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Church Supports Religious and LGBTTQQIAAPFPOC* Rights – Sort Of

The Post That Is Better Than This Post

This morning I intended to write a post about the church’s press conference Tuesday, variously hailed and/or jeered as calling for religious liberty, supporting LGBT rights, elevating institutional rights while denigrating individual liberties, making a press conference out of a molehill, “punking” the press with bloviation, etc.

Church Supports LGBT Rights

As it turns out, however, much of what I intended to say has already been addressed by Connor Boyack (president of Libertas Institute), in Supporting Property Rights Means Opposing Anti-Discrimination Law. Please take the time to read this.

Conservative Libertarianism

To be clear, I have opposed anti-discrimination legislation for decades (in the cases of individuals and private businesses, not government entities). I have done so on principle and long before gay rights was on my (or the general) radar.

I have done so even when the legislation would have benefited me and my family. For example, I oppose legislation that would require a private individual or business to rent to/associate with/provide for/give service to/hire women, whites, Mormons, gingers, Irish decedents, BYU graduates, or any other group to which I belong. Similarly, I oppose legislation that would require a private individual or business to rent to/associate with/provide for/give service to/hire Catholics, men, blacks, Jews, gays, Utes, brunettes, farmers, people who live in brick houses, or any other group to which I do not belong. 

I oppose these things legislatively, but not necessarily morally. I would like people to want to hire Mormons. I hope I won’t be excluded simply because I’m a woman. But I accept that the price of freedom is that other people have the right to do with their businesses and properties what they choose in spite of my preferences.

The Press Conference

The church isn’t changing policy with regard to homosexuality, but “are suggesting a way forward in which those with different views on these complex issues can together seek solutions that will be fair to everyone.”

My problem is that I don’t think their “way forward” is logical.

Here are some thoughts on the particulars of the press conference, introduced by D. Todd Christofferson (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). Please add your own in the comments.

Neill F. Marriott (2nd counselor Young Women general presidency, public affairs committee)

On one side of the debate we have advocates of LGBT rights. This movement arose after centuries of ridicule, persecution, and even violence against homosexuals.

When such claims are made, the implication is that these abuses were created by dolts living under rocks—dolts the church unequivocally disavows. But the persecution of which she speaks seems to have arisen from the fairly consistent (and current) teaching in most religious institutions that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Given that position, what does the church advocate with regard to sin? Is the treatment of those who engage in this particular named sin markedly different from other sins?

Ultimately, most of society recognized that such treatment was simply wrong and that such basic human rights as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on a person’s sexual orientation.

Marriott needs to brush up on her constitutional studies. Neither job security nor housing is a right. (And if this has changed, please tell my college kids! I’m sure they will be relieved to know that they are owed jobs and houses, no matter what!)

Should securing a job or a place to live depend on a person’s sexual orientation? That decision is the sole right of the person who owns the business or housing. Not Marriott, not me, not the church, not any other person or group.

Interestingly—and in spite of these statements—when it comes to jobs and housing, the church is a model of pro-discrimination. To be clear, I believe they have every right to do so, but in light of their actual policies, the statement is baffling.

It’s for this reason that the church has publicly favored laws and ordinances that protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and employment.

As long as the church doesn’t have to follow those same laws.

Dallin H. Oaks (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)

Oaks outlined some cases where people were singled out and harmed due to their religious beliefs or association. Those who deny that these people were victimized (a common thread the past few days) are nonsensical. Obviously they were discriminated against and many were irreparably harmed.

In light of those facts, here are my questions:

Should it be legal to discriminate over religion?

Unequivocally, yes.

All people should have the right to choose how they use their resources and association, based on their value sets. (Whether the value set is labelled religious or areligious is irrelevant.)

Is it ethical to discriminate over religion?

The answer to that question would have to be debated on a case by case basis—and views would, of course, vary.

If an outspoken, activist member of Westboro Baptist Church were to apply for a job at my business, I’d kick him to the curb. I should not have to hire, support, or associate with anyone whom I feel is depraved and disgusting (no matter who it is or why I feel as I do).

It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights, now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals.

On this point, Oaks is spot on. The so-called move for tolerance is, in fact, a cry for very specific tolerance and extreme intolerance to all other positions. Some are so busy pounding their (agnostic) pulpits, they can’t even stop to read a dictionary.

Exmo Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast wins the 2015 Unhinged Award with this beauty of a dual math and language fail:

Here’s another equation that Mormons should take to heart: Not tolerating intolerance is not the same thing as intolerance itself.

Someone stop her. She’s not helping you.

Oaks reiterates the church’s support for non-discrimination in housing and employment. In context I cannot understand what he means by that unless it is that individuals have no right to determine how to manage their property and businesses, but churches (or other institutions) do. That, sir, is just wrong. Then Oaks gave some articles of faith, if you will, of fairness.

Principles of #Fairness4All

  1. We claim for everyone the God-given and constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
  2. We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
  3. We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people, while respecting those with differing values.
  4. We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances, or differences in gender or sexual orientation.

Jeffrey R. Holland (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)

Accommodating the rights of all people—including their religious rights—requires wisdom and judgement, compassion, fairness. Politically it certainly requires dedication to the highest level of statesmanship.

Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point-scoring, or accusations of bigotry.

These are serious issues and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse.

Holland is well spoken here. I agree wholeheartedly.

We run into a definitional problem, however, when this statement is coupled with Oaks’s principle #4. Is it “persecution” or “bullying” when the church excommunicates members who engage in homosexual relations or speak out about gender disparity? Maybe. Is this kind of “persecution” and “bullying” acceptable? The church thinks it is when it is administered institutionally. While I hold that the church alone has the right to determine church policy, we should acknowledge that enforcing those policies can seem every bit as coercive as, say, boycotting a business with policies we don’t like.

If you believe the LDS church holds authority to perform saving ordinances, as I do, then having those ordinances threatened is a critical issue that might require action on the church’s part—including action that may discriminate. Do individuals not need the same freedom to align their own lives with their personal morals and values?

It is following this statement that Holland goes where I cannot go. He makes a case that the church can hold certain standards and, by extension, anything church owned can hold the same standards. He extends that same right to families (in their own homes, specifically teaching religious values) and to individuals (in choosing professions). But he disallows those same standards for individuals.

Holland seems to forget that it has to be a person who is being required to provide housing and employment to specific “special classes,” when the church won’t provide for those same classes themselves.

In the name of true fairness, I support property owners and business owners using their properties and businesses and other resources as they see fit, without government mandates and interference. For example, I support all the following positions:

  • LDS (or any) physicians should not be forced to perform sex change operations.
  • LDS (or any) physicians should not be forced to perform abortions.
  • LDS (or any) physicians should not be forced to artificially inseminate anyone.
  • Quiverfull nurse practitioners should not be forced to prescribe birth control.
  • Baptist (or any) deli owners should not be forced to serve kosher foods.
  • Agnostic (or any) restauranteurs should not be forced to remove coffee and alcohol from their establishments.
  • Lesbian (or any) techs should not be forced to create an anti-gay website.
  • Pro-choice (or any) printers should not be forced to publish pro-life materials.
  • Jewish (or any) grocers should not be forced to sell pork.
  • Christian (or any) bakers should not be forced to make gay wedding cakes.
  • Gay (or any) screenprinters should not be forced to make Westboro Baptist tee shirts.
  • Black (or any) calligraphers should not be forced to address Aryan Nation invitations.
  • Muslim (or any) cafe owners should not be forced to have mixed-gender tables.
  • Catholic (or any) pharmacists should not be forced to carry the morning after pill.
  • Etc.

Obviously, I think both LGBT activists and church leaders/policy miss the freedom mark. The libertarian-esque position is the only one that seems consistent and logical.


* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, panssexual, fetish, polyamorous, otherkin, cisgender. (I would have added FABGLITTER but it created redundancy—plus I can’t even find what TER means. I’m sure I missed some. I’m sorry. I tried.)

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Nan January 30, 2015, 6:05 pm

    This was a very reasonable article but beep prepared to get beat up if you don’t just jump on the gaywagon. My brother is gay and I love him dearly, but being around a lot of his gay friends is an INtolerant mess.

    Otherkin?

  • Alison Moore Smith January 30, 2015, 10:11 pm

    Nan, I don’t think I jumped on any wagon, I’m just trying to make sense of the discussion. I hope that’s what all fair minded people do.

    Otherkin really is a thing.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Church Asks for Feeback on Temple GarmentsMy Profile

  • Marco February 1, 2015, 1:12 pm

    I don’t understand what the church is trying to do with this meeting. It seemed like going in circles.

  • IdRatherNotSay February 3, 2015, 11:30 pm

    I agree with Marco. Is there something new going on in Utah with LBGTetc./workplace hostility toward religious employees?? When I read about this, it seemed to me like something had happened and the church was addressing it in some urgent press conference without actually saying what it was. I was left with more questions than answers…

    -What was IT that happened?
    -Why did it require an urgent press conference?
    -Is the church trying to appear to suddenly support gay rights without actually supporting them?
    -Or, is the church changing toward an attitude of acceptance and accommodation of gay marriage?
    -Who and where are people facing religious persecution in the workplace? Why is this happening? Are they referring to LDS employees or the people who are killed for not converting to a certain religion?

    I mean, seriously!

  • P0PSTART February 14, 2015, 11:47 pm

    Hi Alison. Been lurking around your site for awhile, but I don’t think I’ve commented before. I don’t always agree with you, but I can usually understand your point of view. On this particular issue though, you and I are miles apart. In fact just about the only thing I agree with is that your position is consistent and logical. And if those were the virtues I held highest then maybe I would be libertarian-esque too. Where I run into problems is that the world you paint is not the world I want to live in. I would much prefer non-discrimination policy in the areas of government, housing, jobs, services, and religion to be decided based on a careful balance of individual liberty vs. the collective good in each of those areas separately. It doesn’t bother me if the result is an inconsistent patchwork that means, for example, that I have the same opportunities to find a job or place to live in my town as my brunette neighbor, while at the same time a local web designer lawfully refuses to build me a website because of our ideological differences. You might be okay with the hypothetical America where you can’t find a job because of your religion, sexual orientation, or skin color, but I’m not.

    And if we carry your position to it’s logical extension, then it would conceivably enable the suppression of whole categories of people. And indeed, this has been the case in the United States and countless other countries around the world. Your philosophy relies on the morality of the majority to allow minority groups to survive and thrive as part of the community. But we know, from the historical fact of brutal oppression and prejudice, that people who have the option to discriminate will use it. So in the end I simply don’t feel bad about forcing you rent to your black, gay, muslim, or brunette tenants. In fact I’m glad for non-discrimination laws, because it means that I personally have equal access to not be homeless (because no one will rent to me), starving (because no one will sell food to me), and destitute (because no one will employ me).

  • Alison Moore Smith February 15, 2015, 11:00 am

    Welcome POPSTART. 🙂

    …just about the only thing I agree with is that your position is consistent and logical.

    I take that as a compliment. If I’m not doing those two things, I have to rethink what I’m saying. So, to me that’s a good start. 🙂

    Where I run into problems is that the world you paint is not the world I want to live in.

    I think you may be assuming a world I didn’t actually paint. What do YOU think I think the world looks like?

    I would much prefer non-discrimination policy in the areas of government, housing, jobs, services, and religion to be decided based on a careful balance of individual liberty vs. the collective good in each of those areas separately. It doesn’t bother me if the result is an inconsistent patchwork that means, for example, that I have the same opportunities to find a job or place to live in my town as my brunette neighbor, while at the same time a local web designer lawfully refuses to build me a website because of our ideological differences. You might be okay with the hypothetical America where you can’t find a job because of your religion, sexual orientation, or skin color, but I’m not.

    It might not “bother” you if the resulting policy is “an inconsistent patchwork,” but that’s a management nightmare.

    We now need to get down to defining what “same opportunities” means. My husband was just hired as the Chief Architect at a tech company last week. I don’t have the “same opportunities” for C-level tech employment that he does. I’m DISCRIMINATED against because I don’t have PhD in electrical engineering and a billion years of high tech experience and resulting expertise. Perhaps you’re OK with that, but it’s still discrimination. And who has more “right” to decide whom to hire than the person providing the salary?

    When we start getting down to “collective good,” the idea that a government bureaucrat is better equipped to decide how a company or individual uses their own resources boggles my mind. If you have a basement apartment, are you willing to rent to Westboro members with “God Hates Fags” curtains? Should the government require you to do so in the name of religious discrimination?

    And if we carry your position to it’s logical extension, then it would conceivably enable the suppression of whole categories of people.

    Of course it would allow it. But it already exists and will always exist. The laws just precludes certain types of suppression in favor of other types, right?

    When I was thinking about getting married, I discriminated based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, education, intelligence, appearance, fitness, humor, future potential, fertility, background, goals, and a host of other things. Was that OK? Why or why not?

    Your philosophy relies on the morality of the majority to allow minority groups to survive and thrive as part of the community.

    Yes, it does. Freedom requires a lot of us, doesn’t it?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Feminism and Logic: a PrimerMy Profile

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