What's next for religious freedom in 2019? Faith leaders and policymakers weigh in

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  • laVerl 09 St Johns, AZ
    Dec. 12, 2018 9:55 a.m.

    The subject of "my" freedom vs "your" freedom reminds me of the story told of an immigrant in the 1800's who got off the ship in New York Harbor and immediately went downtown and punched the first guy he saw, giving him a bloody nose.
    He was immediately accosted by a policeman.
    His defense was, "I thought this was a free country."
    The policeman's reply was classic: "In this country, your freedom ends where his nose begins."

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 10, 2018 12:12 a.m.

    Why don't you stop worrying about imaginary threats to your "religious freedom" and start worrying about REAL threats to a just society? It won't solve all of your problems, but it'll be a good start.

  • Jvkswm Rochester, NY
    Dec. 9, 2018 6:39 p.m.

    Nietzsche once wrote »it is not their love of mankind but their impotence of power that keeps the Christians of today from burning us«. In alma 1: 19 we read that we should not persecute those not of our faith. We need to respect other beliefs; religious based prejudice benefits on one. Whilst one mightn’t love every one, it is our social obligation to live side by side with others in peace.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Dec. 9, 2018 2:08 p.m.

    As someone who has faced discrimination based on my skin I can say that why I believe the government and businesses shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate I will never let a person or entity hold that power over me.

    If religions choose to discriminate that is on them. Their numbers will continue to shrink. If a business will not serve you then leave a bad review and move on to the one that will. Just don’t let anyone have control over your happiness.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    Dec. 9, 2018 11:43 a.m.

    Just remember: back in the '60s, the religious freedom card was often played by white folks resisting integration. All of a sudden, segregation became a central tenet of many people's religious beliefs, in the hope that would put it beyond the reach of government.

    How can we be sure that isn't happening today? Especially now that corporations are apparently not only people, but enjoy religious liberty of their own?

  • ConradGurch Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 9, 2018 10:57 a.m.

    I’ll try to water my comment down so the Desert News will post it.

    Religious influences on Utah law making must stop.

    Religion is causing friction, not the non-believer.

    Religion can have all the freedom they want but should be separate from State.

    Who’s God is correct any way, yours or mine?

  • Light and Liberty St George, UT
    Dec. 7, 2018 11:52 a.m.

    We need a new civil rights movement that puts all Americans as equal instead of dividing them into groups! The need for more civil rights laws is over. Discriminating against others based on gender, color of skin, age, work, etc., needs to be thrown into the dust bin of history. It has served its purpose. Now it is time to refer to all Americans as Americans, plain and simple. The days of playing victim, placing someone above another because of skin color, gender, etc., flouts and disregards messages such as Martin Luther King's statement that it is content of character that matters! Anything less divides Americans along racial, gender, age, etc., lines that is unconstitutional, unamerican, and places group identity above even God!

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 7, 2018 10:53 a.m.

    >>Freedom of Religion is an attack on one group of people the LGQT+.

    I wonder what religious LGBTQ+ person think of that claim.

    In any case, that claim can't be true given that the constitutional right to freedom of religion long predates the public recognition of LGBTQ+ persons as a distinct community that merits civil rights protections. The First Amendment was ratified almost two centuries before political debate over LGBTQ+ civil rights even began, so it must logically follow that freedom of religion was included in the Bill of Rights for some other reason than as an anti-LGBTQ+ club.

    But even if, for the sake of argument, we granted that "Freedom of Religion is an attack" on LGBTQ+ persons, *freedom of religion is also a civil right.* It's right there in the text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and so is on equal legal footing with LGBTQ+ civil rights. So, by legal equivalence, if exercising freedom of religion can only be a de facto attack on LGBTQ+ civil rights, then the reverse must also be true.

  • Tiktaalik Logan, UT
    Dec. 6, 2018 12:03 p.m.

    @Sportsfan 123 "example of the conditioning and indoctrination of falsehoods of the left which contributes to the social decay and amorality this country is gravitating towards."

    I've seen you use that statement a couple of times, please give some clarification on what you mean by the social decay and amorality this country is gravitating towards. Seems to me it's exactly the opposite. Some of these are easily verifiable, some are just my personal observations. In my lifetime I've witnessed increased lifespan, decreased child mortality, decreased childhood disease, decreased wars, decreased violent crime, less racism (although we still have a ways to go), more equality for women, more overall charitable giving, less poverty, and the list could go on. Social decay and amorality? Anyone, but especially if you are an african-american, minority, or a woman what other time in history or what other country would you prefer to live?

    Making it a little easier each year for all people to love, live, work, and associate with whoever they want without fear of being ridiculed, or cast aside as lessor human beings seems to indicate to me we are becoming a more moral society over time.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    Dec. 6, 2018 10:49 a.m.

    @Sportsfan123
    "Read the context of the retort of said poster in correspondence you will find I was simply pointing out that moral values were not of modern invention with no distinction to history, which is clearly false."
    So you entirely misunderstood my point then.

    The phrase "Judeo-Christian" is a modern attempt to whitewash Christian hostility towards Jews after the Holocaust in World War II.

    Put simply, even if you want to argue that the US was founded on *Christian* values, it was not founded on *Judeo-Christian* values because the Christians of the time would have rejected the association.

    Claiming that the values were "the same" and thus the phrase is still appropriate is similarly nonsense, unless you would accept someone arguing that the country was founded on "Wiccan Values" which match the Constitution more closely then any "Christian Values" which directly contradict the First Amendment.

    So no. The only way you can argue that the country was founded on "Judeo-Christian values" is if you also accept that it was founded on "Wiccan values".

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 6, 2018 8:14 a.m.

    Karen R. “That's when people lose their lives, or rights, or are driven out simply because they believe something different than the group in charge.”

    Corrie ten Boom resisted Nazi persecution, do to her Christian beliefs, her family experience, and the Dutch resistance. Her defiance led to imprisonment, internment in a concentration camp, and loss of family members who died from maltreatment while in German custody.

    Her family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, which protested Nazi persecution of Jews as an injustice to fellow human beings and an against divine authority.

    She had Christian motivations for hiding Jews, particularly her family's strong belief in a basic tenet of their religion: the equality of all human beings before God.

    Their religious activities had also brought the family a history of personal connections to the Jewish community. Corrie's grandfather had supported efforts to improve Christian-Jewish relations in the nineteenth century.
    Her brother Willem ran a nursing home for elderly of all faiths. In the late 1930s that nursing home became a refuge for Jews fleeing from Germany.

  • Silflay Katy, TX
    Dec. 6, 2018 5:00 a.m.

    @ NoNames

    Karen R. here.

    IMO, your view is akin to a guy seeing a "No hunting" sign and concluding that it's there because the world recognizes what an amazing hunter he is.

    I'm pretty sure our founders felt the need to include the language about religion because they'd seen the effects of state religions and concluded they weren't so amazing, and they recognized the need to protect religious groups from their tendency to persecute/oppress each other. I'm also pretty sure that explicitly including non-belief would've been a nonstarter for ratification. Too many good religious folks would've seen that freedom as heretical.

    @ Sportsfan123

    This might be a repeat. My initial response is on hold as I write this.

    I did misread the context of your one comment. Sorry about that.

    Coveting: Telling folks they should avoid having certain thoughts is setting them up for failure and, in some, can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorders. Unethical, IMO. Also, there's discipline in not acting on one's thoughts and maturity in accepting them as part of being human (versus punishing oneself for it).

    Your last paragraph: IMO, gross generalizations are neither disciplined nor mature.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    Dec. 5, 2018 10:27 p.m.

    rlynn,

    "I have seen the anger in the eyes of so-called Christians..."

    That type of anger and intolerance certainly does exist. I have also seen much the same attitude on several occasions when "Christians" find out that I am LDS.

    Interestingly, liberals display much the same attitude (shouting "bigot," "hatemonger," and "homophobe" at people who disagree with them). Why do liberals display such hatred when professing to believe in "tolerance," " diversity," and "non-discrimination"?

    Bigotry, when expressed by conservative Christians, is just that -- bigotry. Bigotry expressed by the "politically correct" crowd comprises both bigotry and hypocrisy.

  • Silflay Katy, TX
    Dec. 5, 2018 7:57 p.m.

    @ Sportsfan123

    Karen R. here.

    "I made no claim..."

    I see that now. Sorry about that.

    "It is not hard to understand the reasoning behind [making coveting a sin], learning to bridal ones passions shows discipline and maturity"

    Teaching people that they should attempt to prohibit thoughts is setting people up to fail and, for some, it can also be a pathway to obsessive-compulsive disorders. That doesn't sound very mature or ethical to me. It does sound authoritarian. Some people respond to that, though, so if it works...But for those for whom it doesn't, there are things like positive reinforcement, providing positive examples, and also consistently showing faith in the individual's ability to develop self-control and maturity.

    "...a virtue liberals and leftist's clearly hold no value or understamding for. Again, said posters comments are just another example of the conditioning and indoctrination..."

    These gross generalizations don't strike me as disciplined or mature.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 6:48 p.m.

    @Karen R.: "How is it a violation of the Constitution to suggest that freedom of conscience applies to all, whether or not that conscience is informed by a religion?"

    I've never said otherwise.

    It is a violation of the constitution to demand we ignore the clear, black letter langauge which grants religous beliefs and practices special place. The "free expression" of religion, the explicit protection against government passing laws regarding establishment of religion, do give religious beliefs and conduct special place.

    "IMO, when your view of freedom of conscience has been applied -"

    It is not my view. It is the written language of the 1st amd; it is the commonly held view of the United States Supreme Court; it was the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of the US Congress and the signature of President Bill Clinton in passing the federal protection of religion law.

    If a secular business refuses to hire a woman he violates the law. But a church has every right to limit their priesthood (lay or proffessional) to men only.

    If you object to this speical place, then you ought to honestly seek to change the contract via amendment. But anything to undermine the contract is a violation.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 6:39 p.m.

    @Laura Bilington: "Even a four year old knows that "he hit me first" is not a justification for hitting someone."

    And when the left stops behaving badly because Trump behaves badly that kind of resonse will carry some weight.

    Those a little older and better educated than a 4 year old learn that if one party breaks a contract, the other party is no longer bound by the contract. That is why we call the contract "broken". If I don't deliver the contracted product, you are not obliged to pay me. That has nothing to do with hitting.

    "But what is Karen violating?"

    She objects to the special place given religious expression in our federal bill of rights. She might just as well object to due process and presumption of innocence for suspects we all "know" are guilty.

    "She is expecting you to ..."

    I agree. I will not promote nor participate in a homosexual wedding no matter who pays me. I treat everyone the same. I happily provide general services to all.

    Legal rights are in place and were won partly by promises I'd never be affected by someone else's marriage. Keep your promises and leave me free not to promote not attend your event. Even children know we should keep our promises.

  • rlynn Brandon, FL
    Dec. 5, 2018 2:19 p.m.

    Freedom of Religion is an attack on one group of people the LGQT+. Some on mention that being Gay is a lifestyle and thus it can be judged, by that standard be a Christian is also a lifestyle and can be judged. I find that most all religions are bigoted and homophobic. Being Gay is NOT a lifestyle it is a state of being, just has having blue eyes, or dark skin. I have seen the anger in eyes of so called Christians as they call me a sinner and come unto Christ, yell insults at me all the time saying they do it in love...really? Turn inward, look at your self. Why do you hate me so much that you want to take away my freedoms?

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    Dec. 5, 2018 11:47 a.m.

    Karen R. - Houston, TX
    ---
    As for not coveting, that's a thought crime. No deed required. Just think it and "Guilty!" I don't know if this rule is unique to Christianity, but I'd be surprised if other religions didn't include something similarly ridiculous and oppressive.
    ---

    The development of 'thought' crime was a significant element in Judaism, which Christianity and Islam have inherited.

    For the West, Greek and Roman morality/ethics centered on action, and the judgement that an 'act' was good or bad, etc. was based not on the thoughts of the individual, but behavior.

    There of course was plenty said in the Hebrew and later Christian writers on the topic of 'behavior' relative to moral codes, but the idea that one could 'sin' in one's thoughts, was a divergence from Greek and Roman philosophies.

    This idea that a crime requires an act, has been enshrined in the Constitution in concept of 'Freedom of Thought' and 'Freedom of Expression', where thoughts and their expression do not constitute 'crime'. And of course exhortations to commit 'crime', are acts...

    This is contrary to defining 'covet' as a 'crime/sin'.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 10:20 a.m.

    Karen r

    I made no claim that killing and lying was an advent of the christian faith, your words not mine.

    Read the context of the retort of said poster in correspondence you will find I was simply pointing out that moral values were not of modern invention with no distinction to history, which is clearly false.

    As for coveting being oppressive thought - it's simple, controlling ones thoughts can help control ones actions. If one does not covet thy neighbors wife then the likely hood of infidelity decreases. It is not hard to understand the reasoning behind that, learning to bridal ones passions shows discipline and maturity a virtue liberals and leftist's clearly hold no value or understamding for.

    Again, said posters comments are just another example of the conditioning and indoctrination of falsehoods of the left which contributes to the social decay and amorality this country is gravitating towards.

  • Bill-B Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 9:24 a.m.

    As long as we have God in our lives, the United State will remain. There are different names, in different religions, but almost all are respecting God as a higher power who wants peace for all people. Extremist are just that. Extreme. How can man kind love his neighbor and then want to cause harm to other religious mined, peace loving people? How can so many people want to eliminate people of Christian, Judisim or any other God loving religion? Peace on Earth, Good Will to all of Gods Flocks.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 5, 2018 6:55 a.m.

    @ RiDal

    "No one has a 'right' to Health Insurance."

    Thank you for your opinion on a subject I didn't broach.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 5, 2018 6:22 a.m.

    @ Sportsfan123

    "Thou shall not kill, thou shall not lie, thou shall not covet....."

    The rule of thumb that we refer to as the Golden Rule encompasses killing and lying and has been found across cultures of all kinds, and long predating the advent of Christianity.

    So, no - time and morality did not begin with your preferred religion. Humans long ago figured out that not killing each other is a better idea than the opposite if we want to survive.

    As for not coveting, that's a thought crime. No deed required. Just think it and "Guilty!" I don't know if this rule is unique to Christianity, but I'd be surprised if other religions didn't include something similarly ridiculous and oppressive.

  • Lilly Munster , 00
    Dec. 5, 2018 5:47 a.m.

    Here's the core misunderstanding that adds to the advocacy of discrimination:
    Contributor Robin Wilson says........."when the LGBT Community OR the faith community....."
    See the problem there? Once again LGBT Americans are labeled as the enemy of faith.
    Two categories: Believers vs. non-believers.
    That is insidious. And dishonest. That's how the war on our Constitution is presented by those who's advocacy for "compromise." Us vs. Them. Insidious.
    Imagine, if and when, bolstered by the notion that "deeply held religious beliefs" must always be honored, goods and services are denied to LDS Americans, by other Believers or non-believers.....just because they can?
    Imagine Christian Fundamentalists discriminating against Muslims, Atheists, and Jews.......just because they can?
    We already have a safe, sane, and just remedy to discrimination in Our Constitution. It says ALL. That means that I, as an LDS Believer, cannot be discriminated against, because no one can or should be discriminated against. Period. My rights are not secure if the rights of everyone else are categorized or denied for any reason. Constitutional Rights are not subject to religious biases.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 5, 2018 5:46 a.m.

    @ NoNames

    How is it a violation of the Constitution to suggest that freedom of conscience applies to all, whether or not that conscience is informed by a religion? IMO, when your view of freedom of conscience has been applied - i.e., that some forms of belief are special in ways others are not - that's when the disrespecting takes place. That's when people lose their lives, or rights, or are driven out simply because they believe something different than the group in charge.

    "Either there is a Creator of some sorts and there are natural rights endowed into every human (DoI), or rights are merely a human construct."

    How do we tell the difference until your god demonstrates an ability to enforce these rights without human cooperation?

  • windsor Logan, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 4:36 a.m.

    Many do not like President Oaks words.

    (Their anger over that certain line of President Oaks is most telling, by the way....)

    No one is asking those who disagree to like those words.

    We expect that if the likes of mockers like the writers of the Book of Mormon musical--and those who attend it and gush over it (and all other mocking in print, television, policy making etc etc etc ) are allowed to do so without interference, then LDS people should be able to have their beliefs and how they live their lives without interference.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:06 p.m.

    @NoNamesAccepted wrote,

    "Consider carefully. The US Constitution is our contract with each other. If you violate part of it, you have no claim to expect me to respect the parts you hold most dear."

    Even a four year old knows that "he hit me first" is not a justification for hitting someone.

    But what is Karen violating? She is expecting you to treat all people the same, no matter what their religion, race, or gender orientation. It is not OK to use "religious freedom" as an excuse to treat some people badly.

  • Lilly Munster , 00
    Dec. 4, 2018 9:21 p.m.

    Notice that whenever the discussion, or advocacy turns to "Religious Freedom," someone is usually advocating discrimination.
    There have been no efforts from the so called Left, to curtail or destroy my Faith. I can pray, worship, discuss and share with anyone, anytime.
    No one has ever told me that I could not buy a cake, tires, rent an apartment, or get and keep a job because I am an LDS Believer. Never.
    I am free to love non-believers. I am not afraid, harmed or threatened in any way. My faith is strong enough to be the Witness I am called to be.
    No non-believer has ever insulted me for my LDS faith.
    I will gladly share my talents and skills with LGBTQ Americans.
    How are they not worthy of my God given generosity? I am an I.C.U and trauma R.N. I save lives. How could I devote thirty years to saving the lives of strangers in mortal danger, only to learn that I should not bake them a cake? Is my "artistic expression" only for those who are morally spotless?
    To give, aid, comfort and compassion to others strengthens our witness, and helps to change lives and what perfect strangers may mis-understand about LDS Americans. God tells me: Go. Give. Then give some more.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:55 p.m.

    @Karen R.: "It's the "special place" that I object to."

    Consider carefully. The US Constitution is our contract with each other. If you violate part of it, you have no claim to expect me to respect the parts you hold most dear.

    Either there is a Creator of some sorts and there are natural rights endowed into every human (DoI), or rights are merely a human construct. In either case, the Constitution is where we have documented some of our most fundamental and important rights.

    As we heard frequently during votes on Prop 8 in Cali and similar measures in Utah and across the nation, "My rights are not subject to popular vote."

    My duty to my God, my rights of conscience, will be respected by any society that hopes to be civil and successful. Societies that fail to do so--either because of secular hostility to religion, or because one religion oppresses all others--fail to protect other essential rights. Religious rights are the canary in the mine for all other human rights. Their special place is well earned, and consituttionally guaranteed. Object if you like. But nothing short of a ConAmd can honestly change that. We can work together to secure all rights, or fight each other.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:48 p.m.

    Escher enigma

    "The idea that there *are* "judeo christian" values, morality, or anything, is a modern invention distinct from actual history."

    Thou shall not kill, thou shall not lie, thou shall not covet.....

    2000+ year old religious literature says judeo christian values, morality is historic, there is nothing modern about it.

    As far as india, china and japan being 1st world is debatable, japan for sure China only in the last 30 years that has adopted capitalism as it's form of economic structure and they allowed a central bank for the first time in it's history in 1995 to handle their monetary system. Westernised economy and culture in asian countries is new and recently adopted.

    Said posters comments are a great example of the indoctrination and conditioning from the left, which is not history, it is false.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:30 p.m.

    Thomas,
    Religious people during the 1960s were endeavoring to shape state action and policy regarding civil rights and the Viet Nam War. Involvement in the public square is usually intended to influence or change state policy.

    Ranch,
    Religious people on both sides of the Prop 8 campaign were exercising the exact same right to participate in the public square. Complaining about separation of church and state in regard to those on one side of that issue, while voicing no such objection toward those on the opposite side, is pure hypocrisy.

    Race does not denote a pattern of behavior or action. LGBT lifestyles, however, do denote patterns of behavior and are thus open to the making of moral or value judgments. Individuals are within their rights to make such judgments and religious bodies are within their rights to express such standards publicly.
    Meanwhile, it's interesting how those who profess to believe in "nondiscrimination" seek to restrict activities on college campuses by religious groups whose beliefs they don't happen to like. Nondiscrimination apparently is based on whether the politically correct community happen to like one's beliefs.

  • bluesman503 Riverton, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:27 p.m.

    The debate regarding religious freedom, and the other side of that coin freedom from religion have become more intense, more politicized, and less civil because religious organizations continue to spend millions of dollars and political capital to codify their tenants and beliefs in our laws. They work hard to force non-believers to live by their values and standards by depriving them of their civil rights

    I believe in freedom of religion and though an atheist myself I think my freedom to not believe is no more precious than another’s right to believe. Where I draw the line is when either side of this debate starts trying to force any behavior on the other by passing any laws that interfere with their civil rights, their freedom to choose, or their freedom to believe, as they will.

    When you pass laws against same sex marriage because that is against your religion you are imposing your beliefs on those who do not believe as you do. That is wrong. I would rather see all religion banned than see them exercise that kind of power and influence over the beliefs and rights of others.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Dec. 4, 2018 4:22 p.m.

    Yes, religeous people believe in "absolute right and wrong," but they can't agree among themselves about where to draw the line. When the 9/11 hijackings took place, there is little doubt about who the most ardent religious believers were.

    The closest way to evaluate what is right or wrong in modern civilization is humanism. Some argue, "look at what the atheist Stalin did; we need God so that doesn't happen to us!" But that argument rests on premise that genicide and mass murder in order to establish and purify totalitarian states is obviously a bad thing. But how do we know *that*? Certainly not from the bible, where we learn in the Old Testament that God commanded his chosen people to perform genicde to acquire the chosen land and then instilled a brutal system of government where you couldcfet stoned for working on Sunday.

    Yes, humanism values eventually grew out of Judeo-Christian values, and religeous sentiments inspire many to live by humanism. But it is humanism that should be protected and encouraged, not "religion" which encompasses a broad range of beliefs and systems of ethics, some of which are actually evil.

  • BenAround Cowlitz, WA
    Dec. 4, 2018 2:59 p.m.

    The idea that colonialism is responsible for keeping 3rd world countries in poverty is a PC canard. Third world countries are backwatered because of their corrupt cultures and failure to adopt Western values of equally applied retributive justice, economic freedoms, classless social structures, etc. Colonies such as Canada and the US, where these values were preserved by the colonists have prospered. Colonies that have collapsed back into their tribalist cultures have not. Cultures and ethnic demographics in the US that have clung to their cultures of anti-enlightenment values and refused to assimilate are similarly disadvantaged. Not as a result of colonialism but, rather, due to a failure to adopt the cultural values of the colonizers that gave rise to the power to colonize in the first place. Those values came from a mix of biblical ideals of justice, Greek and Roman attempts at representative government, hundreds of years of negotiating individual rights with Western European monarchs, and the recognition that religious freedom is an essential component of individual liberty and the right not to be coerced into performing religious acts that violate one's moral values.

  • FatherOfFour WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 2:59 p.m.

    I don't think religious freedom is in danger. Just yesterday we saw a religion write legislation to overturn the will of the people then call the legislature into session to pass it.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 2:08 p.m.

    @RiDal
    "The country was founded by predominantly Christian people, and upon judeo-christian morality […]"

    The phrase "Judeo-Christian" was created in the 1900s to try and morally align Christianity with Judaism after the holocaust in an attempt to whitewash the complicity of Christians the world over.

    So no. "Judeo-Christian morality" had nothing to do with it. Especially when you remember that the First Amendment directly opposes the First Commandment.

    @Sportsfan123
    Same story. The idea that there *are* "Judeo-Christian" values, morality, or anything, is a modern invention distinct from actual history. Also, you're forgetting that India, China and Japan are all first world countries that don't have a lot of Christian influence.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:43 p.m.

    When President Dallin H. Oaks claims "[…] if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in absolute right and wrong, and you don't see any benefit to society by giving a special place to religion or religious preachers or activities", he oversteps his bounds. He can speak for what Latter-Day Saints believe because that's how his church operates. But he has no authority to speak for anyone else.

    Quite simply, he is wrong, and he is wrong to make the attempt.

    When Johnnie Moore says "People should not be discriminated against, but religious freedom cannot be compromised", he's basically admitting that he expects *me* to shoulder the burdens of *his* religion. He gets to discriminate against me because of "religious freedom", but I can't discriminate against him because "people should not be discriminated against". That's obviously untenable. Either we all have to play nice, or we all get to be nasty. But it's the same rules for everyone, not special license to discriminate for you.

    Something I didn't see anyone mention? Christians organizing to keep Muslims from building mosques. Violence against Jews.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:03 p.m.

    Iceskater

    Said poster comments are mostly true based on todays numbers and population, however my point was the countries founded and had been prodominently influenced by judeo christianity over time. Social and economic growth happens over time like centuries, for instance countries north of the equator or global north as of 1910 had 82% of the globe's christian population, compared to 2010 statistics global north only has 39% of the world population of christians.

    Point being countries who have had long term established influence of judeo christian influence have prospered far better than those that hav not over time.

  • hikeswithdogs Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:58 p.m.

    Religious freedom.......how about freedom from religion?

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:02 p.m.

    RiDal - Sandy, UT
    ---
    @Real Ute:
    The country was founded by predominantly Christian people, and upon judeo-christian morality, ethics, and values. The few founders who "weren't Christian" were actually Deists, who believed in God, but just rejected the particulars of any one denomination.
    ---

    The Founders where heavily influenced by the government organizations of the Greek City states, which were democratic in the sense that all citizens could vote on issues. The Roman Republic was also used as a model of government. Both predate Christianity by centuries and have no connection to biblical forms of government.

    No Biblical forms of government were used in the Founder's discussions as recorded in various ways which formed the founding set of the US.

    The history of the Hebrews is one of 'judges' which were 'called by god', or 'kings' who were anointed by 'prophets of god'.

    There is absolutely nothing of the sort in the foundation documents of the US. They are based on men, given the era, discussing forms of government, and deciding on a particular form of such, and removing the idea of a 'nobility leadership' based on birth, or leadership based on 'belief in god'.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:58 p.m.

    Sportsfan posted: "Values like honoring and respecting women especially valuing their virtue and abstaining from sex before marriage" as one of the "moral advances of western civilization".
    What a joke. 'Valuing their virtue' isnt about them, its about the religious value that men put on an 'asset' which women were/are considered in the bible and throughout history by the religious. Religion has always treated 'their virtue' more like whether a cow gives milk or not. Something to put a price on. Its is only under the modern enlightenment view that women are considered human instead of chattel.
    "secular views do not value which promote social degradation like children born out of wedlock."
    Most children born out of 'wedlock' in this country are born to believers.
    LDS people divorce at similar rates to everyone else (higher than nonbelievers) and divorce is much more significant in number of single parent situations.

    @sashabill
    "Liberals were all for religious participation in the public square during the 1960's and '70s when they were protesting for civil rights and against the Viet Nam War."

    You not seem to understand the difference between the public square and the state.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:44 p.m.

    Religion has cursed man more than bless him and it has been extremely discriminating towards who it benefits. And it is only supposed real. Alternatively, science and nature blesses all equally and condemns all the same. And it is proven real. Universal Paganism seems more appealing each passing religious squabbling day.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:45 p.m.

    @sashabill;

    Were religious leaders during the civil rights era trying to TAKE AWAY rights from citizens or include them?

    Were religious leaders during the Prop-h8 debate trying to TAKE AWAY rights from citizens or include them?

    As a Mormon and former Unitarian, you ought to find position of: "I don't want to be discriminated against for my religious beliefs, but I want to use those religious beliefs to discriminate against others" to be rather hypocritical (to say the least).

    The SCOTUS determined in the 60's that religious belief wasn't a legitimate reason to discriminate against blacks and other minorities; it isn't a legitimate reason to discriminate against LGBT people either. If it is okay for that religious belief then it has to be legitimate as an excuse to discriminate against others; otherwise it becomes an 'establishment' of this belief above other beliefs - in violation of the 1st Amendment.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:35 p.m.

    Let's not forget that "religious preachers" were on both sides of the debate over slavery and the Civil Rights movement. Both sides resorted to Biblical authority for their positions on race and discrimination. That is the problem with resorting to religion alone to resolve questions of right and wrong.

  • Buzzer46 Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:27 p.m.

    I never see my comments? Am I on some silly "list" or something? If so, I can only assume that the truth hurts? Maybe it will take a while. Right?

  • iceskatercjudd Coalville, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:19 p.m.

    @sportsfan.

    It is interesting you assert that the prosperity of the west is due to our Christian values while 3rd world countries aren't prosperous for their lack of Christian values. I assert it is to colonialism which has left many third world countries both Christian and in economics despair. You likely will find more Christian's in the third world countries across South America and Africa then you will find in modern day Europe and the US.

  • iceskatercjudd Coalville, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 12:11 p.m.

    None of the selected speakers truly said anything of significance, so it is hard to understand what they believe will happen in 2019. That being said, I do want to understand what religious freedom truly want to be able to "do freely". You can still go to church, you can still pray, you can still worship. Your ability to "practice" only seems to be impeded in scenarios when you believe your "absolute" understanding of right and wrong entitles you to descriminate against others, such as the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities. I struggle to understand how keeping you from discriminating is in itself discrimination? Elder Oaks also makes an incredibly flawed argument asserting that religion has been on the right side of history but forgoing the numerous cases where it hasn't.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 11:56 a.m.

    Liberals were all for religious participation in the public square during the 1960's and '70s when they were protesting for civil rights and against the Viet Nam War. Revs. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and Hosea Williams were just a few of many religious leaders involved in the Civil rights movement of that time. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from New England, was attacked and killed while participating in civil rights efforts in the South.

    The anti-Viet Nam protests also included significant involvement by religious leaders. Malcolm Boyd (Episcopal priest) and William Sloan Coffin (chaplain at Yale) were just a few examples.

    More recently, those who objected to LDS, Catholic, or evangelical involvement in California's Prop 8 campaign curiously voiced no such problem with Unitarian, Episcopal, or UCC involvement in the No on 8 campaign.

    They seem to have changed their tune about religious participation, however, when people began disagreeing with them on issues like abortion or same sex marriage. As a Mormon and former Unitarian, I find this rather hypocritical, to say the least.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 11:41 a.m.

    Thom jefferson

    "Other great moral advances in western civilization came about through public preaching changing peoples hearts, not through secular arguments"

    "List them. I cant think of any."

    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Look at all of the modern westernised countries, most if not all were established based on judeo christian values or have a prodominent influence from it.

    Then look at the countries that are not christian and are of other faith based influences, whats the difference? The one with no prodominent judeo christian influence's are still 3rd world countires and have not advanced socially amd economically.

    Values like honoring and respecting women especially valuing their virtue and abstaining from sex before marriage, something todays secular views do not value which promote social degradation like children born out of wedlock. These children have a 86% chance less likely to grow up and become positive contributors to society because they have only one parent if not at all, secular views have encouraged one abhorant behavior which begats another one like abortion.

    Secular views encourages social decay more than it helps.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 11:23 a.m.

    @RiDal;

    Employees pay a portion of their health insurance costs (it's deducted every payday from their checks) - then they likely have exorbitant deductibles, they absolutely have a right to determine for themselves what their health requirements are REGARDLESS of the "religious beliefs" of their employers. Unless the employer pays 100% of the costs, then the employer's religious belief are completely irrelevant.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 11:21 a.m.

    "The abolition of slavery was brought about by religious preachers."

    No, it was several hundred thousand Union soldiers and someone who gave his life for the cause in Abraham Lincolin.

    "The civil rights movement was brought about by religious preachers."

    Considering the source of this remark in the light of history makes me light-headed

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    Dec. 4, 2018 11:13 a.m.

    Orson - Woods Cross, UT
    ---
    Dig a little deeper into your history, as he suggests, and you will find religion was the foundation for the country you live in and for the good laws that were passed and for the good lives that were lead by leaders and regular folks alike.
    ---

    You have a point that many of those from Europe who settled in what has become the US, did so out of 'religious grounds.'

    In many cases, those groups were persecuted, ranging from disenfranchisement, imprisonment, death, in their country of origin. Yet all too often, when they arrived in the colonies, they set up their own theocracies, from which those who dissented fled.

    This story has played out repeatedly, including the story of the Mormon Pioneers coming to Utah... and lated the Mormon fundamentalists who fled to Mexico after the changes to church doctrine in the late 19th Century.

    When Utah repeals laws which criminalize those 'closely held beliefs' of such groups, I'll be convinced that there is real 'religious freedom' being set as a goal.

    Otherwise, the current call for religious freedom is just another word for institutionalized discrimination.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:57 a.m.

    @Karen R

    There needs to be a baseline reality check here:
    No one has a "right" to Health Insurance. Health Insurance is a *product*. An employer supplies it as a *benefit*.
    No one is being denied any "rights" by anything that Health Insurance does or does not cover.
    Condoms cost less than 33 cents each.
    Somehow, America became to most prosperous and powerful nation on Earth long before there was "universal health care". In fact, it was long before there was any such thing as "health insurance" at all! Prior to WWII, Americans bought their own health insurance, and it was true "insurance" against catastrophic expenses. It was not a "grab-bag of freebies" like it is now. Employer-provided insurance was a benefit that employers provided as a competitive way to skirt the wage and price controls instigated by Democratic President Roosevelt. So it was actually "greedy, competitive corporations" that began the whole custom of providing health insurance!
    I am fine with Health Insurance companies offering or not offering whatever they want, but it has nothing to do with anyone's "rights".

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:47 a.m.

    Thanks Karen as you really have master Elder Oaks statements. He claims to be losing religious freedoms, yet he can not name even one freedom he has lost. Not one!

    It is the terror of those who claim to be religious to subvert the civil and legal rights of others they deem less than worthy. That is the cry of those who claim without any substance that they are losing their "religious freedoms". It is a false claim and a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    That is not about religious freedom. We as a secular society have the right to be free of others religious dogmas. That is the real meaning of the First Amendment. Sadly there are even those here who won't study the foundations of our Constitution. It was not founded upon Christian principles, and most of the founders were not Christians. Most were Deists. Simple knowledge of our history will take these distortions away.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:41 a.m.

    Mods: Comment meets rules:

    "...you don't see any benefit to society by giving a special place to religion..."

    --- Absolutely. Religion should be just another organization and does NOT deserve a "special place".

    "...as a believer in the law and right and wrong."

    --- You believe discriminating against other people is "right", but you're so wrong.

    "The civil rights movement was brought about by religious preachers."

    --- They were trying to INCLUDE not exclude & to END discrimination. How could you forget that critical fact?

    ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,..."

    --- Allowing the religious to discriminate against LGBT citizens but not Black citizens ESTABLISHES that particular belief. Violation the 1st Amendment.

    "These rights are not negotiable."

    --- So you want to allow the religious to discriminate against blacks (and Mormons) too?

    "We haven't found the answers that will allow everyone to be treated fairly."

    --- Yes we have. Don't allow businesses to discriminate against ANYONE. It's easy.

    "It's not about using religion as a tool to justify harm to other people."

    -- Amen!

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:37 a.m.

    " if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in absolute right and wrong"

    What a repellent and fallacious statement.

    Please provide me with a religion-based absolute right or wrong.

    I will tell you a secular wrong: murdering an individual

    If god told me to kill my son to prove my worthiness or faith, I would politely refuse.

    That is an absolute.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:31 a.m.

    To "Real Ute " how about you atheists leave Christians people alone. Stop pushing your religion of atheism into everything. You hate it when a law is enacted that even has a hint of Christian values attached to it, but you ignore the fact that much of what your ilk wants to do only pushes atheism onto everybody else.

    So, tell us, how do you enact any laws that don't push atheism, Christianity, or any other religious belief. (FYI, atheism is a religion.)

    You do realize that the Founding Fathers may not have adhered to any one religious group, but they had deep beliefs in God. Your arguments sound a lot like the others of your ilk that only read revisionist history books written by liberal professors rather than reading the journals of the Founding Fathers and the journals of those around them.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:29 a.m.

    @Real Ute:
    The country was founded by predominantly Christian people, and upon judeo-christian morality, ethics, and values. The few founders who "weren't Christian" were actually Deists, who believed in God, but just rejected the particulars of any one denomination.

    So the statement "The USA was not founded by Christian, Period." Is simply false.
    Period.
    Unbiased readers can easily research these facts.

  • TheRealDJT Sandy, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:24 a.m.

    No one opposes "religious freedom"...right ?
    The way this works is that everything any conventionally religious person believes, will be redefined as "bigotry" and "exclusionary".
    All because you believe that there actually are "men" and "women", etc.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:20 a.m.

    "We visited Arizona State University to expose the dangers of a world where people no longer know how to civilly disagree."

    Are you suggesting religion makes people civilly disagree?

    History does not support the claim.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:18 a.m.

    @Orson "Dig a little deeper into your history, as he suggests, and you will find religion was the foundation for the country you live in and for the good laws that were passed and for the good lives that were lead by leaders and regular folks alike."

    But the 19th Century enlightenment was just as responsible.

  • Not another naysayer Lehi, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 10:15 a.m.

    Holy smokes! This sure brought out a bunch of religious antagonist comments with an ax to grind.

    I think they miss the message by these highlighted people... that no one should have their rights denied and that the believer and non-believer are both entitled to their opinions and the right to worship or not worship as they please. These people are seeking to do that... not sow hate and discord and oppression as many commenters here would make you believe.

    The message I hear from these men and women in the article is quite different. It is one of peace and goodwill... to ALL men (and women.)

  • Real Ute Dallas, TX
    Dec. 4, 2018 9:49 a.m.

    The United States of America was not founded by Christians! Period, the end! Read the "true" history of our founding fathers and what they actually believed during "the age of enlightenment."

  • Real Ute Dallas, TX
    Dec. 4, 2018 8:52 a.m.

    I wish religious folks would just leave us non-believers alone and do their own deal!

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 8:44 a.m.

    "They need to be talking expressly about how religion benefits not just believers, but all of society. "

    Well then go ahead. I simply dont see it. This is literally YOUR paper. If you arent going to do it here and now then when?

    Robin Wilson "Other states say we can't discriminate against the religious adoption agencies turning LGBT persons away."

    Simply not true. There are states who say you cant turn gays away and still get state money. The difference is obvious and should have been included in your statement. I hope it was an oversight.

    Montserrat Alvarado "There are cases about adoption and foster care services in Michigan and Pennsylvania. There's been a lack of willingness to yield to common-sense solutions that have existed for years."

    How about the common sense solution of not taking state money?

    "We're working on cross cases, which ask whether you can have a memorial in the shape of a cross on public land."

    Why do you need and why should we allow your religious symbols on public land?

    Rachel Laser "We are witnessing the weaponization of religious freedom. It's been turned...that's licensing discrimination and harm."

    Yep. GOP pandering to xians for votes.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 8:29 a.m.

    Modern political correctness / liberalism / progressivism / atheism is actively working to
    destroy everything worthy and of good report left in this sorry world.

    If it brings a good wholesome Christmas spirit and brings joy and happiness to people, it
    should be criticized and destroyed--such is the thinking.

    I going to watch that show this year, just because of this garbage. Same with the
    Charlie Brown show, and that school district is wrong.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 8:26 a.m.

    "Fewer and fewer people believe in God. And if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in absolute right and wrong,"

    Neither do you. Its just that we admit it. Right and wrong are human constructs, just like god.

    "and you don't see any benefit to society by giving a special place to religion or religious preachers or activities."

    Thats true. I dont. I think religion is bad for humanity.

    "People who make light of religious freedom forget the history of the things that made this country great. The abolition of slavery was brought about by religious preachers"

    And fought tooth and nail by other religious preachers who could quote the bible where 'god' endorsed slavery. Something those fighting slavery couldnt do.

    "Other great moral advances in Western civilization came about through public preaching changing people's hearts, not through secular arguments."

    List them. I cant think of any.

    "These rights are not negotiable. We can't stand still and see them weakened."

    What supposed 'rights' do you claim have been or could be weakened? The right to polygamy? How about the right to sacraments like the use of peyote or cannabis?

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 8:19 a.m.

    Karen,
    You haven't mastered Elder Oaks' argument.

    Religion has never been the only game in town. Yes, atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, but that doesn't negate his argument.

    Dig a little deeper into your history, as he suggests, and you will find religion was the foundation for the country you live in and for the good laws that were passed and for the good lives that were lead by leaders and regular folks alike.

    Freedom of religion from government interference is the very first amendment. It was considered the most important.

    Now it is ignored as a school district in Kentucky censors a biblical reading out of Charley Brown. Religious freedom is being destroyed more every year and month and week. As Elder Oaks said, fewer and fewer people believe in God. Our country is going down the tube and will pay a high price for it.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Dec. 4, 2018 7:56 a.m.

    "if you don't believe in God, you don't believe in absolute right and wrong".

    Such words are defamatory.

    And the reason so many people increasingly question their faith traditions. Good people doing good things, and avoiding the bad things, exist across faith traditions and extend to those who have none. The converse is equally true and why one philosopher mused that it took religion to make good people do bad things.

    Furthermore, the declaration of a belief in an blanket declaration as this is generally associated with religious tribalism in that God has apparently issued different messages of acceptable behavior to different sects claiming his true word.

    There are many paths up the mountain, and the absolute claim of absolute truth through an absolute faith tradition is beyond hubris.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:25 a.m.

    "And if you don't believe in God...you don't see any benefit to society by giving a special place to religion or religious preachers or activities."

    It's the "special place" that I object to. The argument for it - that religion was on the side of abolition and civil rights - ignores that religion was also on the side against those things. And the claim that religion is responsible for all the good things in civil society ignores that, for millennia, religion was the only game in town - by force of law (or just plain force). Nonbelievers were not welcome. And the polls reflect that they still aren't. That isn't religious freedom. That's "freedom of belief for me, but not for thee."

    IMO, what would make religion legitimately special is if its supernatural claims were based in fact rather than assertion. Until that day, my position will remain that no belief system deserves to have its hand in the public till while remaining exempt from public rules.

    P.S. The inclination of some corporate heads to use their health insurance programs to impose their religious beliefs is another argument for universal healthcare. Their way, IMO, is lord and serf thinking.