Friday, February 11, 2011

Gay Marriage and "Religious" Freedom

LDS church owned Deseret News* reports: "Religious groups should unite to protect the religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a speech Friday [Feb. 4th 2011] at Chapman University law school."

In this speech Elder Oaks said, "Along with many others, I see a serious threat to the freedom of religion in the current assertion of a 'civil right' of homosexuals to be free from religious preaching against their relationships. Religious leaders of various denominations affirm and preach that sexual relations should only occur between a man and a woman joined together in marriage. One would think that the preaching of such a doctrinal belief would be protected by the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion, to say nothing of the guarantee of free speech. However, we are beginning to see worldwide indications that this may not be so."

Although I agree with Elder Oaks that free speech is (and should be) a protected civil right, when reading this remark, I wondered to myself, If homosexuals sincerely identify marriage as a religious experience, what then? Would the Brethren then unite the Church and community to defend these religious rights?

The answer should be obvious. Of course not, but why? As I see it, the fight against gay marriage is less about religious freedom and more about the complete opposite: the desire to impose religious standards upon others.

"There's a real irony," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "because he [Oaks] doesn't understand the meaning of religious freedom.… What they want to do is to curtail freedom for gays. They're not for freedom. They're for theocracy in matters of marriage."**

*Scott Taylor, "Elder Dallin Oaks calls for unity in protecting religious freedom," Deseret News (5 Feb. 2011).
**Mitchell Landsberg, "Religious freedom under siege, Mormon leader says," LA Times (5 Feb. 2011).


  1. Sometimes it seems like a lot of people want unlimited freedom for themselves and limits for everyone else. To put it another way, Mercy for me, justice for you.

    I guess Oaks is angry that the church is facing blowback for its efforts in the Prop. 8 fiasco. He wants his freedom of speech/religion but wants to prevent anyone from saying anything back.

    It kind of reminds me of what happened with the Dixie Chicks. They spoke out forcefully about something they believed in and were inexplicably stunned when the country music world pushed back. I don't know why they didn't understand that would happen, especially given the time and demographic of that audience, but they had the same kind of reaction.

    In the same way, the church leadership was totally caught by surprise by the reaction to this issue. It's not the 1970s anymore. They can't control all the information. People are going to speak out about things they don't like. Further, the younger members of the church don't approach the church the same way their parents did. It's the church that needs to change.

  2. Ya ain't seriously pro-family if ya ain't pro-gay family. Prop 8 was the most un-Christian thing our church ever did to anyone that wasn't a member.