Tuesday, October 13, 2009

[mormon-chronicles] Oaks compares LDS to plight of Southern blacks


Excerpts of LDS leader: religious freedom at risk KSL

The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking leader in the LDS Church says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers to gay marriage as an "alleged civil right" in remarks prepared for delivery at Brigham Young University-Idaho, a speech officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints describe as a significant commentary on current threats to religious freedom.

In an advance copy provided to The Associated Press, Oaks suggests that atheists and others are seeking to intimidate people of faith and silence their voices in the public square.

"The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing," says Elder Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a church governing body. "The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom."

Elder Oaks' address comes as gay-rights activists mount a legal challenge to Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned gay marriage in California. His comments about civil rights are likely to anger gay rights activists who consider the struggle to enact same-sex marriage laws as a major civil rights cause.

In an interview Monday before the speech, Elder Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of LDS Church members in the election's aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.

"It may be offensive to some -- maybe because it hadn't occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era," he said.

Some of the most pointed comments in Elder Oaks' Tuesday address focus on Proposition 8. Elder Oaks said the free exercise of religion is threatened by those who believe it conflicts with "the newly alleged 'civil right' of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage."

"Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights," Elder Oaks said. "The supporters of Proposition 8 were exercising their constitutional right to defend the institution of marriage ..."

Elder Oaks said that while "aggressive intimidation" connected to Proposition 8 was primarily directed at religious people and symbols, "it was not anti-religious as such." He called the incidents "expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest."

"As such, these incidents of 'violence and intimidation' are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic," he said. "In their effect they are like well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation."

The LDS Church has faced criticism for its past stances on race; it wasn't until 1978 that the Church lifted a prohibition that denied full church membership to blacks of African descent.

Elder Oaks' address also rejects any religious test for public office. He said that if "a candidate is seen to be rejected at the ballot box primarily because of religious belief or affiliation, the precious free exercise of religion is weakened at its foundation ..."

In the interview Monday, Elder Oaks said he was referring in part to the 2008 presidential bid of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose LDS faith troubled some evangelicals.

Recent Activity
Visit Your Group
Celebrity Parents

Spotlight on Kids

Hollywood families

share stories

Yahoo! Groups

Do More For Cats Group

Connect and share with

cat owners like you

Yahoo! Groups

Auto Enthusiast Zone

Discover Car Groups

Auto Enthusiast Zone



No comments: