This is the disingenuous equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan crying foul because marching, protesting, “we’re not gonna take it anymore” Blacks have infringed their constitutional right to free speech, persecution and hate-mongering.
Mormon leader: Religious freedom at risk
By Eric Gorski | The Associated Press
Salt Lake Tribune
The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking Mormon says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers to gay marriage as an “alleged civil right” in remarks prepared for delivery at Brigham Young University-Idaho, a speech church officials describe as a significant commentary on current threats to religious freedom.
In an advance copy provided to The Associated Press, Oaks suggests that atheists and others are seeking to intimidate people of faith and silence their voices in the public square.
“The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing,” said Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a church governing body. “The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom.”
Oaks’ address comes as gay-rights activists mount a legal challenge to Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned gay marriage in California. His comments about civil rights are likely to anger gay rights activists who consider the struggle to enact same-sex marriage laws as a major civil rights cause.
In an interview Monday before the speech, Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of Mormons in the election’s aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.
“It may be offensive to some — maybe because it hadn’t occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era,” he said.
The Salt Lake City-based Mormon church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has shied from politics historically but was a key player in the pro-Proposition 8 coalition. The LDS First Presidency, its highest governing body, announced its support for Proposition 8 in a letter read at every California congregation, and individual Mormons heeded the church’s calls to donate their money and time.
After the measure prevailed, its opponents focused much of their ire on Mormons, organizing boycotts of businesses with LDS ties and protests at Mormon worship places. While some demonstrations were peaceful, in others church windows were shattered and slurs were hurled at the church’s founding fathers.
Some of the most pointed comments in Oaks’ Tuesday address focus on Proposition 8. Oaks said the free exercise of religion is threatened by those who believe it conflicts with “the newly alleged ‘civil right’ of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage.”
“Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights,” Oaks said. “The supporters of Proposition 8 were exercising their constitutional right to defend the institution of marriage …”
Oaks said that while “aggressive intimidation” connected to Proposition 8 was primarily directed at religious people and symbols, “it was not anti-religious as such.” He called the incidents “expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest.”
“As such, these incidents of ‘violence and intimidation’ are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic,” he said. “In their effect they are like well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.”
The Mormon church has faced criticism for its past stances on race; it wasn’t until 1978 that the church lifted a prohibition that denied full church membership to blacks of African descent.
In an interview Monday, Oaks said the Proposition 8 saga was one of several trends that motivated him to deliver the address, but it was “not the trigger.”
“There are civil rights involved in this — the right to speak your mind, to participate in the election,” Oaks said. “But you don’t have a civil right to win an election or retaliate against those who prevail.”
Oaks said he is specifically concerned about a movement toward using hate crimes laws to prosecute or threaten preachers who preach that homosexual acts are sinful.
Oaks’ address also rejects any religious test for public office. Oaks said that if “a candidate is seen to be rejected at the ballot box primarily because of religious belief or affiliation, the precious free exercise of religion is weakened at its foundation …”
In the interview Monday, Oaks said he was referring in part to the 2008 presidential bid of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith troubled some evangelicals.