What Republicans and Democrats get wrong about religious freedom

Here's what faith leaders and legal experts believe has gone wrong with public understanding of and engagement with religious freedom.

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  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2019 10:47 p.m.

    Most all of the wars in the history of the world have been fought over religion which is pretty sad. People do not need religion as much as they need increased spirituality and a moral code of just being a decent, caring human being. If people had this we would not have any wars. Religion becomes a weapon people use against each other or to try to be superior to those around them.

  • RedShirtUofU Andoria, UT
    May 17, 2019 1:44 p.m.

    To "skeptic" you got that backwards. Government takes away freedom and most religions can set you free.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 17, 2019 12:47 p.m.

    Religion is the antithesis of freedom. It is a synthetic create in man's imagination. Politics, is the engine powering religion's opposition to God's laws of nature and science. The more power religion has the less freedom man has.

  • Bayou Queen STENNIS CTR, MS
    May 17, 2019 9:48 a.m.

    Although I enjoy lively debate about any issue, I've found many here in my very conservative community avow that if I'm not "saved" or "born again" I am doomed to burn in Hell. No debate, end of subject. When I say "that is your truth but although I believe in a power greater than anything, I believe that there are a million paths to peace and enlightenment." They diminish me with liberal, atheist, feminist, and my words are typical of baby killers quoting Bible to justify not being judged. "Jesus tells us to judge" and finally that I am tainted by Satan.

    There is NO religious freedom here, UNLESS it is THEIRS.

  • milojthatch Los Angeles, CA
    May 16, 2019 4:30 p.m.

    Freedom of Religion is really about freedom of thought. That’s always been at the heart of it, and that concept doesn’t require the individual citizen to even be religious. Ergo, these laws that curb religious liberty ultimately hurt everyone, even Liberals or gays. Nothing more tyrannical than a government that controls your thoughts or freedom to express them publicly.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2019 3:50 p.m.

    @KSM's Dad
    "Forcing a person to violate beliefs, lifestyle and values in favor of another’s beliefs lifestyle and values is not freedom."

    I don't see any complaining that Utahns were forced to adapt to the civil rights era and even went so far as to change their racist religious beliefs so it seems like people made it through those attacks on their beliefs just fine. Now just substitute gay for black and it's just the same thing again.

  • Daniel L. Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2019 2:11 p.m.

    For me the most important part of religious freedom is that it is intended to allow diversity of opinion and discussion in the public sphere. Without religious freedom, there is no guarantee that anyone would be able to promote any of their ideas - religious view, sexual orientation, or political party. By restricting one's ability to discuss their point of view in public is a restriction on the freedom of all people. Therefore, it is the guarantee of religious freedom that has gotten us to where we are today - that of diverging opinions becoming more widely accepted for open discussion in public.
    With the guarantee of open public debate, this permits public filtering of ideas instead of government censorship, to determine the paths we, as a people, would like to follow.
    We cannot discredit a person because they hold a particular point of view, but we should be engaged in vigorous debate about the positive social benefits and the negative social impacts that such points of view will have on our community.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    May 16, 2019 12:30 p.m.

    @RedShirt
    The SCOTUS has never ruled that the Civil Rights Act (1964) or similar laws violates the First or Fourteenth Amendments.

    And no, a baker who refused service based on the religion of the customer would quite obviously be violating the CRA (1964).

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 16, 2019 11:03 a.m.

    To "Jeremiah S" but you have failed to address the big question. Which do you follow when 1st Amendment and the 14th Amendment end up conflicting?

    If you read the 14th Amendment and take it at face value, then you cannot force a person to defy their religious beliefs. What that means is that the laws that force a person to act against their religious beliefs should be against the constitution because the 14th Amendment says that "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" That means you can't make a law that would abridge your 1st Amendment rights.

    Here is the equal protection part. That means that if you are a LGBTQ baker and you don't want to serve heterosexual weddings, Christian events, or whatever, you can do so. See, equal protection, your beliefs and theirs.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    May 16, 2019 10:38 a.m.

    To "Jeremiah S" and what about the 1st Amendment?

    We are not saying that a bakery can deny selling off the shelf items. What we have been saying is that when a baker, photographer, etc.. is working on custom works for an event they disagree with because of their religion that their 1st Amendment rights should be upheld.

    What that means is that if you want something that isn't available to everybody, such as a custom work of art or time or whatever, that the business owner can decide who they will and will not do business with. This applies to gays as well as straight people.

    What do you call it when you say you don't want to do something, but the government tells you that if you don't you will be put in jail or your business will be shut down? Most people would say that is forcing you to act against your will.

    Imagine if the government said today that acting out on your gay beliefs was against the law, and if anybody found you acting gay that you could be arrested and your assets taken. Would you just sit back and comply?

  • Thucydides Herriman, UT
    May 16, 2019 10:17 a.m.

    @RG

    "we’ve been told over and over for the last 40 years that we only have 5 years left until doomsday. But all those dire predictions never come true, do they?"

    Who exactly, has been telling us this? You are using a straw man argument, quite obviously and egregiously.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    May 16, 2019 10:16 a.m.

    RG - "if you haven’t noticed, we’ve been told over and over for the last 40 years that we only have 5 years left until doomsday. But all those dire predictions never come true, do they?"

    And that same phenomenon has gone on with religion's false predicting and prophesying for over 2,000 years, and that's OK with believers?

  • Jeremiah S Fielding, UT
    May 16, 2019 9:20 a.m.

    RedShirt: Again, I want to make the point that equal protection under the law is a Constitutional principle. We live by the Constitution. If a business owner is offering products and services to the public and is licensed to do so, we decided a few decades ago that it is not ok to categorically deny service to a class of people (in this case it was African Americans). And it was settled in the courts that this is a fourteenth amendment issue, and that the government would provide equal protection to all US citizens. Saying that the government would force you to do x, y, or z isn't exactly accurate--it is the Constitution that provides such protections--not some nebulous and nefarious "government". This is an important distinction.

    The best way to protect our own civil rights is to ensure the civil rights of others. I think it's important to protect both religious freedom AND equal protection. I want folks to believe, worship, and live as they will. However, I still don't understand how it violates a specific religious tenet to do business with gay people. Jesus said "if a man compels you to walk a mile, walk with him in twain" not "thou shalt not bake a cake for a gay person".

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    May 16, 2019 8:49 a.m.

    @Nobody Special “While Republicans want to ban any and all members of the world's second largest religion from entering the United States.” Not true. Trumps ban was only on those from certain nations that tended to harbor terrorists. The world’s largest Muslim nation is Indonesia; it has millions and millions of Muslims; and it was not included in Trump’s ban.

    @Thucydides Regarding “climate change” as a bigger challenge than religious freedom: If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been told over and over for the last 40 years that we only have 5 years left until doomsday. But all those dire predictions never come true, do they?

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    May 16, 2019 8:36 a.m.

    All the same old arguments and personal attacks, barely re-warmed for the next (of a plethora of) articles about so-called "religious freedom".

    Nobody is listening; nobody is convincing anyone else. Nobody is even trying to consider the impact of their position on those who are not like themselves.

    Round and round it goes. Where it stops, we all know: impasse, broken only by paying off legislators, wresting the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and manipulating the voters.

    C'est la vie!

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    May 16, 2019 7:27 a.m.

    To "Laura Bilington" no, I don't believe that. That was the belief of "Jeremiah S".

    To "Jeremiah S" ok, then expand that to any harm. So tell us, how do you decide who's harm is more important? I can hurt a gay person's feelings by saying "No, I won't use my abilities against my religious beliefs" or a gay person can harm my feelings and business by saying "I will use the full force of government to force you to go against your religious beliefs."

    Which person's harm is more important, how do you decide who's rights to uphold and who's rights to take away?

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    May 15, 2019 7:22 p.m.

    @Redshirt, you seem to believe that unless there is physical harm, then nobody should complain.

    May I remind you that being "forced" by law to make a cake or photograph a wedding that you don't agree with will, in no way, cause you physical harm.

  • Jeremiah S Fielding, UT
    May 15, 2019 4:54 p.m.

    Hi RedShirt! I wish I were in SoCal... Anyway...

    If you read my post carefully, you will see that I did not use the phrase "physical harm". There are other kinds of harm, and some far more insidious. Talk to someone who was on the wrong side of segregation pre-1960s and they will tell you there was harm done.

    One of the problems with the present religious liberty discussion is that it is happening almost exclusively in the context of discriminating against others. From the appearance of it, the core of some religious practices is public and humiliating exclusion of others. I don't think that's really what Christianity is about... BTW--the difference between a "gay wedding cake" and a heterosexual wedding cake is...drum roll...nothing! I think you're being a bit coy here...

    To All: I think the claim that full LGBT civil rights would mean the "government" coercing religious adherents to to a particular or special action is inaccurate. It's the Constitution that guarantees equal protection, an important difference in a discussion of constitutional issues.

    Also: Do you know what the LGBT "agenda" is? It is simply to live a productive, good life like everyone else. That's it!

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    May 15, 2019 4:11 p.m.

    To "Jeremiah S" if physical harm is the qualifier for when the government has to step in to prevent the religious practices from going on then polygamy should be allowed to be practiced as long as it is a choice and does not involve forced teenage marriages.

    Now, as this applies to LGBT people and their conflicts with religious people, can you tell us what physical harm is there if somebody doesn't make a custom cake for them? What physical harm is there if a photographer declines to photograph their wedding? What physical harm is there if a fertility doctor refuses to impregnate one of them? What physical harm is there if a religiously based adoption agency declines their application?

    Who is trying "to categorically deny goods and services to whole classes of people based upon who they are intrinsically" In the case of the the Colorado baker, he wouldn't make a gay wedding cake for anybody. A heterosexual couple could ask for a cake for a gay wedding and they would have been denied the same as a gay couple.

    However, you haven't addressed the opposing view. Why is it ok for a LGBT person to force a business owner to act contrary to their beliefs?

  • Jeremiah S Fielding, UT
    May 15, 2019 3:37 p.m.

    If you were to ask a gay person, or an intersex person, for example, whether they "chose" to be gay or intersex I'm pretty sure most of them would say "No. It is who I am". Even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints now teaches in their literature that it is a "complex reality" for them. In other words, their gayness or intersexedness exists independently of anyone's beliefs or teachings about it, and they should be entitled to equal protection under the law like everyone else. If we decide that it isn't OK to categorically deny goods and services to whole classes of people based upon who they are intrinsically, then it isn't right to deny gays or intersex individuals publicly available goods and services.

    The first amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, but what does "free exercise" mean? It means that we can believe in whatever we wish and worship how we wish as long as it doesn't harm other persons. I could believe that human sacrifice is necessary to propitiate the Sun God, but I cannot actually sacrifice a person on my altar at home. Are my religious liberties being trampled in this case? It's a somewhat ridiculous example, but you can see my point.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    May 15, 2019 2:24 p.m.

    Ranch,
    Reversing the argument as in your first paragraph doesn't work, since the founding fathers had no inkling of LGBT activism/marriage but did make eliminating governmental interference in religion their "first" and most important right. You might want to re-reread, and perhaps study up on a little basic American history, such as the pilgrims, why the US was founded, the Christian beliefs it was founded on, etc.

    And your great-grandpappy's Christianity wasn't just "love everyone despite them pushing their atheist agenda on others"; it was instead "keep the commandments, all ten of them plus others enumerated in the NT by the Apostle Paul.

    I think you miss the mark on how much tolerance he and others would have had for those (even descendants) who would try to squelch religious freedom and practice and toss his Bible into the bonfire.

    Those long-deceased Christians of former days, including the founding fathers, and the founders of Utah, stood strong in their belief of moral right and wrong and good and evil. Many of them died by persecution and in wars to protect those religious beliefs, which they felt included morality and keeping commandments, along with loving others.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    May 15, 2019 2:23 p.m.

    To "Jeremiah S" it isn't the "full civil rights" that the church is concerned about. It is the exclusive rights that the LGBT get through legislation that trump the Constitutional rights.

    Think of it this way. Why is it ok for the LGBT community to force somebody to violate their religious beliefs, but isn't ok for a religious person to deny participating in an LGBT event?

    As for marriage, why do Gay people want to co-opt that term. It isn't the same thing to have 2 people of the same gender married as it is a heterosexual couple. Had the gay community gone for a different term that would have been legally the same, there wouldn't have been as much push back.

    To "Ranch" but your ilk doesn't want equal protections. They want additional protections that nobody else gets, and with the support of liberal politicians they are getting them. Your ilk wants to go from being persecuted to becoming the persecutors.

    As for the 14th Amendment, what do you do when it conflicts with the 1st Amendment. If you make a law, that when applied takes away a person's ability to freely practice their religion what do you do?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, UT
    May 15, 2019 2:23 p.m.

    Before debating who believes in "religious freedom", shouldn't we first define "religious freedom".

    Religion is worship of God or god or gods, depending on the person who worships.

    Freedom is the lack of restraint from GOVERNMENT to worship.

    Religious Freedom guarantees me the right to refust to participate in any ceremony or rite that, to me, is religious in nature if that ceremony or rite is contrary to my religious beliefs, i.e., I can't be forced by government to bake a cake or to photograph a ceremony that violates my religious practice.

    No person can claim that their "religious" belief forces me to marry them, or to honor their marriage ceremony. That is not freedom; that is coercion.

    I think that we're at the point, where refusal to honor another person's personal beliefs is coming under attack as a violation of their "religious freedom". That is nonsense. Religion cannot coerce another person to do anything - anything. That is what religious freedom means.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    May 15, 2019 2:17 p.m.

    @Ranch: "As for "recent invention", Something several thousand years old (same gender marriages) doesn't fit that category. "

    Are you sure you want to appeal to Caligula's antics? In the roughly 1000 years of Anglo-English-American Jurisprudence, legal benefits for homosexual relationships are a "recent invention" and imposed by the courts. A full 31 States--including liberal California--had overwhelming votes to confirm marriage as between a man and a woman.

    "Search "Senate Bill 17, Texas". Other states (TN, KY, "

    There is a difference between protecting small business owners from frivolous and mean-sprited lawsuits intended to punish politically incorrect views, and someone actually wanted to deny general goods and services to sexual minorities. I don't think you can find more than a single case a year--in a nation of 320 million--of a business owner refusing to serve a sexual minority because of sexual orientation/identity.

    Refusing to attend your party is not discrimination any more than a singer refusing to perform at the white house, or a drug company refusing to sell drugs for an execution. Stop asking for special treatment. Nobody has to attend my wedding.

  • Liberal Mormon Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 2:12 p.m.

    The fact that some see "ignoring the needs of religious minorities, while the political left can act as if Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and Hindus are the only people of faith who need to be protected" as equally bad is just ridiculous.

    Newsflash, sometimes the rights of minorities or any group, really, when those rights are under threat, may need to be prioritized in terms of achieving protection. Not because they are minority rights, but because they are at-risk rights that ought to be equal for everyone.

    So, ignoring the needs of religious minorities is far more grievous. And many on the right view a shuffle down of their privilege as the same as a loss of their right, when it just isn't the case.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 15, 2019 1:32 p.m.

    @Orson;

    It's not in the constitution that religious activists should seek to impose their agenda on others. Perhaps you might do a little closer reading of that document. There is no constitutional right to push the religious agenda on others while trampling civil rights. That stuff is all really recent inventions.

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to worship as you choose, it doesn't give businesses the right to refuse to serve "unworthy" customers. The 14th Amendment (not "new to the scene") guarantees that the government will accord me the *same* protections it affords you. Since it protects the "religious" from discrimination by me, it must protect me from discrimination by the "religious". Civil rights are for all.

    For the record, I'm sure my grandpappy would be more than happy to support EQUAL treatment of all citizens in the public square. As a "moral" Christian, he believed in treating others as he'd want to be treated.

    As for "recent invention", Something several thousand years old (same gender marriages) doesn't fit that category. However, "god says I don't have to serve you because you're a sinner" is fairly new to the scene.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 1:29 p.m.

    Yes, "People have the right to be wrong." But, they should not be able to impose that wrongness on society. Your religious freedom is being allowed to practice your beliefs in your personal life. Religious freedom is not, and I repeat, not, being allowed to discriminate against those who do not align with your beliefs.

  • superdaveosborne Centerville, UT
    May 15, 2019 1:11 p.m.

    If I don't feel LGBTQ should marry in my temple or church is that discrimination?
    If I don't what my church to allow lesbians to be bishops is that discrimination?
    If I don't want my 5th grader being taught safe gay relationships is that discrimination?
    If my church doesn't give LGBTQ every demand they want, does it loose their tax exempt status?

    Of course losing housing or job or any other discrimination in the public sphere should not be allowed but were does it stop?

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    May 15, 2019 1:07 p.m.

    Ranch,
    It's not in the constitution that LGBT activists should seek to impose their agenda on others. Perhaps you might do a little closer reading of that document. LGBT activists have simply hitched their wagon to the civil rights movement as a means of furthering their agenda. There is no constitutional right to push the LGBT agenda on others while trampling religious freedom. That stuff is all really recent inventions.

    I bet your great grand-pappy would have agreed; he was probably a Bible-believing moral Christian. Just guessing here, but most US folks used to be. That is why our country has until recently been so strong and productive and produced those referred to as "the greatest generation", who are now almost all gone.

  • Jeremiah S Fielding, UT
    May 15, 2019 12:53 p.m.

    I like the idea of "getting to know" someone who doesn't share your beliefs, or has a different life experience than you. It's very easy to pick up polarizing language and views from our echo-chambers, and then allow them to prevent us from openly considering the views of others.

    I am Mormon and LGBT. I grew up Mormon and understand the position of the Church regarding the rights of LGBT people. I would like to ask a question--what exactly is it that the Church fears will be done to them if LGBT people finally get full civil rights in the US? Is it as simple as "I don't like what this gay couple is doing, so I don't want to rent an apartment to them..."? Or is it more sinister, like fear of lawsuits and retribution? Because regardless of the source of convictions about sexual minorities, the consequences as just as damaging to them.

    Take for example Proposition 8--does it really matter if a person voted to deny marriage to gay people because of sincerely held religious beliefs? or because of malice? The consequence is the same--gay people couldn't marry because of that vote. Can you imagine a government telling you that you can't marry? Put yourself in others' shoes...

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    May 15, 2019 12:53 p.m.

    Ranch here,
    If peoples “Superstitions” don’t count, then in fairness, neither do yours.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 12:52 p.m.

    Ranch,
    If you can’t see both sides of the issues you are as the six blind men trying to describe an elephant while only touching one part. Your question shows you don’t even use language the same. I understand what you’re saying but because you only see one side you wouldn’t understand the answer. This whole article wasn’t about one side or the other but on learning to use love to learn the same language.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 15, 2019 12:50 p.m.

    I can see why everyone gets confused when the vast majority of articles headlined “Religious Liberty” in this newspaper define it as being in tension with LGBTQ rights. I rarely read much of anything else.

  • imsmarterthanyou Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 12:41 p.m.

    democrats get everything wrong. Example: the democrats seem to think communism is a great idea for America since it has worked so well for other nations that have tried it.

  • Hockey Fan Miles City, MT
    May 15, 2019 12:21 p.m.

    After reading through the different opinions that have been posted here and elsewhere, I have come to the following conclusions:
    1. Under the guise of inclusiveness, people are exclusive.
    2. Under the guise of tolerance, people are intolerant.
    3. Under the guise of anti-discrimination, people are discriminatory.
    4. Under the guise of heterogeneity, people are more comfortable with homogeneity.

    We live in a world in which people have differing beliefs, philosophies, and values. Those differences breed disagreements. Those disagreements breed contention and animosity. The threaded discussion within this article is in itself a microcosm of society's inability or unwillingness to engage in collaborative dialogue rather than counterproductive diatribe.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 15, 2019 11:58 a.m.

    @orson;

    Speaking of "such a small minority", do you realize that there are more LGBT people in the USA alone than there are Mormons worldwide? So, don't start using that "small minority" thing to deny "minorities"; you're an even smaller group.

    As for "made up civil right", ALL Americans are entitled to equal treatment - it's in the Constitution.

    Religious freedom does not include the right to deny business, services, medical care, products on the open market to LGBT citizens.

    If you want Fair and Equal (which the church's statement says) for everybody, then that means that Everybody gets protected from discrimination in the public sphere, not just "religious" people.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    May 15, 2019 11:04 a.m.

    @sashabill

    Being called a bigot does not interfere with your religion. Having laws passed in which hospitals can deny LGBT people services does threaten their lives.

  • byugraduate Las Vegas, NV
    May 15, 2019 11:00 a.m.

    All religions and charities should be paying taxes. Fairness for all!

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 15, 2019 10:49 a.m.

    RiDal says:

    "Freedom" really means "freedom"? No person should be persecuted for the way they are. but there simply is no "right to force others to do business with you". If a person does not have the right to choose with whom they will do business, then they really do not have freedom. It is as simple as that."

    -- A LGBT business owner does NOT have the "freedom" to deny services to a religious customer. Do you have a problem with that too? If not...

    The 14th Amendment AMENDS the Constitution AND the 1st Amendment - EQUAL protection.

    @SLCWatch;

    How is serving all customers equally discrimination against the religious?

    @WB;

    Prove that gay behavior is "immoral" - your superstitions don't count.

    @neece & Rock;

    How do I know which doc or bkr will serve me? They won't advertise their policy because they're afraid of losing business.

    @NoNames:

    "nobody is asking to deny goods or services to sexual minorities."

    Search "Senate Bill 17, Texas". Other states (TN, KY, etc.). This proves your statement wrong - it's been pointed out many times but you Ignore the truth and keep spreading false info.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    May 15, 2019 10:38 a.m.

    "People have a right to be wrong."
    That is correct but applies to religious freedom.

    Activists, pushing their LGBT agenda on others, have no such right as so categorized. Their only right comes from free speech and a new invented supposedly civil right.

    So you have LGBT people claiming their right of free speech trumps religious people's right of freedom of religion and free speech/press. Incredibly arrogant for such a small percentage of the population. Best we remember what the first right in the bill of rights is.

    The most ironic thing about all of this is that most of the grandparents/great-grandparents of LGBT activists were God-fearing Christians that would have strongly opposed their descendants LGBT activism and would have fought to protect religious freedom. It is only as their descendants became agnostic, secular, and atheistic, that they also began to promote the new LGBT agenda. The guy was very right about this controversy being fairly new, accompanying the rise of secular humanism in the country/world. So very sad.

  • Sharkey Layton, UT
    May 15, 2019 10:13 a.m.

    I am convinced that secularism in the public square keeps the peace. The 1993 Restoration of Religious Freedom Act was never needed. Democrats wanted to protect minorities and Republicans wanted Christianity declared the national religion.

    The LDS church has a seminary at every public school in Utah. 90 percent of the legislature is LDS. Utah had restrictive alcohol and abortion laws, yet felt the need for further laws as soon as the Supreme Court was majority Catholic. I am not particularly a LGBTQ advocate, but how can they expect fair treatment? Women aren't yet accorded a reasonable autonomy. Frankly, transgender women and gay guys, welcome to a woman's world. Half the population is scared to go out alone at night - you aren't unique in that respect.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    May 15, 2019 10:12 a.m.

    @NoNamesAccepted

    Yes, if your religion requires modesty don't work in a store where the uniform is immodest.

    If your religion prevents you from completing a job for all customers--do not take that job.

  • sashabill , CA
    May 15, 2019 10:02 a.m.

    The Atheist, "Totalitarian" or "fascist" tendencies? Last time I checked, the conservative Christians aren't the ones who shout "bigot," "hatemonger" or homophobe" at anybody who disagrees with them, send hate mail or death threats to small business owners, hound people out of their jobs because of how they voted, or try to marginalize religious groups off of college campuses (all of this, while professing to believe in "pluralism," "tolerance," and diversity.")

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    May 15, 2019 9:46 a.m.

    @dmcvey: "If your religion forbids supplying contraceptives--don't be a pharmacist. If your religion forbids handling or selling wine or pork--don't be a cashier in a supermarket that sells wine and pork."

    So if your religion requires modest attire, don't work at a clothing store whose employee uniform is immodest? Or do certain religious beliefs get reasonable accomodation while others must bow to your beliefs?

    There are differences between contraceptives and aborficants.

    Don't like the selection in my pharmacy? Shop elsewhere.

    forbids giving health services to LGBT people"

    Well past time to drop this dishonest, inaccurate claim. Nobody, nobody is asking to deny goods or services to sexual minorities. We are claiming our rights not to promote nor participate in any event that offends us. If top tier muscians can refuse to perform at the White House and can refuse to let certain politcians buy the rights to use their music in campaigns, if billion $ drug companies can refuse to sell drugs for lawful executions--even as they sell to medicare--then bakers and photographers can decline to support homosexual marriages. No doc should have to perform gender reassignment surgery.

  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    May 15, 2019 9:44 a.m.

    Because of the prominent case involving the wedding cake (which thankfully did not end up requiring the cake artist to create something he did not want to), the perception is that there are people in the LGBTQ community that want to force people to do things that they don't want to do.

    If there is no protection for individual beliefs, I imagine hate-filled people on both sides going to various faith and LGBTQ groups and requiring them to do things in retaliation.

    There are gay bakers, too, who don't want to be compelled to make specific cakes. No one would want to be compelled to put a swastika on top of their cake, for example, even though the law allows for it to be done.

    There are hate-filled people who hold an entire group responsible for the actions of some. Forgiveness and love is needed from all.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    May 15, 2019 9:37 a.m.

    @junkgeek: "discriminate in the public sphere against the gay community."

    Depends on how you define "discrimination" and how you define the "public sphere".

    Does a religious college have a right to maintain religiously derived standards of sexual behavior for its students and employees? May it do so even if its students use Pell grants or federal student loans to pay for school?

    Does a wedding photographer enjoy the same rights to decline job offers at homosexual weddings as a singer does to decline offers to perform at a White House event?

    Does a custom cake baker have the same rights to refuse to sell his products for use at celebrations of homosexual relationships as a billion $ drug company has to refuse to sell its products for us in executions?

    @Ranch: "excuse to discriminate against others. Treat others as you'd be treated yourself."

    I do not discriminate. I treat others as I'd like to be treated. I'll sell any off-the-shelf product to anyone.

    I do not expect anyone to support or promote or attend a temple open house, missionary event, NRA fundraiser, or GOP political campaign if they don't want to. Likewise, I won't attend or support celebrations of homosexuality.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 15, 2019 9:34 a.m.

    The bottom line of what religions fear and want protection from is the truth. Religion and superstitions can not survive and grow in the light of truth and reality. Organized religion is a dark business that grows in the darkness of ignorance and falters in the enlightenment of education. Today's world is progressing in the strength of enlightenment and religion is seeking political cover to impede exposure to its underbelly of falsehoods and fantasies. Religion is the biggest business in today's world and it is going bankrupt. Religions last battle cry will be to destroy the earth before surrendering to the truth and science.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    May 15, 2019 9:33 a.m.

    @KSM's Dad wrote,
    "Forcing a person to violate beliefs, lifestyle and values in favor of another’s beliefs lifestyle and values is not freedom."

    You are implying that you have the right work wherever you want but don't want to be "forced" do work with certain groups of people. In many states, you don't have any such right.
    If eating pork offends your religious beliefs, then don't apply for a restaurant job. Your employer is not going to accept "freedom" as an excuse to not serve somebody who wants bacon with their eggs. If you own the restaurant, that's different--you're free to keep pork off the menu for everybody.

    If you find the concept of integrated schools offensive to your beliefs, then don't apply for a job as a teacher. Don't take a position and then cite "religious freedom" to get the nonwhite kids transferred out of your class. It's not going to go over well.

    And if you're offended at the idea of certain people getting married, then don't work with wedding related stuff, period. Open up a bakery or a photography studio but don't do wedding-related stuff for anybody at all. You won't be "forced" to do stuff you don't want and everybody will be happy.

  • Thucydides Herriman, UT
    May 15, 2019 9:30 a.m.

    Given the sheer number of stories the DN is producing on the issue of religious freedom, along with recent statements from our elected leaders, one might think this is the most pressing issue of our time, and deserving of our most urgent attention.

    ... Not climate change, the threat of nuclear war, or technological disruption. I fear future generations will judge us harshly.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    May 15, 2019 9:26 a.m.

    @ Lighton

    “From a conservative perspective, the left uses logic and reasoning that drives us crazy. “

    From an atheist’s perspective, it is the absence of logic and reasoning that drives us crazy.

    However we define “religious freedom”, it will be arbitrary - and that’s a big ask for some of us to sign on to. And if we’re being asked specifically to accommodate a modicum of discrimination against a fellow human, that really is crossing a hard line for many of us.

    I’m driven crazy that religious conservatives cannot embrace the same hard line against discrimination - and that the LDS Church cannot support the Equality Act. That seems out-of-sync with religious ideals, to me.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    May 15, 2019 8:48 a.m.

    To the left, religious freedom includes all religions but is meant to protect the practice of those religions--not that religious people get to force their beliefs on everyone else. If your religion forbids supplying contraceptives--don't be a pharmacist. If your religion forbids handling or selling wine or pork--don't be a cashier in a supermarket that sells wine and pork. If your religion forbids giving health services to LGBT people--don't get in the healthcare business.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 15, 2019 8:34 a.m.

    When a Evangelical Christian owned company cancelled advertising that I had purchased in their magazine, because of my LDS religion, I did not sue. I only sought to have my money refunded.
    When a Christian owned business declines to bake a cake, supply flowers, etc. for a same sex wedding, they get sued down to their shorts.

    The LGBQT crowd seeks to weaponize anti discrimination laws. The goal of some is to destroy anyone who opposes their position.

    Most of us just move onto a company that wants to do business with us when we encounter a company that does not. That is called tolerance. The LGBQT crowd does not appear to have any tolerance.

    The anti discrimination laws sought by some seek to legally force others to violate their religion, in a land where religious liberty is supposedly guaranteed.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 15, 2019 8:28 a.m.

    The Christian right keeps sounding the alarm that religious freedom is in peril, some eroded by new laws, new policies, or court rulings. In my view, the threat is frequently overblown by alarmists and, in some cases, almost entirely imaginary.

  • neece Hyde Park, UT
    May 15, 2019 8:28 a.m.

    @Unrepentant Progressive

    "This is the most telling part of the argument: "the political right needs to show that religious freedom is about more than side-stepping LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws".

    I think you hit it on the head. if we keep going this way there will be nothing but problems... how about we keep our religious freedoms & Beliefs, and the LGBTQ community go to a doctor, baker, whom ever that honors their beliefs. Why does it have to be my way no matter what? if we all just get along, and understand each others beliefs. If you go to a doctor, baker or whom ever that doesn't believe, just go to one who does? If I don't like a doctor, baker etc. and I don't like them or their views or beliefs I just go to another one. I don't force the Muslim people to believe my way or else... This way everyone is respected in their own freedoms.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    May 15, 2019 8:18 a.m.

    To "junkgeek" who is doing that? The most recent cases where discrimination was occurring in the public square that I know of have been by LGBT business owners kicking out Christians.

    To "NobodySpecial " who wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US?

  • Western Boomer Wellington, FL
    May 15, 2019 8:12 a.m.

    The problem is that religion wants moral behavior to be universal, while gay advocates want immoral behavior to be universally accepted. Those two positions cannot be reconciled. Morallity and Immorality cannot co-exist together under any pretense of reconciliation, so this war over religion versus gay rights is never going to end.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:57 a.m.

    We all have our own routine, what we do religiously. The Lord's prayer to for give our debts "as" we forgive our debtors. The golden rule, do into others "as" we would want them to do into you. As . The eye for an eye an tooth for a tooth would make a lot of blind an toothless people. May be we are, can't see the good news of the Cross or can't speak about it.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:54 a.m.

    When making blanket statements of “us vs them” one should look from both perspectives. Such as:

    There is no religious justification to discriminate in the public sphere against the gay community.

    There is no gay justification to discriminate in the public sphere against the religious community.

    If you can’t see it from both sides perhaps you really can’t see.

  • Lighton PLEASANT GROVE, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:37 a.m.

    From a conservative perspective, the left uses logic and reasoning that drives us crazy. The condescending "There will be no problems with this law! (unspoken--if you comply and become enlightened)". "Discrimination is always wrong! (Really?! We make tough choices every day--we always discriminate on some basis)". "Religion is the problem! (a honest look at history greatly disputes this assertion--persecution against religious people has been more problematic than persecution by religious leaders / regimes)." "We are on the right side of history!" (sometimes societies decline and even crash and burn--if you get your way that is where we are headed).
    I think compromise and reasonable actions will get the best results. From my view, that is not what the left wants--it's that comply or die mentality that gets my side righteously defensive.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:16 a.m.

    "Many liberals and leftists, meanwhile, seem to think that 'pluralism,' 'diversity,' and religious liberty only apply to non-Christians."

    That is the doing of Christians, who have "totalitarian" and "fascist" tendencies built into their ideology, and who push out, marginalize, and have contempt for non-Christians.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:13 a.m.

    So many straw-men clouding this issue:
    "Freedom" really means "freedom"? No person should be persecuted for the way they are. but there simply is no "right to force others to do business with you". If a person does not have the right to choose with whom they will do business, then they really do not have freedom. It is as simple as that. Yes, that means that "bigots" are free too. Bigotry must be allowed to die naturally, or it instead festers and grows.

    The other straw-man is the definition of "rights". There simply is no "right for any minority to force everyone else to accept a new definition of marriage". Marriage is not just a "Christian ritual". Marriage is the oldest and most fundamental human institution. Even the famously-tolerant ancient Greeks did in have "gay marriage". They *tolerated* homosexuality, much the same way we already do. Plato wrote of his support for laws against it. Homer's Oddessey celebrated faithful heterosexual marriage. It is important to reiterate that no one should be persecuted or harassed in any way. But the fact is that there is no "right" to make people approve of you or change millenia-old institutions.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 15, 2019 7:10 a.m.

    "there's a great deal of suspicion and animosity around religious freedom."

    -- Because in EVERY instance of "religious freedom" issues these days, the ONLY group they want to be "free" from doing business with is LGBT. "Religious freedom" has become the rallying cry for discrimination in the public sphere. If it were truly about "religious freedom", then mixed-race deniers would be protected from baking the wedding cakes too - but that isn't the case - ONLY LGBT groups are being told to "go somewhere else". That isn't 'religious freedom' it's plain old bigotry.

    "We may think that another person's belief is wrong, but the premise behind religious freedom is that people have a right to be wrong,"

    -- I don't care if your beliefs are right OR wrong; you shouldn't be using them as an excuse to discriminate against others. Treat others as you'd be treated yourself.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    May 15, 2019 6:41 a.m.

    This is the most telling part of the argument: "the political right needs to show that religious freedom is about more than side-stepping LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws".

    We all have witnessed elements of fundamentalist Christianity political activities. As a rule this activity is in concert with the GOP and efforts to allow discrimination against the LGBTQ populace. Political Christianity is the real problem.

    As to the claim that the political left underestimates the value of Christianity in American society, I would say that this claim is overblown. Most on the political left have a religious affiliation and know full well the good that religion can bring to any person's life.

    The difference between the political left and right in this particular case is the weaponization of Christianity to seek law at odds with our national goal to treat every person equally in the eyes of the law. Energized politically right fundamentalist Christians don't believe in this simple goal enshrined in our founding documents, and seek a big "But" or "Except" for their seemingly guiding principle of LGBTQ prejudice.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    May 15, 2019 6:42 a.m.

    "[Elder Allen D. Haynie, General Authority Seventy] described meeting with a friend about 10 years ago who was outraged by his support for Proposition 8 in California, which prevented same-sex marriage. Elder Haynie and the woman sat together for an hour sharing their beliefs and concerns."

    I would like to know what concerns he had in 2008. What was said at the time by the Prop 8 supporters were some fears about "redefining marriage" and some fears about gay couples suing churches to force the churches to marry them in that particular religion's rites.

    It is now 2019. Marriage has not been redefined--it is still a legal union between two single, non-blood related, adults, who pledge fidelity to each other until one of them dies. Well over a half million same sex couples have married. Nobody has proposed, let alone, filed a lawsuit against the LDS church, demanding to be married in their houses of worship.

    Does Elder Haynie still have these concerns? Does he now believe that his fears were founded, or not? The article doesn't say.

  • The Dark Knight Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2019 6:37 a.m.

    What so many get wrong about religious freedom (and we're seeing this very prominently this week) is that it protects a individual's right to practice their religion, not to compel others to. Another way of getting religious freedom wrong is thinking it needs to to be a lead story almost every day. There are so many more serious issues going on today that are far more worthy of attention than the "religious freedom" bogeyman.

  • KSM's Dad Ogden, UT
    May 15, 2019 6:34 a.m.

    There's no LGBTQ justification to discriminate in the public sphere against the religious community.

    Forcing a person to violate beliefs, lifestyle and values in favor of another’s beliefs lifestyle and values is not freedom.

  • Den Den West Jordan, UT
    May 15, 2019 6:29 a.m.

    Politicians and the media always, always focus on the negative!

  • NobodySpecial Alpharetta, GA
    May 15, 2019 5:28 a.m.

    Democrats want to eliminate discrimination against gays.

    While Republicans want to ban any and all members of the world's second largest religion from entering the United States.

    Both sides are to blame!

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    May 15, 2019 4:51 a.m.

    "...the political left can act as if Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and Hindus are the only people of faith who need to be protected...."

    This is standard practice for the radical, politically correct leftists. Ignore Christians in favor of anyone else but Christians.

  • sashabill , CA
    May 14, 2019 11:31 p.m.

    As a longtime active Republican, I have noticed that a fair number of Republicans seem to equate the GOP with right wing Protestantism. When some of these people tell me that Mormons are "not Christian," I am tempted to ask: Does that also mean I am not a Republican? I fear that the GOP has largely slammed the door against Islam and other non-Christian religions in this country, alienating people who may be conservative in their leanings but are put off by the perceived hostile attitudes from Republicans.

    Many liberals and leftists, meanwhile, seem to think that "pluralism," "diversity," and religious liberty only apply to non-Christians.

  • junkgeek Agua Dulce, TX
    May 14, 2019 10:09 p.m.

    There's no religious justification to discriminate in the public sphere against the gay community.

  • China is Spying ,
    May 14, 2019 9:40 p.m.

    What about the FLDS, AUB, and Latter Day Church of Christ?

    From the article: "Make friends with somebody who doesn't share your faith," Schultz said.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 14, 2019 7:52 p.m.

    Here's d to get right about freedom...it's for individuals first and foremost. If individuals are free, their religion is also by definition free.
    Freedom accrues to people. Not ideologies, or institutions.

  • Deseret Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2019 7:43 p.m.

    Schultz is informative and savvy, and his advice is telling of the positions taken by Dems and Repubs with regard to the Equality bill in Congress: "The political left needs to recognize the value faith groups bring to society, while the political right needs to show that religious freedom is about more than side-stepping LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws."
    True. We can all be more grateful for the benefits of faith organizations. As for seeing current calls for religious freedom as more than attempts to subvert LGBTQ laws, it would help I think to not block such proposed laws in the name of religious freedom. If this is about fundamental rights for all, then why connect them at all? At least that is what I would ask Tim Schultz.