Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Religious Freedom and Dallin H Oaks

Before I taint you with my opinion on the issue, please click HERE to go read Elder Oaks talk in its entirety. I guess I would have ignored it completely as I did the homophobic rant of Elder Bruce C Hafen nearly four weeks ago but there seems to be a FoxNews type of push (repeat something frequently enough and the masses will take it as truth) by the LDS hierarchy to solidify their position among their doubting flocks on how to justify their archaic "separate but equal" position targeted at yet another "less valiant" categorization of people.

Let me start off by saying that I really don't think I need to say anything about it (but I will). It speaks volumes by itself. Seeing as how the official position of the LDS Church is political neutrality, Elder Oaks must have been reading from some of those politically neutral books layering the shelves of the Church-owned Deseret Book stores by the most fair and balanced man on the planet, Glenn Beck. Elder Oaks utilizes Brother Beck's argument tactics to a tee.

I realize that disagreeing with Elder Oaks is sure-fire apostasy because it was, of course, Elder Oaks who counseled against criticizing Church leaders and even went so far as to say that "It does not matter that the criticism is true" (Ensign, Feb 1987, 68). Mormon dogma is such that once a leader joins the Quorum of the Twelve or The First Presidency, the herd will generally accept their words as infallible revelation from God's mouth.

Oaks begins under the premise that religious freedom is under attack and targets two main enemies as his oppressors. Gays, atheists...wow, wonderfully predictable. Not to mention that everything he states as a fear of what COULD happen to religious people by liberal gay legislation is exactly what religious people embrace as inspired laws which are currently discriminating AGAINST gay and lesbian citizens. The hypocrisy is astounding...

Another thing, I know I've already blogged on this before but Elder Oaks has brought it up yet again. Have you ever known people that couldn't live without drama and/or crisis in their lives? Well, modern Mormons have a persecution complex. Joseph Smith once said, "I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions." I think modern Mormons seek out opportunities to be seen as a persecuted group. It lets them feel connected to their pioneer stories of yesteryear.

And so it is, even in the most obvious of situations, as Mormons again stand so clearly in the wrong, on yet another civil rights issue, we find Elder Oaks trying to convince the flock to see themselves as the oppressed and persecuted. Even funnier, knowing the historical treatment to blacks by the LDS organization, do we find Elder Oaks trying to strike comparisons of current Mormon suffering to "the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South."

The bulk of my frustration is a personal and continuing disappointment in the faith I grew up with. I've decided against going into a point by point dissection of why I disagree with Elder Oaks. Those who know me also know where I stand. To scrutinize his address seems a pointless endeavor, as I have learned from recent Facebook discussions. Most people's minds are already made up on the issues and have no intention of even entertaining new ideas. There are those who are incapable of recognizing any merit in my statements simply because they would refuse to see the content of my dissent and focus rather on my apostate actions in disagreeing with an apostle.

My greater disappointment is that nearly every time I take two steps closer to finding a way to co-exist as an active member and faithful dissident (to steal the name of one of my favorite semi-retired blogs), something like this happens to push me further away. I guess I've been holding to the Christian hope that things will reach resolution instead of reaffirming my doubts and fears about how to maintain good standing in the Church.

"The guarantee of the free exercise of religion..." is how Elder Oaks defines religious freedom. He makes the point frequently that the right to belief has been generally protected but that the right to exercise one's belief is what is being attacked.

I ask again for anyone to answer:

1. Can you give me an example of liberal and/or atheistic legislation that has impeded the conservative religious citizen's ability to exercise their religion?
2. How does allowing two consenting tax-paying citizens to get married affect your ability to exercise your religion?


Urban Koda said...

Well said!

I inadvertently found myself in the midst of a Facebook debate on the subject after I posted "10 reasons why gay marriage is bad". It was a humorous jab at the hypocrisy in the whole thing.

Before I knew it a family had suggested rather angrily that I join my 'friends' protesting at the temple in SLC, and shortly after that I got 'told on' to Mom and Dad for my apostate views.

Moving on... It's almost as though under the prior prophet, the Church was trying to reach out and become more accepted, but since the new administration got in, the Church has become trying to separate itself off from society, and has begun meddling in political affairs far more than it should to boot.

Scott said...

You asked for liberal policies infringing, but attacks come from both sides. On my mission I saw mostly right leaning folks using the power of government to impede the work of the Church primarily in their right to rent or own property for religious services. The Orlando temple was finally approved by a very narrow margin.

As for the left attacks, these are most frequently from the likes of the ACLU, but they are less often LDS specific, and more their belief in the abolition of any religious symbol on public property. In Brea, where I work, they successfully got the Salvation Army bell ringers banned from public buildings, like the post office, despite the fact that these bell ringers were mostly non church affiliated volunteers and all the money went to local charities. You may remember a few years back they forced the city of LA to change it's city seal because it contained a cross. City officials argued that the cross was meant as a tribute to the early missionaries and the missions they built. So now the symbol just has a picture of a mission, sans the cross. Curiously they did not object to the main figure of the Roman goddess Pomona, clearly only the Christian religious imagery was bad.

While in college I had to fight with the club counsel for official recognition of the LDSSA (Latter-day Saint student association). There was concern that we would not include "sexual preference" into the long list of who we would not discriminate against. The concern was, right or wrong, that any talk by any one associated where the belief that homosexuality is a sin would be considered discriminatory. We weren't looking for the right to mistreat gays, just the right to continue teaching that doctrine.

Anyways, there is my rather long answer to your rather short questions.

T.J. Shelby said...

UK, I completely understand what you're going through and I agree with your analysis.

Scott, let's discuss your examples. While I was in Boston, I also saw experienced the born-again attempts to stop or slow the Boston temple construction progress. I thought it was pathetic and on a legal foundation of quicksand. Hence, I never saw it (or similar attempts across the nation) as serious threats...just annoyances.

ACLU...they are something I don't know how to deal with. At times, I completely agree with their direction and actions. Other times, I feel like they are the scourge of society. Pretty appalling what they did to the Salvation Army.

Regarding the seal of Los Angeles...I disagree with them. Christian symbols as historical markers are different from Christian symbols as modern pronouncements of identity.

On a side note, they may have got the cross out of the LA County seal but the committee voluntarily replaced the Roman goddess Pomona with the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. Christian cross out, roman goddess out and Christian angel in...Of course, now it is different again.

And furthermore, the populous didn't care enough to even get enough signatures to put the "Save the Cross" petition on the ballot...

Moving on to the example of the LDSSA. Your school club doesn't retain private organization rights (like our church does) and hence couldn't allow your group to discriminate similar to how the church does. I understand their hesitation only in the "cover-their-legal-asses" way. It was less about you wanting to use your club time to discuss the depths of hellfire that homosexuals will endure as opposed to simply allowing them the right to sit in your club while you informed them of the conditions of their eternal dwelling should they not repent and like boobies more than penises.

I blame Jon Stewart for my ability to oversimplify.

And reading your comments brought two things immediately to mind.

1. This is why I favor federal decisions on matters of citizens rights. All of your examples were local matters. Think of all the money individual cities, counties and states have wasted on matters that always find their ways into higher courts or larger voting districts?

2. None of these examples impedes a religious person's ability to exercise their religion.

The temple got built. The cross of a country seal only matters if there were a group of people who worshipped the county seal as a religious idol. And even if they had banned your school club, you could still go to your church building to worship.

Matt said...

I have to admit......I see both sides.

T.....it's not as cut and dry as you might think.

Mormons.......it's not as cut and dry as you might think either.

Every Mormon that spent "their" money and voted "their" vote had every constitutional right to do so. Every homosexual that spent "their" money and voted "their" vote had every right to as well. Did the church "persuade" voters? Yes. But the same could be said about the other side as well.

Both sides also used fear as their persuasion.

I will agree with Elder Oaks on the fact that Christianity is, so to speak, "under attack". However, I'll disagree as to why. I believe Christianity is under attack because of the consistent preaching of tolerance with actions of outpouring intolerance.

"It was Jesus who first stated that all men are created equal [and] that every person . . . is valued and loved by God.”

And my personal favorite: "Let ye who is perfect, cast the first stone."

Now you know my stance....I personally don't agree with homosexuality. However, I don't think it should be up to Christian related religions or the government as to wether or not 2 men or 2 women want to get married.

Christians and all for Prop 8: I understand your frustrations but please stop the "persecuted" role. All those against Prop 8 exercised their constitutional rights and voted......get over it. Stop worrying about "being forced" to marry homosexuals. Your "religious freedom" protects you from doing so. Quit worrying about "others transgressions" and start worrying about your own. That's called being judgemental and only God can judge. Go to church on Sunday, worship your respective ways, live your lives and let God sort it all out later.

Homosexuals and all against Prop 8: I understand your frustrations but please stop the "persecuted" role. All those for Prop 8 exercised their constitutional rights and voted......get over it. Read a book on Martin Luther King Jr. Watch footage of the demonstrations of the African Americans for their civil rights. Showing up to rallys wearing pink cut-off denim shorts with a tank top and cowboy boots isn't helping your cause. (Sorry....couldn't resist!) But most of all, and I know it's a minute number, but stop desicrating places of worship. That ain't right.

Mormon leadership: Stop chastizing and stop with the scare tactics. I wonder if any have ever sat down and talked with a homosexual before.

Hey T.......I know. Instead of healthcare and "global peace" solutions only he understands, why doesn't the "Great Negotiator" Obama sit down with both sides and work something out?!!!