Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Religion is the Victim of LGBT Hate-Mongering!

Big news today.  The church made a statement about the gay rights movement and asserted that it will support legislation for...wait for it...no discrimination against LGBT people in employment or housing.

What a magnanimous gesture.

What's really sad is that their little news conference wasn't really about that.

Elder Christofferson, who spoke first, started things off by introducing the theory that freedom of religion and gay rights are somehow mutually exclusive.  But then he made a very generous claim that "such basic human rights as securing a job or a place to live should not depend upon a person's sexual orientation."  Great.  But why not include marriage and the legal benefits of marriage in there?  That shouldn't depend on a person's sexual orientation either.

Then Sister Marriott, the token female speaker whose name sounds suspiciously like Mormon royalty, got up to basically remind everyone that Mormons still think gay sex is wrong.

Then Elder Oaks, a legal professional and former Utah Supreme Court justice, began to grace us all with his expertise.  "Since 1791," he said, "the guarantees of religious freedom embodied in the First Amendment have assured all citizens that they may hold whatever religious views they want and that they are free to express and act on those beliefs so long as they do not endanger public health or safety."

It's interesting that he would bring up the First Amendment.  Because the First Amendment guarantees that citizens have the right to "free exercise" of their religion.  That means that Oaks can believe Joseph Smith wasn't a horny con-man all he wants.  But it doesn't give him the right to deny some gay guy a marriage license just because what the gay guy is doing offends his religious sensibilities.  Gay people getting married despite the fact that some religious people think it's disgusting is not something that's prohibited in the Constitution of the United States.

"Accusations of bigotry toward people simply because they are motivated by their religious faith and conscience," Oaks continued, "have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and public debate.  When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment, or made to suffer personal loss because they've raised their voice in a public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser."

Really?  You make it sound like religious people have it worse in this country than LGBT people.  Besides, accusations of bigotry toward people simply because blah blah blah is free speech.  You can't complain that someone else is exercising a right to free speech while pretending to defend the right to free speech.  If we truly have the freedom of expression, you should be allowed to say hateful, bigoted stuff and I should be allow to call you on it.  That's exactly how it's supposed to work!

He continued:  "Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender."  I think it's very telling that he doesn't include "sexual orientation" here.  In a press conference that seemed like it was supposed to address issues of LGBT rights, it sure seems like Oaks is making it all about religious rights.  While I agree that these are complex issues and that there are times when religious rights are infringed upon by individuals and government entities...let's not forget who can't even get married in 13 states.  It seems like such callous hypocrisy for four straight white people to publicly complain about the "erosion" of their rights while discussing LGBT subjects in the same breath.

Elder Holland was the cleanup hitter.  "Nothing is achieved," he reiterated, "if either side resorts to bullying, political point-scoring, or accusations of bigotry."  Yeah, you should totally tell your people to stop accusing gay rights supporters of bigotry, because I bet that happens a lot.  But seriously, maybe if you weren't a bigot you wouldn't be called one so much.  I think that word can achieve something in this case, because it's not just name-calling...it's telling it like it is.  If we can't get people to confront the realities of the situation (like how there's bigotry and stuff), how can we be expected to solve our problems?

I think the church felt that their news conference was some badass display of political muscle in furtherance of their objectives.

But what these four speakers were really doing was trying to appease the seemingly inevitable advances of LGBT rights and complaining that the church isn't getting its way.

They took a statement about LGBT rights and they made it all about themselves and their own perceived problems.  And they argued in favor of their own free expression at the expense of others'.  

Awesome.  Despicable.  Hilariously pathetic.


  1. Great job, and thanks for posting this!

    That press conference was pathetic. The woman was so phony and insincere. Reading the Teleprompter took all of the feeling out of it. Oaks is so patronizing, snarky, and boring. I actually fell asleep, and I think he only spoke 3-4 minutes.

    Seriously! To sum it up, they basically said:

    "Stop bothering the church. The constitution gives us the right to be bigots."

    This Oaks quote bothers me as well: "people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment, or made to suffer personal loss because they've raised their voice in a public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser."

    How does that not describe what the church is doing to or has done to John Dehlin and Kate Kelly? They raised their voices in the public square in regards to women's rights and LGBT rights, and they have been persecuted and demonized by church leadership.

    1. Yes! The woman reading the teleprompter! That voice! I kept expecting her to tell us a Bible story in words a junior primary kid could understand!

      And your last point about Dehlin and Kelly is a good one. I'm sure the easy rebuttal is that the church is allowed to take punitive measures against those who raise their voices in the public square because the church is not a democracy and therefore not subject to the same restrictions and popular oversight as the government. But I feel like Oaks is so obsessed with worshiping democracy and wielding his pseudo-theocratic power that he forgets to care about people. Even if someone were to point out his hypocrisy to him, he wouldn't see it as such.

    2. Right. I lost any last bit of respect for Oaks when he made that smirk after making a snarky comment about Women and the Priesthood in Conference last spring. He acts so superior and patronizing. He bores me!

    3. I wonder if he was chosen for this meeting because of his legal background or because he has so much public experience being a smug, condescending bigot.

    4. http://www.kutv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/LDS-leader-uses-family-as-example-of-harmony-between-church-gays-72678.shtml#.VM3qNWK9KSO

      This story was on the 10 o'clock news in Salt Lake. I guess now we know why the church used Christofferson to be at the press conference.

    5. Interesting. I think it's interesting that no quotes in that article are attributed to Christofferson's brother. Christofferson says "yes, yes and yes," but how do we know his brother wouldn't have answered "kinda, not really, and it depends on who you talk to"?

    6. No. There are no quotes from his brother. What we know is that he asked to be excommunicated and went out and found a boy friend. Did they marry? It is legal in Utah. Attending church, though excommunicated, won't keep you in the "forever family" and won't get you to the celestial kingdom.

      The headline fascinates me. "LDS leader uses family as example of harmony between church, gays." I would enjoy hearing Tom (and Clarke's) side of the story in particular as it relates to church attendance and membership. I would also like to hear from D Todd if he believes his brother was born gay or made the choice. Finally, I would like to hear how things went down when Tom first informed his family he was gay and and when he told them he was leaving the church. It would make for a great Mormon Stories podcast.

      I am happy to hear that they are all getting along as a family. It also shows some progress that the church is supporting anti-discrimination legislation to a point. Perhaps one day they will finally cave and support marriage rights for all with full membership in the church, but don't hold your breath!

    7. You know, the only real way LGBT will ever gain full access/membership in the church is if things change from inside the leadership. There's always a chance someone like Christofferson will educate the closed minded, old ones on how things really are. I'm afraid, though, that it'll still take many years for there to be any chance of significant change.

    8. Yeah. It would be interesting to see something like that.

      I imagine that in forty years when the apostles are from my generation, attitudes from the top leadership will be much tamer with regard to homophobia than they are now. But considering that those apostles will have been raised by the generations that followed the current apostles, it will probably take a long time for the church's official position to catch up with the rest of the world. Unless they're forced to adapt.