Posts tagged: religious freedom

I’ll Be Watching This

By , January 31, 2012 4:17 pm

Today on The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru writes about the move by Republicans in the House and Senate to restore religious liberties abrogated recently by the Obama Administration, which

has decided to require religious institutions that offer insurance to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, whether or not they object to covering them. Churches would be exempt but not, for example, Catholic universities or hospitals.

My Twitter feed has been alive with conversation about what the Administration has done, but I’ve paid scant attention. I’ll be more attentive from now on because this disturbs me. At one time, I was anti-abortion but pro-choice. No longer. Over the years, I’ve changed my views to anti-abortion, give-the-child-up-for-adoption-if-necessary. To me, if there is any doubt about whether that life begins at conception, then the doubt should favor the possibility of life. Moreover, if Jefferson’s wall separating church and state means anything, it means something here in the domain of all things sacred to religious folk and institutions.

Religion in the Public Square

By , February 5, 2011 11:13 am

Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently gave a speech on religious freedom at Chapman University School of Law. He also gave an interview on the subject. Both are worthy–very worthy–of our attention.

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A little background on Elder Oaks, currently an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Oaks graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law; clerked for Earl Warren, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; taught at Chicago; and served as interim dean of that law school, as president of BYU (where he also oversaw the establishment of the J.Reuben Clark Law School), and finally a justice on the Utah Supreme Court. He was considered for the U.S. Supreme Court by both President Ford and Reagan.

In his speech, Oaks gives a number of troubling examples of what he is concerned about and why he is calling for religions to join together in protecting religion’s place in the public square:

In New Mexico, the state’s Human Rights Commission held that a photographer who had declined on religious grounds to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony had engaged in impermissible conduct and must pay over $6,000 attorney’s fees to the same-sex couple. A state judge upheld the order to pay. In New Jersey, the United Methodist Church was investigated and penalized under state anti-discrimination law for denying same-sex couples access to a church-owned pavilion for their civil-union ceremonies.  A federal court refused to give relief from the state penalties. Professors at state universities in Illinois and Wisconsin were fired or disciplined for expressing personal convictions that homosexual behavior is sinful. Candidates for masters’ degrees in counseling in Georgia and Michigan universities were penalized or dismissed from programs for their religious views about the wrongfulness of homosexual relations. A Los Angeles policeman claimed he was demoted after he spoke against the wrongfulness of homosexual conduct in the church where he is a lay pastor. The Catholic Church’s difficulties with adoption services and the Boy Scouts’ challenges in various locations are too well known to require further comment. (see sources in transcript)

As Elder Oaks made his case that we–religious believers–need to stand up and speak out, I was particularly impressed by his quotation of his fellow Apostle, the late Neal A. Maxwell:

My esteemed fellow Apostle, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, asked:

“[H]ow can a society set priorities if there are no basic standards? Are we to make our calculations using only the arithmetic of appetite?”

He made this practical observation:

“Decrease the belief in God, and you increase the numbers of those who wish to play at being God by being ‘society’s supervisors.’ Such ‘supervisors’ deny the existence of divine standards, but are very serious about imposing their own standards on society.”

Elder Maxwell also observed that we increase the power of governments when people do not believe in absolute truths and in a God who will hold them and their government leaders accountable.

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