The ironies of the LDS Church militarizing religious freedom
The Conservatives lost the “culture war” a long time ago and religious freedom is a lost cause.
As someone who has had a long and successful career in politics and public policy based largely on the militarization of every idea, from values and ethics to morals, faith and beyond, I know the militarization of an idea when I hear it.
My most recent example is the speech by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered recently at the University of Virginia on the occasion of the 2021 Joseph Smith Lecture. If you ever want to listen to a classic presentation on how to arm religious freedom, you should take a moment to review Oaks’ speech.
As I wrote earlier in these pages, mainstream conservatives lost the “culture war” in the late 1990s with the beginning of the end occurring in Planned Parenthood v. Casey from 1992 drafted by Judge Anthony Kennedy with his loss of freedom as “the right to define one’s own conception of existence, meaning, the universe and the mystery of human life”. If this statement is true, everything is true.
During 14 years as head of the Sutherland Institute, I have answered my church’s call to defend the faith, its brethren, and its most prominent moral causes. I did this until it looked like my church fired me from this position – just my theory – exactly on the issues addressed by Oaks: religious freedom and non-discrimination. I am perhaps the only person who can authoritatively say that his comments at the University of Virginia take irony to new levels.
The greatest irony he mentioned in his speech is the idea that the church’s campaign for the passage of a federal “fairness for all” bill will lead to peace and justice. harmony between the competing rights of homosexual behavior and religious expression (i.e. non-discrimination laws and religious freedom, respectively). Has Congress ever been the arbiter of peace and harmony? As LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson urges his Saints to avoid conflict, his colleague in the First Presidency seeks to resolve the tangle between gay rights and religious freedom amid the relentless chaos of the Congress policy. The irony is overwhelming.
Right next to the many ironies among ironies, Oaks asserts that the Salt Lake City Non-Discrimination Orders (2010) and the statewide “Grand Compromise” non-discrimination law (2015) are eloquent examples of how a federal “fairness for all” law could be achieved. . In reality, the claim is a smokescreen for what really happened – these laws were created by the LDS Church, no one else. There was no compromise. In fact, it was the opposite. In both cases, despite Oaks’ denial in his speech, these laws simply created “legal discrimination” against the LGBTQ community. Only homosexuals in Utah, evidently struggling with PTSD motivated by church policy, believed a hug was an equal exchange for legal discrimination.
I believe Oaks sincerely believes that religious freedom has nothing to do with discrimination. Why wouldn’t he do it? He is not the subject of discrimination. Ask the LGBTQ community if the law allows 1) religions to take a “separate but equal” position, 2) labeling homosexual behavior as immoral, sinful, and less than normal, and perhaps worse than anything, 3) insisting that homosexual Latter-day Saints are “born that way” (i.e. the church’s unscientific invention of “same-sex attraction”) and yet deny them cruelly the ability to “fulfill the measure of their creation” is not an act of blatant discrimination.
Imagine asking Martin Luther King, Jr. for a “Grand Compromise” in which Southern states, of all states, are allowed to carve out a place for themselves to discriminate against blacks. You can not. And that is why the idea of ”Equity for all” is an intellectual, legal and moral sham.
Honesty is the best policy. Religious freedom is prima facia discrimination in a world where it can be defined as a mere expression of prayer for the Taliban and where its own restrictions and rules separate us naturally – and quite reasonably – from them. Honesty insists that Congress not settle such a controversy. Honesty insists that constitutional matters are best dealt with by our judicial system. And honesty demands recognition that the LDS Church document, “The Family – A Proclamation to the World,” does not include or even support ideas of sexual orientation and sexuality in the slightest. gender identity.
And finally, beyond the disturbing issue of the militarization of religious freedom, if my church can really “see the corners” it would see that religious freedom is already a lost cause (no temporary conservative court will save it) mainly because of the demands of the LGBTQ community – which makes the “accommodation” of this community not only ironic but naive.
Paul Mero now lives very happily in Las Vegas, continuing to focus his work on underserved populations in higher education.
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