not in Primary anymore

LDS church calls “no tag-backs” in discrimination game

by Averyl Dietering

Yesterday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a press conference to discuss their views on discrimination and religious freedom. Some have claimed that the Church’s announcement to support statewide anti-discrimination measures protecting LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination is a huge step for the Church, even though the Church already announced its support in 2009 for a local anti-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. According to confidential sources, the development from supporting a city-wide ordinance to a state-wide bill are most likely a result of a top-secret Church program that for the last six years, has been boldly sending scouting parties into Murray, Draper, Logan, St. George, Orem, Cedar City, and countless other Utah cities outside of Salt Lake. These scouts have received special orders to check if LGBT people living in those cities also wanted to live without fear of losing their housing and/or their job because of their sexuality. (No word yet on whether these scouts have been sent to other states. There is definitely no evidence that the Church has sent them outside of the United States.)

A significant note that church leaders touched on in the press conference was the importance of religious freedom in protecting people of all faiths from being persecuted or discriminated against because of their sincerely held beliefs. As examples of such religious persecution, Elder Dallin H. Oaks cited Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed (and later dropped) for opposing and criticizing an equal rights ordination, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s resignation because of his monetary support of Prop 8, and a Mormon gymnast who was pressured to step down as a leader of a delegation of Olympic athletes because of his opposition to same-sex marriage. Recognizing the extreme duress that these Christian individuals have experienced at the hands of such cruel bigots, Young Mormon Feminists has set up a charity to pay for these martyrs’ counseling and rehabilitation costs. You can donate here (alternatively, you can buy one of our popular same-sex marriage cards, and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the cause). Don’t forget to use the hashtags #SaveTheMormonGymnasts and #Fairness4AllMozillaCEOs to bring attention to this tragic injustice!

While some have argued that such examples can’t actually be considered as violations of religious freedom as defined in the First Amendment, these godless heathens people fail to recognize the undeniable similarities between ancient Christian martyrs and current Christians under attack. For example, St. Stephen and William Tyndale were stoned to death and strangled/burned at the stake, respectively, for their religious beliefs. Likewise, the modern Mormon can’t even say how much they hate same-sex marriage and think homosexuality is an abomination without being called a bigot. Early Mormon pioneers were forced abandon their homes and travel across the plains in the cold winter months in order to find a place to exercise their religion in peace, while nearly 170 years later, their heterosexual descendants are sometimes forced to provide medical services to queer people. I could go on, but I don’t want to belabor such an obvious point: the persecution faced by the religious right today in America is tantamount to beyond devastating.

Elder Oaks also frequently pointed out that the same people who fight for L… G… B… T… (none of the speakers explained what this confusing acronym meant, but we’re assuming it either was a replacement for the more doctrinally correct “same-sex attraction,” or that our leaders were referring to a type of deli sandwich) rights often do not support the opinions of religious people who publicly share their disdain for same-sex marriage, calling such actions “ironic.” Oaks’s advocates have rallied around this logic, using the Twitter hashtag #BuyElderOaksADictionary to express their support. After all, it is truly, literally, dictionary-ly ironic when people who work tirelessly to save LGBT lives from suicide and hate crimes don’t also work tirelessly to defend religious people’s rights to publicly hate on LGBT people.

As a last example of the immense religious persecution that religious people can face, Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of “a family’s right to worship and conduct religious activities in the home as it sees fit, and for parents to teach children according to their religious values.” It may appear that Elder Holland was using this as a generic example of religious freedom, but actually he was referring to the infamous Gay Attack of 2004, in which hundreds of teh gayz invaded a suburban Chicago home and refused to leave until the Christian family who occupied it gave up their religion and began worshipping George Takei, impeccably groomed hair, and vests.

However, the Church did leave a few questions unanswered. Elder Holland gave examples of situations in which religious people ought to be able to refuse services based on sincerely held beliefs: “for example, a Latter-day Saint physician who objects to performing abortions or artificial insemination for a lesbian couple should not be forced against his or her conscience to do so.” On the surface, it seems clear that a person who is pro-life and believes marriage is between a man and a woman ought to be able to enforce these beliefs on other people, and yet Elder Holland’s example brought up a conundrum: what is a LDS physician to do if a lesbian couple asks him or her to perform an abortion? Does the physician recognize the opportunity to protect the family from homosexuality and perform the abortion, or does the physician refuse to perform the abortion at the cost of allowing another gaybie into the world??? It’s questions like these that will determine the future of religious freedom in America.

In conclusion, the Church’s press conference is a clear example of the dangers inherent in treating all people with the respect and kindness that we would like to receive. In a truly equal world, LGBT people’s human rights can only be respected if they respect the LDS Church’s inalienable right to discriminate against them.


(P.S. Let’s not forget another important lesson we learned from this press conference: there are religious, Christian folk, and then there are LGBT people and their allies, and there is certainly no overlap in between. I mean, what would that even look like?!?)

48 Responses to “LDS church calls “no tag-backs” in discrimination game”

    • burgerguygreg

      Lettuce, *gribenes* (crispy fried chicken skin with onions fried in chicken fat), bacon, and tomato.

  1. steve g

    the really scary thing for the church centers around two doctrinal significant words – tax breaks

  2. zelphthegreat

    I believe Dallin Oaks is suffering from the concussions inflicted upon him by the giant White Salamander he has run into while defending Joseph Smith.

  3. Katherine

    Get off your morally superior high horse. That press conference was breathtaking, and no matter what LDS leaders do or say, they will never win in your eyes.

    You claim tolerance, peace, and love for all, and yet you refuse to speak respectfully of those who disagree with you. Double standard? That’s grade A hypocrisy right there.

    • Andrew C

      How, exactly, was it breathtaking? In regards to LGBT rights, all they did was affirm the same thing they affirmed in 2009. The subtext of the press conference was, “We realize we’re losing the war against gay marriage, so would you lend us the kind of courtesy in policy making that we refused to afford you for decades?”

      • Pearce

        Because duh, you have to be COMPLETELY non-judgmental of them no matter how judgmental they’ve been of you and your lettuce, guacamole, bacon, and tomato sandwiches or else you’re a hypocrite. But whatever anybody else did is in the past so those sandwiches don’t matter anymore.

      • Katherine

        It was beautiful because of the commentary about loving all people and the moral evil of violence or hatred toward LGBT individuals (specifically Sister Marriott’s comments). And it was also was great because they named names and went on the offense about ways that religious groups have been persecuted (the Houston mayor who wanted to subpoena pastors, and Brendan Eiech resigning as CEO because he donated to Prop 8).

    • hannahwheelwright

      I can’t speak for Hermia, but it’s patently untrue that “they will never win in your eyes.” Get off your own morally superior high horse- you don’t know her or her relationship with the General Authorities and Auxiliary who spoke at the conference. As for your second paragraph, you clearly missed the entire point of her article, so I’m not sure how to help you understand.

    • 11Jude

      “Get off your morally superior high horse” she yelled from atop her morally superior high horse.

    • James Sneak

      If you want to talk hypocrisy, talk about the number of solid LDS members that were denied temple recommends and released from their chruch callings because they supported their Gay children by marching in a pride parade or put pictures of a gay couple on Facebook . And you don’t know why the number of youth suicides in Utah is so high?

      • Katherine

        I know plenty of Mormons who support same-sex “marriage” or Ordain Women who have not been denied a temple recommend. Unless you’ve got some proof of that, your argument doesn’t hold weight.

        But since we’re on the subject, I don’t necessarily think it’s illegitimate for those who support such causes to be denied a temple recommend. As I’m sure you are aware, there’s the following question:

        “Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?”

        Those who support gay marriage or Ordain Women who attempt to answer that question in the affirmative are being disingenuous, naive, or ignorant.

    • Anonymous

      Respect? Where are your goalposts and what is their velocity? I cannot hit them otherwise. In the public sphere your ecclesiastical demigods have limited standing unless they want to put forward something

  4. mylifeintune

    I get that saying anything in this forum is going to be a lose-lose for me, despite the fact that I am a relatively young mormon feminist, but I want to ask a couple of questions. First, why are we bashing on the LGBT acronym? I’ve heard gay rights supporters say for years how much they hate the church’s “SSA” acronym, and now that they’re using one that’s more politically correct (and more appropriate, in my opinion), it’s wrong? Is this because the LGBT acronym is constantly expanding and he didn’t use all the letters?

    Second, I get this article is satirical, but do you [the author, the audience] really not see a problem with some of the examples of discrimination cited by Elder Oaks? Obviously no one is saying that being forced to close your business because you support traditional marriage is on par with being stoned to death (either as a martyr or a gay person, as both have, tragically, happened), but does that make it any less wrong? Maybe I just don’t know all the details, but Brendan Eich’s case, in particular, was a travesty–what does a years-ago, private and modest donation to a political cause (that was passed with a majority vote) have to do with being a CEO?

    Third, do you really believe that every person who is opposed to gay marriage has that opinion because they are filled with hate toward gay people? When I was opposed to gay marriage, I had gay friends. I didn’t judge or hate. I didn’t talk about it much or wave protest banners or go out of my way to make life miserable for anyone. I just didn’t believe, for religious and social reasons, that gay marriage should be legal (though I was a proponent of civil unions). Obviously things have changed since then (I don’t really mind either way, and yes, I realize that’s my privilege talking), but looking back, I didn’t “hate” anybody, and my friends and family members I’ve talked to who support traditional marriage feel the same way.

    I hope my comment comes across as respectful and doesn’t get a knee-jerk defensive response. I really am asking. Thanks.

    • James

      In order to understand the Brenden Eich fiasco, you should reframe the debate as a conflict between business and philosophy, rather than church vs state.

      As to your third point, hatred takes many forms. It doesn’t need to be red-faced yelling to be hate. By withholding endorsement from the relationships of gay people, you and I passively participated in bigotry. We ignored their desires, and forced them to live disingenuously. You were not a friend to them at that time. We deluded ourselves into thinking we were friends because of our need to feel like good people. We parroted churchy things to them about how much we sympathized with their “struggles”. I’ve never heard a gay person say, “I have plenty of Mormon friends who oppose my marriage, but I don’t judge them.” It’s probably because, even if they were nice to you, they didn’t feel true friendship from you.

      • mylifeintune

        Thanks for your response. I still think the Brandon Eich thing was an extreme overreach by a culture that is trying to pass political correctness into law. The article you linked to was somewhat enlightening, but it disregards that a majority of voters in 2008 passed the measure: “traditional marriage only” was the belief held by most people at the time. The author’s assumptions about people who voted for prop 8 don’t hold water because, by his own admission, he doesn’t actually know anyone who voted for it. It is my understanding that I can believe what I want at home as long as I treat everyone in my employ equally. People who publicly, whether personally or professionally, say derogatory things about Mormons (or Christians or Muslims or republicans or even, in some cases, women) face no backlash or repercussions. It is fine, according to the current culture, to slander religious groups, but it is not acceptable to do or think or say anything, privately or not, which could be construed as anything other than neutral or positive toward the LGBT community (this generally applies to race as well). I’m not saying I think bigotry should be acceptable, I’m just saying that extremism in any form is bad, and the definition of “bigot” has become so broad that it tars both the Westboro Baptist Church members and your average Christian with the same stripes.

        Perhaps hate isn’t always “red-faced yelling,” but it IS always “ill will or intense dislike,” and most people I know who are opposed to gay marriage don’t fit either one of those. I’m not going to justify my friendship with my gay friends to you. The “true friendship” was reciprocal.

        Thanks again for your thoughts.

    • James Sneak

      What if Brendan Eich had donated money to the Klu Klux Klan? Would that have been alright? He chose his bigotry and paid the price. Why would you want a person like that damaging your corporate brand?

      • Katherine

        So you’re comparing those who advocate for marriage as one-man, one-woman to the KKK? Classy. And totally morally equivalent.

    • James

      I’m sure you had good intentions, just as I did, but I can’t feel justified in calling someone a friend when I wish for their closest relationships to fail. That’s where ill will comes in. If you vote for traditional-only marriage, or pay money towards a campaign for it, you’re essentially telling your LGBT friends that their most meaningful relationships don’t matter; that in some way, you hope their relationships fail so they can be celibate, then straight in the afterlife, or magically become straight in this life, or marry someone they aren’t attracted to. Only a subtle shift in bigoted language can justify that position as loving. “Look, I don’t hate Mormons, I just don’t want them to get married. I only have the most loving intentions that one day they will stop being Mormon so they can get married. My campaign isn’t against Mormons, it’s just in favor of a social structure that is optimal for a healthy society.”

      I think the only way you were able to maintain those friendships is because you didn’t talk about your opinions on marriage.

  5. tallgurrl

    We wouldn’t even be having this debate if we changed the name of the group being discriminated against… “Black people, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons are not allowed to marry/can be denied services/can be denied adoptions/can be denied leadership opportunities.” If the argument was that, everyone would be shouting about Civil Rights and Liberties. Why should it be any different for LGBT people?

    • Katherine

      I wouldn’t mind one bit if I was denied the ability to marry under US law. That’s because I don’t worship government, I worship God, and people who are religious don’t need Uncle Sam to validate their religion.

      Get the gov out of marriage altogether; I’m all for that! But I will never recognize a same-sex union as a marriage, no matter what law is passed.

      • Mary

        “I wouldn’t mind one bit if I was denied the ability to marry under US law” –> Seriously? If I had lived several decades ago, I would not have been allowed to marry my husband because of anti-miscegenation laws. I thank God every day that anti-racial marriages are not against the law now, and my heart goes out to people that cannot marry their partner they’ve committed to because of laws that discriminate LGBT individuals.

        Also, “people who are religious don’t need Uncle Sam to validate their religion” –> I agree, which is why I feel that measures like Prop 8 are unnecessary.

      • Katherine

        Why is it important to you that the govt. puts their stamp of approval on a relationship?

        Why do you need other people to legally recognize your union?

        Once again, I would be perfectly comfortable with the United States getting out of the business of marriage altogether.

      • Anonymous

        Katherine, you have every right to your opinion and you should freely express it as often as you feel the need to. However, I think you

      • SNeilsen

        You can also head over to youtube and watch
        “The Moth and USA Network present Charlene Strong: It Wasn’t Enough”

        When it comes to choosing God, we need to remember who are neighbor is.

      • Katherine

        So are you suggesting that we disregard the commandments when it goes against someone’s actions or feelings?

        When it comes to commenting on a blog post, we need to use “our” and “are” correctly. 🙂

      • SNeilsen

        The United States is not a theocracy. We should not live under Mormon law anymore than sharia law.
        Both examples, I gave illustrate the necessity of government recognition of marriage.
        You as a Mormon are free to walk by someone collapsed on the road, beaten and half dead,–you know, cuz of commandments and all that.

      • Katherine

        There are plenty of reasons to support one-woman/ one-man marriage that are not based on religious values at all. And your comparison of LDS law to sharia law is quite sickening. And is your comparison to Mormons (me specifically) as someone who ignores people in dire need of help.

        If you cannot hold a rational conversation without grossly insulting the other person (not that I’m offended), your argument just might suck. Or perhaps it’s that you as an individual are pretty awful.

      • SNeilsen

        Okay, I get it. We are not neighbors. So everything you do is righteously justified. Commandments and all that.

      • laurengaba

        @Katherine, and anyone else who shares the view that the US shouldn’t be involved in marriage – governmental bodies need to be involved in marriages, for reasons including but not limited to filing joint tax returns, inheriting a share of your spouse’s estate/holding power of attorney, being able to make financial/medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf should they be unable to, social security, medicare, disability benefits, immigration, death benefits, insurance reasons, special rates on things like auto or HO insurance, employment benefits, I could go on and on. Want to be allowed in the ICU if your spouse has been the victim of a tragic accident? You need to be legally married. Want to be able to receive workers comp or retirement plan benefits it your spouse dies? You need to be legally married.

        If you care about having any of the above listed legal benefits, you need the government to recognize your marriage. Period. It’s not just for reasons of emotional validation; we live in a society in which the infrastructure is set up in such a way that it demands the government be involved, whether or not religious people believe it’s right.

  6. Wesley

    Actually Katherine, people who are religious, do indeed need the government to validate their marriage…at least according to your own religion. Mormons are required to obtain a certificate of marriage, from the local courthouse -government owned and operated- before they are able to be sealed in the temple. If marriage is only of God, then no marriage certificate should be required, you should just be allowed to be sealed in the temple without having to jump through all the pesky legal hoops.
    As for your gay friends, you might not have realized it, but your stance, by saying that you will never recognize their marriage, is an inherently unfriendly position to take, and inherently hurtful. I asked my straight, Mormon, best friend once, if she would ever attend my wedding to the love of my life, and she said she would not…for religious purposes. She has been to Catholic weddings, weddings on the beach, and even weddings in courthouses, even though those are contrary to her religious beliefs. According to Mormon doctrine, the only weddings that count are those performed in Mormon temples. So why don’t you oppose those for religious purposes? I can’t speak for your relationships with your friends whom you do not support fully, but I can speak about mine, and that was, and is, the single most hurtful moment of our friendship; I shrugged it off, smiled, and told her I completely understood. We are still friends, but I’ve never forgotten that moment, that stabbing ache in my heart, and I closed of that portion of my life to her. The saddest part is that one day, when the LDS church changes policy, (and they will) and allows ALL committed and loving couples to be married, you and she will jump right on board, but all the hurt and damage you have caused along the way can never be undone.

    • Katherine

      The reason we have to be married civilly is because the United States is in the business of marriage. If that were not the case, naturally the Church would do away with that policy.

      Okay, you support whatever you want, and I’ll do the same. There’s no right to not be offended, you know. I don’t ever seek to purposefully offend another person, but if it comes down to choosing between God or choosing to condone or accept another person’s choices to which I am ethically opposed, I’ll go with God every time (Doctrine & Covenants 3:7).

      So to be clear, you are asserting that the LDS Church will some day allow gay couples to be married in the temple?

  7. mormonsupport

    We should also be wary of those beach marriages as John cursed the waters. What if someone accidentally goes into the ocean after the ceremony? They might not have enough faith to get out before the Destroyer gets them.

    Faithless please read DC 61:18-19

  8. Anonymous

    Why would it matter to a church if the United States is involved in marriage licenses? The United States does not require, nor odes it recognize spiritual marriages, and the church has no need to recognize civil marriages. Two people should not need a state approved marriage license to be sealed together in the temple, but they do.

    That is exactly what I am asserting. The lds church had traditionally lagged behind on most civil issues, and has always tried to play catch up when they should have been at the forefront. Interracial marriages are banned biblically, but allowed in the modern lds church. According to d&c the everlasting covenant involves plural marriage, and entrance to the highest kingdom requires it, yet the lds church forbids it because u.s. law forbade it. So who leads the church? God or the United States? Just be careful who you are following, because your offenses are not justifiable in God’s name, and you will not be held blameless just because you were following your leaders, at least accordingito Joseph Smith. The whole not trusting in the arm of flesh thing applies, just because a leader said, or wrote it, doesn’t make it true.

  9. Wesley

    Can you point out the many reasons to support only one man/one woman marriages that are not religious? (Quick: google it!)

    This clearly is not a rational conversation because you have just simply ignored any solid facts or rationality presented to you.

    You are right, I can’t point out verses in the bible that ban interracial marriage specifically, although there are several instances where people were commanded not to mix with other people, it appears that it was usually because of a difference in beliefs, and usually involved not mixing with the canaanites. However this presents two distinct problems: first, those verses are the ones that churches have, (and some still do) used to preach against interracial marriages, from the same bible used to justify slavery. And second, it says a lot about not inter-marrying with other religious groups. So you should be against marriage between a man and a woman if they are different faiths.

    I don’t think someone insulting another person necessarily negates any valid points they may argue. It doesn’t mean that their logic is flawed out that they have no real argument. It only means that they have either observed or decided to fabricate negative characteristics exhibited by another person, group, or thing. In either case, it serves the insultee well to examine whether they are entirely fabricated malicious lies, or if untrue but believed by the insulter, why the other person perceived such things to be true.


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