Author Archives: Angela Fallentine

About Angela Fallentine

Angela Fallentine is the Co-Founder of Mormon Women Stand. She is a native of Alberta, Canada but has also loved living in the USA, New Zealand and briefly in Europe with her husband. She is a researcher and analyst for a think tank which focuses on social issues, religious freedom and international policy affecting the family at the United Nations in New York.

LDS Church Files Brief in Support of Colorado Baker in Supreme Court Case

Image result for jack phillips masterpiece cakeshopEarlier this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed its name on amicus friend-of-the court brief in a large transgender case, citing The Family: A Proclamation to the World as a core doctrinal statement, as well as noting the unchangeable and eternal gender of men and women. Now, this week the Church joined with other religious organizations, 86 senators and representatives, legal groups and creative professionals to show support for the Colorado baker who, due to religious convictions, chose not use his professional skills to support a same-sex wedding. This case arose when Masterpiece Cakeshops’ owner, Jack Phillips, was sued after respectfully declining to decorate a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex ceremony for two men.

In a news release, ADF Legal stated that:

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to design custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages if the shop designs wedding cakes for opposite-sex marriages. It also required Phillips to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially telling them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. As a result of the ruling, Phillips has lost an estimated 40 percent of his business. (Link)

In the Colorado amicus brief, the groups argue:

  • “Forcing (Phillips) to choose between his business and his conscience is a historic means of religious persecution.”
  • “Constitution broadly guarantees liberty of religion and conscience to citizens who participate in public life according to their moral, ethical, and religious convictions.”
  • “Colorado refuses to tolerate citizens who disagree with the state-sanctioned view of marriage” and “as the state uses its anti-discrimination laws to impose crippling penalties on entrepreneurs who refuse to set aside conscience and create visual artwork that violates the owners’ faith and conscience.”
  • “By demanding uniformity of thought, belief, speech, and action concerning the nature of marriage” and “by silencing one side of a hotly contested issue,” the state of Colorado “promotes intolerance, uniformity, exclusion, and inequality… The result is an unconscionable inequality were people who hold traditional marriage beliefs are excluded from owning a public business. All of this is anathema to the First Amendment.”
  • “But some deeply religious Americans, including some of amici’s members, cannot in good conscience assist with same-sex weddings. Now that the court has protected the liberty of same-sex couples, it is equally important to protect the religious liberty of these conscientious objectors.”
  • In an appendix to the brief, the LDS Church notes its “fairness to all” approach to resolving standoffs between religious freedom and LGBT rights: “Believing in basic fairness for all, the church has openly encouraged and participated in legislative efforts to secure essential rights for LGBT citizens while protecting religious freedom.”
  • As well, in the appendix, the LDS Church affirms that its doctrine holds that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” and that “it does not change church doctrine, teachings, practices or policies regarding marriage.”

Image result for lds marriageAlong with the LDS Church, other religious organizations that signed on to the brief are the Christian Legal Society, the Center for Public Justice, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, National Association of Evangelicals, Queens Federation of Churches, Rabbinical Council of America and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

According to the Deseret News, “Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief last week backing Phillips, saying it is not a public accommodations case. He called it a “compelled speech” case because the couple asked Phillips to use his talents to make a specialty cake to carry a message with which he disagrees.

“This isn’t a case in which someone refused to sell a pre-made good to someone else based on their sexuality or orientation,” the senator said. “The government cannot force you to speak where you choose to remain silent. It cannot make you make a statement with which you firmly, fundamentally disagree.” (link)

Of this case, Travis Weber, Esq., Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, said:

To understand the issue at the center of this case people first need to know that Jack Phillips, for over twenty years, happily served thousands without regard to their sexual orientation. Phillips gladly offered to make any other type of baked item for the customers in this case, but explained that he could not in good conscience make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony.

The Court should take this opportunity to settle the question of whether states can coerce people of faith into wedding-related practices with which they disagree. The answer to that question should be an obvious ‘no’ and we hope the Court makes this clear by strongly affirming that all Americans’ First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights are protected against such state coercion. (link)

Image result for supreme courtFriend-of-the-court briefs filed with U.S. Supreme Court on this case:

Jack’s story (a 3:27 minute clip)

 

Signs of the Times?

A full solar eclipse, massive wildfires in the West and Pacific Northwest, growing threats over North Korea, Hurricane Harvey, the largest solar flares in 12 years, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, a “strongest in a century” 8.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, 260 cluster earthquakes in Idaho, the genocide and crisis in Burma, rapid moral decline, religious freedom under strenuous attack, mobs of extreme groups marching in the streets, apostasy within our membership, false teachers and false teachings. The list goes on and on. Many of these signs and wonders have been happening all within a matter of days and weeks, while others have been on the steady incline and are nearing the tipping point.

We may rightly wonder if the God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to us through “the testimony of earthquakes … and the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds” (D&C 88).

It is surreal to know we are truly in the last days. In Nephite times preceding the coming of the Savior, 3 Nephi says that “the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet” while others had “great doubtings and disputations” “notwithstanding so many signs had been given.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we would do well to look earnestly for the signs of His coming as prophesied—both the “great and terrible.”

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Q&A with Young Mormon Mother Evacuated During Hurricane Harvey

Beth Green, a young mother from Spring, Texas, recently shared her story of evacuating during Hurricane Harvey with her husband and young children in tow. Here, she shares her faith, struggles and uncertainty in a very candid manner–all via text with Deseret News reporter Tad Walch.

The neighborly kindness shown to her family was reminiscent of a talk by President Henry B. Eyring titled “Opportunities to do Good“. He taught:

Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others. … Wherever you live, you have seen that miracle of sympathy turned to unselfish action. … We feel compassion, and we know how to act in the Lord’s way to help.

Beth likewise described how entire neighborhoods come together to help in times of disaster and flooding:

Image result for flood houstonEveryone in the neighborhood comes together to help. Sheridan says the only times you meet your neighbors are Halloween and natural disasters. We don’t know most of the people on our street except our uphill neighbors, who are amazing. But everyone came down the street to check on us and tell us we could come to their house if the water got deep.

Our downhill neighbor showed up on our porch yesterday afternoon with her cats when her house started to get water in. When we moved up to the uphill neighbors’, she came with us. The uphill neighbors fed us dinner and gave us beds. I couldn’t sleep because of the storm and my baby and neither could the downhill neighbor who had just lost her house. She took the baby from me and rocked him from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. so I could sleep a little.

I’ve only had like maybe three brief conversations with this woman before in my life.

With thoughts of the flood in Biblical times and the sign that God gave to His people on her mind, this mother shared her experience of evacuating on the Sabbath:

It suddenly occurred to me it was the Sabbath. No church and it hadn’t been a day of peace and rest but rather work and stress. But we had been checked on and helped by family and friends near and far and total strangers. It felt like a holy day. I got behind my TV cabinet to unplug all the cords and found a picture my daughter had drawn that must have fallen back their months ago. It was a rainbow. I don’t know what the next week or months hold for our little family, but I feel like that rainbow was telling me we are going to get through this. We are feeling lots of love right now and still hope.

Continue reading Beth’s story here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865687765/A-young-Mormon-moms-Harvey-evacuation-story-of-fear-sadness-and-neighborly-love.html

 

A Protected Class of Sin

Image result for rainbow flagEvery June, the LGBT community and its supporters engage in a month-long celebration of “Gay Pride Month”, filling social media with rainbow profile pictures, flying rainbow flags, and gay pride festivals and parades. Support for same-sex marriage is visible even with some of those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With its legalization in June 2015, like those in the Book of Mormon, we observed “that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws … which the Lord commanded … and they saw that their laws had become corrupted” (Helaman 4:22) and “this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions” (Alma 2:3).

Some members of the Church have also been “drawn away after the persuasions” of the world and support same-sex marriage. However, they may not fully recognize that their support for it inadvertently supports serious sexual sin. These relationships are (and always will be) incompatible with the doctrine and standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To this point, we may be asking ourselves, “So why is this particular sin supported by more members of the Church than any other type of sin? Is there any other sexual sin that’s supported like this one? What is it about this one that many seem to be so comfortable with supporting and affirming, but not others?” The answer to these questions is sobering: gay marriage has become a protected class of sin.

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Elder Holland: How to Distinguish Between the Sin and the Sinner

Image result for elder hollandWe are facing one of the most complex challenges of our generation: How do we stay firm and grounded in the doctrine and standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while simultaneously loving family members who are living lifestyles that include serious sexual sin? How do we lead with love and compassion while being loyal to the commandments, warning against sin and not condoning actions? How do we teach children and youth who are finding it increasingly difficult to discern sin and sinful behavior when their peers and the media say it is acceptable and in fact, very good? And, using Elder Holland’s words, “How do we distinguish between the sin and the sinner?” These concerns and questions are in the hearts and minds of many members of the Church right now. They are ones that prophets and apostles have answered time and again, but are so often misunderstood that they are in need of frequent repetition. Continue reading

General Relief Society President Speaks at the United Nations

In a powerful and inspiring event at the United Nations, Jean Bingham, General Relief Society President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined in a panel titled “Finding a New Home: The Role of Faith-based Organizations in Refugee Assistance and Resettlement.” This subject could not have been more important for this newly called General Relief Society Presidency, considering the plight of the world’s 23 million refugees and also noting that her first counselor, Sharon Eubank, is the Director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the church. Continue reading

Sustaining prophets and apostles publicly and privately (and why both matter)

Image result for sustaining lds.orgAs we head into General Conference weekend, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will publicly sustain prophets and apostles. We’ll hear the names of each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve apostles read. We’ll then have the sacred opportunity to both publicly raise our hand to show a sign of support and privately sustain them in our hearts. It’s one of my favorite moments of General Conference.

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Sister Dalton’s Rallying Call to Virtue for Latter-day Saint Women

Stand for virtue. Exemplify virtue. Change the world.

These words were highlighted in a recent fireside for Relief Society women in which Sister Elaine Dalton, former General President of the Young Women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke. In the fireside, she issued another call for a return to virtue, just as she has done for over 11 years:

“There has never been a time like this,” she said. “I’ve never seen the opposition be greater, but I’ve never seen the opportunities be greater, and as my husband and I sit up here looking out at you, there is so much hope because you really are the change-the-world generation. You’re the ones who will change the world.

“You are the ones who have been spoken of by prophets, seers and revelators all through the scriptures. You’re the ones who have been prophesied about. You are the ones who will lead the world and who will lead the women of the world because you are ‘different in happy ways,’” she said, referencing a quote by former LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball.

Sister Dalton told of a trip last month to New York City, where she and her husband found themselves driving through the city during the Women’s March.

“We were in a cab, and as I watched those women marching and yelling, and should I say, behaving anything but ladylike and using language that was very unbefitting of daughters of God,” Sister Dalton said. “As I watched all of that take place, my heart just sunk and I thought to myself, ‘What would happen if all those women were marching and calling to the world for a return to virtue?’”

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LDS Church files brief on transgender case with U.S. Supreme Court

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined with other major religions in filing a brief on the transgender case Glouchester County School Board vs. G.G. and Dierdre Grimm (full text may be found here). The major religions joining the Church in filing this brief include:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
National Association of Evangelicals
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
Christian Legal Society

Summary of the Argument

  • Interpreting “sex” to mean gender identity would generate conflicts with religious persons and institutions across a range of fronts. Major religious traditions—including those represented by amici—share the belief that a person’s identity as male or female is created by God and immutable. That belief is contradicted by the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a)
  • Our core beliefs and practical experience hold that gender is a given, consisting of attributes intrinsically connected with one’s birth sex—not an individual choice. We and other major religions agree that human beings are the creation of God; that He created them male and female; that to be male or female is an immutable characteristic; and that this characteristic carries certain attributes and responsibilities.
  • One thing is perfectly clear: sacred writings and official statements from several major religions—including those of amici—demonstrate remarkable unanimity on the origin and purpose of gender as immutable and divinely ordained.

     

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Infertility, Motherhood and Sister Oscarson’s Talk

Sister Oscarson’s talk in the General Women’s meeting, “Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion” sparked a lot of dialogue within the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The entire talk was full of powerful council, warnings and doctrine; yet the quote that seemed to garner the most amount of attention was this one:

Sister Oscarson is correct and I agree with her that motherhood is of utmost importance, despite the fact that I experience infertility. Yet, sadly, there are some who murmur whenever leaders proclaim the importance of the doctrine of motherhood and eternal marriage. I deeply empathize and mourn with those that mourn as they suffer through the grief of infertility, but I am unable to murmur with those that murmur against our Church leaders for boldly proclaiming Christ’s doctrine of motherhood and the family.

I truly understand what it is like to not have the “ideal” in the Church because I have never been able to have children. At times, it has been painful to be childless in a very family centered church. To some, it may seem a bit ironic that regardless of my personal circumstances, I have a deep and unshakable testimony of the doctrine of motherhood and the family. I can say that for me,  it came as a result of engaging in intense study and prayer. Through this process, I discovered that Christ’s Atonement heals and takes away deep pain in our hearts, and His power to replace heartache with hope, peace and joy is nothing short of miraculous. Continue reading