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LDS apostle under fire for civil-rights analogy

LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks on Tuesday likened the post-Proposition 8 backlash against Mormons to the persecution blacks endured during the civil-rights struggle. Now Oaks faces a backlash himself.

"Were four little Mormon girls blown up in the church at Sunday school? Were there burning crosses planted on local bishops' lawns? Were people lynched and their genitals stuffed in their mouths?" asked University of Utah historian Colleen McDannell. "By comparing these two things, it diminishes the real violence that African-Americans experienced in the '60s, when they were struggling for equal rights. There is no equivalence between the two."

His analogy was digusting, but what caught my attention were his comments about respect and atheists. And so, I've sent a letter to the editor. Will It get published in the Tribune, I don't know. But since I know the editor at onegoodmove you get to see it here.


Dallin Oaks, Tribune October 14th said:

"During my lifetime I have seen a significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion in our public life, and I believe that the vitality of religious freedom is in danger of being weakened accordingly," He went on to say, "Atheists and others would intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation."

Mr. Oaks needs to learn the difference between respect and tolerance. To respect is to consider worthy of high regard. To tolerate is to allow to be or be done without hindrance.

Dallin Oaks and the LDS Church he represents not only don’t respect the civil rights of the gay community, but they are intolerant of them as well. He amazingly accuses atheists, the most hated minority in America, of endangering religious freedom. That's like Ceaser accusing the Christians of endangering the lions.

Respect is earned. A religion that doesn’t tolerate others certainly doesn’t earn my respect. An instituion that relies on dogma rather than rational thought isn’t worthy of high regard. No religion or creed should be immune from criticism, but all of them ought to be tolerated.



Here, here.

I was appalled at his comments.

What's worse: my friends on Facebook seem to believe his woo.

The man makes serious logical fallacies into talking points and moral equivocation into popular creedo.

It reminds me so much of Gov. Palin crying foul when papers criticized her. She argued they tried to hinder free speech. Yes, by making an opinion, they somehow prevented her from having one known. rolls eyes

Mr. Oaks does not seem to grasp something very basic that most of us learned in the 5th grade. When you pick a fight with someone because you just don't like them, don't be surprised when they hit back.

I received this from the Tribune this morning:

Thanks, Norm. I've moved your fine letter forward to be published. It should run in the newspaper in the next few days (I don't know exactly when).



It is also particularly appalling considering the fact that the church discriminated against blacks up until 1978, not letting them hold the priesthood or worship in the temple. This discrimination only ended in 1978 with a prophecy that just happened to coincide with the passing of the civil rights act that would have taken away the church's non-profit status.

well spoken, hope you get printed. (just tell them you're the proprieter, esq., of 1gm ltd.)

i'll be damned if i'll let anyone legislate who i have to respect. tolerance is rough enough.

Letter is right on. Did they edit it at all for the paper?

It hasn't appeared yet, I'll report back when it does.

Update with a link. Then we can raise a glass to you for writing it and again for its publication.

Criticism is always most painful when we know in our heart that it is deserved. No doubt that's why Mr Oaks feelings of persecution regarding Prop. 8 are so intense. I'm waiting, ever hopeful, for the LDS authorities to recognize the appropriate historical analogy, and that sure ain't the civil rights movement.

How many LDS families were materially harmed when the US government insisted on imposing one view of morality ("Marriage is between one man and one woman") rules in early Utah? How many children went hungry as sister wives struggled to feed them while their husbands were on the lam from the Government for plural marriage? I mean, it surely seems to me that history shows it is much better when the rule of law is both evenly applied and stays out of the bedroom. So long as the Govt chooses to accord material legal and financially benefits to marriage, then denial of access those benefits is discriminatory. End of story. And, so long as the Government stays out of the "legislating morality and religion" business, the church may happily continue their vision of eternal plural marriage between man and women in the Afterlife for just as long as their membership agrees.

Unfortunately, from what I understand, plural marriages were often an opening for pedophiles and for marriages between parties that make Woody and Soon Yi seem like the ideal love affair.

Many of you were appalled by his comments because you are reacting to what you think he said, rather than what he actually said. In his talk, he says:

...These incidents were expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest. As such, these incidents of “violence and intimidation” are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.

He's saying that the voter-intimidation is what is similar. He's not saying Mormons are being persecuted like the blacks--that would be appalling. If he had said what you all presumed him to say, yes, you would have reason to be offended. Read the talk for yourselves before posting your gut reaction to second-hand information.

I understand you moderate these comments, and that what I have written takes your legs out from underneath you. But, if the purpose of this blog is to promote only your opinion instead of fact, then don't publish this comment.

The point of the letter was that he was lamenting the lack of respect for religion. You can't legislate respect. Respect is holding someone in high regard, that is something they earn not something they have a right to. Neither Dallin Oaks or the Mormon Church have a right to be respected.

His words:

During my lifetime I have seen a significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion in our public life, and I believe that the vitality of religious freedom is in danger of being weakened accordingly.

As to the question of his being misunderstood. He could easily have avoided that by using an analogy that was closer to the facts than the one he used, or by clarifying what he meant during the speech. He lacks sensitivity. The test of a good analogy is how closely it parallels what it is being compared to, and while there are some commonalities it was on balance a poor analogy and one that if he wasn't so self-observed should have been obvious to him before he made it.

I look forward to your defense of his claim to a right of respect.

What are the "violence and intimidation" incidents he's talking about? As for democracy, the church(es) had no right to campaign for prop 8, it even was illegal, they should be stripped from their tax exempt status.


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