Posts Tagged ‘religious freedom’
For an eternal verity abides beneath diversities; we are children of one great love, united in our one eternal family.
– W. Waldeman W. Argow
The minister on Sunday talked about creating “a broad universalism,” that beneath all our religious and political and philosophical differences we’re all the same. Every person has inherent worth and dignity and is deserving of respect.
The words are different than I’m used to (one of the good things about going to a different church– you think more deeply about a concept when the language is varied) but the idea is familiar… We’re all children of God, every person is of infinite worth, we are all brothers and sisters, we should love and serve one another.
She introduced a new UU theme for the year — Standing on the Side of Love. At the Equality March on October 11 UUs wore bright yellow t-shirts with the slogan.
To start off with, though, she talked about why a broader universalism is needed, why we need to speak our minds with greater respect and kindness. She talked about the current pervasiveness of meanness and hate.
A Baptist pastor in Tempe, Arizona preached a sermon to his congregation called “Why I Hate Barack Obama,” saying that he prayed for the death of the President and hoped he would burn in hell.
I read another article recently that said the Secret Service may be relieved of its treasury department duties in order to focus on protecting government leaders. Threats against the president are up 400 percent compared to the Bush administration (and I suspect it’s not because President Bush was so widely beloved).
A childhood friend of mine recently sent me a note thanking me for the political posts I’ve made on on my Facebook page. She said it renewed her faith in humanity to see them. More specifically, it renewed her faith in Mormons. Another LDS person she knew had been posting anti-Obama sentiments in her status updates that my friend considered hateful, and this person seemed to connect these sentiments with her religion. My friend was starting to make judgments about Mormons and the religion as a whole based on these hateful messages, and she was grateful that I reminded her not all Mormons think that way.
I didn’t tell her that her other friend may (or may not, I don’t know) be more representative of Mormons than I am, since I’m distinctly unorthodox.
It hurts me that my church and its members are adding to the divisiveness and polarization that’s going on right now. The LDS religion teaches that “broad universalism” and yet… Glenn Beck’s books are prominently displayed in church-owned bookstores, and there’s that whole Proposition 8 thing…
I’ve heard a few reasons for the strenuous efforts of the church in the campaigns to deny or revoke the rights of gays to marry, and basically they come down to these two things:
1) God says marriage should be between a man and a woman (or, in the eternities, women)
2) Gay marriage would infringe on the free exercise of religion
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently gave a speech comparing the backlash against the Mormon involvement with the Prop 8 campaign to the voter intimidation of blacks in the South during the Civil Rights movement, and warning that religious freedom is in danger. He was, I can only assume, trying to play on the Mormon persecution complex to bolster the determination to oppose gay rights, i.e. if people hate us for it, we must be right. Us vs Them. If they have rights, ours will be taken away.
And ours are more important. He said:
But unless the guarantee of free exercise of religion gives a religious actor greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to all actors by other provisions of the constitution (like freedom of speech), what is the special value of religious freedom? Surely the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion was intended to grant more freedom to religious action than to other kinds of action. Treating actions based on religious belief the same as actions based on other systems of belief should not be enough to satisfy the special place of religion in the United States Constitution.
While church leaders continue to build higher the battlements in the war of values and supremacy of rights, they are also emphasizing civility in public discourse. We need to be polite to those we’re working against and the people whose rights are less important than ours.
The word I’m not hearing in any of this is “love.” Is the great commandment “love one another,” or is it “legislate ‘moral’ behavior”? What is the more compassionate course of action?
LDS science fiction author and board member of the National Organization for Marriage, Orson Scott Card claims that a society that recognizes gay marriage will crumble. For all I know he may be right — I don’t believe he is, but I don’t know. But my conscience tells me that the current situation is unacceptable, especially in the church (see the stories of gay Mormons and the suicide list at ldsapology.org). Even if I might be making a mistake I would rather err on the side of compassion, on the side of love.
Perhaps I should get the t-shirt.