Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Some Beliefs Are More Equal Than Others

March 01st, 2011 by Adam G.

English judges have recognized that English law, in its impartial majesty, forbids Christians and atheists alike from espousing Christian moral views.

Comments (19)
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March 01st, 2011 13:59:39
19 comments

John Mansfield
March 2, 2011

If even one of Elder Oaks’ recent critics writes a retraction, I will be surprised.


Man SL
March 2, 2011

Why would they retract being mad that he exposed them?


Vader
March 2, 2011

In related news: Tennessee bill would make following sharia a felony:

http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14163844

I don’t like sharia, but I like the erosion of religious liberties even less.


Adam Greenwood
March 4, 2011

Illinois is investigating the disquieting rumor that religious social agencies have not been directing foster children to gay foster parents:

http://nomblog.com/5799/


Vader
March 4, 2011

Adam, if they tak the state’s money, they have to play by the state’s rules.

Another point in favor of LDS Family Services.


Adam G.
March 4, 2011

Which does not excuse the anti-religious element or effect in the state’s rules.

Society and religion are prior to and more important than the state. The rules of the state should accommodate religious participation.


Vader
March 4, 2011

Agreed. My point is that religious organizations should steer clear of state funding, because Caesar is always jealous of God.


Kaimi
March 5, 2011

Just how much religious accommodation should be given, if there are other state interests involved?

What happens if the Utah Lighthouse Ministry wants to receive state money for adoption, while also implementing a rule against placing kids in families which follow any “cults” such as Mormonism?


Kaimi
March 5, 2011

And John Mansfield, take a look at the very recent Westboro church case, where the Supreme Court (liberals, conservatives, the whole group except for one Bush-appointee outlier) upheld as protected free speech some of the most odious anti-gay vitriol imaginable.

Pretty stark contrast with Elder Oaks’ prediction, that

“this shows an alarming trajectory of events pointing toward constraining the freedom of religious speech by forcing it to give way to the “rights” of those offended by such speech. If that happens, we will have criminal prosecution of those whose religious doctrines or speech offend those whose public influence and political power establish them as an officially protected class.”

Criminal prosecution? You can’t even bring a civil case, even for extreme and over-the-top statements like Westboro’s, and this is set out by a near-unanimous court.

If even one of the “gay rights will inevitably crush your speech” crowd write a retraction, I will be surprised.

(Alternatively, you could follow the crowd and cite to one seven-year-old reversed-on-appeal case from Sweden as proof that the gays are coming to crush your speech. That would be much more apposite than a directly-on-point SCOTUS decision from last week.)


Vader
March 5, 2011

From a worldwide perspective, the SCOTUS decision is a welcome outlier. America remains exceptional, for the moment.


Kaimi
March 5, 2011

Thanks, Vader. I’m glad to see that acknowledged.

Though didn’t you just link to Jonah Goldberg’s piece on how the decision was wrong, Alito was right, and slippery slopes don’t always slip? (The National Review wants to destroy freedom of speech in America! Story at ten.)

I’m not sure that I agree with the substance of Goldberg’s argument, but I think that his argument provides another reason to doubt the hysteria that tends to accompany hyperbolic claims of future gay terror.

Why won’t this “alarming trajectory” continue until all thoughts and conversations are monitored by the Gay Gestapo? Because slopes don’t always slip. As Goldberg writes, “we draw lines all the time. It’s what serious, self-confident societies do.” And there’s no reason to think that society is incapable ot drawing a line between reasonable rights (such as employment protection) and the throwing-ministers-in-jail doomsday scenarios that everyone loves.


Vader
March 5, 2011

I previously linked to the SCOTUS decision with the observation that it was legally correct.

“And there’s no reason to think that society is incapable ot drawing a line between reasonable rights (such as employment protection) and the throwing-ministers-in-jail doomsday scenarios that everyone loves.”

There’s a lot of ground between those two extremes, and in that ground lies the really contentious issue of the day, namely, gay marriage.

And, given that ministers have in fact suffered legal penalties for denouncing homosexuality, in Canada and elsewhere; and that Elder Oaks is concerned with a worldwide Church, not just the United States, I can’t blame him for thinking the trajectory is alarming. Do you? Really?


Kaimi
March 5, 2011

That would be a reasonable point, Vader. However, it doesn’t appear to be what Elder Oaks is saying.

Elder Oaks’ begins his talk stating

“I am here to speak of the state of religious freedom in the United States, why it seems to be diminishing, and what can be done about it.”

He reiterates several times in his talk that it is focused on U.S. law and society. (E.g., “My final example of the importance of religion in our country concerns the origin of the Constitution,” “The guarantee of religious freedom is one of the supremely important founding principles in the United States Constitution, and it is reflected in the constitutions of all 50 of our states,” ” our federal law formally declares: ‘The right to freedom of religion undergirds the very origin and existence of the United States.’”).

He frames his “trajectory” statement by starting,

“I do know something of religious freedom in the United States, and I am alarmed at what is reported to be happening here.”

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion the perception that Elder Oaks is predicting very specific legal consequences within the United States (e.g., criminal prosecution). And it’s hard to square that prediction with the actual state of free speech law in the United States.


Kaimi
March 5, 2011

I should point out that I think that the lower court’s decision in the Ake Green case was deeply misguided and that the appellate court was correct. I would be strongly against any requirement that the church solemnize marriages in contravention of its doctrine. And I’ve written multiple times that I think that marriage statutes with religious accomodation are clearly the future of the movement.

I’m a member of the faculty of a very liberal law school, and I’ve discussed the Westboro case with multiple colleagues. One colleague — a married gay man — was very clear that, while the speech was odious, the decision was absolutely correct. Free speech protection includes unpleasant and obnoxious speech.


Vader
March 6, 2011

“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion the perception that Elder Oaks is predicting very specific legal consequences within the United States (e.g., criminal prosecution). And it’s hard to square that prediction with the actual state of free speech law in the United States.”

So I guess he’s a false apostle, huh? That’s going to be a relief to a lot of people.


Vader
March 6, 2011

And one final observation: It seems to me that your conclusion, that the recent SCOTUS decision proves Elder Oaks’ concerns are unwarranted, assumes the case was actually about religious liberty and gay rights. Is that really true?

It seems to me that this was framed as a free speech case, not a religious liberties case. Furthermore, it was not the vile speech against homosexuals which prompted the original suit against Westboro, but the vile speech about a dead soldier who was neither gay nor had any known association with the homosexual movement.

Ask yourself this: If it had been Code Pink rather than Wesboro, and they had engaged in vile speech about a dead soldier that did not mention gays at all, would the arguments before the Court and its likely ruling have differed in any material respect?

So I suggest th SCOTUS decision tells us very little about the future of religious liberty in this country.


Kaimi
March 6, 2011

“So I guess he’s a false apostle, huh?”

Absolutely! But come on, don’t stop there. His mistaken legal predictions in a university talk clearly show that he is a Son of Perdition as well, probably the Antichrist, and maybe even a Red Sox fan.


Kaimi
March 7, 2011

“Ask yourself this: If it had been Code Pink rather than Wesboro, and they had engaged in vile speech about a dead soldier that did not mention gays at all, would the arguments before the Court and its likely ruling have differed in any material respect?”

I’m not quite sure what that has to do with the price of butter. The Snyder v Phelps court is very clear, however, that “this Nation has chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that public debate is not stifled.” So offensive speech by Code Pink — just like offensive speech by Fred Phelps — would be protected. (Right?)


John Mansfield
March 7, 2011

The space in public life that we allow yahoos who wait outside funerals with megaphones is not enough for me. For instance, I prefer that viewing homosexual practices as sinful not disqualify prospective adoptive parents.

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