Category Archives: Religious Freedom

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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In response to serious religious freedom issues, the LDS Church announces a new web page

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According to a recent article in the Deseret News,  Tad Walch writes that “The LDS Church is developing a website to help Mormons understand society’s retreat from religion and provide practical help for talking with friends about the importance of religious freedom.” Though still under construction, the website will be a much-needed resource for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The page will include real-time examples, videos, and articles on issues facing people of religious belief. According to Michael Frandson, the head of the religious freedom working group in the Church Public Affairs Department, this site will provide “tools for our members to know how to negotiate the challenges that we increasingly face as we try to live our lives as people of faith in a public setting.” Continue reading

Muslims, Mormons, and Freedom

Untitled-2James Madison, author of the Constitution of the United States of America declared:

“Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and convection, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” (James Madison A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785)

With that same spirit, Joseph Smith taught the importance of religious freedom for all men of all faiths when he said:

“If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a Mormon, I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.” (Joseph Smith, 1843)

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Finding Joy and Peace In Troubled Times

portrait-family-hawaii-852140-galleryOver the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a real change in what people are posting on social media. There is a thoughtfulness that I’ve never seen before. Thought provoking questions and scenarios seem to be woven into everything I read. We all seem to have realized at the same time that there are serious things happening around us over which we have little or no control. We are seeing prophesy fulfilled.

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Mormons Will Continue to Stand for Religious Freedom: Faith, Family and Our God!

Mormons Religious FreedomMormons are known to be an exceptionally patriotic people. We hold a special belief about the founding of the United States and how it fits in with the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) was established upon the principle of Religious Freedom and each person’s God-given right to exercise it. We believe this country was prepared to be a unique land, even a promised land, which would enable it to be a place where the truth could be re-established in the last days and from here flourish throughout the world – and we still believe that!

In The Book of Mormon Lehi declared:

“But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 1:5)

Mormons love the principle of agency. The ability to choose according to one’s own conscience is vital to understanding what and how Mormons think. We genuinely revere the United States Constitution and believe it to be an inspired document.

“While LDS scripture reinforces the traditional Christian duty of “respect and deference” to civil laws and governments in general as “instituted of God for the benefit of man” (D&C 134:1, 6), Latter-day Saints attach special significance to the Constitution of the United States of America. They believe that the Lord “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80). The Prophet Joseph Smith once described himself as “the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth” (Hc 6:56-57). All of his successors as President of the Church have reaffirmed the doctrine of an inspired Constitution. This consistent endorsement is notable, for basic LDS teachings are far removed from the premises of American liberalism, and largely as a result of these differences, Latter-day Saints suffered considerable persecution before achieving an accommodation with mainstream America” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Ralph C. Hancock, Constitution of the United States of America (1992) Macmillan Publishing Company, quoted on LightPlanet.com).

It would be difficult to argue that there is any other place in the entire world, where the principle of freedom has been fought for, protected and maintained with such passion by its own – many of which have given their lives! Continue reading

Strength in Understanding the Signs of the Times

scripture-study-258662-wallpaperIn the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, there is much to learn and ponder. The chapter begins by talking about a beast that rises out of the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. The dragon, who is Satan, then gives power unto the beast. Interestingly enough, one of the heads of the beast has a wound that has been healed. All the world wonders at the beast and worships Satan and the Beast. In verses six and seven, still speaking about the beast with the wounded head, it says:

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Another beast then comes that has great power. In verse 14, it says of the second beast,

14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

The beast with the wounded head is able to get the whole world to worship him. The end of the chapter describes what happens once the world worships the beast:

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

In short, unless the people of the world receive a mark in their hands or foreheads, they may not buy or sell. The mark in their hands or foreheads can be interpreted as people’s thoughts and deeds. Knowing that we are in the last days, how then does this relate to us?

file4601279829740Today, the United States of America and much of the whole world seems to be at a tipping point that relates very well to these scriptures. There’s a powerful political lobby that has infiltrated every part of our society and spread quickly across the world. It began on the coasts, in Manhattan, N.Y., in an incidence known as Stonewall and has spread its influence throughout the world. Today, if a person or business is not willing to go along with the demands of a powerfully orchestrated group, they may be refused employment, fired, sued, and stripped of their livelihood.  As time goes on, it has become pretty clear that this will get much worse. Continue reading

The Faithful Use of Agency

Apr2015GCBednar2Just a few weeks ago in General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales reminded the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that their very ability to use their God-given agency depended upon religious freedom. He said:

“As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom.”

“My beloved brothers and sisters,” he continued, “don’t walk! Run! Run to receive the blessings of agency by following the Holy Ghost and exercising the freedoms God has given us to do His will.”1

Today in the United States many feel concern about the erosion of religious freedom. Religious Freedom is being attacked on many fronts: public prayer, public religious displays, the removal of religion from public schools, and laws forcing business owners as wells as public servants such as doctors and lawyers to work for things that go against their closely held religious beliefs. This could be anything from forcing a doctor to provide an abortion to forcing a photographer to photograph a gay wedding.

In this article, I am going to focus on the newer infringements on religious freedom due to the legalization of same sex marriage. Continue reading

We Believe in Religious Freedom

images (1)Jeffrey R Holland proclaimed: “I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny.  That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make.”

One Christian woman, not of our faith, has made her understanding of heavenly truth “fundamental to every decision.”

Two years ago, Barronelle Stutzman, the sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington denied a request to use her artistic talents to solemnize a same sex marriage. Over the years, Stutzman had employed and served members of the homosexual community, but she felt like being a fundamental part of a gay wedding went against her religious, biblical, and Christian beliefs and could not in good conscience be a part of it. She referred the customers to another florist. Continue reading