A member of the group I wrote about in yesterdays blog responded to my inquiry. Here is their response. What they say has been changed to blue in order to better distinguish what I wrote from their response:
CM - Thank you for being honest and letting us know about your blog posting. We have no objection to you posting it on your site. We wish every LDS in CA would read it. We also think it would be equally honest to publish our response/rebuttal. It would show honesty and fairness. Responses are embedded below -
1. LDS scripture (D&C 134:4) says we can't use our religious opinions to justify infringing upon the rights and liberties of others.
I submit that this group has interpreted this scripture incorrectly. Since the entire argument for this group is based on the interpretation of this single scripture to support their position, it is critical to examine each phrase in full:
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, ...
This means that any person, who practices any religion, is accountable to God only, in how they practice.
CM - Agreed!
Continuing:...unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;...
In other words, there is a rational limit to what a person's religious liberty will allow. If I believe in human sacrifice as my religious belief, I will have to infringe upon another humans right to live. At that moment, I become accountable to a human law, that says homicide is illegal, regardless of my religious beliefs. The purpose of this verse is to declare the limits of which government can interfere in the religious beliefs of individuals. In other words, if my religious views do not infringe upon the rights and liberties of other people, the government CANNOT become involved in any way.
CM – Agreed. We can't use our religion as an excuse to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. Gays have a right to marry in CA and we LDS are using our religious beliefs regarding marriage as a reason to try and revoke those rights. This also violates Paul’s statements as to how the religious opinions of others do not have the right to limit his own rights (1 Cor. 10:29).
The first amendment of the Constitution says "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". The government can make laws against homicide however, and if committing homicide is part of your religion, your right to freely exercise that religion can be limited.
This group views this scripture as a limit on what individuals can do, when it is actually a limit on what government can do.
CM - The "...unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;..." portion says that men will not only be accountable to God for infringing upon the rights of others (it’s a sin), but also accountable to man's laws and punishments. IOW, the first clause of the verse says that we are subject only to God for our religious practices unless we do things in the name of our faith that infringe upon the rights of others. In such a case, we will not only be punished by God for the sin, but be punished my man as well.
...but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion;...
Again, this verse states that government should not interfere with how people choose to worship. There are no limits however, placed upon the individual in voting according to their religious beliefs. As a human being, and believer in a set of core moral values, I have the right to advocate my position, persuade others to my position, and vote according to my moral values.
CM - We agree "that government should not interfere with how people choose to worship." as you state, but that does NOT give you a free pass to infringe upon the rights of others. Gays in CA have a right to marriage and you want to use your vote to remove that right. That's a clear infringement upon the rights of others. You have the LEGAL right to do so, but not the moral right, per scripture. It is a sin to infringe upon the rights of others. We are to use kindness, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned to persuade people to live righteously. Using government is force (per Pres. Benson and others). Force is Satan's Plan.
I believe that incest is wrong..... I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. ....I believe that men and women should not commit adultery. This position comes from my religious beliefs. I feel society would be better off if adultery was never made a legal act. I believe this is a moral issue that happens to limit the liberty of two consenting adults who desire to have sexual relations while breaking their marital vows.
CM - We agree if all of the above weren’t practiced in society, society would be much better off. That does NOT give us the right to use force to make it so. Our religion also teaches that girls shouldn't wear bikinis or date prior to 16 or single date until 18. We also believe that drinking iced tea is a sin. Shopping on Sunday is a sin. Etc...We may have a LEGAL right to try to force these on society. If we catch a 14 y/o girl wearing a bikini on a date while shopping on Sunday at beachfront shops with an iced tea in her hand, should she go to the slammer? She violated 4 of our "laws". Again, we may have a LEGAL right to do it, but we don't have a moral right, per our religion.
I do not believe it is right for the state to institute Christianity as a state religion, to force people to be baptized, pray, or dictate how I worship God. I will no longer be ashamed of my positions. The purpose of the oft repeated phrase "separation of church and state" was to limit government intrusion into religion. THE CONSTITUTION STRICTLY FORBIDS THE GOVERNMENT TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM EXERCISING THEIR RELIGION FREELY. My religious beliefs teach me that incest, same gender "marriage", and adultery are wrong, and I have the right to express my views in the way I vote. I will not be intimidated; I will not be thwarted in my efforts. God has given me the right as an individual to express my views and no government will ever prevent me from voting my conscience.
CM - IOW, you feel free to let your religious opinions prompt you to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. Let's throw the little bimby in the slammer for strolling through those beachfront stores on Sunday, in her bikini while on a date and drinking iced tea. Those are sins and society would be better off if people didn't sin. Let's therefore outlaw all sin. We live in a democracy so let's vote these laws in. I sure hope that Seventh Day Adventists don't do these things...they may outlaw shopping on Saturday and force businesses to close. They might also outlaw meat being served in restaurants and in grocery stores. . Those are MORAL issues to them, NOT civil rights issues. Why are we so willing to “do unto others” the evil which had been “done unto us” yet scream when others try to do something to us? Why are we being hypocritical? We may have a LEGAL right to infringe upon others' rights in this case, but we don't have a moral or scriptural right to do so.
I close with words from Gordon B. Hinckley:
"Why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?"
"I hasten to add that we deal only with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature or which directly affect the welfare of the Church. We have opposed gambling and liquor and will continue to do so. We regard it as not only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of society. ..."
CM - Didn't others think it was in the best interest of society to issue an Extermination Order or have the US Army invade
"There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God.
Cm - But in our secular democracy, we have to ask - "Whose God?" The god of the churches that allow gay marriage? That same line above was probably issued by others opposition to polygamy. Not everyone agrees as to what the "best interests of society" really are. This is why we keep church and state separate and allow people to do as they please as long as they don't infrige upon the rights of others. Should majority rule without regard to the rights of the sheep. We sure hate it when others have used the majority to harm our rights. Why are we being 2-faced about this?
Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality.
Cm - It is OBJECTIVELY a matter of civil rights. We are trying to use CIVIL means (voting) to deny CIVIL RIGHTS of people that currently have the CIVIL RIGHT to have our CIVIL government recognize their marriages. To us and other Christians, there is also a moral component, but it is first and foremost a CIVIL RIGHTS issue. Check out our site again and read the words of Bruce R. McConkie regarding the separation of Church and State.
Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out.
Cm - I agree that we have a duty to speak out. As stated above, we are to use kindness, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned to persuade people to live righteously. We have to be careful though, because we do NOT have an unfettered right to our tax-exempt status. The Church might have it revoked if we are too involved in politics. The Church would have to pay taxes on the tithes it collects and we wouldn't be able to write off our donations on our taxes. Revoking it would NOT be an infringement on our religious rights. You can bet that we would scream bloody murder if there was a serious attempt to revoke this thing which is not in any way a CIVIL RIGHT, yet we take offense when others oppose our own attempts at revoking an ACTUAL CIVIL RIGHT.
The Lord, the scriptures, the prophets, the Constitution speak out against government intrusion into forcing religion upon people. The Lord, the scriptures, and the prophets declare that we must vote for moral values, and the Constitution protects that right.
CM - Shouldn't we be careful about imposing our morals on others when others have that same right in states or countries where THEY are the wolves and WE are the sheep? We complained when the Russian government denied us the opportunity to buy land and build chapels. The Russians considered it a MORAL issue because we would preach things that are contrary to their morality - the superiority of the American Constitution, doctrines which contradict the official state church, ideas about minimalist government rather than Communist/Socialist ideas, etc... Was that a MORAL issue or was it a CIVIL RIGHTS issue from our standpoint? What goes around, come around. We need to be careful about not incenting others to infringe upon us.
CM – The bottom line is that 1 Cor. 10:29 and D&C 134:4 frown upon the idea of people using their religious as motivation to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. The language is clear and can’t be wrested to mean the opposite with redefining what the definition of the word “is” is. We have seen when others have infringed upon our rights, yet we don’t bat an eye about doing the same unto others. What goes around comes around. Perhaps a liberal CA legislature could remove our tax-exempt status in the state. It was considered after our involvement in Prop.22 and there is even more justification now. We can’t simply can’t expect to run roughshod over the rights of others and not expect the same treatment. Even worse, we are violating the CLEAR teachings of scripture, ignoring our own history of having our rights infringed when we were the unpopular minority, and breaking apart LDS families with gay children. This is anti-family and anti-missionary work. There are few things that rival this in being sin.