Tuesday, October 13, 2009

LDS U.S. Senator Harry Reid And LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks Best Illustrate The Political Diversity Within The LDS Church

During the past 24 hours, reports on two public statements by prominent members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints illustrate the political diversity which exists within the Church, but at the same time preserving spiritual unity.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve are both equally devout Mormons. Both equally support the LDS Church defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. But both are at opposite poles when it comes to expanded gay rights in the civil realm.

On October 12th, 2009, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that during a meeting with three organizers of the pro-gay National Equality March that took place in Washington D.C. on October 11th, Senator Reid criticized the LDS Church for backing Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California, saying the leaders of his faith should have stayed out of the contentious political fight. Reid's spokesman Jon Summers would not discuss the private meeting, but he didn't deny the conversation took place. Summers explained that "While Senator Reid agrees with his church that marriage is between a man and a woman, he also believes that the resources that went into the Proposition 8 effort could have been put to better use."

This shows that Senator Reid still agrees with the Church's definition of marriage, but that he doesn't want to force that definition upon the greater society.

Meanwhile, in a speech delivered to students at Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYUI; formerly known as Ricks College) on October 13th, Elder Dallin H. Oaks took a decidedly different point of view. While not criticizing Senator Reid by name, Elder Oaks warned about the erosion of religious liberty under the guise of promoting "civil rights" for others, and how atheists, secular humanists, and even some "Christians" are trying intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation. He extensively cited the Proposition 8 campaign as an example, as opponents of Prop 8 falsely claimed that Mormons were trying to “deny” people or “strip” people of their “rights.” Opponents of Prop 8 presume that marriage is a civil right in the absence of any formally-specified constitutional corroboration of that position. Read Elder Oaks' full speech HERE; KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

Elder Oaks also answers some questions about the speech in the video embedded below:

Bloggernacle coverage now provided by A Soft Answer and the Milennial Star. In addition, KSTU Channel 13, which has published its own report on the speech, is also running an "unscientific" opinion poll on the speech. In response to the question, "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, according to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Do you agree?", out of 848 respondents so far, 43.6 percent say Yes, while 56.4 percent say No.

But Elder Oaks wound up his speech by citing five points of counsel on how Latter-day Saints should conduct themselves to enhance religious freedom in this period of turmoil and challenge.

-- First, speak with love, always showing patience, understanding and compassion toward our adversaries.

-- Second, don't be deterred or coerced into silence by intimidation.

-- Third, insist on our freedom to preach the doctrines of our faith.

-- Fourth, as advocates of the obvious truth that persons with religious positions or motivations have the right to express their religious views in public, we must nevertheless be wise in our political participation.

-- Fifth, Latter-day Saints must be careful never to support or act upon the idea that a person must subscribe to some particular set of religious beliefs in order to qualify for a public office.

The latter principle indicates that the Church accepts the right of Senator Reid and others to hold and promote differing political views without risking membership sanctions. While it is unlikely that this speech was crafted as a specific response to Senator Reid's remarks, the timing is fortuitous.

It shows that the LDS Church is big enough for both Harry Reid and Dallin Oaks.


Anonymous said...

Elder Oaks is right on! There is a reason he has been called by the Lord and Senator Reid hasn't, at least at this time.

Anonymous said...

Elder Oaks isn't wrong, but neither is Harry Reid. Last I checked no one was taking away anyone's rights to pray in school privately. No one is going to put anyone in shackles for praying out load in a supermarket. No one is going to fire you for wearing a cross around your neck, or deny you services because you are a Mormon. Mormon missionaries wander freely all over this country, along with others. I believe the idea that right wingers think that religious freedom is under attack is a vain imagining and a retort that projects blame onto someone else instead of turning the mirror towards themselves. Many Christians can see that when they deny services to someone for belief they are as the Levite who walks past the dying man on the road. THIS is the focus of the democratic anti-discrimination movement. Some people in our 'civilized society' can get FIRED just for believing what they believe -and it's not the Christians or Mormons who are dealing with that discrimination. Mormons need to stop being so fearful about people of different cultures and beliefs - seriously, if you have a strong testimony you'll stay in the church even if you love your gay sister or brother. Even if you spend time with Muslim friends. Even if your neighbors don't speak English. Culture isn't doctrine - get it straight. Sure there might be one or two crazies that want two gay people married in a temple, but that's less than 1%, and I don't support that. We're talking about the real issues here - true discrimination and persecution based on belief. If this were a Muslim nation and a Christian minority were forced for pray Muslim prayers, they would strive to have religion removed from schools too. Again, Elder Oaks isn't wrong, but he fails to really see the truth we should be fighting for and that's religious freedom for EVERYONE, the separation of church and state and the strengthening of the Church. Vote your conscious - support free agency (It's God's plan), advocate for the man that lay dying on the road after being beaten, not the Levite who was too high to help. Be the good Samaritan, love each other as Jesus loved you. Best wishes.