Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elder Dallin H. Oaks v. Senator Harry Reid

On October 13, there were two interesting articles that came out at the same time. The Salt Lake Tribune published an article of Senator Harry Reid criticizing the LDS Church for its involvement of Prop 8 while the LDS Newsroom published an article about Dallin H. Oaks giving a speech at BYU-Idaho where he outlines his belief that religious liberty is being threatened in America.

I find it amusing that two distinct and separate articles come out at the same time that presents a brewing debate among prominent religious and political LDS leaders despite the fact that they work together often. I wonder how the discussion goes when Harry Reid and Dallin H. Oaks actually discuss the issue of religious liberty and gay marriage face to face. Harry Reid believes that religion, specifically, his religion ought to stay clear of being involved in the public debate over gay marriage whereas Dallin H. Oaks believes that any faith, including the LDS Church, have a right to promote and preserve religious liberty in the public square.

Clearly, there is a disagreement about which right deserves federal protection: religious liberty or same sex marriage. This is a legal debate between a LDS Senator and an Apostle who has had a successful career as an attorney. If you want to read a good legal treatise that reflects Elder Oak's position on this issue, I highly recommend the Harvard Law review article titled, "Or For Poorer: How Same Sex Marriage Threatens Religious Liberty" By Roger Serverino. For a good legal treatise that reflects Harry Reid's position, I recommend, "Same Sex Marriage And Slippery Slopes" by Eugene Volokh.

Who is correct here? Elder Dallin H. Oaks or Senator Harry Reid? Whose voice do we listen to? A politician or an Apostle?

UPDATE: Here's the transcript of Elder Oak's talk.


Perpetual Mommy Exhaustion said...

President Harold B. Lee taught: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized [see D&C 21:4–5]. … There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you’ [D&C 21:6]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 126).

It may be cheating to use the authority of a prophet as support to an argument for his authority, but if you truly believe he is the mouthpiece of the Lord, who else's opinion should you ask? There's no contest between a politician and a prophet.

You know what I kind of wonder about? If I were to write and publish a book about, say, the lack of intellectual freedom on LDS campuses, I would be dragged into my stake president's office so fast my reccomend would burn on entry. Why isn't Senator Reed facing any kind of discipline for publicly criticizing the Church?

Anthony E. Larson said...

I find this more than "amusing." It portends difficult days ahead for the church as a whole and its members individually. Elder Oaks obviously appreciates the political and social bind that the church now faces in the struggle to preserve religious freedom. We may be in for a resurgence of anti-Mormon bigotry such as that which the early church was forced to endure.

For more on this issue, read:

Gen. JC Christian, Patriot said...

Are you really claiming that allowing gays to marry would infringe upon your religious freedom? How exactly?
No one is trying to amend the First Amendment in order to coerce the Church into performing gay marriages in the temple.
Why is it so important to you to deny others such a basic human right as the sharing of a life with another?

J said...

Gen. JC Christian, If you read my blog closely, you realize I didn't take sides on the debate. I tried to provide a balanced reporting.

Given that the debate is not moral or social but a legal one, I found two law review articles that closely reflects the positions taken by each of the respective LDS leaders.

All I'm doing is simply pointing out that there is a major disagreement between two high profile LDS leaders and asked my readers to discuss who they think is right.

That's all.

Blair said...

Gen JC. The problem is that the homosexual lobby isn't interested in the freedom of religion. Take a look at the new version of ENDA being debated in Congress - most especially the clause that makes it a federal crime to threaten a homosexual. Most legal scholars are alarmed at this turn because it is a very short step legally to turn speech into assault. That means that sermons from the pulpit expressing religious views against homosexuality could be prosecuted in Federal court as a hate crime. From a legal and religious standpoint, this is a chilling attack on freedom of religion. You can claim that your lifestyle only affects you, but this is patently false.