It is so good to see this kind of bold, courageous leadership. In this ever
darkening world someone has to have the courage to stand up and say the truth .
Thank you Elder Oaks!!
"Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their
lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process."
One either believes this or they do not; it is that simple really. Wheat and
The faithful also must unite "to insist upon our constitutional right to the
free exercise of our religions". Amen, brother. By faithful you do mean
those believers who have no problem with same sex marriage, correct? How about
those that want sharia law? Or celebrate festivus? The shiite, sunni, sikh and
scientologist alike? My observation has been that pronouncements like this one
are never nearly as inclusive in intent as the rhetoric by which they are made
portrays them to be, and lofty claims on freedom supposedly denied are by no
means extended to all. That's why freedom is a concept applicable to
all people first and which must not be subrogated by the claims of any entity,
collective or corporation, at least not without the intent of law. Somewhere
before the practise of human sacrifice there is a limit in our society to what
the free practise of religion is. That's the way it has to be.
Danite,Like your name. Where did you get it?Wheat and
tares - can you expound on what you mean in context of Elder Oaks' talk? I
think that he means that we are seeing a continuing slide in those who believe
in God or any divine being and that Mormons and all people of faiths should hold
steady to their beliefs.I think the society will continue to believe
less and less in a religion but will become more spiritual.
Thinkman, As you can see with the quote cited, my comment was
focused on the one statement by Elder Oaks. As you are aware, the Wheat and
Tares is an imagery of separation between those that will follow God and those
that will not. In the context of the quoted statement, this means that those who
will allow "human reasoning to supersede divine influence" will be
separated from those that continue to put "divine influence" first in
their thought process and decision making. Obviously such a division is not
future tense. As for my name, I'm from the tribe of Dan.
Believers, he said, also "should use our political influence to resist
current moves to banish from legislative and judicial lawmaking all actions
based on religious convictions and motivations."-----The fact
is, the United States of America does NOT have a state religion. If a law or
public policy doesn't have any good reason behind it other than "Some
people think God wants us to do this" (or "not do this"), then it is
NOT appropriate for America. Yes, every law and policy has a moral basis, but
if it's not a moral basis that respects the rights of ALL Americans, and if
it's not a moral basis that has a strong consensus among Americans, then
it's a bad law or policy. Proposition 8 was shot down in the courts
because all of the reasons put forward to defend it were either a)
unsubstantiated, or b) based in religious beliefs that not all Americans share.
Add to that previous rulings that marriage is a right, and the result was that
Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Period.Yes, I AM an active and
believing Latter-day Saint. But I think Elder Oaks is dead wrong here.
How many times in the past have "intellectuals" ignored the counsel of
Apostles and Prophets and even subjected them to ridicule as foolish believers
of an imaginary God only to be eventually proven wrong by all kinds of
catastrophes including economic decline, drought, flooding, war, disease, and
famine? Finally, after being humbled by these kinds of humbling events, men
repent and pray to God for relief. Thank Heaven for inspired Apostles like
Elder Oaks. We should follow his counsel, repent of our wrongdoings and ask God
for forgiveness and mercy. We should pray and vote our conscience consistent
with the commandments of God and reject evil practices that ultimately will
bring the judgments of God upon our society, to put it nicely.
Nanook of the North, Elder Oaks was a lawyer, taught law at a
prestigious law school and was a State Supreme Court Justice. I think he knows a
thing or two about the legality and constitutionality of what he argues.
If we are going to stick our necks out and go to the line, then religion must be
more than words, ritual, and tradition.
Danite - Lawyers, law school professors, judges, AND Apostles have been known to
be wrong before. I will continue to argue that Elder Oaks appears to be basing
his views on a belief that America is somehow "a Christian nation". It
is not. Start from an incorrect axiom, get incorrect conclusions.
In the midst of the sensless noise thrown at us from all sides on a daily basis
from every medium, it is good to hear Truth espoused. Thank you, Elder Oaks.
Nanook of the North-I will do my best not to offend, but there was
something you said that concerned me, and reminded me of people in the Book of
Mormon. These people claimed to believe some truths, but failed to heed the
voice of the prophets. In your own words you're an active believer of the
faith. As an active believer, one shouldn't simply just pick and choose
what commandment to follow. Laman and Lemuel both picked and chose what to
follow, and disagreed with the prophets council from time to time. Soon they
fell, along with their posterity. In fact they began to follow the ways of the
world with no regard for any of Gods commandments. I'm guilty as well, but
honestly ask yourself... How often do we take the time to do what Nephi did...
Go to God and ask for direction with the things we don't agree with or
understand to gain godly understanding? Instead we do more of what Laman and
Lemuel did and just murmur and complain saying we don't understand or
disagree with whomever is speaking. I know he is an apostle of The Lord. Your friend
I agree with everything Elder Oaks says here with regards to not being afraid to
stand as a witness of God, but in so doing, does this mean to degrade and puff
up against others who have opposing viewpoints? Too often we associate
"standing as a witness" as if we are supposed to be a voice of
opposition to the trends of the world, and that opposition turns to hatred and
discrimination against those who don't fit the Christian or LDS standards.
The problem is that too many people who try to stand as a witness of God are
doing so without the love of God. You can't stand as a witness of God
until you learn to show true Christ-like attributes of love, compassion, and
empathy toward those with whom you witness.
@Tumbleweed:"How many times in the past have "intellectuals" ignored
the counsel of Apostles and Prophets and even subjected them to ridicule as
foolish believers of an imaginary God only to be eventually proven wrong by all
kinds of catastrophes including economic decline, drought, flooding, war,
disease, and famine?"Self proclaimed "Apostles" and
Anytime the subject of religion is bringing up the phrase "Absolute
Truth" it's time to run for the hills. The two don't mix very
To expect a right of conscience, to expect a right to free exercise of religion,
you must also expect to grant those to all others. Moslems, Jews, Hindus,
Buddhists and the many denominations of Christians (who regularly refer to each
other as heretics, apostates, idolators, blasphemers and worse), are each and
every one entitled to that same freedom of belief, right to worship, and to
exercise their religion.In such a diverse society, with such
different views, dogmas, or lacks thereof, there really isn't a better
approach than that of the United States Constitution, where the First Amendment
prevents the government from endorsing any one sect over another or impairing
the free practices of all. That very separation is the legal magic that makes
true freedom of religion possible, and also has made the United States the most
vibrant, religiously observant nation among all Western Nations.To
bewail the perceived increasing inability of the more powerful religious
entities to influence secular law is to seek to sabotage the very foundation of
Nanook,Just a clarification. Prop 8 was never shot down by the
Supreme Court. They did not rule on the merits of the case but merely sent it
back to the circuit court because they stated that the organization defending
the case (ProtectMarriage) did not have standing.As of today, Prop 8
is still on the books as the law in California. The California attorney general
has simply flouted his constitutional responsibility to defend the laws of his
state and instructed county attorneys and clerks to ignore the law.Those who claim to be active members of the Church but who believe that they
know better than the apostles and prophets are on very slippery ground.
This is really interesting to me because it draws from something I've
realized myself lately. Most of my life I've understood the constitution
as guaranteeing "freedom to worship", but that is not the case; it
guarantees the "free exercize" of religion. Indeed, people who
criticize the use of religion in establishing law are themselves guilty of
using their assumption that a given religion -isn't- true as equally biased
grounding."Seperation of church and state" is not synonymous
with "elimination of church from public", and it's this fallacy
that people who oppose anything truly good hide behind in their naive pursuit to
hide from their universal and divine responsibilities to their families, their
communities, and their God.And if someone's idea of
"rights" means forcing people who own their own business to use that
business and their labor for a cause contrary to both their unchangeable
religious conviction and society at large, then that person should stop and
think about the world from some point of view other than their own self-centered
@Nanook of the NorthOh, but it is a Christian nation. As an active
latter-day saint, you should be well acquainted with these scriptural words:"I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise
men whom I raised up unto this very purpose" (D&C 101:80)
Elder Oaks' remarks are interesting in the American context, but would be
incomprehensible in advanced Western democracies that carefully respect the
separation of state and church. It is precisely the inappropriate demands of the
"free exercise of religion" in spheres where it does not belong that
makes religion suspicious and threatening to others. True democracies react
negatively when a religion tries to impose its norms on the whole of society.
Elder Oaks does not seem to realize that his remarks strike the wrong cord in
the international context for the Mormon church.
Defending freedom of religion means defending everyone's freedom of
religion. There are some whose religious convictions don't condemn
homosexual activity the same way ours does. Should they be allowed to worship
according to the dictates of their own conscience? Or ours?Yes, we
need to defend religious freedom. That means not siding with right wingers who
commit attacks on religious freedom and make them look like defenses of
This nation was founded on Christian principles - plain and simple. Thanks to
Elder Oaks for reminding us of our obligation to uphold and defend fundamental
I believe Elder Oaks is doing the right thing by emphasizing these principles.
These principles are an important part of our freedoms, and believers in God and
Jesus Christ have the right to promote their beliefs. They also have the
obligation to try to enact laws and preserve laws that are consistent with the
teachings of Christianity and of our Church, just as non-believers have and do.
With all due respect, I don't see any infringement on the right of free
exercise of religion. What I do see is a broader recognition that the free
exercise of religion applies across the board, not just for those of
conservative faiths. Mark carefully the words above of "Wilf 55". The
separation of church and state is a wise principle, one that my fellow Mormons
should appreciate more in light of our history. Now that we are in larger
numbers, are we now tacitly becoming oppressors of those with different views?
@Texasishomenow - one thing that has amazed me over the years is when many
members of the church believe they are doing what the prophets and apostles say,
when in fact, they never actually said to do that. Or they've said it in
such a nuanced way that it does, in fact, allow for interpretation or
flexibility. But still, there has developed a sort of groupthink that allows
members of the church to believe that just because they're following the
crowd, they're following the prophet. I think we as members of the church
need to do a lot better job at distinguishing between following the prophet and
following the crowd.
elarue,"There are some whose religious convictions don't
condemn homosexual activity the same way ours does. Should they be allowed to
worship according to the dictates of their own conscience? Or ours?"How is the right of those who don't condemn homosexual activity to
worship according to the dictates of their own conscience violated by OUR
exercising OUR right to worship according to the dictates of OUR own conscience?
We are exercising our beliefs. They are exercising theirs. They
are not prevented from exercising theirs because we assert ours. We don't
have to advocate their cause to be tolerant and vice versa. Respectfully
agreeing to disagree doesn't violate anybody's rights, and we can
still live in peace.
I very much appreciate the tone and tenor of Elder Oaks address as reported in
this news article. In the course of my life, I have been asked to offer prayers
in public places where there were few, if any other Latter-day Saints, present.
Frequently people present on those occasions have expressed appreciation for
those prayers. Occasionally I was criticized because I prayed in the name of
Jesus Christ. Once in Morocco I was asked to offering a blessing. I prayed for
not only food but also for the blessing of rain on that thirsty land. I did so
in the name of the "God of Abraham" sensitive to the fact that Jehovah
is that God and that such a petition would be sensitive to my hosts, and at the
same time would enable me to be true to the faith that I love. I appreciated
Elder Oaks' comments about sensitivity on these matters. It seems to me
that his discourse was masterful and warranted, and I am grateful for it and for
his courage to speak clearly and with deep conviction. It is his right to
exercise his religion.
AZKID - A good portion of the founding fathers were not Christians in the
traditional sense. A lot of them were deists. And even if they were
Christians, they still established a freedom of religion and a separation of
church and state, and that is what allowed for the restoration to happen in the
first place. Otherwise, the restoration of the gospel could not have happened
in a nation that, by and large, even today still views us as not being truly
Christian.So yes, God did ordain the Constitution, including the
separation of church and state and the freedom of all religions - even
non-Christian ones - and therefore we have a duty to respect it.
Nowhere in the Constitution nor in the Bill of Rights will you find the phrase,
"separation of Church and State." Thomas Jefferson in correspondence
referred to a "wall of separation between Church and State" which
rational and constitutionally informed people will view as limiting the
government, not the religious body public. Remember the Constitution was
designed to limit government because of its tendency to abridgement of
liberties. It's curious those who see religion as an imposition on liberty
fail to see the massive imposition the government has become on the "free
exercise of religion." Wilf 55 comments it is inappropriate for the
free exercise of religion in spheres where it doesn't belong. Nowhere in
the Constitution will you find this type of proscription. What part of free
don't you understand and who decides where it doesn't belong? In
Congress? Well, at least that still hasn't been eliminated. In schools?
Check. It seems those spheres where it doesn't belong are getting bigger
and our liberties are getting smaller.
Sounds to me as if Elder Oaks has issued a challenge, one to stand for the LDS
faithful to show we believe in a more public way. To those who disregard or
don't accept the challenge, who do you fear more, the PC police or God? I
sustain Elder Oaks as an Apostle, and gladly accept his challenge to be not only
a believer, but one who acts according to my beliefs at all times, in all
things, and in all places.
Wilf55,"Elder Oaks does not seem to realize that his remarks
strike the wrong cord in the international context for the Mormon
church."I'm confident that Elder Oaks knows more about the
international context of the Mormon church than you do. As an apostle, he has
travelled the world and even lived abroad (Philippines). I don't believe
that the international church is as you believe it to be, but even if it were,
the principles of religious freedom apply internationally, even when particulars
may vary from country to country. In any case, there is no international church
and American church anyway. There is the church: The Church of Jesus Christ of
So many spokespersons who just dismiss Elder Oaks as some sort of ill-informed
bozo. Guess again folks, and take into consideration that everything he said is
to be couched in the context of civility and respect of others in spite of the
fact that our world has become clearly less civil and even increasingly
decadent. He too respects the separation of church and state, however we should
always hold high our social/moral values. BYU-I students have been wisely
instructed on the subject by an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
With all of the "Gospel Topics" clarification recently... this is truly
funny. "Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence
in their lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the
process." They are even cheapening their grandfathers religion.
If religious zealots continue in the name of "religious freedom" to be
confrontational and abrasive in their narrow interpretations, then they will
surely get confrontation.I guarantee it.
Esquire-You don't see any infringement on the right of free exercise
of religion? You must have missed the report which declared prayer is not
allowed in schools, celebrating Christmas, or even discussing religion, unless
it is Islam. Some communities have gone so far as to prohibit the expression of
Christmas well-wishes. Perhaps you didn't get the news report which
revealed the military has declared chaplains can no longer provide sermons, even
if requested. There is none so blind as he who will not see.
re: AZKID earlier this a.m.Nanook of the North last night was right.
Lawyers make their living on arguing & like Don Henley sang
"dwell on small details". Further, in a nation based on the
Rule of Law, something verified by Congress say The Treaty of Tripoli (Article
11) sets precedence.
@kiddsport: The _principle_ is separation of church and state. The _words_
that establish that principle are different, but they establish it nonetheless.
In fact, it's known as the "Establishment Clause" of the Bill of
Rights. That "Establishment Clause" is the first part of
the First Amendment, the part that reads: "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof;" Do you see what it does? It does two things. First, it denies a
place in government for any religion. "Shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion." Second, it promises to keep its hands off
religion, "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Those two things, taken in concert, establish a separation, in law, of Church
and State. The meaning of those important words are well-established in over 200
years of High Court case law.Just because you disagree with the law
of the land, doesn't mean it doesn't apply to you.
"Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their
lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process".
I am LDS and statements like this make me cringe. I served a mission and was
the only member where I worked for many years. People were all very nice to me
but saw me as a member of a "cult" that led me around by the nose. I
would relate Joseph Smith's quote (can't now sorry) of teaching
correct principles and letting us govern ourselves but that statement could
never be defended now and I'm sure is long forgotten. I personally think
intelligence comes from God and am eternally grateful for mine. I was given the
gifts of intelligence and free agency but if I use either I'm cursed???
Plagues and calamities- really? Not much of a gift :) I feel for my daughter,
who had the dream of sharing the gospel, now deemed a "service
missionary" stateside only to spend her time volunteering in nursing homes
because proselyting has become impossible. We are doing ourselves no favors.
The world is watching (and not impressed).
Alex 1 - by enacting legislation condemning homosexuality or restricting the
rights of homosexuals does restrict the freedom of those who believe as we do.
Legalization of same sex marriage does not require us as a church to solemnize
same sex marriages or acknowledge them in a religious context. I know
there's a popular right wing myth that says it does, but it's just
that - a myth. And the sooner we realize that and dispel that myth, the better
off we will be.
@Texasishomenow - I agree Elder Oaks is an apostle of the Lord. That being
said, I DO speak up for my beliefs, but I ALSO understand constitutional
liberty, freedom, and law such that we must tread very carefully when advancing
or supporting public policy or law that relies only on the religious beliefs of
2% (USA) or 0.5% (Canada) of the population.@B Man - I just said
"Prop 8 was shot down in the courts". The California Supreme Court
upheld Prop 8, but then the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled Prop 8 was
unconstitutional. Why? Because 1) marriage had previously been ruled as a
"right" (ironically, in the 1967 SCOTUS case re: interracial marriage,
against which Apostles had often spoken), 2) the Fourteenth Amendment says no
state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
of the laws," and 3) the court said it is "implausible to think that
denying two men or two women the right to call themselves married could somehow
bolster the stability of families headed by one man and one woman." Elder
Oaks might disagree with that last statement, but I don’t.
I agree with the very first comment made for this article. It is nice to see
such bold, courageous leadership in this darkening world. Thank you Elder Oaks!
shesaidohkay,"The world is watching (and not impressed)."And you know this how?
Swap out Christianity with Islam and you can figure out how other nations
justify Sharia Law. The arguments sound pretty similar to what you all are
@AZKID - There are 4 reasons why America is not "a Christian nation." 1)
America was FOUNDED by people running away from persecution in nations with
"official state religions", like the Puritans, Mennonites, Anabaptists,
Quakers, Jews, Baptists, Catholics, and many others. They EXPLICITLY did NOT
want the new nation to have any "official state religion." 2)
"Congress [or the states] shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion." ANY law that "establishes" a religion as part of national
or state governance is unconstitutional, period. If members of one religion
— Mormons, fundamentalists, doesn't matter — push for law that
"establishes" their beliefs without respecting the beliefs and rights of
others, then they're in the wrong. 3) One of the US's first military
adventures after the Revolution was to fight pirates operating from the coasts
of what is now Libya. The resulting 1797 Treaty of Tripoli (approved UNANIMOUSLY
by the Senate) says "the Government of the United States of America is not,
in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." 4) If the wealthiest
nation in the world really WAS "a Christian nation", we would have no
poor, sick, needy, or homeless among us. We have more than our share;
that's a problem.
@NanookOfTheNorth: Excellent comment, but I would take issue with one detail.
The Puritans were not running away from being persecuted. They were seeking
somewhere they could establish a colony run entirely according to their own
religious law. In their Massachusetts colony, they were ruthless. We remember
them through rose-colored glasses in context of our Thanksgiving Day myths and
traditions, but they were brutal towards the natives and totally intolerant
towards any other religion.After their brutal repressions
didn't work to drive Friends out of the Colony, they started hanging
Quakers in 1659. (Look up "Boston Martyrs.") England pretty much
pulled their charter and put them under a secular governor after that. In 1692,
they were at it again, though this time executing "witches."We do owe the Puritans one very important thing, though. I believe the memory
of their religious abuses were a prime motivation behind the 1789 writing of the
Establishment Clause in the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of (and from)
@Nanook of the North, elarue Thanks for your insightful and accurate
comments.Although I sustain Elder Oaks and quote him in classes that
I teach, in my view he tends to make religion part of the problem in the public
arena rather than part of the solution. I once asked him, for example, if it was
his position that Ten Commandments plaques or monuments should be allowed to
stand alone on public property. His response was: "Yes, that is my
position." That answer, in my opinion, is a microcosm of the problem.I believe that if the Ten Commandments, a Nativity, etc., are placed on
public property, a forum is created and other viewpoints must be allowed. Same
thing with placing prayer on the agenda of government meetings. Not to do so is
simply to shove religion down people's throat.
According to the article, Elder Oakes proposed three things:1) Pray
that people will believe in God and believe that right and wrong are defined in
His commandments.2) Publicly proclaim that the founders of the USA
embedded principles of faith in their government and culture.3) Support
religious coalitions who "defend our nation's traditional culture of
belief in God and the acknowledgement of his blessings."He was
talking to BYU students who currently reside in America. None of these sound
very revolutionary for a religious leader to suggest.I think that
this is designed to counteract the misinformation that is being spread by those
who would diminish belief in God and belief in right and wrong.
@elarueI couldn't agree more. Far too many individuals lean on the
interpretations of others without praying and asking for direction. The Lord has
called these Prophets and Apostles to lead and guide this generation in
righteousness. The Lord also expects us to do our part as James directed in the
Holy Bible, ... That is, "ask of God" (James 1:5). Many people have done
this already. Two great examples from our past are Nephi and Joseph Smith who
lacked understanding among great confusion. They went to the Lord in prayer
seeking answers and great things happened. I just pray that as this moves
forward more people will do as James directs and lean upon the lord if they lack
understanding or disagree with a mouthpiece of God. James 1:5-8
Dallin Oaks is one of my heroes, so I have a hard time believing that he
criticized using reason. It sounds out of context.
The constitutional ignorance here is astounding, as well as common sense. For
Mormons who not only diminish one of the brightest legal minds of our age, but a
man that some supposedly raise their arm to the square to support as a prophet
is even more astounding. Prophets can speak on any issue. As far as separation
of church and state; It is not only one of the most misused and misunderstood
phrases, but shows in the end the contempt of those who want to spit in the eye
of God and say, "Stay out of my life!" Wow! Kicking against the pricks
comes to mind, something that never has a good end! Time to decide what you
really believe! You can't tread water forever. You'll be on one side
or the other!
Elder Oaks and his supporters should be ashamed that they promote violence. to
deny equal rights via a pen or a sword is certainly a violent act. It must never
be tolerated. Too many good people have been injured or have given their lives
to protect the equal rights of all people in this great nation to allow the
likes of Oaks and others to push their violent agenda on the general public.
Steve W.It should sound out of context. Of course we have to use
reason, but in the event that reason and revelation aren't in harmony, what
wins? Elder Oaks is asserting that, when in conflict, revelation should trump
reason, and I agree. I don't know about you, but I prefer when my reason
and revelation are in agreement. Unfortunately, I can't necessarily
guarantee that will always be so.What passes for reason in the world
is so fickle anyway. One person's definition of reason is another
person's definition of stupidity. So what do you do? Work it out in your
heart and mind and ask the Lord if it is right. Listen to the Spirit, and act.
Amen to Elder Oaks.
Where were those who threatened and denied Religous Freedom for Muslims in New
York?I was shouted down by them, and here they are crying
about them loosing religous freedom.What goes around, comes
around.Karma -- Jesus taught about it.
The current populist wave of shaming andbullying techniques driving the
accepting and enabling of this ever immoral behavior under the hijacking of the
real meaning of marital "love", is quite possibly the most two-faced,
eternally indefensible and shallow attempts ever foisted on the citizenry of
this country. Nothing comes close. Sodom and Gomorrah were real, and
we're there now and time will prove it. The wise exercise of
choice never includes being on the side sin nor of encouraging that which is not
wholesome and eternally uplifting. There will never be eternal reward for same
gender relationships. And, it's sad to say that someone needs to point it
out. The Spirit of God would never add sanction to it, because it is an affront
to eternal law and always has been.That our earthly laws may change
to condone, sanction and allow it will matter little. Satan is having his day.
Those who focus on those social enablements will have their reward in this life
only. Repentance is available to those who want to feel the true spirit of God
in the midst of this furor.
Most of the "worldly" comments here need to think about how Christians
feel about the "world". It has nothing to do with how they run their
lives. Jesus said to leave the world behind, which means for those who want to
incorporate their disdain for religion and Him in public policy, it matters very
little to Him and to those who accept His word as the truth, regardless of
whether the world accepts it or not! For those who seem utter the most obvious
non-sequitor of all--that public policy is not the basis for moral laws, I would
advise you to get out of his employ (Satan's), for that is exactly what he
would have you support!
@ kiddsport, 8:57 a.m. Feb. 26, 2014, I reject your assertions and either false
or misrepresented, and challenge you to produce sourcing for your assertions
other than right wing/conservative interpretations of news items whihc are meant
to influence and not inform. There is no wholesale infringement on religion,
unless it is the activist efforts of the Christian right to limit the religious
freedoms of those with whom they disagree.
I’ve said this on other threads and I’ll say it again here: What is
actually being challenged is not religious freedom, but religious privilege
– and in particular Christian privilege. Mandatory school prayer,
religious icons in government buildings, federal holidays for religious events
– every one of these is and always has been unconstitutional. And if you
disagree, just imagine if the religion being recognized was not Christian, but
Muslim or Jewish. Now does it look like “freedom”?No,
the freedom to practice one's religion is not being threatened by
nonbelievers. The real threat comes from the religious.
The words of Elder Oaks ring true. Just read comments on these boards. Believers
defend their beliefs, usually without any vile words whilst non-believers attack
and disparage at the drop of a hat. Why can we not stand up for what we believe?
Why can we not say "Merry Christmas"? Why can we not call something a
sin? We can and will continue to do so. Did Christ say we should never offend?
Did He say we should not call sin sin? Did he tell the adulteress that it was
okay to keep doing what she was doing? Or did he tell her to go and sin no more?
I am not afraid. Throw me in jail like you did Joseph Smith. Crucify me as you
did Jesus. Elder Oaks is right - we need to stand up for our beliefs, come what
'Those who have used human reasoning … have diminished themselves and
cheapened civilization…'. Really? Do we have a God-given brain
with which to think and reason? Do we have free will? Does that cheapen
and diminish us?Whatever happened to 'agency'?
to gmlewis earlier today"He was talking to BYU students who
currently reside in America. None of these sound very revolutionary for a
religious leader to suggest."Really? Two Questions. 1)Who
stormed the Embassy in Tehran? & 2) What did group of people who
incited/encouraged said act do for a living?
I am saddened by some of the comments made here. For those upset about a call
for prayer and support of those who believe in Christianity, you should really
question what you believe.. Either you believe Elder Oaks is a prophet or you
don't. Throughout the scriptures there are accounts of many who feel that
the prophet is somehow foolish or the words do not apply etc. What happened to
them? We are in a war of ideas here. Elder Oaks is asking us to stand
true to the principles that we believe in as members of the church. He is
asking us to defend the current rights we already have before they slip away.
Just look at what is happening in Uganda today. Elder Oaks said:
"Free exercise surely protects religious citizens in acting upon their
beliefs in public policy debates and in votes cast as citizens or as
lawmakers."Persecute gays, arrest them, condemn to years in
jail, that is what happens when religion is allowed to dictate the law.
What we are facing here is a war of ideas. Secularism and atheism are
religions. Those who hold fast to their tenants are proselyting their belief
system onto the masses. Christians are being told that to believe in Jesus
Christ and the New Testament is hateful or antiquated. Or the words of Christ
are being twisted to embrace sinful behavior. Elder Oaks is simply trying to
slow the tide of what prophets have foretold would happen for centuries. The
faithful have long been looking for the signs of Christs coming. It will only
be a matter of time.
@Mister J: I am perplexed by your questions. I don't see how storming an
embassy correlates with amy of the three things Elder Oakes recommended. Elder
Oakes said nothing about taking violent actions.Perhaps you are
commenting on my word choice of "revolutionary." I should have said his
comments were not "extraordinary", "reactionary", or
"Where will this illogical attack on religious motivations end?"Well said Elder Oaks! Thank you!
@Nanook of the North:"Add to that previous rulings that marriage is a
right, and the result was that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Period."There's nothing in the Constitution that addresses marriage, any
marriage. The decision re what marriage is is left to the states (per Amendment
10). And, I think Prop 8 stated that ANYONE can marry provided they marry a
person of the opposite sex.@elarue:"Defending freedom of
religion means defending everyone's freedom of religion."That might be our undoing as a nation. There are some religions in the world
that take away human rights... such as one found in the Mid-East. Anyone who
would defend that religion in America would be sending religion freedom down the
drain.@kiddsport:"You don't see any infringement on
the right of free exercise of religion? You must have missed the report which
declared prayer is not allowed in schools, celebrating Christmas, or even
discussing religion, unless it is Islam."Interesting point about
Islam. Why would Americans allow Islam, the religion that denies women's
rights to flourish in America?
"Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their
lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process,"
he said."That would be good advise if only we had more assurance
as to what 'divine influence' is. To many the phrase itself is very
elusive.I would think that Elder Oaks would direct his
comments/admonitions to God Himself... Why has he not visited his
'children' on a regular basis? What father would be acting in the
best interests of his 'children' by only showing up to visit a couple
of times in many centuries? Doesn't make sense.
@Mr. BeanTo understand this question you have to have an understanding
about the purpose of life itself. Life is a time to go through trials,
experiencing temptation and pain along with all the joys life can offer. Were
God present we would not be subject to temptation in the same manner we do now.
It is also a test of faith. If every time someone broke the commandments he was
immediately punished or every time someone chose the right he was immediately
rewarded there would be no point to a mortal sojourn beyond getting a corporeal
body. Why do bad things happen to good people? The same reason good things
happen to good people and bad people. God lets us, for the most part, struggle
through life with imperfect beings all around. He doesn't show up because
He cares, not the other way around. Look at this life as a bird breaking out of
a shell - if the father opens the egg instead of letting the bird struggle to
get out it is too weak to survive. This life is a very small blip in eternity.
@ Nanook of the North - "....The fact is, the United States of America does
NOT have a state religion. If a law or public policy doesn't have any good
reason behind it other than "Some people think God wants us to do this"
(or "not do this"), then it is NOT appropriate for America. Yes, every
law and policy has a moral basis, but if it's not a moral basis that
respects the rights of ALL Americans, and if it's not a moral basis that
has a strong consensus among Americans, then it's a bad law or policy.
Proposition 8 was shot down in the courts because all of the reasons put forward
to defend it were either a) unsubstantiated, or b) based in religious beliefs
that not all Americans share. Add to that previous rulings that marriage is a
right, and the result was that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Period.Yes, I AM an active and believing Latter-day Saint. But I think Elder Oaks is
dead wrong here."Based on your very last comment, with that
attitude you will not be an active LDS member for long.Jesus:
"You are either for me or against me."
Mr. Bean,"...That would be good advise if only we had more
assurance as to what 'divine influence' is. To many the phrase itself
is very elusive...."______________________________Divine
influence varies from religion to religion. Human reasoning is flawed but
without pretense or illusion that’s it is infallible truth from above.
With all due respect to Dallin Oaks, I think most reasonable people would choose
the later as the basis for public policy in America.
I'm sure I'm not aware of an "attack" on public prayer. Could
somebody enlighten me?
After reading so much criticism of Elder Oaks' comments, I went and read
more carefully his remarks. I especially noticed the frequency of "we".
He did not address the world saying "you". Nowhere did I see him
suggesting we impose anything on anyone else. However, as a Prophet, Seer, and
Revelator, he undoubtedly is given to know the dangerous direction our society
"Craig Clark"Divine influence varies from religion to
religion."Unless it's from a 'true' religion
it's not divine.@Kaladin:"Life is a time to go
through trials, experiencing temptation and pain along with all the joys life
can offer."True, but it would be less traumatic with
'Father' around to learn from by example. The record He left (Old
Testament) is so fragmented/sketchy that it's almost worthless. His Son
was here for a spell but that record also leaves much to be desired. The
evidence of the confusion can be seen in the myriads of religions and
philosophies that have sprung up from those brief Biblical dealings."Were God present we would not be subject to temptation in the same manner
we do now."How do you know that? Besides... His Son was around
for several years and look what happened... they killed Him."It
is also a test of faith."But, it is said, knowledge trumps
faith."If every time someone broke the commandments he was
immediately punished or every time someone chose the right he was immediately
rewarded..."Rewards and punishments are for the next life...
should there be one.
@ Karen R. "just imagine if the religion being recognized was not Christian,
but Muslim or Jewish. Now does it look like “freedom”?"Absolutely! It doesn't matter what religion is offering a prayer as long
as it is to the God in Heaven, a Supreme Being, whatever anyone wants to call
Him or even "her" if they prefer. The important part of this is
recognizing that we as human beings on this earth can't do it all alone by
simply reasoning things out in our own minds without acknowledging our Maker.
Jews and Muslims both recognize this. Muslims and Jews both respect and revere
Jesus even though their understanding of his mission on earth is different than
Christians. Muslims often say the words "peace be unto him" whenever
they mentions Jesus' name. As LDS we respect the right of all
religions to worship how where or what they may. If only the crowds of
irreligious out there had the same respect.
I think that we all need to be careful about selective listening/obedience. When
a prophet or an apostle speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, they are acting as
a mouthpiece for God. Sometimes, I think, Satan gets to us when he tries to have
us believe we know everything. As it says in 2 Nephi 9:28 "O that cunning
plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of
men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto
the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves,
wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall
perish." Those in this group who are latter-day saints, and even those who
are not, and are having doubts about what Elder Oaks was saying can always pray
to know if what he said was true. I sustain Elder Oaks and will do my best to
follow his counsel to act as a witness of God at all time, in all things, and in
all places. I will do what I can to help protect the free exercise of religion.
The hegemony and tyranny of religion must end.You want culture
wars?You got it.
To those that claim to be active LDS people but disagree with what the Apostles
say who are you to say you are right and they are wrong? The Lord's house
is a house of order and if everyone got revelation according to there desire it
would be mass confusion. Are the Lords servants wrong on matters essential to
salvation. Of course they may change belief's on things of Ten Tribes or
wether Shem and Melchezedik were the same person. Or why some lineages are
denied certain blessings. However they are not wrong on moral issues of
chastity. And why do people that disagree think they are smarter than the Lords
anointed. In the words of Ezra Taft Benson Pride is wishing God would agree
with you, instead of you agreeing with God.
@ Scientist in a Telestial World the Devil will be hear to holler every time you
speak out for morality. The only way for the Devil to not holler is for people
of religious conviction to be silent. And the Devil is interested in us sharing
our misery. People who do not think God exists have no problem shouting when
people disagree with them. Shouldn't they expect people of faith to defend
@O'really:"It doesn't matter what religion is offering a
prayer as long as it is to the God in Heaven, a Supreme Being, whatever anyone
wants to call Him or even 'her' if they prefer."There
are dozens of gods that folks say are in heaven. Which of these gods are you
referencing? And how do you know the god you're referring to is in
heaven?@higv:"Of course they may change belief's on
things of Ten Tribes or whether Shem and Melchezedik (sic )were the same person.
Or why some lineages are denied certain blessings."Seems they
would be consistent on these issues. Unless it's just some kind of
Reasoning/w flawed logic yields false beliefs. Like instinctual behaviors are
magic. So far science reasoning hasn't come up with a single theory of
hardwired instinctual behavior's delivery system, while religion says Satan
has power over the flesh. Got the picture who Satan is? Satan is survival
instinct; immoral, selfish, bodiless entity with power over the flesh,
constructing reality for your conscious mind. Independent, Intelligent,
Operations, Management: brains to run the impossible: independent life forms."Let Me Help All of You With Some Logic."This is for all who
believe: God Created all life.If God created all things: he created
instinct for all life to know what to do for survival, without learning.God created instinct which includes sex drive and other non-learned survival
mechanisms. Satan has power over the flesh: Christian, Muslim, Judaism
all believe this truth. Knowing 1,2,&3 are true: Instinct and Satan
are the same entity. God created Instinct/Satan."Intelligent Logic w/
use of the Facts" Our Faith in God declares that Satan is Instinct: It
is bodiless, powerful intelligence with power over the flesh. Because God has
power over all things, that authority was given to Satan by necessity.
Nanook, go and read the Federalist Papers some time.
A quaker, you are very wrong on your interpretation of the "Establishment
Clause". It does not deny a place in government for any religion. It is
there to prevent the government from establishing a state religion like England,
France, Italy, etc had at the time. It is not meant to deny religions from
having a voice. Wow!
@Alfred we believe God will yet reveal many things. If that is the case there
is room for good people to disagree on gospel topics, or improve on them. Bruce
R McConkie even changed his mind on some things. We believe in continuing
revelation. Some things are timely and some things the Lord has not chosen to
reveal yet, such as marital status of Jesus during mortality. 2nd coming.
Morality and baptism are eternal though.
Mr. Bean,"Craig Clark"Divine influence varies from
religion to religion."“Unless it's from a
'true' religion it's not divine...."______________________________Let’s not let political
discussion digress into a theological debate. What people believe to be divine
influence is what I refer to in response to Dallin Oaks’ in advocating
support for coalitions of religious leaders who share his political goals.Elder Oaks is a conservative Republican.It’s his right
to speak out, just as it’s the right of every American citizen to decide
how to vote. Each individual vote belongs to the voter, not to any religious
leader or conservative coalition that leader publicly supports
Lot a people on here that think they know better than apostles and prophets. I
think that is the real problem yikes, that thinking sure worked out well for the
children of Israel. Let's all build a golden calf.
@O'ReallyRe: your remarkable contention that Christians would
be just fine with reciting Muslim prayers, I refer you to the web sites of the
ACLU or the Justice Department for information regarding the many attempts
around the nation to pass laws banning Sharia Law or to prevent the construction
of mosques. Also, based on what he says above, I'm pretty sure wrz
wouldn't like it either.Our Constitution says that your belief
system and mine are equal and that our government should remain strictly neutral
in its stance to either. This is what I respect. I wish more of the religious
I stand as a witness of God when I don't directly blame my brothers and
sisters in Christ of the LGBT community for trying to bring the downfall of the
family. I stand as a witness of God when I tell people who aren't
Christians that there is nothing wrong with them. I stand as a witness of God,
when I remind people who aren't just like me that it's okay to be
different because we are all created in the image of God, and we all have our
own Agency to do what we feel is right.Like I said before, you
can't stand as a witness of God unless you possess the love of God to those
with whom you witness. Judgment, blame, self-righteous attitudes, and ridicule
will fall on deaf ears. It is important to stand as a witness of God, but
it's important to know what that really looks like.
@teachermom6"Christians are being told that to believe in Jesus Christ
and the New Testament is hateful or antiquated"As a Christian
myself, I can't think of anytime I've ever been told that it's
hateful of me to be one. Maybe it's because the people who know me know I
don't try and impose my religious beliefs on others. I've heard
something similar to antiquated once or twice, but I make no unreasonable
assumptions about what percentage of people should believe the same as me when
it comes to faith. @wrz"Anyone who would defend that
religion in America would be sending religion freedom down the drain."Religious freedom is not built on attacking another religion.@higv"Of course they may change belief's on things of Ten
Tribes or wether Shem and Melchezedik were the same person"Or
whether black people are unworthy of the priesthood... careful what you follow
if you do it blindly.
BYU Convert wrote:"I stand as a witness of God when I don't
directly blame my brothers and sisters in Christ of the LGBT community for
trying to bring the downfall of the family. I stand as a witness of God when I
tell people who aren't Christians that there is nothing wrong with them. I
stand as a witness of God, when I remind people who aren't just like me
that it's okay to be different because we are all created in the image of
God, and we all have our own Agency to do what we feel is right...Judgment,
blame, self-righteous attitudes, and ridicule will fall on deaf ears. It is
important to stand as a witness of God, but it's important to know what
that really looks like."Amen. Well said. I would go further.
Zealous religious expressions do not fall on deaf ears. We hear clearly, and it
provokes our wrath and defiance. It provokes enmity, and it violates the
principles of peace and civility.
BYU_ConvertYou don't stand as a witness for god. God
didn't say those things, you did. Those are your words, own them. Those who
flew planes into the world trade centers also stood as a witness to their god in
their actions.... I would be careful when proclaiming things and saying it in
the name of god, when he, in fact, didn't say it.
DocHolliday,God did say to love others unconditionally. It is all
through the scriptures manifested in different wording, but the meaning is still
the same. Unfortunately, too many people of faith put conditions on their
"love." To many people witness in the wrong fashion. The Islamic
terrorists were poor witnesses of Allah. Anyone who studies Islam will know
that it is not a religion that seeks to murder the innocent. I could argue the
same regarding the Christian-led Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. I would
be more careful of not loving people just because I don't agree with
them--just because they aren't exactly like me in religious creeds,
political thoughts and doctrines, or any other way, shape, and form that
produces division among people. Again, you cannot stand as a true witness of
God without the love of God, for God is love. I will love others who are not
Mormons, Doc. There are people who are not in my Church, who God loves, and
they need a better witness than what they've been getting recently.
Self-righteous condemnation has no place in God's halls.
I've long said,The demise of organized religion in this country
began when it became a tool, or weapon, to be used for political purposes.The degradation of democracy is also hastened by the use of religion as
a political tool. In my opinion it is becoming more and more
evident that some church leaders are so immeshed in one side of the political
spectrum they've lost perspective. For example, from Dallin Oaks
address:"We should also assert ourselves against the current
trend to refrain from religious references even in private communications. In
recent years the inclusion of religious symbols and reverent words in Christmas
greetings and sympathy cards have almost disappeared."Reminds me
of Bill O'Reilly and his "War on Christmas" every year.