Mormon leaders advocate gay rights . . . with protections for “religious freedom”

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Dallin H Oaks, an elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, speaks to the media after the Church announced it supports the passage of laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, as long as they also protect religious freedom.  Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
*Note: This photo is not available for republication

Dallin H Oaks, an elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, speaks to the media after the Church announced it supports the passage of laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, as long as they also protect religious freedom. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart *Note: This photo is not available for republication

Dallin H Oaks, an elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, speaks to the media after the Church announced it supports the passage of laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, as long as they also protect religious freedom.  RNS photo courtesy REUTERS/Jim Urquhart.

Dallin H Oaks, an elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, speaks to the media after the Church announced it supports the passage of laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, as long as they also protect religious freedom. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart *Note: This photo is not available for republication

I’m proud of my Church’s statements yesterday affirming equal rights under the law for all LBGT persons.* The day was not a slam-dunk, however.

Some critics are already saying that the Church’s statements are too little, too late. As for the “too little” argument, I’d point to what CNN’s Daniel Burke noted yesterday:

With nearly 6.5 million members in the United States, the Mormon church is one of the largest in this country to offer support of LGBT anti-discrimination laws, second only to the United Methodist Church. The country’s two largest Christian denominations, the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention, have opposed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. None of those groups condone gay marriage.

So the LDS Church is now the second-largest denomination to go on the record as opposing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

And as for the “too late” criticism, let’s take a look at what the Salt Lake Tribune reports about the potential political impact of yesterday’s announcement. To date, every anti-discrimination measure introduced in the Utah state legislature has been voted down, even though many Utah cities have passed ordinances that protect the LGBT community. But the LDS Church’s historic advocacy on this issue yesterday may well turn the tide on a bill just introduced in the Utah State Senate.

“I think the bill now passes,” said its sponsor, a Republican from St. George.

So there’s plenty to celebrate today – the Church’s public statements, the possibility that those statements will influence Utah policy for the better, and the leadership’s renewed commitment to the underutilized website

Last but definitely not least, an apostle confirmed that contrary to previous statements by members and even some fellow general authorities, it is entirely possible to be a believing Mormon in good standing and support same-sex marriage.

So why do I not feel 100% jubilant?

Where they lost me is in playing the victim card.

I don’t want to overstate this, because some commentators have already rushed to judgment, including a New York Times op ed carrying the headline “Mormon Church Wants Freedom to Discriminate.” That’s unfair.

But we do need to reflect on the careful dance the Church is trying to do around the words “religious freedom.” Elder Oaks said yesterday, as quoted in the Tribune,

When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser . . . Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.

One of the examples he brought up of this public intimidation is that of gymnast Peter Vidmar, who resigned from his position with the U.S. Olympic team in 2011 after it was reported that he had given money to support Proposition 8 in 2008.

I’ve been a zealous fan of Peter Vidmar for more than thirty years, and in all that time I’ve seen him as an outstanding athlete, commentator, and ambassador for the sport of gymnastics. It’s hard to imagine a nicer guy.

But what happened to Vidmar is not, as Elder Oaks suggested, “every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.” The USOC is a private organization, not a government whose laws affect everyone living within its boundaries. And Peter Vidmar resigned his position. He was not fired for his beliefs.

The Church has long said, and reiterated yesterday, that private, non-governmental organizations should be able to determine what standards they uphold for their own members. This is, in fact, the exact same privilege the LDS Church wants to retain for itself.

In all, yesterday’s press conference was a breath of fresh air, a sign that the Church is moving forward on LGBT equality. However, it also showed a glimpse of the old Mormon persecution complex that has been with us for nearly 200 years.


* For an outstanding summary of many of the key news articles on yesterday’s press conference, check out today’s Mormon News Report at the Cultural Hall. While you’re at it, sign up to receive the almost-daily emails from the News Report. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Larry

    As I said with the previous article on the subject, this is a plan with either an intentional dealbreaker or enough loopholes to make any notion of an anti-discrimination measure laughable. The bill is a joke to anyone concerned with actual civil liberties and preventing discrimination.

    ” Peter Vidmar resigned his position. He was not fired for his beliefs.”

    Lying about incidents to create a narrative of conservative Christian martyrdom is far too common.

  • Bitherwack

    I was interested to see you pick up on the church’s ‘persecution complex,’ (and in that respect, it is definitely more imagined than real…) Nevertheless, I had hoped you would have remembered to be very careful to criticize the church on its glaring double standard when it comes to so called persecution. The church made a mistake in assuming the public would accept that the inconvenience a handful of its members had faced could come anywhere near the persecution that LGBT people face every day. The very intentional, institutional and real persecution… which has resulted in the destroying or taking of untold lives, has been and (and until explicitly renounced) continues to be encouraged by the church.
    That the church, in this press conference, tries to lobby for both LGBT rights, and a free pass to continue discriminating against LGBT people as a religious exception also strikes me as incredibly crass… and, lets be honest, hypocritical.
    These are glaring problems that presented themselves in the press conference. I had hoped you would have picked up on them as well.

  • DTR

    Oaks explicitly said Vidmar was “pressured to resign” and never claimed he was fired, Larry. And Jana, Joe’s Café is also a “private organization, not a government” but would prohibited (under anti-discrimination law) from forcing out a waiter simply because he’s gay. It’s wrong for Joe to fire a gay waiter, and it was wrong for the USOC to push Vidmar out. That’s the parallelism Oaks is getting at.

  • A Happy Hubby

    I agree with your feeling of “why am I not more excited about this?”

    To me it just feels like a reaction to some survey the church has done and found that the most common thought that first comes to people’s mind when they hear, “Mormons” was no longer “polygamy” and now was “Hates Gay people.”

    It is a move in the right direction. I wish I could shake my pom-pom’s with a bit more vigor.

  • Larry

    Sorry DTR, there is far too much deliberate misinformation and fictions slung in the narratives of conservative Christians being “persecuted for their beliefs” to take them at face value. Too much systematic lying and omitting of material facts to take such claims seriously. In the overwhelming majority of situations, it was due to uncivil behavior of the “Christian”.

    There is no issue of religious freedom when it comes to discrimination in business. One’s religious freedom always ended when one seeks to harm others. Discrimination in workplace and business is a recognized harm.

    Invoking religious freedom here is a sub-rosa way to excuse discriminatory conduct. It gives the appearance of combating discrimination without the actuality of doing so.

    The LDS’s stance on gays is still to treat them as second class inferiors. This is simply a way to put a gloss on their image and generate some positive PR without actually making any effort on their part. This way when people oppose the bill for its obvious fatal defects, the proponents can say, “look we are trying to fight discrimination against gays, you are being unreasonable”. But truth of the matter is this bill is a proposed license to discriminate. There is nothing honest about presenting this as “protecting gay rights”.

  • Juli

    My excitement that the church was backing LGBTQ protection in housing and employment was very quickly tempered by the supplemental material included with the church’s press release (found here:

    All 4 of the examples were about how religious people should still be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment (3 cases) and housing (1 case). It’s horrible.

    I am so unhappy with my church right now.

  • Kevin JK

    Elder Holland feels that it is OK for people of faith to refuse services to individuals if not refusing the service, the individual would then be supporting an activity that violate’s the individual’s religious beliefs.

    The problem then comes with those who refuse services to LDS. Can a evangelical Christian refuse to bake a cake for an LDS couple celebrating their temple wedding? Can an evangelical photographer refuse to take photos on temple grounds? Would a clothing company owned by evangelicals be permitted to refuse to sell suits to a newly called LDS missionary since the missionary would be advancing doctrines contrary to the evangelicals’ beliefs? Would Elder Holland support those actions?

    Should NBC, CBS, ABC and others be able to reject Republican political ads? Why not? These companies are liberal and prefer Democrats. Don’t they have a right to discriminate against those whose values they despise just like a baker or photographer whose discrimination against gays you support? Elder Holland said that companies should be able to discriminate, especially if other avenues for that product/service can be found elsewhere. Let the Republicans advertise on Fox. Would you be happy with that?

    Elder Holland also denounced boycotts. We LDS boycott all of the time. The Deseret News recently reported on LDS women who were boycotting Carl’s Jr. because of their commercial’s sexual content. Would Elder Holland denounce that? My guess is that he would praise them as standing up for morality.

    Elder Oaks’ deceptive use of Peter Vidmar conforms with his deceptive statements regarding Catholic Charities closing shop in Mass. He said that the pro-LGBT Mass government told Catholic Charities that it had to adopt out kids to gay couples. This is false. CC was accepting money from the state and state law required that those accepting state funds couldn’t discriminate. LDS Family Services still continues to discriminate against gays in adoption in MA because they don’t accept state funds. Elder Oaks also has claimed that a church in NJ got their tax exempt status revoked for not host a SSM, The truth was that the church owned some park land that had a gazebo. the church asked the state that that property be tax exempt. the state agreed as long as everyone could use it. the church agreed. When a lesbian couple wanted to be married in the gazebo, the church said no and the lesbians complained to the state. The state revoked the tax exempt status of the park ONLY. It did not revoke the tax exempt status of the church/chapel. That was never an issue.

    I expect better logic and truthfulness from the Brethren. This episode has been disheartening.

  • I’m proud of my Church’s statements yesterday affirming equal rights under the law for all LBGT persons.* The day was not a slam-dunk, however.

    No, but it’s a slam dunk you have a taste for rhetorical games. “Equal rights under law” actually means “the right of clients of the Democratic Party to compel other people to do business with them whether those people care to or not”. And, more generally, to have lawyers second-guessing the decisions of merchants and landlords. To call this ‘equal rights’ is obscene.

  • JP

    The church is upset that Peter was “forced” to resign from his position because he had donated to Prop 8. Ummmm, would that have been the same Prop 8 that the church pushed and pushed and pushed its members to donate to? Perhaps the church should bear the responsibility for Peter’s resignation.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Ouch. Of course there will be “tolerance” – and more. Bought and paid for by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    I will agree with a proposition that many will dispute, namely, that any of us may be responsible for our adherence to the law of chastity regardless of wired-in predispositions. But that does not mean that wired-in predispositions aren’t relevant to the Father or the Son. An inherited predisposition to sin isn’t the same as a willful disposition, and I can’t imagine that Heaven doesn’t understand that.

  • Loren

    Oh the persecution that the Mormon church has received, oh the despair. In the meantime let’s consider the persecution by the Mormon church on gays. How about the electro-shock therapy experiments done at BYU sanctioned by Mormon leadership that led to sterility and suicides of gays. How about the Nazi like gathering of gays by BYU (church) security leading to public humiliation and suicides. How about the incessant speeches over pulpits both local and central about homosexuals being the root of destruction of marriages, how homosexuals will be separated from their families for eternity, how homosexuals recruit Mormon youth. How about the Mormon act of shunning their own youth who come as gay, kicking them out of their homes to survive on the streets as prostitutes and drug dealers or worse kill themselves. How about the Mormon expression, ‘better dead than a homosexual’. How about the weekly suicides of Mormon youth who have given up in despair. How about the congregations that refuse sacraments served by 13 year olds that come out as gay. Let’s consider the millions spent and 1000’s of hours given directly by the church or from church members to codify Mormon dogma against gays. Me thinks, the Mormon leadership need to step back and clean up their own house of persecuting others before they start even suggesting they are being persecuted.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    You know, it is so very disheartening to find Riess take this view on the heels of her expressed view of l’affaire Dehlin. On the one hand, she says here that it is not the case that a shunning of Peter Vidmar is objectionable – since “the USOC is a private organization.” On the other hand, she finds it reprehensible that John Dehlin should suffer any sanction whatsoever in terms of his LDS membership on account of his decidedly non-LDS viewpoints. Which is it, Jana? Which day to you want us to accept your logic, today or yesterday?

    As far as Jana Riess is concerned, there is nothing at all wrong with slandering (I say “slandering” with absoute clarity) a fellow Mormon, Jay Bybee, whom Jana Riess falsely claims “authorized the use of torture.” Judge Bybee absolutely, positively did no such thing – he wrote a memo, for heaven’s sake, expressing a legal opinion in unchallenged good faith – but she is willing to accuse him falsely regardless. So, “nothing wrong there,” she imagines. (Blogger, heal thyself, I say.) And, gosh, she thinks that it is terrible to call Dehin’s membership into question over his repudiation of core Mormon beliefs. Is it coincidence that even though he does so, he is “right” in her view regarding LGBTQ issues? (Hmm. Not sure.) But, gosh, let someone say that it is wrong to sanction Vitter over a Gay Rights Issue, and all of a sudden Jana Riess is all on board with the right of a private organization to police the expressed opinions of the membership!

    What a hypocrite.

  • Annie

    A moment of silence while we all try and figure out what Trytoseeitmyway just said…

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Sure. On account of the view of the Church of Jesus Christ need to be subordinate to your culturally influenced political opinions.


  • trytoseeitmyway

    A libertarian viewpoint would be that indviduals can enter into contracts, or not, on any basis they wish.

    So if that’s my view, what’s your objection?

    I’ll answer that question for you. Your objection is that any individual *should be punished* for exercising freedom of choice to do business, or not, with anyone for any reason.

    So that answers your question regarding someone who refueses to do business with someone who is LDS.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Really. You find it difficult do you. How interesting.

  • Annie

    I’m sorry. I was kidding but I can see how that might not have come across as a joke. I truly apologize: ).

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    OK thanks.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    “The old Mormon persecution complex that has been with us for nearly 200 years.”

    Jana thinks we imagined the extermination order and the assassination of the founder. But she is mistaken about that, as with much else.

  • Larry

    Hey if the LDS is getting itself involved in legislation, it MUST be subordinate to culturally influenced political opinions. Especially notions of religious liberties and the separation of church and state.

    If they don’t want their religious views subject to such public criticism, they should stay out of legislature buildings. Stop funding a sectarian political agenda. As of now the LDS theology has become a political stance and gets treated with the same level of respect.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    You imagine that criticism for exercising constitutionally protected rights was irrelevant to the decision to resign, I guess. This is what is known as revisionist history.

  • Larry

    Another reason why Libertarianism is such a crock of horse effluence. It extols the attack of civil liberties by those with greater resources than most individuals. People whine about government “oppression” by engaging in more corrupt and discriminatory behavior at a lower level.

    Engaging in open commerce is a social contract between businesses and the public. It involves accepting rules of conduct necessary for trust between parties.

    Government and the public at large has a vested interest in the open flow of commerce. There is no reasonable interest in restricting commerce based on arbitrary peccadilloes and prejudices. The interests of the public in open commerce far exceeds the interests of mean spirited bigots who chose to justify their actions with religion.

    The whole “religious freedom” argument for discrimination in business is garbage. At no point is the free exercise of religion ever held to permit the intentional and malicious harm of others. Discrimination in business is just that. Intentional actions borne of malice to demean and insult people due to personal prejudices.

    If one wants to discriminate in their business there are various legal ways of doing so. It means not doing business in open commerce. Private clubs, word of mouth advertising and not having storefronts available to the general public. It doesn’t have to be easy for a business. “Standing by religious convictions” is supposed to involve some sacrifice.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Let’s try for coherence, shall we? It is my thought that the Church has the same right to express a political view as anyone else. Those views are entitled to be influenced by an understanding of morality that is grounded in religion. That understanding need not be subordinate to the irreligious, culturally influenced views of others. I hope that’s clear enough for you.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Sure. You think that people give up civil rights when they engage in business. I get that.

  • Larry

    Yes it was irrelevant to religious liberties. Claiming your views are religiously inspired does not insulate it from criticism. Especially when one chooses to express them in public or as part of our civil laws.

    The man was fired for being an embarrassment to the organization. Exercising one’s freedom of speech does not immunize themselves from how people may react. He chose to express his animosity to the rights of gays. An act which generated negative publicity for his employers by association. People get fired for embarrassing their employer all the time for expressing their views in public.

    Lets be brutally honest. You are a hypocrite. If an employee of an LDS owned venture made public statements in support of marriage equality or criticizing the church’s stance on gays, they would be fired without hesitation. Such views being antithetical to the current image of the church.

    As I said, in these cases where conservative Christians claim they are being persecuted, it involves misrepresentation of facts and exaggeration.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    We agree then that his resignation wad in response to criticism for expressing views he had the right to express. In similar circumstances, you would protest if the views were leftist. This is because, just as you say on this page, you are opposed to the protection of rights if the protection is value- neutral. People see through that hypocrisy withou needing it pointed out to them.

  • Larry

    They have the right to express their views. Just as I have the right to call them out on it. Once you enter the political realm, they don’t get accorded respect for their ideas by claiming a religious basis. They become just like every other lobby group.

    If they want to keep their ideas away from cultural influence, get them the hell out of civil law context. If they want to get involved in politics, their views must be tempered by very Un-Biblical ideas such as the democratic process and civil liberties.

    Religion doesn’t ground morality. It unmoors it from reason and the human condition. There is no morality more slippery and relative than religious morality. Any act is permitted if you claim to be doing so on God’s behalf.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    But the organization that insisted that Vitter resign … Are you SURE it isn’t engaged in business? Or is this just another double standard from you?

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    I have no problem with freedom of speech or debate. That was not the point of the comment which you chose, foolishly, to contest. Hope that helps.

  • Larry

    You get nothing.

    There is no civil liberty to discriminate. There is no civil liberty to deliberately harm others. You obviously do not understand the term. You seem to think civil liberties means “might makes right”.

    When you engage in business you make yourself subject to rules of conduct necessary to permit trust between proprietor and customer. Corporations are legal people who exist purely by the will of government. Business is always subject to laws concerning conduct. Right of contract is not unlimited in nature. Caveat emptor does not build consumer trust .

  • Larry

    Try proclaiming that customers for your business are scum undeserving of consideration as human beings. See how your boss reacts. Feel free to claim your impending termination was the exercise of free speech.*

    *I assume you do not work in public service. 🙂

  • Larry

    No we agree to nothing. You feel the need to pretend that free speech means speech without consequences or criticism. Vitter was working for an organization in the public eye. One subject to the whims of public opinion. He could have done a number of embarrassing public acts which would have led to the same result.

    Lets be brutally honest, my level of care for the incident is barely nominal. He was not persecuted. He was fired for being a liability to his employers. Stop being so whiny and dishonest.

    That being said, the LDS sponsored bill is an absolute joke. The “religious freedoms” involved are nothing of the sort. It is meant to make any notion of a non-discrimination law just so much lip service.
    You have as much of a religious right to discriminate in your business and workplace as I do to commit human sacrifice.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Oh OK. So just to be clear, Peter Vitter never did any such thing. His organization claimed that about him, or at least some in his organization did, which is how he happened to encounter pressure to resign. Earlier you claimed that to be an exaggeration, but I guess now you acknowledge it to be a fact. Thank you. My point is that protections for civil liberties ought to apply regardless of the viewpoint of the person whose liberties are at issue. You, on the other hand, think that such a view is too libertarian for your taste. That makes you a totalitarian goon, but I guess you know that.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    If there is no civil liberty to discriminate (why?) then that applies to religious discrimination too. This is exactly the position of the LDS Church, which means that it is hypocritical of you to argue against it.

    What you REALLY mean is that any expression of views or boycott behavior needs to meet dome pre- ordained standard of political correctness. This is obvious to everyone, and most Americans find such a viewpoint abhorrent. Just so you know.nualL

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    *some not “dome.” Sorry.

  • Larry

    Nice try, but the LDS is stumping for a religious right to discriminate. Not opposing such a thing.

    Engaging in discriminatory conduct is not religious expression. It is an act of harm to others. Being prevented from doing so is not being persecuted. The claim of protecting religious freedom is dishonest garbage. One’s civil liberties end where one is harming others. if you think the LDS stance has anything to with religious freedom really don’t understand concepts of civil liberties.

    The supporters of the bill are a bunch of liars who want to give the impression of advocating for the rights of gays while really trying to attack them.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    *and “nualL” was an effort to respond to the Captcha verification. I wish that this comment page allowed edits.

  • Larry

    Just to be clear Free Speech means no expressed views are ever above criticism or reproach. Your civil liberties are not being attacked if you anger someone with your expression. You have a right to say offensive things. People have a right to express offense at them.

    Once one makes their religious views public and tries to give them color of law, it becomes mere public speech. No more worthy of respect than any other political campaigning.

    It is clear you have no concept of civil liberties.

  • Larry

    “*and “nualL” was an effort to respond to the Captcha verification. I wish that this comment page allowed edits. ”

    And that is the best way to conclude this dialogue. 🙂

  • Larry

    You are confusing two different points trying to angle for some bullcrap argument.

    Was Vitter the customer of a business open to the public? NO

    Is being fired for embarrassing your employer in a public manner being discriminated against? NO

    Nope we are not talking about the same thing. Move along. Nothing to see here.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    The advocacy absolutely concerns the constitutional right to conduct religious and personal affairs in accordance with individual beliefs and values. It is utterly inconsistent to say that some may do so but others may not. This is exactly the position being advocated by the Church.

    There was a public employee who recently was *fired* for expressing the religious viewpoint that homosexuality was sinful. That’s all he did. He didn’t *discrininate* against anyone – he just expressed his view, and was fired. You think that this is fine, because you’re a totalitarian goon. If he had been fired for saying that homosexuality was cool, you would be all up in arms. That’s because you are not in favor of freedom *or* against discrimination – you just want to punish opposition to your views. That’s why the term goon is warranted. It is as oppsed to basic American values as anything.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Oh so you DO think its OK for a business to have a blacklist. That’s what I thought. Just not Mormons.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Says the guy who expresses contempt for libertarianism.

    Just to be clear, I know way more than you about civil liberties. So much that I dont think they should be subject to a politically correct litmus test.

  • DougH

    No, the Church pushing for a religious exemption is not a reason to be upset. People should not be forced to worship (or support the worship) at foreign altars, and the 1st Amendment right to practice your religion is not synonymous with freedom to worship — it is the freedom to live your life in keeping with your religious beliefs.

  • Larry

    And there goes the last vestige of any notion I am responding to a sane honest individual.

  • Nobody Important

    A brief history of the same-sex marriage advocacy:
    2003 – “No one is talking about gay marriage except the people who are trying to wave it around as a straw-man issue”
    2008 – “Allowing gays to marry won’t affect you in any way”
    2012 – “Your business is not welcome in our city” or “I’ll sue you if you don’t work for me”
    2014 – “You’re religious freedoms end when you enter the public square… or when you get a job… or when you say something I don’t like.
    2020 – ???

  • Nobody Important

    *your not *you’re

  • Nobody Important

    Certain people have difficulty in recognizing double standards.

  • Larry

    Libertarianism is a brain dead excuse for declaring “might makes right”. Nobody picks up the trash in Galt’s Gulch. Civil liberties are there to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

    “I know way more than you about civil liberties.”

    Says the man who wants to create Jim Crow 2.0

    Says the man who thinks certain forms of speech are above reproach or criticism.

    Says the man who thinks religious freedom means attacking people in the name of God.

    Says the man who think people should not question churches who get involved in civil politics.

    You know nothing.

  • maddy

    Okay, so no discrimination for housing and employment. But what about everything else? If discrimination is wrong in those areas, it is wrong for business owners (claiming religious conscience) to deny services/goods to people who are LGBT which are otherwise offered to the public at large.

    As for Peter Vidmar. (unfortunate, but aren’t we taught in church that “standing for the right” isn’t always popular?) What hypocrisy. Glenn Beck was the biggest peddler of blatant lies about Van Jones which ultimately resulted in him resigning his position at the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality, yet, (church-owned) Deseret Book sells several of his books.

  • Larry

    You want to expand religious freedom to mean license to harm whomever you feel like by claiming it is God’s will. You want

    You want your speech to be considered beyond reproach and comment. So much for freedom of speech.

    “There was a public employee who recently was *fired* for expressing the religious viewpoint that homosexuality was sinful. ”

    You are a liar as well. That employee was fired for abusing his position and expressing that “viewpoint” in a way which was coercive, improper, uncivil and a legal liability to the office. Again freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences or freedom from offense.

    Lets be honest here, as I said before if an employee of a church owned business expressed in public their support of marriage equality or treating gays like people, you would be the first to defend a right to fire them. No question. But I guess it only works if your Christian.

    There is nothing more pathetic than the lying and misrepresentation conservative christians go through to pretend they are being persecuted. In every instance of these claims we see the Christian acting badly, obnoxiously and trying to exert undue privilege on others.

  • Larry

    Freedom of religion has never been freedom to intentionally harm others. You have no more a religious right to engage in discriminatory conduct in business, workplaces or housing than I do to sacrifice your children at the altar of Baal for my personal religious practices.

  • maddy

    Joseph Smith was feared and viewed by non-Mormons living in MO and IL much the same as many today in this country view immigrants across our southern borders or people who follow Islam. To them, Smith and the Mormons had strange views and practices, was dominating local govts and seeking to wield greater political power.

    But then, the migration west to UT afforded a place for Mormons and Mormonism to flourish.

    We’re hardly victims when we send armies of young men and women across the country and world, knocking on doors etc. selling the Gospel as interpreted by the LDS Church.

    Time to grow up.

  • Kevin JK

    I too am libertarian and Libertarian. I agree that businesses SHOULD be able to discriminate in any way that they wish. But that isn’t how the game is played in the real world. I was simply pointing out that most LDS, especially the ones who scream “Persecution!!” at the drop of a hat, would do so if LDS were refused service even though they’d discriminate against gays without giving it a 2nd thought.

  • Nobody Important

    read the comment again. I think you missed the point.

  • Nobody Important

    Of course you murdering my children is equivalent to me not wanting to celebrate a same-sex wedding!

  • Doc Anthony

    Exactly. Thanks, DTR.

  • Doc Anthony

    You are correct, Tryto. And not just the LDS church, but every other church in America, and every other religionist in America, (as well as every business owner in America, and every school and college in America.) No joke.

    That scenario, is what the gay cultists and their allies are openly insisting on, including in this thread. A complete and total surrender with NO compromises (such as for “religious freedom”) at all.

    Bless their hearts, the Mormons are trying to meet these gay activists halfway, but at this point, with gay bullying incidents in New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, and Houston already on record, the Mormon efforts look exactly like Neville Chamberlain trying to work out a compromise with Adolf Hitler.

    But today’s Adolf, just like the previous one, seriously ain’t interested in your compromises. Today’s Adolf, wants only your capitulation. Your constitutional freedoms of religion and speech means NOTHING to today’s Adolf.

    Your only two choices, as always, are to surrender to Adolf or fight against Adolf. Preferably the latter!!

  • Larry

    Same principle. Opting out of laws of general applicability, ones designed to protect the public under the guise of “religious freedom”

    Why are you trying to persecute me for my religious faith?

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Why? Because you admit that you like blacklists?

    Look. I’m libertarian in my views and am against double standards and hypocrisy. You differ from me on both counts. You want to silence and restrain people whose views differ from yours, but you think that no one should be allowed to do the same thing to you. You disparage the libertarian idea that freedom of expression and of choice can be exercised by people engaged in commerce, unless their expressions and choices are the ones you favor. All of these things are inconsistent with liberty and promote double standards.

    And you don’t like having this pointed out.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Oooh, this is like a rant, isn’t it? Anyone who questions the right of a religious organization to express views on political matters can’t possibly claim to be libertarian, civil or otherwise. But that’s really the point, isn’t it – you’re against liberty.

    You, not me, are the guy who wants to create “Jim Crow 2.0.” Jim Crow was all about laws which disfavored some members of the population, based on identity. This is exactly the what you are saying you want to be used against those whose views don’t align with yours. That isn’t civil liberty – it’s the opposite. But, then, you already knew that.

    It is interesting to see how often Jana Riess’ blog turns from religion to politics, both in the subject matter of her articles and in the debates they engender. But if there ever was an illustration of the absolute need in American democracy for the protection of religious expression and its free exercise, your comments would be that illustration.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Thank you. I agree.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    And I think that whichever rules are going to be applied, they should work both ways. That is exactly what the Larrys of the world don’t want. They uphold double standards – you can see that all over this page.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    No slippery slope here! 😉

  • Nobody Important

    Nope. Try again.
    Ideally, laws that would require “opting out” in the first place should never have been passed, at least if we actually believed in the free exercise of religion.
    In the few cases where this is not possible, then we would definitely have to weigh the consequences to either group and make modifications where applicable.

  • MarkE

    Freedom of expression does not guarantee freedom from consequence!

  • Maddy

    I share your disappointment. It is horrible.
    Thanks for the link.

  • Ben in oakland

    No, it is purely theological concerns directed towards theocratic dominion of people who don’t share those beliefs.

    if you want to believe homosexuality is a sin, have at it. I don’t care.

    If you think that my life should be governed by your purely theological concerns, expect a fight.

  • Ben in oakland

    so you are opposed to laws that ban discrimination on the basis of religious belief?

    yes or No.

  • Larry

    No. Its because your argument is stupid, unsubstantiated and paranoid. I no longer feel any need to pretend you are trying to make an honest good faith argument.

  • Ben in oakland

    2003– Not true. It was possibly true back in the early 80’s, when the first domestic partnership laws were introduced. But not since. We started thinking a lot bigger.

    As for the rest of it: non-discrimination laws have been in existence for over 30 years. Trying to pin all of this on gay marriage is obfuscation.

  • Larry

    Right, because the whole notion of the Civil Rights Act and notions of equal protection under the law is a horrible attack on your personal liberties. You lost the ability to restrict business, property ownership and employment based on personal arbitrary prejudices. Oh poor dear. I guess everything should just be subordinate to your beliefs. Even the lives of others.

    Your right to any kind of personal freedom ends where you are deliberately harming others. Discrimination is harm. Hence actionable in both civil and criminal courts.

    You don’t believe in the free exercise of religion. You believe in the exercise of your faith only. You want your religious views to take precedence over the consideration of anyone else. You want the endorsement of your religion by government.

    Its amazing how in your mind the prevention of persecution of yourself means the persecution of others. Obviously you have no clue what civil liberties are all about. Its merely an expression of “might makes right”.

  • ben in oakland

    The headline in our local paper had this to say: “Balance sought on freedom, gay rights”. The Mormon Church says it will support SOME housing and job protections for gay people, in exchange for “legal protection for believers who object to the behavior of others.” The article mentions specifically exemptions for government and healthcare workers.

    What? That’s a loophole you can drive a very large cathedral through! Government employees get to choose which taxpayers they’ll serve! Wow! Healthcare workers get to decide if they’ll help you, based upon THEIR theology, not yours. Double WOW! And if your “objection” takes the form of what in any other situation would be called RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION, well, religion is TRIPLE-WOW! sacred.

    They aren’t simply objecting to the behavior of others– something that doesn’t affect them, doesn’t demand their participation, and is none of their business. They are requesting the special right to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. We have laws at every level of government which forbid religious discrimination. The Church would howl if those were repealed. Yet the Mormon Church wants legal permission to do so in just one case. Why is this case different?

    Oh, yes! Gay people! Ickeeeeeeeeeeeee, and so does GAWD!!!!!!!!
    I’m wondering why they left out automatic rifles and Benghazi!

    There is no balance being sought here. This sleight-of-hand nonsense appears to be a reasonable compromise, while it is nothing of the sort. They seek the freedom to discriminate, without consequence, and actually confer special rights on religious people.

    In other words, the same old projection of Anti-gay Inc. onto gay people of the same old bigotry.

  • Kevin JK

    Amen. The Bill’s backers are like Sadaam Hussein who wanted to negotiate upon being caught in his spider hole. The backers know that they are losing and want to offer a compromise in order to not lose everything. They want to discriminate. No religious freedoms are in jeopardy.

  • Kevin JK

    I don’t think Larry is being hypocritical. He just wants both sides to be treated equally. He doesn’t support religionists hiding behind their religion to justify their discrimination and then use cry religious persecution if others treat them in the exact same way that the religionsists treated gays.

    Allowing religionists to discriminate is dangerous. There are White Supremist churches whose members could be able to refuse to rent a house or bake a wedding cake for Blacks. Evangelicals could refuse the same to LDS due to their animus to LDS people/beliefs. Muslims could refuse to rent to a single woman and could require the rental agreement be signed by her father or brother who is in charge of her.

    Is discrimination OK only is done in the name of religion…and against members of other religions…just not my own?

  • DougH

    Right, because how you live your life, including when making a living, has nothing to do with religion. Religion is just worship, it has no place outside the church building on Sundays.

  • Larry

    “What? That’s a loophole you can drive a very large cathedral through!”

    Exactly what I said in the very first comment here. This bill is a sham designed to encourage discrimination, not prevent it.

  • Nobody Important

    It’s rather telling that you claim one point wasn’t true (which was a direct quote from that year, btw), but ignored the points that show how SSM advocates are both bigoted and hypocrites.

  • EG

    The California Supreme Court ruled that judges who are involved with the Boy Scouts of America must quit associating with the BSA or be fired, because of the BSA’s stance on homosexuals. In Canada and Nova Scotia doctors and lawyers and other professionals can not get jobs if they graduated from a Christian university. And it is starting to apply to other professionals who graduated from a Christian university.
    So yes, religious freedoms do need to be protected.

    The LGTB community is very intolerant of anyone and anything who, for what ever reason, believes that homosexual behavior is sinful, and opposes homosexual marriage.
    According to the LGTB community everyone MUST support the LGTB way of life or else. The double standard and hypocrisy of LGTB’s is unbelievable.

    Where I grew up I was the only LDS kid in my high school for my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I did experience harassment and other bad things. And I was a minority because of my skin color, Caucasion (even though I am olive skinned I still was discriminated against). I had a double whammy. And I experienced harassment in the workplace at many places where I worked just for being LDS.
    My mother worked with an evangelical lady who did not have the guts to treat my mother badly, so this person treated me badly. My mother never believed me until I got proof on tape. After all this evangelical was soooo religious and so sweet to my mother. This evangelical said horrible, hateful things to me, would pinch me, ignore me, give dirty looks, push me, and try to get me in trouble. This went on for six years.
    A Baptist minister would take a group of kids to the forest for a week of camping and fun. I was invited one year and my parents made me go. The minister’s wife was down right ugly to me. Never went again.

    Or maybe I imagined it? After all, we LDS have a persecution complex.

  • ben in oakland

    No, I was just trying to keep it very simple.

    2003 gay marriage bans had already begun to pass. Baker v. Nelson was when– 1982? 1996– the baehr case in Hawaii.

    2008– every claim about how gay marriage affects everyone has been laughed out of just about every court. It affects no one but the people involved, their families, and their churches.

    2012– Mayor Flynn was wrong.

    2012– as I said, non-discrimination laws have been in existence since the eighties. Not a thing to do with gay marriage. No one is interested in forcing anyone to work for them. Another right wing shibboleth. Elaine photography is a perfect example where to conflation between marriage law and non-discrimination law plays out. New Mexico had neither marriage nor Dp’s. Elaine violated non-discrimination laws. She could have just said “I’m booked”.

    BTW, you also changed the subject from an illegal denial of services on the basis of religious belief to not-the-same-subject, FORCING said business owners to perform. That’s not the issue. If a vendor doesn’t want to perform, there are perfectly legal– AND KIND AND POLITE– ways to avoid doing so. NOT ONE OF THESE VENDORS HAS BEEN FORCED TO PERFORM ANY SUCH SERVICE. NOT ONCE. I wouldn’t want a bigot working for me. I wouldn’t want to give him my money.

    What I do expect, however, is compliance with the law and the same respect said vendor routinely extends to people who reject the entirety of his religious beliefs, not just the anti-gay parts. If he refuses to engage in sound business practices, for the sake of insulting and demeaning those he considers to be his religious and moral inferiors, then I’m afraid he deserves whatever happens.

    That’s why smart business people don’t do that. I’ve known plenty of people whose business failed because they just couldn’t find it in themselves to treat others as they would like to be treated. As I said to one such vendor, “You have a strongly held religious belief that forces you to act like a royal jerk? Interesting. I gather you’re not a Christian, then, because treating other people so unkindly would be utterly contrary to Jesus’ teachings.”

    You wrote: “2014 – “You’re religious freedoms end when you enter the public square… or when you get a job… or when you say something I don’t like.” Sounds exactly what the theocrats say. In 29 states, you can be fired for being gay with no recourse. Until 2010, you could be kicked out of the military not because you had done something, but for saying two words: “I’m gay.”

    as for 2020: if the Supreme court doesn’t pull a hobby-lobby, the issue will be primarily a dead one. however, you still may not be able to discriminate on the basis of religious belief or sexual orientation.

    And I think that’s a good thing.

  • ben in oakland

    As always, misstatements with just enough truth in them. Half a truth is like half a brick. you can throw it so much further.

    “The California Supreme Court ruled that judges who are involved with the Boy Scouts of America must quit associating with the BSA or be fired, because of the BSA’s stance on homosexuals.” It’s an ethics and an impartiality question. The Supreme court is not gay, they are not controlled by gay people. Judges must avoid even the appearance of impartiality. They also cannot associate with any group that endorses discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and a host of other issues. In california, BY LAW, gay people are protected form discrimination.

    “In Canada and Nova Scotia doctors and lawyers and other professionals can not get jobs if they graduated from a Christian university. And it is starting to apply to other professionals who graduated from a Christian university.” Nonsense, of course, but pernicious. Of course they can get jobs. But the university must be accredited, and meet accreditation standards. Gay people do not control accreditation organizations any more than they control the courts. Canadas laws are not our laws.

    if you’ve had those experiences as a heterosexual Mormon, one might think you could understand how we gay people feel after 2000 years of it.

    One might think that.

  • maddy

    Ben, well put.

  • DougH

    “Judges must avoid even the appearance of impartiality. They also cannot associate with any group that endorses discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and a host of other issues.”

    Does that mean that in California no Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, or member of any number of conservative Protestant sects can be a judge? And if the answer is yes, they can, why can they be associated with those organizations and not the Boy Scouts?

  • SanAntonioRob

    I was afraid this day might come… I agree with Larry on this one.

    What the Church appears to be saying in its press conference and the examples on their website is that they back non-descrimination laws… unless you are the Church… or another Christian church… or a Christian individual… or moral in any way I guess. So where does that leave us? Immoral people can’t descriminate? That makes no sense.

    You either back non-descrimination laws or you don’t. As a private organization with a clearly defined agenda you want the right to only hire people adhering to that clearly defined agenda… fine, that makes complete sense. For churches, political organizations, environmental groups, vegan food businesses… everybody.

    But to say you back non-descrimination laws in housing, but an old lady should have an exception because she’s Christian… that makes absolutely zero sense.

  • ben in oakland

    Because religious freedom, membership in a faith, and the boy scouts are not synonymous? Because the boy scouts aren’t a church, despite their similarities to a major faith that has been hiding evidence of sexual abuse for decades?

    Or are you saying that conservative protestant sects are inherently bigoted against members of other faiths, and will act on it if not constrained by law?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • ben in oakland

    thanks, maddy.

  • SanAntonioRob

    “And I think that whichever rules are going to be applied, they should work both ways.”

    Then you are not defending the Church’s most recent stance. It is clear from the press conference that they do NOT want the rules to be applied uniformly. They say some individuals should be able to descriminate, but offer support for laws which would make it illegal for others to descriminate.

    BTW, this would be a much more interesting thread if both you and Larry were less bent on personal attacks and left the bulk of the wording to reasoned responses.

  • DougH

    But according to everyone here decrying the religious exemptions the Church is calling for, laws of general applicability must have no exceptions for religious exercise, and that the lack of exemptions does not infringe on religious exercise regardless of the result. Surely this mandate on California judges is a law of general applicability? Shouldn’t it therefore be applied to church membership as well?

  • ben in oakland

    Surely not. We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief. These are laws of general applicability. You may not discriminate against me in matters of housing, employment, and public accommodations based upon your religious beliefs OR mine.

    In this case, the SCOC decision applies to judges only.

    Unless, of course, you are assuming that members of every faith are inherently bigoted against members of other faiths.

    Antigay bigots tried that with judge Walker, in that he was gay and thus must inherently be unobjective when it comes to gay rights. Of course, they then would have had to accept the argument that any heterosexual married judge must also be unobjective, since their whole argument was that gay marriage poses a threat to hetero marriage and civilization itself.

    How about this. It bears repeating. Either enforce anti-discrimination laws, or work to repeal them. Trying to find exceptions to them, especially on the basis of religious belief, merely underlines why we have them.

  • ben in oakland

    I forgot this part.

    Within their religious organizations, churches are pretty much free to do whatever they want, believe what they want, discriminate how they want, hire and fire whomever they want, and spew how they want. I absolutely defend their right to do so, because that is what religious freedom is all about. I have little sympathy for gay people who work for a religious organization that lose their jobs and are surprised about it. Of course, the question of what exactly comprises a religious organization is still somewhat open to question.

    but we are not talking about the confines of the church. we are talking about the interactions of that church with secular society. There, they may not discriminate.

  • DougH

    “Surely not. We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief.”

    Yet this decision by the California Supreme Court discriminates on the basis of religious belief, on ludicrous grounds. Does anyone believe that membership in the Sierra Club or NOW renders someone unfit to be a judge? No, of course not, you push for recusal in cases involving those organizations, and leave it at that. But the CSC’s position is that membership in the Boy Scouts, based on a belief that homosexual sex is sinful, is so heinous that it renders judges’ judgment suspect in ALL cases. But if that’s the case, doesn’t membership in a religion that also believes that homosexual sex is sinful also render judges’ judgment suspect in ALL cases?

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court has stated that laws of general applicability DO apply to churches and religious practices. Which means, of course, the CSC’s failure to apply this same standard to church membership is a violation of the rule of general applicability. There’s a good reason they make that exemption, of course, because if they didn’t they’d reveal to the country how ludicrous the rule is. According to the rule of general applicability if, say, a state was to pass a law banning circumcision of minors on the grounds that it is a violation of individual autonomy/dignity, the rule of general applicability means that this would not be a violation of Jews’ freedom to exercise their religion, in spite of the fact that any Jews that want to continue practicing a fundamental requirement of their religion will have to leave the state. Remember the recent controversy in Germany?

  • DougH

    So basically, you are saying that churches are free to preach whatever they want, but governments are free to regulate how people live their daily lives regardless of those people’s religious beliefs and that isn’t a violation of their freedom to exercise their religion. Which means that the 1st Amendment is essentially a dead letter, its impact limited solely to what people do in their own homes or churches. Freedom to exercise your religion means freedom to worship and nothing more. Beyond that, the State is supreme.

  • Ben in oakland

    No, YOU’RE saying that.

    I’m saying believe whatever YOU want, but stop trying to use the government to force your religious beliefs on people who don’t share them.

    you want to believe that homosexuality is a sin? Good for you. Don’t be homosexual. But don’t presume to tell me that I cannot be.

    ‘You want to believe that gay marriage is not part of god’s plans? Great. don’t get gay married. But don’t insist that the law enforce the idea that my love, life, family, children, faith, freedom and assets are not as valuable as yours. Please extend the same respect and courtesy to my life that you routinely extend to a vile, fornicating, adulterous, thrice married former republican congressman.

  • Ben in oakland

    “Yet this decision by the California Supreme Court discriminates on the basis of religious belief, on ludicrous grounds.”

    Well, if your going to make stuff up, then I can’t help you. The Boy scouts is not a church. They don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin.

    in any case, I would suggest you take pu the matter with SCOC.

  • DougH

    Fine, let’s turn that around: believe whatever YOU want, but stop trying to use the government to force your philosophical beliefs on people who don’t share them. You believe that same sex marriages are no different than heterosexual ones? Fine, believe what you want. But don’t force others to provide support for those ceremonies. You believe that there is nothing wrong with a sexual relationship outside of marriage? Fine. But don’t force those that believe otherwise to provide a place for such couples to live. In short, don’t impose your own philosophical values on how others run their lives.

  • DougH

    Of course, the Boy Scouts isn’t a church. But that doesn’t mean it can’t hold religious opinions or have those opinions impact how it manages its affairs — something that the Supreme Court rightly recognized in the Hobby Lobby case (a violation of the principle of general applicability, you’ll note). A religion is more than just a church, done properly it impacts every day of your life.

  • Lewis Craig

    I completely, totally, 100% disagree with everything you’ve posted here Larry.

  • Lewis Craig

    Oh, is that a reach!

  • Larry

    “something that the Supreme Court rightly recognized in the Hobby Lobby case ”

    And this is the tip-off that we are dealing with someone with no connection to reality.

    Hobby Lobby was such a pile of manure that even the writers of the decision loaded it with limits, caveats and asides, saying it explicitly has virtually no precedential value whatsoever.

    One thing to take note, religious freedom never ever included acts of deliberate harm to others. Discriminatory behavior is clearly such an act. One does not accidentally discriminate or are there affirmative defenses to the act (I willingly did the act but have an excuse).

  • DougH

    One correction on fact, in the Supreme Court’s latest decision involving religious liberty, HOLT, AKA MUHAMMAD v. HOBBS, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, ET AL, the opinion referenced the Hobby Lobby opinion multiple times with only Ginsburg and Sotomayor offering a one-paragraph statement on how they felt the case differed from Hobby Lobby. So, seven out of nine justices had no problems at all, at all, with using Hobby Lobby as a precedent. Apparently it isn’t “such a pile of manure” after all, and certainly useable as a precedent.

    The pdf of the opinion can be found here:

  • Larry

    The reference to Hobby Lobby is far from what you think it was. I take it you didn’t actually read the decision you linked to.

    The only time it was referenced was in relation to RLUIPA complaints and burdens of proof for them. Procedural references. One could have easily invoked the actual statute for the same effect. Hobby Lobby was written entirely in light of the Federal statute, not on any constitutional principles. Repeal RLUIPA and it becomes a moot decision of zero value.

    The precedent actually invoked in the holding was Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah,508 U. S. 520, 546. A case with a wide scope in its opinion that states invokes obviously discriminatory effect of a law that on its surface appears to be “religiously neutral”.

    If you read the Hobby Lobby decision you would see that it doesn’t stand for anything to do with anti-discrimination laws. That is specifically excepted by SCOTUS.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I’m surely not interested in what you pretend. I just notice that you resort to name calling when the truth is pointed out to you.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Ben, that’s OK. I don’t think my life should be governed by your purely sexual concerns. But, honestly, although my moral beliefs influence my policy views, I tend to think that is true for everyone, or that it should be true for everyone. Your idea is that some moral beliefs ought to be disqualified from political expression, while others are given preferential treatment. This is not constitutional or democratic. If you think that these things should be resolved through political means (that’s what you mean by “a fight,” I take it), that’s cool. Let’s just keep the playing field level, OK? That’s all we’re asking.

    If blacklisting people or businesses based on their beliefs ought to be OK, then let’s let it be OK for everyone. If it ought not to be OK, then let is be not-OK for everyone. Isn’t that fair?