Exclusive: Gary Johnson: Clarifying my views on religious freedom, Mormons

A call for balance between religious freedom and non-discrimination

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  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 7, 2016 8:32 p.m.

    LGBT people can still be discriminated against by businesses in Utah.

    And as for "Utah compromise", it's hardly compromise when the legislature unveils a stab-you-in-the-back bill the day after releasing the compromise.

  • TJ Eagle Mountain, UT
    Nov. 7, 2016 4:58 p.m.

    The world can force, by law, those who oppose gay lifestyles to accept their behavior in the communities but,
    It is still an abomination before God. And although he loves all his children, he is disappointed by all sinful behavior.

  • wilsclanmom Alexandria, VA
    Aug. 13, 2016 8:55 p.m.

    People who say businesses shouldn't have to bake cakes or shoot weddings for gay people should think how it would sound if they discriminated against, say, Jews or Asians. "We don't do wedding cakes for Muslims." for example. It's not really any different. If you have a business license to open your doors to provide a certain service to your community, you simply can't choose your customers by whether you agree with their belief system. It seems like a strange line to draw in the sand.

    As an LDS person, if I had such a business, I would try to be kind and patient and helpful to all my customers, not just those whose religious or cultural views I agreed with.

    This wedding cake issue is clouding the waters on religious freedom. We need to worry about being allowed to speak our mind in the public square on matters of faith, provide single gender housing at BYU, keep our tax deductions for charitable offerings, etc. There are serious issues of religious freedom in our country today. Gary Johnson has this one right.

  • Mike in Sandy Sandy, UT
    Aug. 13, 2016 8:18 a.m.

    Johnson is up and coming in Utah. Not a bad alternative.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 8, 2016 5:03 p.m.

    What are they talking about exactly when they start with the "Religious Freedom " thing? We have had those protections for a very long time and the include the right to be an atheist, if one chooses! This is about the beliefs that are not so nice! It is about Church leaders making members feel fine with the bad treatment they give to those are thrown out( LGBT)
    I know exactly what they are talking about and I don't let them get away with it! I tell them to do as they please, but none of it was my choice and it never will be! If they choose to treat me any differently now, it is their choice and more power to them , but it hurts deeply! It can cause suicide. So, we are not members, it doesn't mean you treat us any different. I think people know exactly what they do and it is very sad!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 8, 2016 9:00 a.m.

    RE: "As we become more diverse-because of our economic prosperity- religious affiliations, participation, and belief will decline rapidly; it is an inevitable reaction to statistics, and peer-reviewed research"...

    Again throwing out the peer-reviewed research (but no references to such research).

    Utah has been religiously diverse and prosperous for quite some time. And religious affiliation, participation, and belief have NOT rapidly declined in Utah.

    So much for peer-reviewed research vs what has happened in Utah.

    There has been no rapid decline, and we have the best economy of any State in the United States. According to your peer-reviewed research... that should cause religious affiliation, participation, and belief to plummet in Utah. And yet, church membership, participation and belief has grown in Utah.

    Ever seen those new churches being built in many neighborhoods? And I don't mean only LDS church buildings.


    RE: "The response to this inevitable evolution of our society is going to be hilarious to witness"...
    Why would that be fun or hilarious to watch?


    RE: "Cheers to the free, and good luck to the ignorant"...
    Same to you.

  • JoeBOB20 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2016 12:40 p.m.

    Freedom is limited to when you begin to infringe on the freedom of another citizen. Too many people say, "they are persecuting my personal, religious beliefs." To those of you who say such ridiculous things, I say, "Quit infringing on my right to science, statistics, and research." Science for the win. Religion for the ignorant and blind. Utah has been run by the LDS faith since it was founded. The United States government did not persecute your silly religion; the US government was protecting other citizens from a group who would displace anyone who was settled where they wanted to settle, and was raising an army of their own. Utah has not had a separation of church and state since before becoming a state. As we become more diverse-because of our economic prosperity- religious affiliations, participation, and belief will decline rapidly; it is an inevitable reaction to statistics, and peer-reviewed research. The tantrums thrown by religious zealots in response to this inevitable evolution of our society is going to be hilarious to witness. Cheers to the free, and good luck to the ignorant.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 7:25 p.m.


    Allowing religions to dictate what goes on outside their walls is an "establishment of religion". Most likely, yours. That marginalizes those who do not belong to said religion. It is Unconsititutional.

    They can dictate inside their walls all they want. Secular society is not under their purview.

    Strangely, you go on to quote that very restriction later in your comment, but you fail to see the irony. Furthermore, the First Amendment is not a free pass to skip on past any civil laws you think restrict your religion. We don't allow human sacrifice, do we? That is a restriction of religious freedom.

    And finally, can you please, please, please show me the scriptures where your god tells you that baking a cake for someone you disapprove of is a violation of your religious beliefs? I've asked and asked and searched high and low and I simply can't find it. Thanks in advance.


    Wow, I don't think I've ever seen anyone twist reason into such a pretzel. You haven't shown how performing the function of your business is a "violation of one's relgious conscience". Hint, it isn't.

  • rdean92 Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 4, 2016 1:27 p.m.

    Consider this: It all starts with a "cake"...

  • Willtyler Bath Twp, MI
    Aug. 4, 2016 1:18 p.m.

    As private organizations, religious groups can discriminate as much as they like. A public business licensed by the state however operates under different legal restraints.

    The point Gary Johnson tried to make is that, carried to the logical extreme, total religious freedom would let people kill non-believers if their religion allows it. Obviously that is not acceptable in a free society, although many religions have done that. ISIS, for example, condones it.

    The case of the photographer that was fined for refusing to work a gay marriage ceremony was a rare and unusual case - most likely perpetrated specifically to challenge the law. Several courts upheld that decision, as the law says businesses cannot discriminate. In reality, that type of limited discrimination is normally avoided - you just hire a different photographer.

    A balanced religious freedom law allows religions the right to discriminate on their own turf, and individuals on their own property. Discrimination in the public realm is illegal though, as the courts have ruled. If you disagree, work to change the law.

    In my opinion, Gary Johnson has a pretty good handle on this complex subject and he will be getting my vote.

  • Natrium Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2016 1:16 p.m.

    ..."He is pro-life personally, but feels it is not right for the federal government to make that decision for individuals. Please stop disseminating this false information about him."

    IOW, status quo.

  • WarrenPeese Everett, WA
    Aug. 4, 2016 1:00 p.m.

    Well said, Governor Johnson.

  • Spaldiod Clinton, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 1:00 p.m.

    For those of you claiming that Johnson supports abortion, please have a look at his stance on it again. He is pro-life personally, but feels it is not right for the federal government to make that decision for individuals. Please stop disseminating this false information about him.

  • IloveTacos BOUNTIFUL, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 12:49 p.m.

    People like Ranch demonstrate exactly why religious liberty is under attack. According to people like Ranch, religious objections are prohibited despite the guaranteed protection afforded by the first amendment. The reality is, conflicting constitutional rights are at play here. Compromise is needed, but certain militant LGBT activists use legalized racketeering practices to force compliance to a selective small group while the majority is discriminated against. It's about selective protections, not equality. According to people like Ranch, people need to get over having their conscience violated and having their names soiled based on an act that their belief shiws God is directly opposed by a same sex marriage. This is how the cup of iniquity is filled people. Secular society forcing faithful followers to accept and embrace abominable behavior.

  • Natrium Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2016 12:40 p.m.

    I've got a weird idea. Why don't we apply the Civil Rights Act only against government entities (as was originally intended) and not against private citizens or businesses? I am really tired of special snowflakes who get offended at the drop of a hat (some are willing to drop it themselves). Also, lets get rid of the Johnson amendment which has been abused by the Federal Government more than once.

    But lets put this Freedom of Religion thing into perspective. It is really the freedom of conscience. Or the freedom to have your own philosophy. Or to think the way you like. IOW, the single most important natural right mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. IMHO, we all should be defending this with all our might, even if we disagree with other's opinions and belief set. Whether you believe it is discriminatory or not.

    Prosecuting a person for his opinions, with very few exceptions, is very dangerous and counter productive. IMHO, let a person be as discriminatory as he pleases. I don't care.

  • SC Matt Chapin, SC
    Aug. 4, 2016 12:13 p.m.


    "Enough bickering about cakes..."

    Just when I was getting ready to ask a liberal what they thought about a wedding cake with the confederate flag on top, requested by a gay bigot...

    Liberals insist that these things need to be decided through the courts, instead of the legislature (where it *should* be done). This will eventually end badly.

    And they'll never see it coming. But one day, they're going to push something through the USSC and get the result they wanted, and then the impact of that result will be felt years or decades later, and it will be clear it was a bad result for the country.

    And then, since it was a USSC decision, it's going to be really hard to change, even though it needs to be changed, since it's hard, the change will be too late.

    It's probably already happened. If current trends hold, and as prosperity expands to more countries, the population of the Earth will eventually start to fall.

    And that will bring forth "calamities foretold." Right now, we depend upon young people replacing us in the work force. When that stops....

  • bradz03 Orem, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 11:50 a.m.


    "Churches...can not...determine what goes on outside their walls." Why not? Are members of a religious community required to only practice their religion within the walls of the church? The laws of a community should reflect the values held by the citizens of that community. That's why the Constitution specifically says that anything not covered by it is left up to the individual states.

    "Businesses have no religious beliefs." - Says who? Why can't a business be based in faith? Are you telling me Deseret Book doesn't have any religious beliefs? That statement is false and really quite silly.

    "They chose to violate the law" - Not sure which law you're referring to, but the highest law of the land specifically says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Any law that prohibits someone from freely exercising their religion is unconstitutional. That's not how it is often enforced, but that is what it clearly says.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 10:26 a.m.

    Enough bickering about cakes...

    I know, I know, I started it. But only to point out how silly it is. I didn't think it was going to take over the conversation!

    The issue is not whether somebody should be forced by the government to make you any cake you could ever want...

    The issue is religious freedom!

    Let's drop the, "you have to make the cake I want", issue. It's nonsense.

    Who cares if the government makes you make a cake you don't want to make? Just make it and don't worry about it!

    The real issue is... what if the government wants to force you to do something more important... that violates your religious beliefs...

    That's what we should be discussing.

    If the government can tell your religious beliefs can/can't be... do we really have religious freedom?

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    Aug. 4, 2016 8:20 a.m.

    I for one perfectly willing to accept that businesses can legally refuse to create, say, a CTR cake for me if they do not like my message. Free speech should not be regulated unless there is a real and compelling reason to do so, like the classic example of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Forcing people to decorate cakes with messages they don't agree with is about the furthest thing from a real and compelling reason for interfering with a basic constitutional right that I can think of.

    If no one wants to make my CTR cake right now then either I can decorate it myself or Someone will eventually see this gap in the market and agree to fill it. That's how the free market works.

    Free speech is the issue, not freedom of religion. A business shouldn't be compelled to create an expression of an opinion that they don't agree with.

  • srsmith ,
    Aug. 3, 2016 10:39 p.m.

    I am grateful for the time and effort that was put into this letter.

    I am struggling to support Johnson, but ultimately he is a way better option for me right now than Trump.

    I have never smoked POT and have always thought it to be evil. I am coming to the realization that it probably has some benefits and is probably safer than 90% of prescription pain pills and anti psychedelics.

    Regarding abortion. I will never support abortion. The fewer we have and the more difficult society makes it to have one, the better. But, I also don't support young women using hangers.

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:53 p.m.

    Any religion that uses the term "freedom of religion" to then discriminate against any minority is not a true religion. Period! They are false religions, and using their "faith" to act uncivilly towards others that they view as different or sinners. . So if you are hearing that any religion is using the banner of "religious freedom" and then promoting laws that discriminate against US citizens rights...... Run away. That isn't what the prophets and Jesus taught.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    Aug. 3, 2016 8:57 p.m.

    @oldcougar wrote, "That just makes common sense. Why would you force someone to photograph your wedding if you knew they didn't want to? Wouldn't it be better to find someone who would give their best effort and passion? Do we really need laws to govern this?".

    Makes sense to me. Why should a black couple send their children to their neighborhood school if the teachers there only wants to teach white kids? Why shouldn't they keep looking until they find a school with a teacher who wants them? Do we really need laws to govern this?

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 7:26 p.m.

    I appreciate the clarification and apology, Governor. Thanks for publishing, DNews.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 6:26 p.m.


    Would you be so sanguine about a business refusing service if you were the one being refused? If you had to go from business to business to business to business until you found one willing to serve you? Should those businesses be required to post signs so we know who to avoid?

    Why should LGBT couples have to worry about being refused service by a business that provides the service they need, when no other couples are being denied?

    What if there are no other providers in the area?

    Why is it okay to refuse to do business with this one group? Should they also be allowed to refuse service to black couples? If not, why just LGBT patrons?

    What if that same business provides their services to straight couples having sex prior to marriage, or adulterers, or Sabbath breakers? Those are also against the stated religious views - should they be required to be consistent and refuse service to these people? If not, why is it okay to violate their religious views in that case but not the other?

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 6:01 p.m.

    Laws can be changed...and are changed quite regularly. I, and many others, support a law that allows businesses, especially small creative businesses, to refuse to participate, with their cakes or photographs, in any event which is contrary to their conscience. The small bakery and photography industries have plenty of diversity. Customers will surely be able to find a cooperative provider without forcing the issue.
    That just makes common sense. Why would you force someone to photograph your wedding if you knew they didn't want to? Wouldn't it be better to find someone who would give their best effort and passion? Do we really need laws to govern this?

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 5:56 p.m.

    SC Matt2 says:

    "@ Ranch:

    I have yet to hear, from anybody, a coherent reason why it's OK for Walmart to refuse to bake a cake showing the confederate flag, but not OK for a baker to refuse to bake a "Adam and Steve" wedding cake."

    --- Let me spell it out for you.

    When a business does not provide a service (i.e., baking cakes with swastikas, or confederate flags on them) for anyone, they're not required to bake such cakes. Not for anybody. When the baker does not bake cakes with those logos for anyone already, then no need to bake them at all.

    When a business provides a product or service, and that is THE product or service of their business, they're not allowed to deny that product or service to some but not others.

    "In both cases, it's not the person you're refusing service to."

    But in the first case, the business does not already make that product or service. In the second that is their product or service they're refusing to just the one set of customers.

    Are you clear now?

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 5:46 p.m.

    So, what if a business owner refuses to provide a service which goes against their beliefs? Do you believe they have the right to refuse service that would cause them to go against their conscience?

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Aug. 3, 2016 4:28 p.m.

    I agree with Jonhnson's basic position here--in general, we should have a small government and broad personal freedom. Personal freedom includes freedom of religion. However, freedom of religion isn't supposed to mean you are exempt from laws that conflict with your religion. If a law violates your religious beliefs, then fight to get the law changed.

    Some people argue that "freedom of religion" means religious people get to choose which laws do and don't apply to them based upon their religious beliefs on the matter That is a troubling slope.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2016 4:11 p.m.

    Mr. Johnson can pretend that he is Hillary and that he didn't mean what he said or he can be a man and take full and complete responsibility for his own statements. If he didn't believe it then why did he say it?

  • summarizer andrews afb, MD
    Aug. 3, 2016 1:09 p.m.

    Vote your conscience. Personally I can't stomach Trump or Clinton. I think I'd feel ill voting for either of the two.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 11:54 a.m.

    @Stalwart Sentinel
    "The irony that seems to escape Mr. Johnson in his attempt to vilify government for the poor treatment of my ancestors (early Mormons) is that the individuals responsible for passing/enforcing laws such as the Missouri Executive Order 44 were doing so under the guise of misguided religious zeal."

    Escape Mr. Johnson? He mentioned "in the name of religion" as a cause for that poor treatment.

    "My point was that even a respected, peaceful people experienced tragic harm in the name of religion and was, in fact, persecuted by the government itself by politicians who opposed their beliefs and practices."

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 10:52 a.m.

    He said what he said.

    Now, he may be a nice guy, but in interviews I've seen, he is pretty much clueless on many of the significant issues that will be faced by the next President.

  • AFH Temple City, CA
    Aug. 3, 2016 10:13 a.m.

    Each of us gets one affirming vote. The only situation where you waste your vote is when you vote against your heart, because the only time voting for the lesser of two evils works is if your single vote was the deciding vote. In other words - never. Voting for Hillary is not a vote against Trump any more than a vote for the flying spaghetti monster would be. It is only a vote for Hillary and a vote surely wasted.

    I've met Gary Johnson and he is a good man with a sweet soul and an iron will that he uses with purpose to improve the world. His comments on baking cakes were made contrasting his position against the position of an anarchist. Gary Johnson represents the best of American values, the values that made this the nation where in the gospel could be restored and where people could be free from the institutional fears that the adversary uses to muffle truth and to discourage faith.

    A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for the constitution; it is a vote for freedom; it is a vote for right; and it is a vote for the America we love.

  • SC Matt2 Chapin, SC
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:31 a.m.

    @ Ranch:

    "They violated the law. They CHOSE to violate the law. They, and they alone are responsible."

    I have yet to hear, from anybody, a coherent reason why it's OK for Walmart to refuse to bake a cake showing the confederate flag, but not OK for a baker to refuse to bake a "Adam and Steve" wedding cake.

    In both cases, it's not the person you're refusing service to. It's the speech on the cake that you want nothing to do with. As a caterer, I certainly would prefer to have nothing to do with the following:

    1.) Two hotels on a really boring, long isolated stretch of road. Both normally 65% full.
    2.) One burns down.
    3.) The other owner wants to throw a party celebrating the fact that the other hotel burned, with a cake showing a hotel on fire, and celebrating record profits to come.

    Count me out. There's certainly something wrong with taking pleasure in somebody else's misfortune.

    I don't see any difference between this and baking a cake for a gay wedding, even if I'm the only caterer in this isolated town.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:20 a.m.

    Who? Please study the 2000 election - Regardless of how you feel about Clinton/Trump, one will be elected. By voting someone with no chance, you undermine the chances of the candidate closest to your views. You'll never agree with anyone completely, but if religion matters to you, the life-long Methodist is the only choice in this election cycle.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:07 a.m.

    The irony that seems to escape Mr. Johnson in his attempt to vilify government for the poor treatment of my ancestors (early Mormons) is that the individuals responsible for passing/enforcing laws such as the Missouri Executive Order 44 were doing so under the guise of misguided religious zeal. Indeed, Mormons were not being targeted by the "secular liberal left" but rather the religious right.

    So, just as the religious right is to blame for codifying slavery, misogyny, bigotry, genocide, and many other forms of discrimination in the US and abroad, so too can we lump the early Mormon struggle in with those horrendous acts by the religious right.

    Further, the shrill cries of the "persecuted" religious right in modern times is laughable. As an active Mormon myself, I have suffered no loss of religious freedom. When you truly drill down, the only thing these religious "victims" have lost is their ability to discriminate against others. It's the same story as yesteryear: the religious right doesn't want others to have what they've always enjoyed and they cry foul when equality shows up.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:07 a.m.

    As long as a Political Party continues to tie itself to a particular religion there will be endless attempts to excuse the behavior of the Political Party by invoking the dogma of that particular religion.

    Religion was used as one excuse to drive the Mormons out of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

    Religion was used as one excuse to deny Mitt Romney the POTUS.

    Religion continues to be used as one weapon to facilitate the denial of individual civil rights in the name of protecting States Rights.

    C'est la vie.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 9:06 a.m.

    Thank you for confirming what I said about the left justifying denying religious rights. Sole proprietorships are not people? Partnerships are not people? Shareholders of S and C corps, particularly closely held corps, are not people? Just because a person decides to enter a business does not mean they have to check their rights at the door. Otherwise you are establishing laws concerning who can enter what type of business, laws based on something other than qualifications. You are establishing religious tests for certain types of businesses, contrary to the first amendment. I am only sorry you cannot see it.

    Research Edmunds-Tucker laws, and then retry your comment about how churches can determine their own doctrine.

    People go into business so they do not have to take public assistance. Businesses also pay taxes. A business being forced to participate in an activity their religion views as wrong is government telling the business owner they cannot exercise their religion.

  • Bountiful Guy Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 7:03 a.m.


    Exactly correct. I need to hear that from Gary Johnson. As it stands today, there are initiatives (laws) being considered that remove such rights from churches if their doors are open to the public (referred to as "public space"). Religious liberty is under attack at every turn and from every angle possible attempting to silence, change, and destroy religious beliefs. Where does Gary stand on that? From what I've seen, he avoids full disclosure.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 1:48 a.m.

    Thank You Gary Johnson. I have tried for Months to get something like this. Writing and calling and Tweeting him or his campaign. On Monday I said on Facebook Johnson was Toast in Utah. Perhaps not any more. I think he finally gets it.

  • mike65536 Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 12:27 a.m.

    Gary Johnson has now revealed he is a social liberal who values LGBTQ discrimination above religious discrimination.

    A true libertarian would not take sides and say one form of discrimination is worse than another. He says he would protect religious freedom and LGBTQ freedoms, and then adds that LGBTQ freedoms trump religious freedoms. This is unconstitutional. The constitution explicitly protects religious freedom and says nothing about protecting sexual behavior.

    It is clear he will appoint supreme court justices and federal judges that will continue down the path of federal social engineering instead of appointing judges that protect the constitution.

    Lastly, his bias against religion reveals that he doesn't appreciate the constant discrimination I received in the south as a Mormon. Now religious discrimination is the rage across all of America and is against all traditional Christian religious. He doesn't appreciate this new brave new world where the government shuts down my religious school, or my company fires me, or LGBTQ activists sue me because my religious beliefs do not conform to the liberal religion of political correctness.

    Instead he is more worried about religion being a threat to his agenda to protect LGBTQ behaviours.

  • Glen F moab, UT
    Aug. 3, 2016 12:02 a.m.

    Missouri Executive Order 44. If you are LDS and don't know this then you need to. If you aren't LDS and don't know this you need to. This is what the early church had to contend with. I read comment sections in other Utah papers and see the hatred that residents have for the church, are those the people you want to elect our next president? They have no tolerance for others but do we? I think Governor Johnson thinks we do. And I like the fact that he has great faith in the Constitution. He has more than earned forgiveness for misstatement, and has gained another vote for admitting he was wrong, something I have not seen from a politician in this or any race for a long time.

  • UtahTroutStalker draper, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 11:30 p.m.


    Why force someone to bake you a cake? You asked the question so I will attempt to answer it.

    People who decide to do business in the public square take benefit from the taxation of all. The fire department that will respond to the fire at your bakery, the police that respond to attempted robbery, the construction of water ans sewage, the civil court system that protects your brand, etc..

    The people who pay these taxes that support the civil society that the baker operates in may be LGBT, the may or may not be LDS, or Christian, etc... To deny any of them services based on the baker's religious beliefs would be the government supporting one set of beliefs over another, and in this country we have separation from Church and State. I for one support Mr. Johnson, I hope others in this state will vote for him over Trump.

  • Trevor R Provo, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 11:15 p.m.

    Original comment:

    "I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything," Johnson said. "Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn't somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead?"

    Clarifying comment:

    "My point was that even a respected, peaceful people experienced tragic harm in the name of religion and was, in fact, persecuted by the government itself by politicians who opposed their beliefs and practices."

    So, say whatever you like, and if it offends too many people, pretend you said something else--that philosophy is certainly in vogue this election cycle.

  • Just A Commenter Highland, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 10:39 p.m.

    @ Bountiful Guy

    Assuming that your question was not just directed at Mr. Johnson, but the public at large, I think the answer is yes. Deciding what is a sin and what is not falls under defining church doctrine. Assuming you were referring to the LDS Church, the bounds of religious authority to punish are limited to excommunication being the highest punishment. The Church denies any authority to punish someone beyond that. Even so, it encourages its members to remain civil to such excommunicated members.

    As far as discrimination, that comes from members who go against the teachings of the Church to try and belittle those who don't practice the same way they do. That is condemned in conference talks, in Church manuals, and even scripture, especially the Book of Mormon.

    So yes, a church has every right to define what a sin is and exercise punishment as long as it goes no further than termination of membership and the privileges from that membership. Beyond that, discrimination in any form is unconstitutional and wrong. I don't see any infringement of civil rights on the part of the LDS Church by the things you mentioned like Temple worthiness standards.

  • benjjamin Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 10:05 p.m.

    Religious liberty hardly exists America today. We're fighting over scraps. That's because we kept compromising. With every compromise came less freedom. Soon we'll have nothing left. The sad part is that respected leaders keep calling for more compromise. Compromise for its own sake is a vice, not a virtue. If I hear the word "compromise" one more time, I might have an aneurism.

    Johnson supports abortion. That alone costs him my vote. I don't understand how someone who calls himself a libertarian can be okay with not defending the right of the most vulnerable and innocent among us to their own life. He defends the right of prisoners condemned to death to live just in case one might actually be innocent, yet he also defends the "right" of mothers and doctors to kill precious babies, all of whom are innocent.

    The writer of this article deserves a raise though. And if Johnson actually wrote it all on his own, he's got Obama-level manipulation skills. It's as insulting as it is well-written. I don't know whether to ooh and ahh or to write Gary a nasty letter.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 2, 2016 9:53 p.m.

    It seems like I have three choices: The Libertarian, the liberal or the libertine!

  • UtahBlueDevil Lehi Ut & Durham, NC
    Aug. 2, 2016 8:34 p.m.

    People really have things confused. Sin is not a legal Term. Governments were not instituted to govern sin. Governments are not tools of religion to compel people to exhortation. Governments are here to arbitrate and ensure the rights of all citizens..... and that is it. While some things may both be against the law, and a sin, they are not against the law because they are sins.

    Marriage in the legal sense has nothing to do with marriage in the spiritual sense. In many countries, the two marriages are completely separate. And it would not offend me if they became so in the US as well. One is a legal contract. One is a promise you make to your spouse before God.

    Key the law and religion disconnected..... when they are tied together very bad things happen.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Aug. 2, 2016 8:17 p.m.

    I find this to be a very satisfying compromise, personally. I am also somewhat gratified that Gary Johnson understands how important the Mormon vote is to his campaign—probably far more so than it usually is in elections. An alliance between Mormons and the Libertarian Party, even if only temporarily, would be beneficial to both, and to the country.

  • dwalk Albuquerque, NM
    Aug. 2, 2016 8:15 p.m.

    As long as Gary Johnson advocates for abortion and the smoking of pot - he will never have my vote as support.
    When your children or grand children ask if you supported someone who was in favor of abortions and the use of Pot, are you going to feel good when you say yes?

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 6:18 p.m.

    Imagine law suits if religions could ever complain. Instead, we focus on long suffering and forgiveness and taking hit after hit. Yet we can take it since we know we are winning. We don't fight. We don't protest, nor do we riot. Just take it on chin and let the heavens pull the strings.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 6:13 p.m.

    Who is Johnson?

  • blackattack Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 5:55 p.m.

    Ok, I feel much better about him as a candidate. I still am unsure who I will vote for, but Trump and Hillary won't be getting my vote.

  • Jim Cobabe Provo, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 5:54 p.m.

    Since so many presumed to know just what Johnson meant to say in the initial sound byte, it is rather refreshing to read something that actually comes from him.

  • RunningRN St. George, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 5:17 p.m.

    "If you care about who is right, vote Trump. If you care about what is right, vote Johnson."

    It seems like you left someone out, the candidate that I'll be voting for in November.

  • KEH Lynnwood, WA
    Aug. 2, 2016 5:14 p.m.

    I have never tried pot, but I voted to legalize it for adults.
    I am straight, but I voted for legal same sex marriage.
    I would be happy to help with a gay couple's wedding.
    I am horrified that my vote for Marriage Equality has been used to FORCE small business creatives like photographers, florists, bakers, etc.to participate in an event against their religious views or lose them family businesses. They did nothing to block the wedding, but The STATE destroyed them for their faith.
    You need a clear policy that expresses our shared belief that the legal marriage system needs to be open to all citizens, with the state not choosing who we love and that protects small businesses from being ruined for not wanting to participate in an EVENT w/their CREATIVE EXPRESSION. This would not cover retail of ready made goods or doing business outside the event.

    As I would not force gay creatives to do work for "Focus on the Family" I would not force these people to do their Art for an EVENT against their conscience. Even though I would. LIBERTY not PC!

  • MikevCampbell Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 4:38 p.m.

    @Noodlekaboodle- Gary retracted his statements on the LDS Church but he did not retract his statements against religious freedom. He has said several times that Religious freedom is a black hole. He has said that religion can't, under any circumstances, can't be used as an excuse for anything that could be considered discrimination.

    I didn't care at all when he said something silly and ignorant about Mormons. Heck, there are still people that think we have tails, horns, and multiple wives. I will give someone for misspeaking on the details of my religion. I will not look past a complete disregard for religious freedoms and the 1st amendment as a whole.

    I will not support someone who says that abortion rights simply come down to choice, JUST CHOICE (almost an exact quote) while not even allowing 'choice, just choice' to be the standard for religious freedom and freedom of religion.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 4:09 p.m.

    @Ronnie W.
    You make a really good point. I mean if most of us look at our lives, we've made mistakes and said something that we realize after the fact is rude, insensitive or flat out wrong. But owning that mistake is huge. Whether it's your boss at work, your spouse, or the leader of the free world, i'd much rather deal with a person who can own when they screw up instead of someone who doubles down and insists their mistakes are right.

  • Spencer Nelson Murray, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 4:07 p.m.

    "I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything. Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn't somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead."

    His original quote insinuates that Mormons are going to shoot people, not that the government persecuted Mormons in the 1800s.

    It doesn't add up to me.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:55 p.m.

    My concerns lie with the possible consequences of politically-driven legislation which claims to protect LGBT Americans but instead rolls back the legal protections guaranteed religious liberty in the constitution.

    That legislation, and unfortunately the court cases that have followed diminish public respect for and commitment to the legitimate protection of the right to believe, to practice and to express deeply-held religious beliefs.

    Johnson praises the Utah compromise, but to many on the left it is anathema, and they will seek to overturn it in the courts first chance they get.

    What is unfortunate is the left does not deny their laws and rulings restrict religious liberties; they only try to justify them.

  • Bountiful Guy Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:55 p.m.

    @mr. brightside

    The Utah law speaks nothing of what I'm talking about. It has to do with housing and other benefits all citizens are entitled to. It does not address my specific questions, and that's that I want to know from Gary.


  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:44 p.m.

    Is not making a cake for somebody considered "serious harm"? Because he keeps coming back to this example.

    If somebody refused to make a cake for me because I was Mormon... I would say "OK"... and either not have a cake, or go to the baker next door and buy a cake. No serious harm.

    Why force the guy to make you a cake... even if he doesn't want too?


    People do weird things, for weird reasons, all the time (not just for religious reasons).

    I don't know why somebody wouldn't make a cake for somebody, but I don't think it's a big deal. Not important enough to get the government involved and force him to do it (even if he claims it violates his religious beliefs).

    I don't see how making a cake would violate anybody's religious beliefs, but if they feel it does... who are we (or the government) to force them to violate that belief... just to make us happy?

    IMO the government should not force anybody to violate their religious beliefs... even if it makes us happy to force them to make that cake.

  • mr. brightside Layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:37 p.m.

    @Bountiful Guy

    I don't know the specifics of all his positions. But he criticizes Indiana's religious liberty legislation while speaking highly of Utah's. That gives us some idea of what he would do.

  • mr. brightside Layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:34 p.m.

    I would love to have a calm, level-headed, and honest person like this as President. Is he perfect? Of course not. No one is. But he's decent and qualified which makes him the frontrunner for my vote.

  • Bountiful Guy Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:28 p.m.

    Gary makes it seem more simple than it is. I would ask Gary to comment on the right of a religion to say what it sin and what is not. Can a religion declare that acting on sexual urges that are not male/female within the bounds of legal marriage is against church tenets or not? Can a church have qualifications to enter the temple that include sexual activity outside the bounds of a religious defined unit of male and female? Would Gary protect religious liberty, even though it clearly discriminates? Every qualification of every kind discriminates against those who do not qualify. Until Gary can say what he really means, I would not vote for him.

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2016 3:11 p.m.

    Unlike Trump, Johnson can apologize. Unlike Trump, Johnson will admit mistakes.

    I believe Johnson misspoke in a big way. But I believe he recognizes that. If something this small will make you not vote for someone I can only assume the candidates from the 2 main parties lost your vote a long time ago.

    If you care about who is right, vote Trump. If you care about WHAT is right, vote Johnson.