Religious Freedom

There has been much debate lately that stems from the definition and understanding of religious freedom. The difficulty that has arisen in the definition and understanding of religious freedom is while religious freedom allows people to practice their religion without interference from the government, many people now want freedom from religion. On Oct. 13, 2009 Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivered an address at BYU-Idaho that brought a maelstrom of criticism and outrage dealing specifically with religious freedom and the understanding and definition of it.

Much of the debate orginated during the campaigning and subsequent passing of Proposition 8. I'm sure a majority of you are aware of the outrage directed towards the Church because of the significant effort put forth by the Church to help Prop 8 pass. The real issue at stake here is explained well by Neal A. Maxwell, a former General Authority.

Elder Maxwell stated - "What the secularists are increasingly demanding, in their disingenuous way, is that religious people, when they act politically, act only on secularist grounds. They are trying to equate acting on religion with establishing religion." (A More Determined Discipleship Neal A. Maxwell Ensign Feb. 1979). This is the real issue being debated here is that people who are religious should NOT be able to act politically in a way that is established by the religious beliefs and/or convictions. Though this talk was given back in 1979, Elder Maxwell is describing perfectly what the issue people had and have with the Church in regards to things like same-sex marriage.

So the ultimate question is - Should religious convictions be able to play any part in political voting or choices? Because some people want freedom from religion, should that trump those that want freedom of religion?

Honestly, unless someone can explain to me otherwise, how can you really seperate the two? It isn't as if, at least for the most part (since there always seems to be at least one exception to everything) there are two of you - one side being your political side, the other your religious. We all have different beliefs and values that are based off of and influenced by a variety of things. But those beliefs and values are an integral part of us that cannot be seperated into neat little categories that we can access when we need some religion or need some politics.

Perhaps then it would be argued, well then we need to do away with religion. But that argument, then inserts itself perfectly into the argument about religious freedom and the allowing of religious freedom. Did not our forefathers fight for the right to worship as they saw fit?

Thus, ultimately how can it be claimed that members of the Church do not have the right to vote as they see fit, regardless if the political decisions are influenced by their religion? Do others not have the right to choose to vote according as they see fit given whatever influenced their decision?

There has been many a claim that the Church has mistreated those of the gay community because of their activism with Proposition 8. There were even some claims that the Church should not have acted in such a manner given their treatment in the 1800's during the early days of the Church. But honestly how can the comparison be made? If you are at all familiar with Church History, there was not simple political campaigning happening. Members of the Church would have been glad to even have had that. There were mobs that burned houses, murdered men, women and children. There was rape and other atrocities commited to those whose only "crime" was being a member of the Church.

There was nothing peaceful or "politically correct" about what happened then. However, during the campaigning and passing of Proposition 8, members of the Church ultilized the FREEDOM given every citizen of this country to campaign and then vote on an issue in the manner they saw fit. There were no burnings, mobbings, murders, rapes, etc. NONE.

Since when is a difference of opinion something we deny in this country?

The response may be that it is when it infringes on the rights of someone. But that is where this issue is a Catch-22. Those of the gay community claim that the for members of the Church and other religious faiths to stand up for what they believe and vote according to their dictates infringes on their rights. But doesn't it infringe on the rights of those of the religious community when others claim they cannot vote and fight for those things THEY believe in?
Category: 0 comments