doors, most likely staring at the barrel of racism. He gave his blessing once our society advanced to the point making all men equal under the law.

    The men in that "brigade" were never charged for their crime in this life.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 18, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    Hey SC Fantasy – I told you the O stands for Observant . And when debating against weak right wing arguments, it stands for Overpowering.

    The wall of separation exists in spite of would be theocrats who try to push their beliefs at the expense of everyone else.

    “ . . . Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

    In other words, your religion CANNOT promote its agenda at the expense of the American people.

    Get used to it.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    Redshirt 1701

    Or having the President, any President, address a group of religous people as most Presidents do. Or having religous leaders, like President Uchtdorf and others visit in the White House to talk of public policy issues. What many on the left (mostly) seem to think is that there is, and was intended, a "wall of seperation" between religion (church) and government (state). That wall is in their immagination or dreams, because it clearly is NOT in our current U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson wanted it in, but was overruled. So we have a neutrality clause that basically says Congress will stay out of religion altogether. What the secular left want is for religion to stay out of public policy all together. Not going to happen. Get used to it Gary Obama, and others.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    April 18, 2014 8:56 a.m.

    Many of you did just what Elder Oaks was warning of. Calling people who disagree with you bigots or racists. Thereby shutting down any civilized conversation about those disagreements. Well, I guess I should thank you all for making Elder Oaks point valid.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    April 18, 2014 8:08 a.m.

    To "kla795" by celebrating events like Christmas it used to unite the community around a common belief. You have not explained why putting up a nativity on the lawn of City Hall or in a park is bad.

    At Christmas I have seen Jewish menorahs put up, and I have no problem with it. I don't know if there is a Muslim holliday during that time, but what is the problem with the city putting out something to recognize them in the community? You sound like you have a problem with it.

    If religious observance on government property is so wrong, what about the Easter celebration that will go on at the White House this weekend?

  • InspectorC Wasatch Front, UT
    April 18, 2014 12:44 a.m.

    If this campus lecture was sponsored by UVU's Center for Constitutional Studies, WHY (according to one of the photo captions) did Matt Holland (president) give the introduction of the guest speaker?

    Traditionally, the speaker intro in an event of this type would more commonly (and appropriately) be given by the Director of the hosting entity (i.e., the Center for Constitutional Studies), or --even better-- by the Studentbody President, Student Senate Chair, Studentbody Academic VP, etc. etc.

    IMO, the president at UVU is over-exposed, and should defer the "spotlight" to more of his studentbody leaders and/or faculty and administration colleagues.

  • dLange Los Gatos, CA
    April 18, 2014 12:40 a.m.

    I support Elder Oakes as an apostle of the Lord, and he may be experiencing some religious persecution for him to continually make these allegations about religious freedoms being endangered. From my experience, I've never felt freer to worship according to the dictates of my own conscience. I am a believing practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I believe that the first ammendment is alive and well.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:19 p.m.

    I am hoping that this fear of losing religious freedom will prompt many of us to become more Christlike. Wouldn't that be great?

  • kla795 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 17, 2014 5:54 p.m.

    Loss of unfair religious dominance is not the same thing as religious persecution.

  • kla795 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 17, 2014 5:42 p.m.

    @Redshirt: Why does a community need to use a public government space to promote certain religious beliefs (as in showing a nativity scene), when the government is supposed to be a safe haven for people of all religions (or lack thereof)? What's wrong with placing the nativity scenes on church property? There is nothing that is stopping Christians from doing that. I'd be interested in how you would respond if city hall placed Jewish symbols or Muslim symbols on their lawn. I doubt you'd be in favor of it then. Christianity is experiencing a loss of dominance and privilege. It was so commonplace that it wasn't even recognized for the heavy-handed oppression that it was - it was just considered "normal". Now that things are becoming more balanced and Christians (including Mormons) are no longer able to dominate everything, Christians interpret that loss of privilege as "censorship".

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    April 17, 2014 5:30 p.m.


    If you get government out of marriage (you would no longer have to declare to government your are single or marriage or other), and therefore out of your bedroom,

    Then you are free to practice any belief you want.

    And there would be no need for any government or public definition of marriage.

    Of utmost importance, is the freedom of people to publically live there beliefs and conscience including religious beliefs, and influence the making of public laws.

    When a segment is seeking to punish those for publically proclaiming their beliefs and conscience, that is not freedom.

    When you publically say you disagree with the Mozilla CEO, that is one thing, if you seek punish him for that disagreement that is entirely different thing.

    One is exercising freedom of speech, the other is not,but is removing the belief and conscience of those you oppose from the public square.

    Freedom of speech and religion is not just about the government but is about we the people.

  • kla795 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 17, 2014 5:27 p.m.

    @abtrumpet - agreed. However, that's exactly the problem. Our "unalienable rights" shouldn't be up for a vote.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 17, 2014 5:20 p.m.


    First of all your conclusion that Obama is not a Marxist is nonsense. Wealth redistibution is one of the CORE pieces of the Communist manifesto as well as Barack's ideology. Go down the line now with the rest of the Obama-vision for America including this "fairness" doctrine which is meant to "equalize" society with no rich and no poor ...sound familiar? Yes again this is vintage Communism.

    Second to suggest that religion has "sometime been wrong" is quite broad don't you think? Which religion are you referring to exactly? Science has also been wrong depending on which science you are referring to. Like bad science there is also bad religion which teaches false doctirne. However "true religion" or revealved religion has never been wrong since the source is not man made. Obviously atheists have no concept or belief of revelation or a spiritual self but that doesn't make it disapear - opinion has no power over absolute truth anymore than believing the world was flat made the world flat - it has always been round regardless of opinion. We don't create truth - we discover it.

  • kla795 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 17, 2014 5:17 p.m.

    I am no longer LDS. However, all of my extended family is. The message of Elder Oaks would resonate with them strongly. My frustration is that there is a difference between having religious freedom for oneself, and imposing that religion upon everyone else. There is nothing that prevents LDS citizens from worshiping, how, where, or what they may. LDS people are not required to perform marriages for gay members or allow them in the temple. They are not even required to have gay friends. What the LDS community is experiencing (for the first time in Utah since the days of polygamy) is the loss of a strong majority. Utah is having a more difficult time passing laws that subtly require everyone to live by LDS beliefs. Because of this, many LDS leaders feel "attacked" and "censored". What the LDS leaders are beginning to experience now is a balancing of power.

  • abtrumpet Provo, UT
    April 17, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    The major misunderstanding that I see is that people say that "you can't push your religious beliefs on me." Yet, that is exactly what anyone does when they vote. They push their beleifs on others.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    April 17, 2014 5:00 p.m.

    To "RanchHand" until you actually exhibit tolerance for views that you oppose, you will never get the compassion you are seeking.

    When you stop mocking my religion, your anguish over SSM will not ring so hollow.

    You do realize that Utah is one of the most gay tolerant states,and that gay travel magazines tell their readers how friendly Utah is to all people regardless.

    Just because a minority are Anti-theists or athiests doesn't mean that they should be government sponsored either. Just because a city celebrates Christmas does not mean that they are establishing a state religion.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    April 17, 2014 4:48 p.m.


    Reading these comments, it's very clear that the non-religious left is out in force here.

    Dont' worry, though, folks. I have it on good authority that there really is no persecution of the religious right, especially Christians, by those on the left. It's all just a false "perception".

    How long, Lord, how long?....

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:47 p.m.

    To "RanchHand" nobody has voted against your rights.

    Per the US Constitution, 10th Ammendment. If it is not in the Constitution then it is up to the states or the people to decide what our rights are. People throughout the US have decided that in their states that Marriage is to be defined as a man and a woman. You still have the right to be married to a person of the opposite gender. If gays really wanted to get support, they should stop seeking to redefine marriage and come up with their own term. They could call it Joining or Welding, or whatever they want as long as it isn't Marriage.

    If you recall recent history, the states had an easier time when your ilk wanted civil unions. Why not go that route again and use a term that won't offend most of the nation?

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:41 p.m.


    When you stand up for the LGBT people who are fired every day just for being gay, then your anguish over Mozilla's CEO will not ring so hollow.

    "Predominantly Christian" doesn't mean that Christians still get to be government sponsored.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    To "Craig Clark" what evidence do you have that " Elder Oaks squander its energy perpetuating baseless fears that freedom of speech is being diminished." If anything the past several years have shown us that our freedoms are being eroded and that we need to push back.

    Free speech is more than just a blog. Take the example of the CEO of Mozilla. He lost his job, and most likely will have a very difficult time getting a new job because he gave $1000 for a group supporting Prop 8 in California.

    Also take a look at how communities that are predominately Christian cannot put a nativity out in front of their city hall or in a park.

    You may not see it, or you may even want to silence religions, but remember that is how tyrany begins. First they come for your enemies, then they come for you.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:12 p.m.

    @Let it Go!;

    Sharing your "testimony" doesn't offend me. Voting against my rights is 100% offensive though.

    Turtle says:

    "Prop-8 was all about preventing the destruction of values which have existed for centuries ..."

    Utter nonsense. Propd 8 was about removing the right of LGBT Citizens to marry the person of their choice. It had NOTHING to do with "preventing the destruction of values". You actually destroyed the values of equality and liberty for every American Citizen is what you did.

    If marriage is only about "producing life" then you'd better darn well prevent infertile and old couples from getting married because, no matter how you spin it, their "lifestyles" cannot produce life either.


    Do you care about our point of view? I sincerely doubt you do after reading your many, many Anti-LGBT comments on DN.


    It isn't his opinion that earns him those titles, it is his actions against LGBT equality.


    Your "doctrines" apply to YOU and nobody who isn't a member.


    Equal rights are not "special" rights. We want the same rights you enjoy.

    @Craig Clark;

    He is an intelligent man with an agenda.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 17, 2014 3:53 p.m.

    I’m sad to see a keen mind like that of Elder Oaks squander its energy perpetuating baseless fears that freedom of speech is being diminished. He surely knows that countless new blogs start up every day, including some by LDS members promoting aspects of their faith.

    Instead of lamenting that religion is being marginalized in the world, Elder Oaks might give some consideration to how religion is marginalizing itself.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    April 17, 2014 3:51 p.m.


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

    Ruler of the roost? Really? Are you kidding me? I don't see religion anywhere in the media, tv, movies, etc. unless it is being mocked in general.

    I am aware there have been a handful of religious movies depicting major religiously known people but other than that.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    April 17, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    I guess I have thicker skin than many of the LDS posters on here. I just don't care all that much that someone doesn't like me if I disagree with them. If that's why you think you've lost your religious freedom, you might want to try turning the other cheek a bit. Relax and stop looking for reasons to get angry at people.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 3:44 p.m.

    Re: Patriot "- Barack Obama and his Marxist - atheist infrastructure are leading this anti-christian crusade ..." I consider myself a Marxist, and let me tell you Obama is NO Marxist. Most of the right wingers here hardly know who Marx was.

    Back to topic, while I welcome religious expression in our national debate, I don't think it deserves to be preeminent over other types of expression. For example, it's taken modern biology to give religion the racial facts of life. Religion has been wrong a lot of the time.

  • digitalcamotim Council Bluffs, IA
    April 17, 2014 2:32 p.m.

    What one sees from the comments of the homosexuals, and their supporters, is a demand for more special rights for homosexuals. If one exercises their First Amendment riht to free speeh and to free eercise of religion by refusing to provide a service or a produt to a homosexual, such a refusing to bake a cake for a so-called marriage by two men or two women, then the homosexuals, and their supporters, demand the intervention of the government to force this reuslt or sanction to refuser for When the LDS Church encouraged its members to support Prop 8 within the constraints of Section 501(c)(3) the homosexuals filed repeated malcious and specious claims demanding the IRS revoke that exemption despite the fact that they do not demand the same regarding Churches which had opposed Prop 8. The homosexual concept of free speech is one which does not tolerate opposing views because, in the open market place of ideas, homosexuals can not witn. Today's so-alled LGBTQ Community is nothin really more than an extension of Hitler' Storm Troopers which were a predominantly homosexual group led by an open homosexual Ernst Roehm.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    April 17, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    How is it possible for a person to be fired from there job for supporting/voting for the "wrong" proposition or candidate. Hey, did you know the laday in the corner cube supported the bond to build the dam.

    Our country has no cultural norms, America is disintegrating.

    April 17, 2014 2:13 p.m.

    Open Minded Mormon:

    Not sure where you got from my post that I wanted to make all sin illegal? I was repsonding to another post and discussing the importance of the family and marriage between one man and one woman in LDS doctrine.

    Illegal and sin are two different things. In a pluralistic society, we establish laws to protect all regardless of their beliefs. Sin is confined to religion.

    I don't pretend to impose my beliefs on others, but others beliefs are being imposed on me at every turn. TV, movies, the news media, public schools have all taken a pro-gay stance without any respect for the beliefs of those who oppose it. How is this different than the left demanding that religious groups not impose their values on society?

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    April 17, 2014 2:12 p.m.

    I see the anti-1st amendment religion attackers are out in force today

  • One of a Few Layton, UT
    April 17, 2014 1:37 p.m.

    Bless Brother Oaks but this address is no more legal lecture than are my comments. I hope he sees fit to reassign whomever is developing his talking points. The list of cherished customs and religious practices that have been abandoned by the LDS church is extensive, e.g.discrimination against blacks with any African decent, interracial marriage, polygamy, the ideal that women working and going on missions is incompatible with being a homemaker, woolen swimsuits, caffeinated drinks on the BYU campus, creationism to the extent it is not the basis for BYU biology courses, support for the Democratic Party, anything on which the church has recently posted a clarification on its website, speaking in tongues at least in the early LDS tradition, to name some. With few exceptions, public animosity played a factor in diminishing these cherished practices. Regardless, the church has grown, often because of, sometimes in spite of. I used to think I was the only one who hated change, turns out we all do. Irregardless, change happens and should be subject to dialogue. Whether it's the LDS church or liberals complaining about societal censorship, it's still just a talking point and certainly not legal analysis.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    To "Open Minded Mormon" wow, you really jumped off the deep end. The point I was making is that we don't truely have religious freedom in the US. There are many instances where government prohibits some practices within a religion.

    Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization. We are not fighting them because of religion.

    I question your statements greatly. First, by questioning Elder Oaks as a leader of the church you claim membership in, and second questioning a former Utah Supreme Court justice on what they see happening in the US courts. I would think that he has a better understanding of law than you do.

    Actually God does not work with Karma. Karma is a belief in Buddhism and Hinduism. God works on laws and letting you reap the consequences of your own actions.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 17, 2014 12:27 p.m.

    What about religions who sanction SSM?
    Who's violating who's religious rights now?

    RedShirt tells us he's completely happy and content with Muslims implimenting Sharia Law in America.

    and RedWings wants to make all "sins" illegal.


    Tell me again,
    Why are we fighting AlQueda?

    And who's not allowing an Islamic center in New York?

    And as for Religous Freedoms being lost --

    I would have thought Elder Oaks knew our Mormon History and their loses of Legal rights better than this.

    We are not anywhere NEAR than level of repression,
    but God works with karma,
    and what goes around, ultimately comes around.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 17, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    @Eliyahu ... without civility, rights are doomed. Think on that.

    And the "let me do what I want or I'm going to call you ugly names and make unfounded accusations" approach is wearing thin. It won't last much longer.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    "One reason for optimism is that the threats to religious speech and religious freedom have become so notorious that our citizens are beginning to become concerned," he said.

    Well yes we in the LDS church and those in the Catholic and other Christian churches have been REALLY concerned for some time now but here is the problem - Barack Obama and his Marxist - atheist infrastructure are leading this anti-christian crusade so unless we are able to drain the political swamp in the near future and re-fill it with traditional Americans who are respectful of the US constitution and bill of rights we will continue to see religious liberty diminish and censorship increase. Anyone paying even casual attention for the past 6 years has noticed a HUGE jump in anti-Christian bias in America. Recall Barack started off his reign by refusing to speak at a university unless they removed ALL Christian symbols. He followed that up with his infamous "we are not a Christian nation" comment. Continuing we see Little Sisters of the Poor being FORCED to abandon their moral beliefs with abortion mandates in Obamacare and then all the public school anti-Chritian rulings......

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    As a teacher, I see the face of irresponsibility of society in every way, including kids that don't understand respect, civility, law, delayed gratification, purpose, etc. all values that stem from Judeo-Christian roots. Without them, social problems will not only continue, but get worse. You can't have a stable, civil society based on athiestic thought. Athiests owe their existence on the tolerance, effort, and values of religion. They are the equivalent of welfare frauds, living off the system built by those of faith.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    "Hey Mountanman - What "religious freedoms" have you lost?"

    "The right to express a religious-based opinion without being met with "bigot" or "racist" or "hater" or allegations of wanting to establish a theocracy, re-institute human slavery (based on race: human slavery is alive and well in the secular West). Minor rights to most, perhaps, but important to the religious."

    There is no such thing as a right to express an opinion without being criticized for it or having it rebutted. The only way you could have that "right" would be if the right to free speech were severely limited by law, and that would in itself be a major loss of freedom. You're free to express any beliefs you hold dear, and the rest of us are free to call them bigoted, hateful or racist if they appear to be so to us. It's how freedom of speech works.

    April 17, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    ThinksIThink: "I just don't think it is realistic to expect people to sit quietly being called sinners - sometimes with no evidence to support the assertion of sin."

    Sorry, but have you studies LDS Doctine? Did you listen to the last (or any) General Conferences? Have you read the Provlamation on the Family? If so, it would be abundantly clear that LDS Doctrine only supports marriage between one man and one woman. That family, not the individual, is the basic unit of society in Heaven. There is absolutely no doubt as to why the LDS Church supports traditional marriage from a doctrinal standpoint.

    Acting out homosexually, or any other violation of the Law of Chastity, is sin. Sorry, there just is no other way to put it...

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 17, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    What we have in this speech is a guy whining about others who object to his beliefs.

    He doesn't think they have a right to disagree, or organize, or petition.

    Basically he's objecting to their right to free speech, while simultaneously telling us he supports free speech.

    In fact, he's hinting that muzzling these people would be a good way of protecting the first amendment.

    I'm guessing his political affiliation is "Conservative."

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    The liberals here are funny because they only prove the point that Elder Oaks was making. They don't like what he has to say and are happy to see religion put away into a closet.

    To "GaryO" my religion believes in Polygamy and in obeying the law. The government is infringing on my religion's belief in polygamy by outlawing the practice of polygamy. There are other religions that believe in the use of drugs as a means of communing with their Gods. They are prevented from legally using those drugs. What about Satanists that believe in human sacrifice, isn't their belief being infringed on by laws against killing people? The government is active in their push to suppress religious beliefs they don't agree with.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    April 17, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    @GaryO ... re "Hey Mountanman - What "religious freedoms" have you lost?"

    The right to express a religious-based opinion without being met with "bigot" or "racist" or "hater" or allegations of wanting to establish a theocracy, re-institute human slavery (based on race: human slavery is alive and well in the secular West). Minor rights to most, perhaps, but important to the religious.

    @Mountanman - Press on, sir.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:14 a.m.


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

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

    Half of straight Americans including myself support same-sex marriage. If you really cared about living together in a community of goodwill you'd support same-sex marriage in civil law while leaving churches to determine for themselves what sorts of marriages they want to have in their churches and temples.

    "However, if gay citizens continue to call religious/straight folks "bigots", "inhuman", "selfish", "haters""

    I think you all would be called bigots or haters less often if you all stopped repeatedly calling gay people sinners and suggesting that children need to be prevented from having them as parents.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    @Mountanman -- I'm as religious as you are probably, but I don't feel any loss of religious freedom. I can worship at church, I can go to the temple, I can tell my friends about my religion, my son has gone on a mission, I can refuse to shop on Sunday, I can pay my tithing, I can close my business on Sunday, I can listen to church music and watch the BYU channel, etc. etc. I may be losing the "right" to tell others that THEY have to, by law, live my religion. Is that really a loss of MY liberty? I am still free and have never been legally prohibited from living any aspect of my religion. I've had some people think I'm crazy for being LDS and some people criticize me for it, but so what? It hasn't stopped me and honestly, the criticisms have been few and far between, most occurring when I was college age and people couldn't understand why I didn't drink. But so what? I've probably been critical of someone else from time to time myself.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 17, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    Hey Mountanman -

    What "religious freedoms" have you lost?

    The freedom to tell other people what to do?

    No, you DON'T have that freedom.

    Get used to it.

    Hayden, ID

    The non-religious scoff at the idea of losses of religious freedom in America. How would they know since they feel no effect? Liberals love to tout the need for separation of church and their version of government but are very eager to force their government into other people's religions (Islam excepted of course).

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 17, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    The non-religious scoff at the idea of losses of religious freedom in America. How would they know since they feel no effect? Liberals love to tout the need for separation of church and their version of government but are very eager to force their government into other people's religions (Islam excepted of course).

  • Gandalf Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    Just because some individual or group disagrees with you, even if they disagree in an uncivil manner, doesn't mean censorship exists. It's just public square free speech. That can't, by definition, constitute unconstitutional action because it doesn't involve the government. It's just people and groups talking and disagreeing with each other.

    People need to get a thicker skin. We should encourage civility and courtesy and sensitivity in our discussions about political, cultural, and religious matters. But we should also recognize that the deep emotional connection of people with these things will cause them, perhaps inadvertently, to be uncivil at times and under some situations. So be it. It's the rough and tumble of our democracy. If speech arises to the level of some other criminal act (battery, vandalism, theft, etc), the government can take action to restrict it. But short of that, it is Constitutionally protected.

    Some will embrace the jostling and debate in the public arena. Many won't. But if you don't want to embrace it, at least reconcile yourself to the reality of it and stop whining. This applies to people and groups on all sides of any given debate.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    In our free exchange of ideas, if one in any way attacks the ESSENCE of another, the first can expect a vigorous response. And even if the attack proceeds from religious conviction, vigorous response is to be expected. What things define the essence of a human being? I would list race, gender, and gender-orientation because these are things we cannot change. In the SSM debate those advocating for same sometimes feel assaulted because of their gender-orientation, sometimes with reason. So in our exchanges care must be exercised so as to not attack the essence of people, that is, who they are.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:44 a.m.

    I think Elder Oaks' claims about the abuse of religion at the hands of secular society ignore the years of ill treatment of non-believers where religious majorities were able to. I'm not just referring to the actions of individuals either. In Utah beginning with LDS trade boycotts with Gentiles there has been a chosen people mentality perpetuated by official policy and teaching that still remains today. Non-religious are finally just speaking up. Oaks comments suggest that religion is the victim here when really this is just a shift towards secularism, towards balance and away from preferential treatment of religion.

    Elder Hugh B. Brown famously said:
    "We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent -- if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression."

    I think this quote applies here.

  • Turtle Owasso, OK
    April 17, 2014 9:37 a.m.


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

    Prop-8 was all about preventing the destruction of values which have existed for centuries and which allow parents to raise children in a wholesome environment rather than confuse them on their gender. Children can only be born through a legitimate marriage relationship - no matter what you think the lifestyle you espouse cannot produce life - worlds without end...

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    @Owen An excellent comment. I couldn't agree more.

    The trends for religious liberty do indeed remain positive. For example, I haven't heard of a single community in the United States where the voters have prohibited churches from meeting on Sunday. On the other hand, voters in Highland, Utah, recently prohibited businesses from opening on Sunday.

  • Ohio-LDS NE, OH
    April 17, 2014 9:19 a.m.

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

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

  • Let it Go! Omaha, NE
    April 17, 2014 9:18 a.m.

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

  • Values Voter LONG BEACH, CA
    April 17, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    Meckofahess wrote:

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


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

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

    And what is a "gay life style" again?

  • Ranch Here, UT
    April 17, 2014 8:41 a.m.

    @BYUalum says:

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

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

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    April 17, 2014 8:41 a.m.

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

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

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    Elder Oakes gave good counsel:

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

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

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 8:26 a.m.

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

    Their Joseph McCarthy like quest is getting tiresome.

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

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 17, 2014 8:27 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 17, 2014 8:21 a.m.

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

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 17, 2014 7:52 a.m.

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

  • Moroccoinutah Bountiful, UT
    April 17, 2014 7:13 a.m.

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

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    April 17, 2014 6:44 a.m.

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

  • Ref Geek Cowley, WY
    April 17, 2014 6:14 a.m.

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

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    April 17, 2014 5:49 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    April 17, 2014 5:22 a.m.

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

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:48 a.m.

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

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

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:41 a.m.

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

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

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    April 17, 2014 12:19 a.m.

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

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

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    April 16, 2014 11:50 p.m.

    Any mention of notable atheists or secularists in the audience?

    I didn't think so.

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

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 16, 2014 11:08 p.m.

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