LDS & Public Square

June 8, 2010 | 250 comments
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 OK, now that we’ve basically cleared up any confusion surrounding the ontological status of agency and atonement, let me see what you think about something a little more… political.

For many years friends and I had considered the possibility of some kind of political-philosophy oriented educational foundation that would try to help religious people, and LDS in particular, to navigate the world of ideas as these concern politics, broadly understood.   What finally got some of us off the dime with this concern was the controversy surrounding the Church’s efforts in favor of Prop 8 in California.

Let me first satisfy your curiosity, if you have any, by stating simply that I favored and I favor the proposition, as well as the LDS Church’s efforts on its behalf.  This has been much discussed, and we can discuss it more if you like.  But maybe it will be useful to go back behind (or above, or beneath) this particular issue to some questions about religious convictions in the public square. 

Here is what I found in conversations with many young and smart LDS (BYU students and others) during or in the wake of the Prop 8 business:  many were convinced (on religious and/or other grounds) that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexual “marriage” is not a good idea, and that it would be better if homosexual practices were not further encouraged/legitimized.  But a good number, maybe most I talked to, also were very uncomfortable with the Church’s taking a public position and playing an active role in political issues surrounding homosexuality.   “I believe the homosexual lifestyle is wrong, but it’s also wrong for me to impose my values” is one typical response I heard.  Another is: “I believe it’s wrong, but how does it affect me, my marriage, my family, or my religion, finally, if Jack and Joe, two harmless fellows I know, get married and live down the street, minding their own business?”

I believe these responses reflect a great and perilous political naïveté.   They are based upon a very late-liberal view of politics, in fact a de-politicized view of politics, one that assumes a simplistic dichotomy between the public and private, and simply takes for granted the space of public ideas and opinions in which religious liberty is defined and redefined, as if individual rights were unproblematic facts of nature and not the perpetually re-negotiated stakes of political debate and conflict.  Some friends and I (3 Mormons and 2 Catholics; 3 professors and 2 lawyers) formed the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs about a year ago to raise awareness among LDS and other religious believers and their friends concerning the inevitable moral stakes of political re-definitions of “rights.”

Rights are obviously never absolute; they are necessarily limited by some shared, authoritative priorities, some implicit understanding of “the good.”  The recognition of new “rights” always reflects a shift in this background understanding of the good, and thus always involves some trade-offs.  The expansion of one kind of rights always involves a shifting understanding of the good, and thus the restricting of other kinds of rights.  For example:  the civil rights laws of the 1960s that (rightly, in my view) made it illegal to deny public accommodations on the basis of race, while, obviously (and again, rightly, in my view), adding a restriction to certain property rights.

Returning to the more contemporary issue:  a number of anti-Prop 8 activists considered the majoritarian victory of Prop 8 as illegitimate, since the “discrimination” involved in the heterosexual understanding of marriage could, on their view, be explained only as sheer “bigotry.”  Now, the opinions of “bigots” are precisely those that do not deserve protection as “rights.”  In the long run, the victory of the homosexual-rights faction would be incompatible with the religious freedom of those who oppose such rights – the freedom, for example, to teach one’s children that homosexuality is wrong and not conducive to ultimate happiness, or to run a private university in which the practice of homosexuality is grounds for dismissing a student or an employee.  

The public space in which American religious freedom has operated, a space defined by implicit dominant assumptions concerning “the good,” has happily been quite wide by any historical standards, open to considerable diversity.  But every such space has limits, implicit boundaries that are always being re-negotiated.  To imagine the public sphere can be morally neutral is simply to abandon the definition of the moral grounds of rights to activists who are confident that morality (such as the morality of unlimited individual self-expression) is on their side.

But what do you think?  Again, you may exercise your right to agree or disagree with me on the particular, substantive issue of a “right” to homosexual “marriage.”  But I would be particularly interested in responses to the second-order thesis I have stated here: that the defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.

250 Responses to LDS & Public Square

  1. Mark Brown on June 9, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I think you are correct in your observation that what we call a right is continually being re-negotiated and re-defined. A weakness of many slippery slope arguments is the failure to recognize that everything is always on a slippery slope. So I think you undermine your own case somewhat when you say “In the long run ____________ is incompatible with religious freedom.” In the long run, just about everything is incompatible with religious freedom, e.g. freedom of the press (pornography), the right to engage in commerce (Sunday closing laws, the right to sell alcohol), etc. In the long run, we’re all dead.

    I will also not that there are plenty of LDS people who oppose the limited guarantee of rights of homosexual people that has been proposed by the SLC city council and which has been explicitly endorsed by Elder Holland. They use the same argument you are applying here, that granting housing rights or employment rights to homosexuals means that the religious rights of a landlord or employer who disapproves of homosexuality on have now been infringed. That supports your point that all rights involve trade-offs, but it also shows how the invocation of the long run argument doesn’t get us anywhere.

  2. Mike D. on June 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

    An additional consideration that informs my thoughts on this (and similar issue) is a question of the nature of the right in question. Certain things that we term rights are those granted by our creator and others are merely granted by government. While individuals may have differences in where to draw the lines between the two groups, whether a government chooses to recognize a marriage, regardless of its form, does not appear to me to be a God given right. As such, I am inclined to let the democratic process hold sway.

    That is not to say that I don’t believe that we should leave the public square. You have given voice to many of the reasons why LDS members and institutions should and did weigh in on the gay marriage debate, but to include such a right in the same bundle as speech, association, religion and other matters of conscience does a disservice to such rights.

    I am reminded of a time on my mission in which my companion and I were invited to an RLDS service which was attended by (in addition to ourselves) five men and six women. While the service was breaking up, one of the men came up to us and said “isn’t it great that everyone here except my wife holds the priesthood?” My companion, as we walked home, was incensed by this apparent sacrilege. My response was a bit different, “it’s their priesthood, let them do what they want.”

    Were I not part of the a part of the public associated with the proverbial square in question, I would likely have the same reaction. But, as this stuff is at my door, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to participate as much as the next guy.

  3. chris on June 9, 2010 at 3:48 am

    I agree with your premise, but since you’ve already said that rights are not inalienable, you’re standing on a foundation of sand. I’m not saying I have a better solution to dealing with civil rights laws vs. property rights. And if I have to pick, I’d suggest property rights should give way to allowing a person to eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel, regardless of color.

    But why then do you get to suppose that your right to discriminate in a private unversity is more important than their gender/sexual rights? Once you’ve already declared and supported the public intent to advance the cause of some rights at the expensive of others you have no better foundation to stand on than, “I prefer X to Y, and you prefer Y to X”.

    Civil rights of course had 400 years of slavery, which created real burdens that needed correction. But can a unmarried man claim no less? It’s tricky thing to try to navigate through.

  4. chris on June 9, 2010 at 3:49 am

    correction above: “unmarried man” to “unmarried gay man”

  5. Tim on June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Perhaps the church’s efforts would be better spent strengthening the freedom of religion in the US rather than keeping the definition of marriage the same. The loss of freedom of religion could hurt us on many fronts (including, possibly, the gay marriage front), and thus is potentially much more harmful to our cause.

    Unfortunately, strengthening the First Amendment rights to religion would require a backlash against the current Republicans on the Supreme Court (see Employment Division v. Smith). Not sure if most members of the church in the US would be up for that…

  6. Peter LLC on June 9, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I believe these responses reflect a great and perilous political naïveté.

    If that’s true of the “smart LDS,” what of the unwashed masses?

  7. Dan on June 9, 2010 at 7:01 am

    But I would be particularly interested in responses to the second-order thesis I have stated here: that the defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.

    I do not believe there is a morally neutral settlement anywhere. I believe there are competing moral positions, including the “i don’t care” position, which is the one I took with regard to Prop 8.

  8. Dan on June 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Tim,

    The loss of freedom of religion could hurt us on many fronts (including, possibly, the gay marriage front), and thus is potentially much more harmful to our cause.

    What loss of freedom of religion?

  9. Tim on June 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Dan #8,
    For example, the loss of freedom to do any number of religious acts that are against the law when those acts aren’t particularly harmful to others. Employment Division v. Smith involved a Native American religious ceremony involving peyote. A rather silly drug law (against peyote) trumped the First Amendment right to religious freedom.

    I’m not saying the LDS church has suffered a loss of religious freedom at this point, nor am I saying that I believe that we will suffer such a loss in the near future. But we have in the past (polygamy), and I think there’s a good possibility we may in the future unless the First Amendment right to freedom of religion is upheld more strongly than it has been in the recent past.

  10. Bob on June 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I feel Mormons guys/gals should be in the Public Sq. with others. But I don’t think the Church should be there. I think the Church should convey it’s core values to it’s members over it’s pulpit, and stop there.

  11. Stephanie on June 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

    After reading this, I remain convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have any ground to stand on other than their own opinion. I surmise, in part, it’s because of the Proclamation on the Family. The LDS people tend to uphold this piece as extremely sacred and somehow it’s become a trigger point for gay marriage–a hill to die on, for them.

    What you call political naivete is actually just people exercising their own common sense. Gay people are married in some states and in other countries, and these students have the intellectual honesty to admit that their lives haven’t been altered in any way.

    One argument I have heard is that if gay marriage becomes legal, the LDS will lose its non-profit status if they refuse to perform gay marriages. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? As far as I know, nothing like that has been written into any proposition to become law. I understand it to be a fear-instilling tactic by the church. (BTW, I guess I don’t understand the implications of losing a non-profit status, but it doesn’t sound like it would change the lives of LDS people in the least.)

    My family members also take umbrage at the fact that–gasp–gay marriage could be taught in schools! Okay, so let’s explore that. You have a school telling your child that there are men who marry men and women who marry women? Big deal. Unless they’re holding betrothement ceremonies among same sexes, the fact that it’s “taught” in schools means little.

    Fortunately for the people who share the same views as me, it appears as if the LDS church is fighting a losing battle. And I’ll bet you a cool million that not one LDS life will change for the worse once it’s legalized.

  12. Persecuted Mormon on June 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Your second-order thesis that the “expansion” (if you want to call it that) of substantive rights is rarely politically neutral is kind of a given. Of course other people will be affected. They might have to hear that some people are gay and that some of those people get married! Oh the insanity!

    But you have made absolutely no case that the expansion of rights in this case will affect free exercise rights to any significant degree. Heck, there is no case that the expansion of rights in this case will affect free exercise rights at all.

  13. bryanp on June 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

    To give you a background of my self, for years I struggled as a republican/conservative and came to my senses and am now libertarian. By the way, yes even before Glenn Beck go the idea. As a church member being libertarian doesn’t sit well with knee jerk reaction members who spend little time to think things out. Forgive me but it’s true.

    First, when we use government as a method to regulate any group that you disagree with, we then stand the danger, of later down the road, a group that opposes us and will use the same government to to regulate us.

    I personally believe that homosexuality is not right, unhealthy and counter to the plan of happiness, but to use the government to regulate I believe is a great wrong. I personally feel that the whole idea of marriage licensing is wrong.

    I think we need to step back into history and ask, when did government get into the business of regulating marriage and why. If you ask me, “the state” really has no business licensing marriage. Therefore to me, gay marriage is a none issue because marriage should not be the governments business.

    Part of the reasons for the marriage license was an attempt in the mid 1800s to prevent interracial marriages from occurring. Today we find this appalling. We grow up with this idea that our government has the inherent right to regulate our lives by licenses and taxes. Again, you pay for your license therefore the government gets revenue.

    For a balanced view on what libertarian views are, go to CATO.org.

  14. Stephanie on June 9, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Just wanted to point out that Stephanie in comment 11 is different from the Stephanie who regularly comments and is a contributor at FMH (me).

  15. Kristine on June 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I think I’m generally as far out of the Mormon political mainstream as it is possible to be and still be swimming along at all, but I agree that the church should be engaged in arguing for its principles in the public square. The 20th-century move towards political disengagement among American mainline Protestant churches is a terrible abnegation of their duty, one in which our church has, unfortunately, also participated. The problem is not that the church gets too involved in politics, but that it doesn’t get involved enough–the narrowing definition of “moral” issues to those that involve sex has meant that the church is largely silent on issues of war and peace, economic inequality, the right to a real education for children, immoral advertising, the tax on the poor through state lotteries, etc. We of all people ought to recognize that being anxiously engaged in improving the temporal welfare of our neighbors and our country is a spiritual duty, and part and parcel of “pure religion and undefiled,” which is explicitly defined as not only remaining unspotted from the world, but visiting the fatherless and widowed.

  16. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Kristine,

    “the tax on the poor through state lotteries”

    This is one area that the church has been active, though maybe not as much in recent years.

  17. Kristine on June 9, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Yeah, I’ve seen work against racetracks and pari-mutuel betting, but not lotteries. Mitt Romney lost my vote (or at least the possibility of it) when asked in a debate about bringing casinos to Massachusetts and he weaseled out of the question by saying he’d want to “look at the numbers” before making a decision. ugh.

  18. Bob on June 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

    #13: “…“the state” really has no business licensing marriage”.
    I think if the State stays out of legal licensing of marriage, it would have to stay out of the ending of marriages(??) By that time, there are issues of kids and property.

  19. Adam Greenwood on June 9, 2010 at 10:23 am

    The one substantive area where there is a right that isn’t matched to the public’s view of morality is abortion. A lot more people will say that there should be a right to abortion than will actually favor abortion. But as the public’s moral disapproval of abortion has increased, so has public sentiment that abortion is not a right, so abortion may be the ‘exception that proves the rule.’

    Adultery is another example where we have a right to practice adultery in practice while the public largely disapproves of it. But I wonder if that disapproval is mostly ostensible. Adultery is still technically illegal in lots of places, but as it has become more socially acceptable it has become tacitly legal and it seems to have become even more widespread and socially acceptable as a rule.

    Divorce is probably the lodestar to prove your point.

    —–

    “a church member being libertarian doesn’t sit well with knee jerk reaction members who spend little time to think things out.”

    It is possible that Ralph Hancock’s knee-jerk reactions have been informed by a little time spent to think things out. Just saying.

  20. Adam Greenwood on June 9, 2010 at 10:26 am

    “Yeah, I’ve seen work against racetracks and pari-mutuel betting, but not lotteries”

    The church was heavily involved along with various evangelical groups in the fight against the New Mexico lottery. We lost. Massively. The lottery was for the ‘children.’

    We don’t really fight for lottery overturn here now because we have as much chance of success as we would fighting for prohibition.

  21. Kristine on June 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Adam, out of curiosity–what year was that?

  22. Geoff-Australia on June 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I agree with Kristine 15 questioning what how it is determined what are moral values. In US, and the Church, this seems to be determined by Republican thought not Christs teachings.

    I would add to your list that in much of the developed world supporting family values is a positive idea, reduced working hours, increased annual leave, a living wage, paid maternity leave, urban planning to allow village living, in contrast to large cities, and encouraging acceptance of diversity. The negative/ conservative? view is that supporting family values involves imposing your views on others, who don’t hold those views.

    One of the problems here is whether homosexuality is a choice or a condition. Like choosing to drink alcohol or having a white/black skin. There is no question in most of the world that it is a condition, people are created this way (by God) they do not choose it. If you accept this view, then you accept that a certain percentage of the population are gay, (a larger % than are LDS) it is not catching, so if your children are hetrosexual they can not be converted, but if they are homosexual they are equally acceptable, and equally can’t be converted.

    Now to the question of how agency applies? If it is a choice then perhaps you have a right to legislate against it if in some way it is harmful to those who do not practice it, which as stated would be difficult to show. Some of the most creative, capable, and good people, are homosexual. Would having a gay couple living next door really deminish, in some way, your marriage (only if you make an issue of it). I have a Daughter, she has one husband and 3 sons and male homosexual neighbours. No problem they are just like real people outside the bedroom. (that is intended to be humorous not offensive) If homosexuals are created by God (like white skin) and you feel your agency is threatened by their presence I think you don’t have many legs to stand on. You might feel equally threatened by a person with a different coloured skin.

    It was at one time acceptable to make laws against different coloured skins (in Australia we had a white Australia policy) and I think it is equally difficult to defend a law against people living a full life including being able to marry, based on their sexual identity. Practically is it better to have people, of any sexual identity, in stable monogomous relationships, or individual and promiscuous. Family values?

  23. Geoff-Australia on June 9, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Sorry about that first line. drop the first what. I would add that my wife and I were in California during the prop 8 exercise and it was not a pretty sight. We had a fifth Sunday meeting which was mostly a slippery slope gay bashing exercise.

    We are still struggling with our testimony of the Church although we are happy with the Gospel. I make an effort to make it clear we are not conservative members, so as not to be associated with such behaviour. Interestingly all the conservative members I’ve spoken to here are also offended by such behaviour, partly because it is accepted here, and in most of the developed world, that homosexuality is a condition, not a choice. Why would you choose it, unless it is a condition?

  24. Grant Morgan on June 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Your argument doesn’t work if you consider rights only from a legal standpoint. For instance, there are numerous laws in place to protect the rights of minorities, and there have been for decades. But this in no way abridges a parent’s right to teach his children that Mexicans are lazy, or that Jews are greedy, or that Mormons have horns and worship the devil. And it hasn’t legally prevented churches from continuing various racist policies. The Mormon church continued official discrimination against blacks until 1978. Does Bob Jones University still prohibit interracial marriage? If not, this was only a recent change.

    So, from a legal standpoint, adding to the rights of blacks and other minorities did not take away the rights of parents and churches to be as bigotted as they chose.

    However, when society as a whole decided that blacks should have the same rights as whites, it became much less comfortable for a bigot to continue to hold and express his racist views.

    Just the other day, the following scene played out at a dinner at my parents’ house:

    SIL: Grandmother, how long have you been staying with Bob and Amy?

    GM: I don’t STAY with them. I LIVE with them. Black people STAY.

    SIL: Ha, ha. Girls, Grandmother’s from another generation. And from the South.

    GM : That’s right. Grandmother’s old and from the South.

    My grandmother was quite put out that her racist statement was met with shock and disapproval. Perhaps she even felt that she no longer had the right to express herself as she chose. But it is only social expectation that has changed over the last few decades. Certainly my grandmother had every legal right to say what she did. She just doesn’t have the right to say it and have everyone agree and approve.

    But she never had that right. No one ever does, or ever has.

    Likewise, if gay marriage were allowed–even if the entirety of the nebulous “gay agenda” were passed–people would still have the legal right to teach their children to hate gays. Churches would have the legal right to discriminate against gays.

    But there would certainly be increasing social pressure to drop those behaviors. Much like BYU and the church felt increasing pressure to change their policies with regards to blacks in the 1970s, they would undoubtedly feel pressure to change their policies with regards to gays in the decade or so after national gay marriage became legal.

    People and private organizations have the right to hold whatever beliefs they choose. But they don’t have the right to make society approve of those beliefs. Such a right has never existed.

  25. SW Clark on June 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I think one of the beauties of religion is moral principle are not inherently determinative of policy prescriptions. Religion can (and has) been used to justify almost any policy in any civilization, including opposite sides of the same debate.

    Morally, I don’t like drinking alcohol, but I certainly think that President Grant was wrong to side with the mafia in encouraging the continuation of Prohibition. Just because we don’t like something doesn’t mean the best policy is to make it illegal. Not to mention the fact that from nation to nation the issues vary so much that it’s ridiculous to think that the Church really can or should interject on a particular side. They should teach principles and let the members decide how to apply them.

    As many have stated, rights can be in conflict. What the OP omitted was the right of equal protection, which is the strongest basis for civil same-sex marriage and one reason why I support it. No one has an inherent right to have their marriage civilly recognized, but since the state has chosen to do so, it must apply that right fairly. The fact that the Church has made “legally and lawfully wedded” a standard for chastity is, I think, a foolish proposition because it somehow links morality to a civil function, rather than a religious or even a personal commitment one.

    I baptized a man in France who said he and his wife had been married in a traditional tribal ceremony in Africa, but that hadn’t ever been legally sanctioned. We weren’t about to call him immoral. The US used to police many forms of morality and (rightfully) it doesn’t anymore. We’re fine with eliminating the criminality of homosexuality or infidelity, but we seem to cling to legal marriage for lack of a better internal regulatory mechanism for boundary maintenance.

    Like “rights”, morals can also be in conflict. Reshaping one certainly affects the other, and they often move in tandem (though one or the other may lag). The beauty of the early legal civil rights victories is that it helped hasten the unacceptability of racism. We live in a beautifully pluralistic society, and so I certainly take issue with your characterization of people refusing to “impose” their morals as naive: rather, I consider the failure to recognize conflicting morals in our society and the belief that law can or should favor one group’s morals over another when there is indeed no demonstrable societal interest to be what is truly naive.

  26. Russell Arben Fox on June 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

    “The problem is not that the church gets too involved in politics, but that it doesn’t get involved enough.”

    Exactly right, Kristine. (And incidentally, the New Mexico lottery battle was back in the mid-90s–1996, I think, is when it went state-wide.)

  27. Dan on June 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

    bryanp,

    #13,

    Just to clarify, Glenn Beck may be many things, but he’s no libertarian.

  28. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Just curious if the graphic I’ve embedded here will actually display. If not, I’ll replace with some trenchant analysis of Ralph’s post.

  29. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Oh my. That obviously didn’t work. Oh well. In the meantime, the graphic can be viewed here.

  30. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    In the meantime, while I’m busy coming up with a coherent comment, I’d simply remark that comments #6 and #26, considered together, are my takeaway so far.

    What of the unwashed masses? What if the problem is not that the church is too involved in politics, but rather that it’s never been involved enough?

    Is that by design? In any case, I need to read J. Quin Monson’s “Dry Kindling” again before weighing in (“Dry Kindling” being both the title of Quin’s paper as well as the term he coined for describing the rarely-but-easily-sparked political power of the unwashed LDS rank-and-file).

  31. Adam Greenwood on June 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    You can only burn dry kindling once.

  32. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Here, I’ll make it easy for you, Adam:

    Dry Kindling: A Political Profile of American Mormons

    http://www.echols.info/dry%20kindling.pdf

  33. Brad Dennis on June 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Ralph, I have been reading your posts and would like to say that you are a welcome introduction to T&S.

    I am not quite sure that I understood your post. You claim that the LDS church made the right move to support prop 8 based on the notion: “that the defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.” Are suggesting that multiple dominant substantive moralities cannot ultimately coexist? Also do you mean ‘rights’ in terms of what the state enforces, or ‘rights’ in terms of what different societies believe these should be? If you are leaning more towards the former, then (using the case of prop 8) couldn’t the state protect the right of gays to marry and the right of private religious organizations to refuse to marry same-sex partners, or to exclude practicing gays from their universities (at least on grounds of violating the law of chastity)?

    I also get the sense that you are assuming the LDS church to have been motivated primarily by its doctrinal beliefs to get involved in prop 8. But you don’t seem to factor in what strategic interests the church leaders may have had in becoming involved. I strongly believe that doctrinal beliefs were secondary as a motivating factor behind the church’s involvement. I believe that the leaders saw prop 8 as a chance to improve its ties with other churches and to attract a greater number of conservative-minded Americans to join. In essence support for prop 8 was not so much about a question of ‘rights’ and defending traditional marriage, but a good opportunity to promote itself, especially in the wake of falling conversion rates.

    As for my reason of not supporting the church’s involvement in prop 8, it is simple. They should not involve themselves in politically divisive issues (even among its members) and in losing battles. Sure, Utah probably won’t legalize gay marriage too soon, but I think that it could be correctly predicted that an increasing number of states, including California, will legalize gay marriage in the next couple of decades. I don’t quite like the church’s involvement at all in the public sphere, but I would have preferred that it had supported civil unions (like Jon Huntsman) as a happy medium. That way it seems that there would be less of a ‘threat’ of potential lawsuits and other legal matters over the church’s refusal to marry gays.

  34. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Creating new “rights” is not a no-cost exercise. Some years ago, when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, an informal (not university sponsored) contest was held at UC Berkeley for a memorial activity to commemorate the Free Speech Movement. The winning proposal was to define a circle out on the plaza in front of the library and delcare that the interior of the circle was free from all regulation by government, local, state or federal. Students and faculty could stand in that circle and say (or presumably do) anything they wished in perfect freedom.

    It struck me at the time that this “free zone” would be a perfect place for someone to drop a 55-gallon drum of toxic waste.

    Defining the zone of “free speech” is a constant issue, and it depends ultimately on what the society we live and work in is willing to tolerate as consistent with a basic moral sense. Do we allow:

    (1) Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater? (Classic example of harmiing others with speech.)
    (2) False and defamatory statements about another person? (With various limits, still considered a basis for civil damages and an injunction.)
    (3) Derogation of one’s political opponents? (Generally protected speech, but up until a recent Supreme Court decision, it was illegal if done (a) by a non-profit corporation (b) within two months of the election.)
    (4) Obscene language? (Hard to get courts to accept anything as “obscene”–though they would hold you in contempt of court if you did it in front of the judge and jury.)
    (5) Religious preaching? (All sorts of attempts to use time-and-place restrictions to limit religious speech, and clearly the gist of atheist complaints about Ten Commandments monuments and the Pledge of Allegiance is that they should be protected from seeing or hearing such words of religious persuasion.)
    (6) Religious based denunciation of others for committing sin? (This was an activity that was often punished by the authorities in ancient Jerusalem, with alleged violators includeing men like Jeremiah and Lehi. In modern Canada, various local human Rights Commissions have punished religious pastors for preaching the bible’s condemnation of homosexual acts.)
    (7) Soliciting engagement in sexual activities (e.g. pimping)?
    (8) Soliciting engaging in other illegal activities (e.g. drug purchases)?
    (9) Playing a tape recording of a conversation with a person who was soliciting for commission of a crime? (This was charged as a acroime in Maryland against Linda Tripp for recording conversations with Monica Lewinsky, who was seeking Tripp’s cooperation in lying to investigators.)
    (10) Criticizing the advocates of “global warming” as distorting science? (Al Gore has announced that “the debate is over”, and dissenters are censored by Nature, Science, Scientific American, and other publications.)
    (11) Criticizing the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis theory of Natural Selection? (An employee at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was disciplined for doing this.)
    (12) Refusing to take employment as a “wedding photographer” for a Lesbian “commitment ceremony” in New Mexico, where gay marriage is not legal? (The photographer was found guilty of illegal discrimination and fined.)

    Where we draw the boundaries of Free Speech, and Free Religion, depends a great deal on our own basic beliefs about what is moral and immoral, just and unjust.

    On the specific topic of homosexual behavior in conflict with traditional Christian morality, the conflict is highlighted in the plans by the Obama Adminstration and the Democractic Party to give open homosexual behavior protected status in the armed forces. In the military, “what is not expressly permitted is prohibited.” If the President and Congress promulgate a policy that homosexual behavior is to be officially accepted as consistent with military standards of behavior, what will the Armed Forces do with chaplains who literally represent the religious affiliations of the members of the armed forces, when they preach sermons or teach Sunday School lessons that denounce homosexual behavior is a sin in the eyes of God? Are they allowed to say that in military chapels that belong to the government? To put it in church newsletters that are reproduced on government-owned xerox machines? In reaction to pro-gay statements by commanders, and the Commander-in-Chief, thus constituting insubordination and solicitation to military members to commit insubordination and disobey military orders?

    It is clear that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Unless government draws explicit lines that protect religious conscience even when it opposes and criticizes homosexual behavior, the adoption by government of a pro-gay “moral code” will inevitably lead to punishment against religious speech and behavior.

  35. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Bred Dennis: “I would have preferred that [the Church] had supported civil unions (like Jon Huntsman) as a happy medium.”

    Perhaps you are unaware that civil unions was already well established by legislative action in California, but that the 4 out of 7 majority of the California Supreme court decided such a “happy medium” could not be tolerated and ruled that, despite a previous state referendum that had prohibited using the designation of “marriage” for homosexual unions, the will of the majority could be thwarted, resulting in the ruling that necessitated action by citizens via Proposition 8 to restore the status quo ante: “civil unions” for homosexuals (with essentially all the legal rights of married couples), but “marriage” for heterosexuals. The church did not get involved in any political effort to repeal the various “civil unions” provisions in the law, only to hold the one thin line that distinguishes them from marriage. And let us not forget, the majority of voters in California agreed with the very small minority of Mormons.

  36. Brad Dennis on June 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Raymond (#34)

    You have the right to express your disagreement with the global warming theory and Darwinism and preach religion. You won’t be prosecuted for this.

    Furthermore you suggest that the government does not protect religious conscience. I was under the impression that it already did, and to a very great extent. I mean security is provided for neo-Nazi and white-supremacist rallies, and I would rather drop the nuclear waste on them.

  37. Kristine on June 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Raymond, military chaplains already have to cope with the difficulty of preaching about the Prince of Peace to soldiers. The dilemma you suggest seems like small potatoes.

  38. Buck on June 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    That “political naïveté” is especially painful to those of us who came of age during the 60s and early 70s when politics and social issues were often the motivations for getting out of bed in the morning. But I think the naïveté is of a different nature in the LDS community. Because the Church teaches that the prophet will never lead us astray, the bulk of the members surrender their thinking on social and political issues to SLC. We watched the blacks/priesthood issue, when LDS public opinion turned from “that’s the way God wants it” to “THIS is the way God wants it” within 5 minutes. The same happened when the Church made clear its stand on the MX missile system, effectively killing the system nationwide. In LDS communities, campaigning that you were a stake president is common and automatically qualifies you to hold public office. I lived in Utah for 16 years—spanning both the above decisions—and the surrender to authority was frightening.

    The Prop. 8 LDS vote was framed as a sustaining vote for the First Presidency as well as local leaders. Not supporting it had little to do with politics. My brother, who is over 50 years old and certainly has never contributed to any campaign of any kind in his life (assuming he has ever voted), and who has been supportive of me and my Canadian same-sex marriage for years, contributed $1,500 to the Prop. 8 effort. Another family member who has married children on food stamps contributed $2,500. This isn’t about religious freedoms or political naïveté. It is a show of strength of Church headquarters. The fact that they have managed to paint the Church as victims of religious persecution is astounding and a testament to their power.

    It is easy for those who favor Prop. 8 to see it as a victory for religious freedom. That view is certainly naïve. The victory was neither. It was all about money, influence, and fear. The lies that carried the day are still justified because of the eventual victory of “righteousness.” The cost to actual families and individuals was, apparently, inconsequential to them. To us, however, the cost was incalculable.

  39. Brad Kramer on June 9, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Kristine, FTW.

  40. Brad Dennis on June 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Raymond (#35)

    Yes I am aware that California did legalize domestic partnerships. However, my point was that I do not believe that the church should get involved in the public sphere in regards to gay marriage, and that if it must take a public stand at all on this issue, that it would be best for it too express tolerance for civil unions, which it has not done verbally.

  41. Adam Greenwood on June 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    “should not involve themselves in politically divisive issues (even among its members) and in losing battles. Sure, Utah probably won’t legalize gay marriage too soon, but I think that it could be correctly predicted that an increasing number of states, including California, will legalize gay marriage in the next couple of decades. I don’t quite like the church’s involvement at all in the public sphere, but I would have preferred that it had supported civil unions (like Jon Huntsman) as a happy medium.”

    This is typical. In my experience, people often support rights either where they themselves benefit or else they feel that their opposition is a losing one, so they might as well go along.

  42. Buck on June 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    The religious freedom argument is a red herring on the Prop. 8 issue. Whatever color of lipstick you put on this pig, it is still about the Church not approving of gay people because they have no doctrinal explanation for us and no place for us in the Church family.

    The trend in the free world is toward marriage equality, so the Church will eventually have to deal with it. I suspect that the results in the various states will be the same as they are in Spain, Sweden, Norway, Iowa, Denmark, Belgium, Massachusetts, The Netherlands, South Africa, Canada and other places where there is marriage equality and LDS temples. The Church will never be forced to perform temple marriages for anyone they don’t want to. Just as with blacks and the priesthood, when the Church is outnumbered and the issue is hurting them, they will back down. By then, the Brethren will have a doctrinal explanation and ways of accommodation.

  43. bryanp on June 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Dan #27

    Your comment on Glenn Beck not being a libertarian is right on the mark. I’ve heard him at times refer to himself as one and I just shake my head thinking, please Glenn, don’t do that.

  44. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    “It is possible that Ralph Hancock’s knee-jerk reactions have been informed by a little time spent to think things out. Just saying.”

    Nope, that is not possible.

  45. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    “It is clear that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    Raymond…invoking the slavery over this issue is low…even for you.

    Federalism allows for diversity on these type of issues for good reason.

  46. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “This isn’t about religious freedoms or political naïveté.”

    “It is easy for those who favor Prop. 8 to see it as a victory for religious freedom. That view is certainly naïve.”

    Buck,

    I am really good at these things, but you are confusing me.

  47. Bob on June 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    #27,#43: Don’t libertarians feel all have the freedom to call themselves libertarians?

  48. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Bob,

    That would make them postmoderns.

  49. Kenny on June 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I agree with the article in paragraphs 4 and 5 where it says:

    “But a good number, maybe most I talked to, also were very uncomfortable with the Church’s taking a public position and playing an active role in political issues surrounding homosexuality. “I believe the homosexual lifestyle is wrong, but it’s also wrong for me to impose my values” is one typical response I heard. Another is: “I believe it’s wrong, but how does it affect me, my marriage, my family, or my religion, finally, if Jack and Joe, two harmless fellows I know, get married and live down the street, minding their own business?”
    I believe these responses reflect a great and perilous political naïveté.”

    Is it really wrong for us to impose our values? ever? Abinadi imposed his. So did Nephi, and Moses, and Joseph Smith… and Jesus Christ our Savior. The whole point in living in a democracy with the freedom of speech, petition, and religion is so that we CAN impose our values. The whole point of having free agency is so that we CAN stand for our beliefs. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…” (Galatians 5:1). “And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves…” (Moses 6:56). When God asks us through the mouths of the leaders of His church on earth to argue against a bill that contradicts His gospel, why then should we falter? The Bible and the Family: A Proclamation to the World, not to mention the words of past and living prophets clearly state that homosexuality is wrong. We must not hate the sinner, but rather do what we can to drive out the sin.

  50. CT on June 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks for the post, Ralph. My first reaction is to wonder why you characterize the attitude expressed by your students as “late-liberal” rather than simply liberal (in the sense of Locke, for instance). One need only look to Mr. Jefferson for essentially the same sentiment: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg” (Notes on Virginia). This itself is, of course, a drastic (and decidedly non-neutral) shift from ancient/medieval political thought concerning the meaning and aim of political life. We see in both Jefferson and your students (and in the comments) a narrowed horizon; rather than regulating private behavior in the name of preventing moral harm to the community or individual, the government can only legitimately intervene in the case of physical or economic harm. It is extremely difficult (and perhaps purposefully so) to articulate a notion of moral harm or moral injury in the language of liberalism and rights (see, e.g., Supreme Court opinions on obscenity). As to your second-order point that there is no morally neutral ground from which to resolve rights claims, I think I am in agreement. But I would also echo the question raised by others whether rights definition/re-definition is necessarily a zero-sum game, especially in political practice as opposed to political theory.

    Other random thoughts on some of the comments: 1) Some commenters seem quick to take the position that because there are competing moral positions that there is therefore no correct moral outcome or there can be no moral and reasonable foundation to prefer one outcome over the other. This does not follow. 2) Some commenters seem to think that Ralph is neglecting the fact of reasonable pluralism. I took it as the opposite: he recognizes the that we live in a pluralistic society, but he also recognizes (perhaps as a result of that pluralism) that no matter what rights settlement is reached, it is never neutral. 3) Other commenters suggest that the church should stay out of the public square or politically divisive, again invoking a relatively clear-cut public/private dichotomy or else a political/moral distinction that Ralph suggested is naive, and I haven’t seen any response to that. For those arguing that members, but not the church should be involved, is the problem institutional representation itself (e.g. is it also a problem if the corporation for which you work pumps money into a particular campaign) or is the problem the nature of the Church or issues involved here?

  51. CT on June 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    P.S. Ralph, will webcasts, transcripts, recaps, or anything of the sort be available eventually through the John Adams Center site for past or future sypmosia?

  52. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    CT: Is Jefferson the first late-liberal?

  53. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    “We must not hate the sinner, but rather do what we can to drive out the sin.”

    Read something about this recently…

  54. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Kenny,

    Stating your beliefs or testimony is different than imposing your belief. Imposing supposes that you are somehow using force (or manipulation) upon other in order for them to follow your beliefs.

  55. Ralph Hancock on June 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Mark Brown: OK, everything may be said to be a slippery slope, in the sense that a political community can never rest an absolute foundation that will answer all questions and resist all changes, erosions, etc. And indeed the idea of “liberty” has been on a slope more or less since the American Founding in some ways for the better, in some ways not, tending toward the separation of the idea of freedom from the moral –religious restraints that were built in and more or less unquestioned through the Republic’s first hundred years (as Tocqueville observes. And yes I, like Tocqueville, am aware of the stain of slavery, and all indeed of all the ways we are still paying for this original sin of America). Thomas Jefferson, for example, CT, had some fine, very modern things to say about an absolute separation between public & private, but in practice he somehow approved of the death penalty for sodomy, as I recall. Just for example. The slope became much steeper and much slipperier with the radicalization of liberty to liberation in the 1960s, the first time unrestrained sexual expression was proclaimed by an influential minority as an ideal. And I didn’t argue one way or another on housing or employment rights for homosexuals. That I regard as a prudential judgment, and I am happy to defer to Elder Holland on this point.
    It is argued, for example, that the real problem goes back behind a permissive abortion regime to no-fault divorce laws. Very well, these are points at which the slope increased (or, technically, decreased? Do the math for me). Question them, be my guest – but don’t argue that because things are already bad, we should let them get worse. I suppose I see the so-called “gay marriage” (I prefer “homosexual so-called marriage,” or, for short “sad ‘marriage’”) as the end of the slide, where we fall off into a completely different regime, where we complete the breach that has been growing with an American tradition of moral liberty, where we reach a kind of point of no return. There can be qualitative ruptures on a slippery slope – examine your town’s water park.
    Mike D., your appeal to sacred rights such as “speech, association, religion and other matters of conscience” in abstraction from a substantive moral environment which supports such rights seems to indicate you haven’t caught my main point. (Likewise, Tim: it is the freedom of religions to uphold traditional marriage that is at stake.) All rights are limited, the question is, by what, by whom? Why trust some “democratic process” as if this were a neutral development. This so-called democratic process will be shaped by one or another set of elites or activists, who define the moral high ground and thus whose views count as “democratic.”
    Chris seems to suppose that one must either appeal to cut-and-dried inalienable rights or else surrender to the pure opposition of subjective preferences. Not so: it is possible to argue that a society defined by the high status and legal protection of traditional, heterosexual marriage is a better society, where people flourish more, than in a society in which every individual is presumed to invent the meaning of life from nothing (which will always be an illusion, or just a plain lie).
    Peter LLC: One can’t simply assume that the high-achieving Mormon intellectuals or wannabe intellectuals necessarily see more clearly than the less imaginative, orthodox Mormon in your Sunday School class. The unwashed masses might see what is right in front of them – an impending regime change – more clearly than the sophisticates. A little learning can be a dangerous thing.
    Stephanie can’t imagine how the general legitimacy of a homosexual view of sexuality could possibly make any difference or be a matter of concern. She has already adopted a worldview in which sexuality is nothing but a personal preference, and she can’t imagine how the general public could possibly have an interest in such matters. Look around you.
    Bryanp: Yes, I’ve heard of libertarianism, and I even know something about the good folks at CATO. But you haven’t engaged my argument about the impossibility of neutrality, in which I refute libertarianism. And The State did not create marriage; it recognized it and in various ways built laws around (and sometimes modified) a long-existing, in fact primordial social institution.
    Kristine, and Geoff: might it just be that the Church engages issues that it regards as most important and where the stakes are clearest? For example: unfortunate economic equality exists, but how best to remedy it, what are the trade-offs in overall productivity etc. – policy questions, questions of political prudence. Would you have the Church author a complete political program, a platform addressing all issues? Anyway, nothing prevents us from visiting, helping, serving. And Geoff, you don’t seem to have grasped my point that views will be imposed, one way or another.
    Grant Morgan: the link between positive approval and respect for right can indeed be stretched, but only so far. Rights of “bigots” won’t last long.
    Chino: when were you my TA? In what class? Still waiting for something trenchant.
    OK, that’s all I can manage for now. Brad Dennis, you have raised some thoughtful questions, and I’ll try to get back to them, and to others further down.

  56. bryanp on June 9, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    For Ralph #55

    Ralph, you said in response to my comments, “And The State did not create marriage”

    Where did I say in my comments that the state created marriage?

  57. Brad Dennis on June 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks for responding to the comments Ralph. I look forward to your response.

  58. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Due to a Supreme Court Case from 1987, “Corp. of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos,” religious organizations are exempt from prohibition of religious discrimination in employment even in secular activities. Now I realise that that last sentence was somewhat tendentious, but what it means is that it is settled law in the United States that the Mormon Church can prohibit homosexuals from attending BYU, from working in any position offered by the LDS church (even those with no direct connection to the church).

    The establishment clause of the Constitution (remember that) means that LDS will never have to worry about gays marrying in the temple, or for that matter participating in any way in the church.

    You may recall that the LDS church forbade all Blacks from entering the temple until 1978. No temple marriages for them. This, in spite of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declared race a protected class.

    I realize, Br. Hancock, that you are not a constitutional lawyer, but your fears are just nonsense. And fearmongering. With a bit of hate in the mix, perhaps for leavening? I wouldn’t speak so harshly if it weren’t that just a bit of reading on the subject would perhaps temper your views.

  59. Brad Dennis on June 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Adam (#41)

    Yes you are right that people decide to involve themselves in causes when they perceive potential loss. But it is curious that the LDS church would involve itself particularly in Prop 8, because it is not the church itself nor its policies in relation to its members that are directly threatened. Instead it seems that it is the far off possibility that the church may be forced to change its policies either due to internal or external pressure that may be prompting some of its top leaders to take a make a rare foray into politics. But that the church would be forced to make such policy changes seems to be based only on speculation, it is not well substantiated at all. I would expect the government to continue to protect the right of church to deny marriage to same sex partners for decades to come.

  60. Bob on June 9, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Ralph Hancock,
    I have read most of this post. It seens you are open to the Church moving more into the Public Square(?) Are you equally open to the Public moving more into Temple Square? The Church, as an institution, has a place and a role in the American Culture, and has a good history of carrying out that role. IMO, a poorer history of working in the Public Square.

  61. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    “[T]he defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.”

    I disagree. What I think you are saying here is that you have a right (guessing here–God-given?) to prevent other people from acting in ways that in no way impacts you. No.

  62. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    “[T]he defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.”

    I disagree. What I think you are saying here is that you have a right (guessing here–God-given?) to prevent other people from acting in ways that in no way impacts you. No. If this is your view, then as a tiny minority, your God-given rights will be trampled into the dirt by other groups (Evangelicals, perhaps?) with their own non- or even anti-Mormon God-given rights which numerically way outnumber Mormons. Who will win?

    Hmmmm?

  63. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Sorry for the double-post; just sorry.

  64. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    “Chino: when were you my TA? In what class?”

    ’89. Maeser building. Don’t remember the course title but do remember approaching you about TA’ing b/c: a) you were hands down the liveliest prof on campus, and b) I had a crush on a hippie chick named Cody who was already a TA for the class.

    “Still waiting for something trenchant.”

    Yeah, well, who isn’t? Some folks around here have been waiting years already. The line forms in the back.

  65. Chris H. on June 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    “I realize, Br. Hancock, that you are not a constitutional lawyer…”

    He is a political philosopher and a political scientist…much better than any type of lawyer (since when did being a lawyer mean anything?)

    “I wouldn’t speak so harshly if it weren’t that just a bit of reading on the subject would perhaps temper your views.”

    djinn,

    Really? At this point, I would advise that you should just shut up. Ralph is no doubt better read on all of these subjects than anyone here. Disagree all you will, Ralph and I disagree on much, but if you are going to challenge him on his knowledge, learning, and brilliance…you lose.

  66. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Oh, Ralph Hancock, at 55, I missed your comment about no-fault divorce. The haven for such practices in the late 1800′s-ish was Utah under Brigham Young. For what it’s worth. Read something. Then write a post at this fine fine blog.

  67. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Chris H., evidence, please.

  68. djinn on June 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Chris H., I know nothing about Ralph Hancock (except for his totally awesome last name) but from the bit you’ve told me, I suspect he’s straying a bit out of his undoubtedly impressive area of expertise.

  69. Chino Blanco on June 10, 2010 at 12:04 am

    By the way, this post really ought to be read side-by-side with this from the LDS Newsroom.

    Lance B. Wickman quotes Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

    “There is a growing anti-religious bigotry in the United States …”

    Bigotry? Uh oh.

  70. Chino Blanco on June 10, 2010 at 12:52 am

    And, by the way, as long as I’m suggesting extracurricular reading, this, as far as I’m concerned, is the worthiest example of Mormon intellectual honesty re this issue that I’ve seen yet:

    Why Conservatives Should Support Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

  71. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 12:59 am

    One thing I missed; “the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs,” what are you smoking, uh, sipping (no caffeine implicated)? At the very best John Adams was a Unitarian (read Deist.) Faith was not among his virtues. He did not believe in an interventionist God. Just No.

    Chris H., notice. OK, that was cruel, but please.

    Sample quote from John Adams: “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
    – John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88), from Adrienne Koch, ed, The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society (1965) p. 258

  72. Peter LLC on June 10, 2010 at 1:44 am

    A little learning can be a dangerous thing.

    I agree that academic credentials alone say little about a person’s ability to reason clearly, but how much learning is enough? When do you welcome participants to the debate?

    Do the scales fall with the completion of some particular course of study? Is common sense and “real life” experience (as if any of us know anything else) sufficient? A combination? Finally, are church-sponsored universities breeding myopic sophisticates, given your observations that BYU students number among the politically naive? Or has BYU simply failed to teach them a thing or two about life?

  73. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Since I’m still up, Peter LLC, my personal opinion is that the words typed into the little blue box on the blog are all that matters.

  74. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 1:50 am

    “Drink deeply or something something from the Stygian spring.”

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  75. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Oh, yeah, and the person who got the Utah Legislature to institute no-fault divorce in Utah was a very close relative of mine (also reasonably high up in the church) who did it for extrorinarily good reasons. So, Mr. Hancock, what do you think should be grounds for divorce?

  76. Chino Blanco on June 10, 2010 at 4:52 am

    By the way, is it just me, or does Nate Oman find a way to slip “Manichean” into every single one of his posts?

  77. Stephanie on June 10, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Mr. Hancock,

    You absolutely are correct that I can’t imagine how homosexual practices affect me at all, just as I can’t imagine how whether you are married or not affects me or whether you are having standard sex with your wife versus more creative ways. I don’t care, and if you care about what I’m doing in the bedroom, why is that? Because your God says to? Well, I just got the memo from my God and he says to go for it.

    And why did you make a big deal of the BYU students not being concerned with homosexual politics and then in the next breath to me you said “look around you,” implying that there’s a larger group of people than I can imagine that care about this. Of course people care about this, but from your argument, less and less people are caring about this, and when they realize what I came to realize, that my life is not affected by what other adults do in the bedroom, even less will care.

    And Chris H, what’s up with the over-the-top worship?

  78. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 8:37 am

    “over-the-top worship”

    More like informed loyalty.

    John Adams took a conservative approach to politics. The folks at the John Adams Center (obviously, I am not one) approach politics from a conservative intellectual perspective. While they reject liberalism (mistakenly in my view), they also reject the anti-intellectualism and mob-mentality of Beck and Skousen-types. Hence the use of John Adams.

    BTW, the use of random quotes by founders in an attempt to look clever is the primary MO of The 5000 Year leap.

    “Chris H., I know nothing about Ralph Hancock…”

    Well, that was my point. Go after the argument.

  79. John Mansfield on June 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Stephanie, whether to marry young or old or not at all, to have many children or few or none, within marriage or not, to divorce or not, do you think that these choices you have or will make are independent of the community you live in and would be identically the same regardless of the continent or decade you were born in?

  80. Peter LLC on June 10, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Go after the argument.

    Which is exactly what you manage not to do when you assert that the OP is “much better than any type of lawyer” in your response to djinn, or when you invoke the OP’s “knowledge, learning, and brilliance” in yet another response to djinn.

  81. Marc Bohn on June 10, 2010 at 9:09 am

    djinn and others. If you cannot engage without throwing out baseless attacks against our guest, then your comments will be moderated from this post. Disagree with Professor Hancock on the substance of his post all you want, there are a lot of people that do, but suggestions that Professor Hancock is not “well-read” and his opinions are not well-informed are (a) not accurate and (b)not respectful.

    Please keep your comments in check with the T&S comment policy people.

  82. Geoff-Australia on June 10, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Ralph 55, We are having a discussion about whether the Church was right/ wise to oppose gay marriage. Presumably a gay person would marry because they wanted a monogamous relationship with their partner. As part of your argument against this you say “the first time unrestrained sexual expression was proclaimed…as an ideal” This sounds like promiscuity and is what you are arguing for if you are arguing against marriage, isn’t it? You keep referring to homosexuality as a choice. Did God create homosexuals, in which case can it be wrong, or is it only promiscuity that is wrong, in which case marriage would be good?

    You seem to think that if someone doesn’t agree with you they haven’t understood. No some of us think you are wrong, haven’t thought your arguments through (see above example) and are blinded by your culture.

    You say “it is possible to argue that a society defined by the high status and legal protection of traditional hetrosexual marriage is a better society where people flourish more than in a society where every individual is presumed to invent the meaning of life from nothing.” It is possible to argue all sorts of rubbish, and is the meaning of life really hetrosexual marriage? Some single people, widows etc. may disagree. This society you envisage is a very unpleasant place for anyone but those like you, and others who disagree with your exclusive views won’t be welcome. There is also the wonderful American view that all good, inventiveness, and flourishing happen best in your conservative culture. A sad delusion. And is inventing your own meaning from nothing really the only alternative to your view? Don’t think so.

    My wife and I recently spent 3 months in Germany (which would be well down your slippery slope to enlightenment) and had spent 3 months in USA during the election. We decided we could flourish as well in Germany as we do in Australia, but were very uncomfortable in the US and don’t know how you can live there permanently. Germany and Australia are so much more family friendly (whatever the makeup of the family) than is either the present America or your ideal for it.

    I’m afraid you come across to me as an arrogant ultra conservative who undoubtedly teaches a balanced view of political science at BYU. Your terms for gay marriage are clever? or just condecending and disrespectful.

    No I don’t believe it is necessary for one persons rights to be deminished in order for anothers to be granted. I don’t see any effect on my marriage if my gay neighbour is also married, rather than living together or behaving promiscuously. But yes if your view is that gays are wrong and God created them that way your view may be untennable. Is your view that they choose to be gay, for what reason, just to make life difficult for good people.

    I hear the same hatefulness toward people, who are different from yourself, that I found so unpleasant at church meetings in California during the campeaign.

    By the way most churches, outside America, do have a political/social justice/morality agenda that goes much further than the republican determined morality agenda of abortion, gay marriage, basically sex different from yours. They are concerned about family issues such as affordable housing, living wages, just treatment of minorities, and other moral issues.

  83. B. Bishop on June 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Following, a few additional thoughts broadly responsive to the tenor of comments and, if not altogether a reiteration of Ralph’s points, largely consistent with them. (Not surprising, I suppose, since — full disclosure — I am one of the friends Ralph refers to as having helped form the John Adams Center.)

    I take one of Ralph’s overarching points to be that there is a danger in contemporary political discourse of leaving unexamined the nature
    or source of “rights” claims. As a result, in contemporary political discourse, rights claims often seem to be little more than recitations of opinion or simple assertions of power (sometimes simultaneously both). In truth, however, assertions of political rights are inevitably explicit or (too frequently) merely implicit efforts to assert, elaborate or subvert shared moral understandings. One of the purposes of the John Adams Center is to foster the development of the ability to articulate those inevitable moral assertions, such that discussions of rights stand on better understood ground than the kind of political discourse in which counter-aligned partisans merely shout their opinions at one another across unexplored divides (gaps that, if examined, might show either a moral abyss separating the parties, or paths to mutual comprehension — who knows which, as long as the ground remains unexamined?). Such opinion-volleys are usually frustrating and unproductive. Indeed, modern intellectual notions of radical equality we have been taught to absorb assure us that no man’s opinions are better than our own … and thus that there is no reason for us to have anything more solid than an opinion, or to hear or understand any opinion other than our own. The volleys thus devolve from statements of opinion to ad hominem attacks, demonization, and the like, which serves as little more than attempts to assert power through de-legitimization of opponents.

    The understanding of rights has not always been grounded so insecurely in mere opinion, or so baldly asserted as a question of mere power. Take, for example, the Declaration of Independence. For whatever religious differences existed among those who wrote or signed it, it is at least clear in appealing to a shared religious-moral understanding that rights are grounded in a relationship between man and his Creator, and in man’s relationship to Nature and Nature’s God. The source and contours of right were thus at least in principle subject to being limned, discussed, explored, understood and limited. Not so when rights are questions of mere opinion, preference or taste: de gustibus non est disputandum. Nor where rights claims boil down simply to questions of raw power, about which reasoned and respectful argument seems ultimately superfluous or, at best, a melodrama.

    Too glib notions that that one’s moral-religious views should be kept out of the public square (either from a good-natured but naïve desire to be nice to others, or from a hostility to those religious views) further contribute to the impoverishment of public discourse, and its devolution into opinion-volleys or bald power movements. In contemporary America, however, this emptying of the public square tends to be asymetrical. Those who protest the encroachment of moral-religious views into public policy discussions or voting do not usually broadcast the fact that they make such protests as a moral claim themselves. Indeed, they are perhaps blind to it. So, for all of what Ralph calls the “late-liberal” sentiment of toleration and good-natured non-judgementalism this position understands itself as being, it in fact passes a harsh and intolerant judgment, sentencing others to have the most central features of their personality (their moral understandings of themselves, their relation to others, and to God) exiled from the public square. And, to return to an overarching point I think Ralph is driving at, for precisely this reason the quality of the public square is something in which we all have a moral stake.

    At this point, partisans of a Rawlsian notion of a “thin” notion of the good occupying the public square will object that welcoming strongly held religious views into the public square — too “thick” views of the good — is an invitation to a morally oppressive world in which none of us would, before knowing whether we’d be in the majority, wish to live. Without getting in to all the details of the flaws in this thinking, I think the major point is that Rawls is precisely evading the question of whether any of us would want to live in a world in which our most deeply held views remain not simply un-enacted in public policy, put affirmatively exiled from the public square. The supposedly “thin” notions of the good that underlie Rawlsian justice and contemporary, late-liberal views of the relationship between individuals or faith communities and the public square turn out be quite “thick,” indeed, in that they crowd out certain moral traditions, send them underground where they are more prone to atrophy or be perverted. (Incidentally, one might insist that using the label “tradition” is already to have robbed these moral understandings of some of their dignity. But too much fight over the label is perhaps overly defensive.)

    None of this is to reject altogether a healthy caution about the danger of a public policy that becomes too heavy-handed in enacting all the details of particular moral-religious views. Instead, a better point of departure would be to have a discussion from within or among religious-moral understandings about the limits or contours of rights. In other words, there are good reasons from within moral commitments or traditions of faith themselves that the law should not necessarily require all that these commitments or traditions aspire to, not criminalize all that they morally proscribe. Thus, for example, the LDS Church, other faiths, or other thoughtful people who ultimately think homosexual lifestyles are inconsistent with human flourishing or God’s plan for happiness of his children may, precisely for religious reasons, draw distinctions similar to those the LDS Church seems to have done: i.e., recognize that there is a difference between, on the one hand, defending the understanding of and privileging the public position of marriage as a union of complementary sexes, while rejecting the notion that this means homosexual individuals should be demonized, viewed simply as sinners or (by extension) criminals, or excluded from other legal protections (like a right to buy or rent housing without disqualification because of sexual orientation). The choice, in other words, needn’t be between a flat public square in which religious views are unwelcome, and a totalitarian public enactment of whatever the dominant religious views may be.

  84. Adam Greenwood on June 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “Yes you are right that people decide to involve themselves in causes when they perceive potential loss.”

    Not my point at all.

    I’m saying that people decide there is a *right* to something when (1) it is to their benefit or (2) their opposition to that something looks like a losing proposition.

  85. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 9:54 am

    B. Bishop,

    As the only Rawlsian here (though I need to run off to class), I do not think that the Rawlsian conception of justice is your challenge here, mostly because I do not think most of the objections to Ralph’s position does not reach that level. It is based in a much more basic (and rather uninteresting) conception of church-state relations.

    More later.

    Chris H

  86. B. Bishop on June 10, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Chris H.: It would be interesting to hear you elaborate your thoughts a bit. I (think I) agree that the objections to Ralph’s position do not quite rise to the level of Rawls’s thought, if the objections you are referring to are many of the objecting comments on this post. On the other hand, I think Rawls’s notions of justice as fairness have either greatly influenced and contributed to, or perhaps simply articulated in a more disciplined and complete (though, I would maintain, still mistaken) way the sentiments behind what Ralph’s second-order thesis is challenging.

  87. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Peter #80,

    I am political philosopher, it was a joke. My comments were not about the OP, but the author.

  88. Davis on June 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Professor Hancock/B. Bishop,

    1. It seems to me that no one is begrudging anyone else the right or ability to engage in religiously-motivated political activity, but rather that others – voters, judges – who are of a different religious persuasion will find the religious assumptions driving these political opinions and activities to be utterly unconvincing. If I fervently believe that God desires that nobody ever wear the color orange, I would imagined that most Americans believe I ought to be able to introduce a voter initiative seeking to establish as law the prohibition against wearing orange. That said, 99.99% of Americans will vote against such a proposition, because my only argument for it is, “Because God hates orange,” to which everyone else responds, “Uh, no, He doesn’t.” Thus, the problem isn’t that my position is religiously informed, but rather that I have failed to develop a convincing argument using shared assumptions.

    2. Now, let’s assume that you and I meet in the public square to have a discussion about gay marriage. Let’s also assume I do not share your religious views, but am a reasonable person acting in good faith who cares about his country. What arguments can you give me establishing the point that gay marriage should not be allowed?

    PS: B. Bishop – Hi! I was in the Colonial ward where you were a counselor in the bishopric for a few years. Did you get many singles attending the conference at Duck Beach? If so, Duck Beach has changed a lot since I was there . . .

  89. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Marc Bohn, forgive me for sounding harsh, but Prof. Hancock presents himself as an expert in the original post and then states something that is incorrect.
    viz., “In the long run, the victory of the homosexual-rights faction would be incompatible with the religious freedom of those who oppose such rights – the freedom, for example, to teach one’s children that homosexuality is wrong and not conducive to ultimate happiness, or to run a private university in which the practice of homosexuality is grounds for dismissing a student or an employee.” I did make a mistake, if the private university is nonprofit and is not associated with a religious institution, they may have their tax exempt status revoked, under the case Bob Jones University v U.S. But still, this statement is just scare-language unmoored to the world we live in.
    As he very clearly holds himself out as an expert in this field, I expect a high degree of expertise. That is why I said what I did. He is not just some guy with an opinion, rather he is (if I read the post correctly) a Professor, and a founder of the amusingly named “John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs.” So, please forgive me, I suppose I should not expect Prof. Hancock to be up on current constitutional law on matters of church and state. However, the statement that he will not be able to teach his children that homosexuality is wrong is simply untrue hyperbole under any reading.
    Now, to my John Adams quotation. The point of it was, as I see it, that John Adams, himself, disagreed pretty much entirely with the second-order thesis proposed by Prof. Hancock (“ that the defining or re-defining of particular “rights” always involves a reshaping of a dominant substantive morality, and thus that no morally neutral settlement in terms of “rights” is possible.”) John Adams said: “it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” That is, religious morality was explicitly not part of the equation. “It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven….” John Adams, yet again.
    As my final point (for anyone still reading) Prof. Hancock said in a comment “And The State did not create marriage; it recognized it and in various ways built laws around (and sometimes modified) a long-existing, in fact primordial social institution.” Here in the US, a huge amount of native tribes had the tradition of berdache, or two spirits, where, yes indeed, two men were married. So, the long-existing, in fact primordial social institution included same sex marriage.

  90. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Mark Bohn, on further thought, I have not been sufficiently apologetic. I apologize for my unkind remarks to Prof. Hancock; but I respectfully disagree.

  91. B. Bishop on June 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Davis:
    You may underestimate the extent to which it is precisely the objection or contention of (for example) the anti-Proposition 8 groups, both that individual Mormons (for example) are bringing Church views to public issues and the LDS Church is bringing political views to the chapel. The major point of Ralph’s point here is not the merits of the Church position on Proposition 8, but what he calls the “second-order” question of the supposed division between these public and private worlds, moral questions about which church speaks and public questions that are said to be the province of the state. In other words, I for one simply can’t agree that “no one is begrudging anyone else the right or ability to engage in religiously-motivated political activity.” That is why the nature of the objections has not been simply “you are wrong about your position on Proposition 8″ (which are arguments some people have sometimes made), but also the slogan that “you are trying to impose your doctrine on my life.” The point of the latter assertion is to delegitimize religiously motivated views of public affairs and maintain a separation between the world of religion and the world of public affairs. Ralph’s point (and mine) is precisely that such a division, if it is maintained, is not at all neutral on the moral questions involved.

    P.S.: Approximately 125-150 people attended the symposium at Duck Beach.

  92. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Chris H., I’m still having trouble with the whole John Adams thing. He wasn’t just conservative, he was kind of a Monarchist and really really wanted a title.

  93. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    djinn

    He was not a Monarchist. He was committed to freedom, but of the founders that I am most familiar with he seems to have been most influence by Aristotle. You and I are often allies, but making an issue out of the name of the center is just silly.

    You may want to point out the Adams wrote the Massachusetts Constitution which was used as a basis for the State Court expanded gay marriage there (not sure if that means anything).

  94. bryanp on June 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Response to djinn #92

    You are correct, something he wanted Washington to have but Washington refused. The problem is the executive office has become so bloated from it’s original design according to the constitution. A good book to read on this is “The Cult of The Presidency” by Gene Healy.

  95. B. Bishop on June 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    djinn:

    The John Adams quote you use to exclude religious morality from the question may be a selective misapplication of the quote or a lack of clarity of what “the question” is. Adams’ statement seems to have been to deny prophetic pretense on the part of the founders in crafting the constitutional forms, rejection of the founding of American constitutionalism on miracles. (Other founders may not entirely agree that the influence of heaven had nothing to do with the matter of the Constitution’s formation; and one might well wonder whether God uses instruments that are sometimes not aware they are being used … but that is a separate issue.)

    But Adams very much did not say, nor seem to believe that religious morality is emphatically not part of the equation of dealing with public affairs within the American public square, or with regard to the question of liberty more generally. To the contrary, if Adams insisted that “[t]he government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” he likewise insisted that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Likewise, Adams maintained, “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” If Adams was right, it would seem to demand that our continual need to work out the details of our constitutional system and the rights involved therein, requires that moral-religious considerations be permissible points of the discussion, which is Prof. Hancock’s point.

    A separate point the foregoing may also illustrate is Chris H.’s about the danger of Founder-quoting. One must exercise care about what was meant, whether other Founders (or the same one) might be quoted to the contrary, and the precise use to which the quote is put.

  96. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    He thought that he should be called “Your Majesty” out of respect for the man and the office. Hamilton was also a monarchist then. I am sure bryanp could point us towards some good anti-Lincoln books as well. Please…

  97. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    As far as I can tell John Adams made public statements in public supporting religion and morality while making pretty much diametrically opposed statements in private correspondence. So who knows what he thought?

  98. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    BTW, B.Bishop, thank you for the politer reply than I deserved.

  99. djinn on June 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me for another commment, but Chris H., Thomas Jefferson would disagree with you quite vehemently about the whole Adams Monarchist thingie, but it’s confusing, it happened a long time ago, and it’s a side issue, raised, I dimly remember, by myself. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Also Chris H., thank you for your respectful comments to me; I’m trying to learn, I’m just a little (ok, rather more than a little) slow.

  100. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    For those unaware, I served 20 years in the Air Force, including 2 years at NORAD inside Cheyenne Mountain, and 5 years at Strategic Air Command Headquarters.

    Kristine: “Raymond, military chaplains already have to cope with the difficulty of preaching about the Prince of Peace to soldiers. The dilemma you suggest seems like small potatoes.”

    The dilemma is not one for the chaplains, who know where they and their respective dneominations stand, but it is one for senior military authorities and the Commander in Chief. Is he going to order military chaplains to be silent on issues of sexual morality, even though it conflicts with his desired policy to normalize open homosexual behavior in the military, which will result in their discharge from military service and potential court-martial punishment?

    Buck: “Because the Church teaches that the prophet will never lead us astray, the bulk of the members surrender their thinking on social and political issues to SLC. We watched the blacks/priesthood issue, when LDS public opinion turned from ‘that’s the way God wants it’ to ‘THIS is the way God wants it’ within 5 minutes. The same happened when the Church made clear its stand on the MX missile system, effectively killing the system nationwide. In LDS communities, campaigning that you were a stake president is common and automatically qualifies you to hold public office. I lived in Utah for 16 years—spanning both the above decisions—and the surrender to authority was frightening.”

    It was frightening that LDS members were willing to embrace blacks in full fellowship in the priesthood? I don’t know what kind of familiarity you had with Mormons in 1978, but every Mormon I had ever spoken to about the issue was uncomfortable with the priesthood exclusion, had had several experiences of being asked about it by non-Mormons (including black friends), and when they heard the announcement of the change made at the initiative of President Kimball, they were literally dancing in the streets, crying for joy, and honking their car horns.

    I had grown up in a ward in Salt Lake with black members. In 1974 in Colorado springs, Colorado, I helped teach and baptize a black Army sergeant who had gone to many churches in the city but found the best welcome at ours. He entered the church with eyes wide open on the priesthood issue. Our bishop said he had a more magnanimous soul than many of us would have in the same position. So the announcement
    made me think of him. (I heard later that he was ordained out in Atlanta.)

    I happened to be in the Church Office Building doing research in the Church Archives and that is what I saw. Nobody I observed went from “excluding blacks from the priesthood is absolutely the way things ought to be” to “Thank heavens they can receive the priesthood”. Rather, the change was something we had all wished would happen someday, and we were terribly gratified that it did happen.

    If Buck is implying that Mormons were racially prejudiced against blacks until 1978, I want to pointedly differ with him. I worked in Japan with Elder Kapolulu, a Chinese-Hawaiian who was as dark-skinned as many American blacks who laughed when anyone told him at street meetings that he, as a Mormon, was prejudiced against blacks. Another fellow missionary I worked with for months was Hawaiian-Japanese and also dark complected. The Church College of Hawaii (now BYU-Hawaii) where we learned Japanese is full of people that British would call “blacks”. Mormons have been actively recruiting Polynesians since 1844, and Laie, the Temple and BYU-Hawaii are a testament to the openness of the Church and its members to people of visually distinctive racial minorities.

    The rapid expansion of the Church in Africa after 1978 was a direct result of the readiness of the Church and its members to live among Africans and recruit them into the Church, just as it had already been doing among Hispanics, Native Americans, Polynesians, and Asians for over a century.

    As to the MX missile opposition, the MX missile was NOT being proposed for nationwide basing. The proposal was to pave over about half of the states of Utah and Nevada in order to create as many as 10 missile launch shelters for each ICBM, with enclosed missile transporter rail cars being moved randomly around among the shelters as an enormous “shell game” to confuse the Soviet Union about where the actual missiles were located, to force the USSR Long Range Missile forces to target ALL of the shelters, since they could not afford to miss a single 10-warhead MX ICBM. The idea was that, if a full-scale nuclear war was triggered, Nevada and Utah would be the sponge that would absorb the bulk of the Soviet nuclear strikes, sparing the rest of the nation form many direct hits.

    The reason that President Kimball’s opposition sealed the end of the MX Missile so-called “race-track” deployment method was that the system was such a costly exercise, mired in litigation over its tremendous environmental impacts (the impact statement alone took up a whole book shelf–in my office), that Ronald Reagan already intended to cancel it when he took office in January 1981, and instead pursue the initiatives that resulted in massive negotiated mutual reductions in the number of actively “cocked” nuclear missiles on both sides. Barack Obama’s touted nuclear reductions are simply a continuation of a process that was started by Reagan. Utah and Nevada were the only states in the nation where the racetrack system could be deployed, both due to extensive Federal lands and the opposition of so many other states. When President Kimball stated his opposition, it was no longer politically tenable to get the system accepted by Utahns. But his statement used phrases about peace and war that he had been including in his General Conference talks since 1974. The issue about strategic nuclear weapons is always, “Do they make war more likely by their capacity for destruction, or less likely by their deterrence of attack?” The entire basis for Strategic Air command (Motto: “Peace is Our Profession”) was that having an overwhelming nuclear force that could retaliate against attack would deter any rational enemy form making the attack. The lack of nuclear war between the US and the USSR over 50 years of Cold War (despite crises like the Cuban Missile Crisis) is the evidence that is pointed to in validating the SAC motto. President Kimball’s statement tipped the balance against that theory for many Mormons, and argued that America should rely more on good will and God’s help to protect us from nuclear attack, rather than weapons that threaten irrational retaliatory genocide. Again, it crystallized the opinions of many Mormons while supporting the views of many others who were already skeptical of the proposal. There was no lack of thinking among Mormons both before and after, especially for those of us in the business of managing nuclear weapons. President Kimball’s statement was a factor added to our own understanding of both scripture, history, the Russian psyche, and military strategy–as well as the sheer improbability of getting the funding and resources to construct the “great and spacious building” filled with dancing 10-warhead missiles.

    Buck’s thesis that Mormons don’t think about issues of Church policy and public policy, and are mindless sheep who mentally turn on a dime under Church direction, is belied by Times & Seasons and the rest of the Bloggernacle. His proferred evidence does not hold up to scrutiny.

    Besides, does he really object to the outcome of those decisions by Church leaders? Wouldn’t he agree that they were wise decisions on matters of Church policy on the one hand and public policy on the other? Why should be be “frightened” of such praiseworthy decisions?

    Apparently he is disappointed that the voters of California did not accept warmly the decision by 4 out of 7 members of the California Supreme Court that tossed out a voter initiative and ruled that homosexual marriage must be the law in California. The support for Proposition 8 was not a case of millions of people mindlessly following the “enlghtened” thinking of their legal superiors on the Court, but of ordinary people thinking for themselves. If Buck is “frightened” of lockstep action by people who let others do their thinking for them, he should applaud the victory of Proposition 8 as a manifestation of independent thought by the people of California.

  101. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    One final word, on the claim that being a stake president qualifies you for public office: I would suggest that the real principle is that people who are outstanding enough in their willingness to serve others in the church as leaders, to be chosen as stake presidents, are also people with the characteristics that qualify them for public service. Not every stake president is elected to office, nor is every public officer who is Mormon called to be a stake president. In Utah, there are a LOT of stake presidents, so it stands to reason that SOME of them are going to end up running for public office. I am pretty sure, on the other hand, that 3-time Utah governor Cal Rampton was never a stake president, or even a bishop or high priest group leader.

    Mitt Romney did serve for a time as a stake president in Boston, but somehow I don’t think that was a major factor in his election as governor or his credibility as a presidential candidate. But his willingness to serve others was a common factor in both those parts of his life.

  102. Chris H. on June 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Well, if being a priesthood leader will not lead to political office…I am going to stop shaving.

  103. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 6:59 am

    On one hand, [Hancock's] is the kind of intellectual conservatism that invites rational debate and disagreement and is open to it.

    Generally speaking, but I wonder if you think there’s any point to engaging Hancock in this instance on this particular issue? I was intending to leave a serious comment, but I think I’m gonna let it go. It seems pretty obvious (to me, at least) that Ralph is never going to stop willfully misapprehending the object of his scorn (teh gay), which reduces the relevance of his political philosophy discussion to that of window dressing.

  104. Chadwick on June 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Raymond:

    I’m glad to hear that the 1978 proclamation was a positive one for you. I’ll admit, I was born in 1980, so I have no first hand experience for you. But at the time it was announced, my MIL was a newlywed with a husband who was serving as Bishop in the Wilshire Ward in downtown LA. My MIL at the time worked for a Mormon as a law clerk in his law practice. When she went in and exclaimed to her boss what she had just heard on the radio, he refused to believe it. He told her she either misunderstood or it was some kind of a prank. My MIL was obviously upset at her boss’s reaction because, being in a ward in the trenches of LA, this affected them deeply.

    My FIL was deceased before I joined the family so I can’t get his take on it. But I guess we see everything through our personal experiences with the situation, or through the lens of those we know and trust.

    Again, glad it was a positive position for you; but clearly not everybody was silently waiting for the day, so to speak.

    Bit of a threadjack, since I don’t completely follow the correlation between this issue and the post at hand. But thought it was worthy to give you two data points of situations where people weren’t silently praying for a change.

  105. Davis on June 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

    B. Bishop,

    As I’ve thought about it, I believe you are correct that much of the blowback to Prop. 8 was related to the fact that it was religiously-motivated.

    When you say, “Such a division, if it is maintained, is not at all neutral on the moral questions involved,” I assume you are arguing that law and policy by their very nature espouse and reflect a certain morality, and that a law establishing gay marriage as a right is not morally neutral but rather rather reflects a morality that homosexual relationships are valid and legitimate?

  106. It's Not Me on June 11, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I will display my naivete in full here. When people say that the (what I consider to be) immoral acts of others doesn’t affect my life, I believe what they mean is there is no direct, proximate or immediate effect that is visible.

    I have this pollyannaish notion that there is such a thing as a “moral fabric” that can affect not only the quality of lives we live but how we make decisions.

    One could say that a man, completely unknown to me, who is killed in my community doesn’t affect me. And you’d be right–it doesn’t directly affect me. But if that kind of thing continues to happen and my government doesn’t do a very good job of trying to resolve murders and prevent them, then I will soon live in a society where I spent much more of my energy worried about the safety of my family and myself.

    The man who views porn in his basement arguably has no effect whatsoever on my life. But if many men view porn and the government does nothing to curb the natural effect of what it can do to SOME men, I believe that weakens the moral fabric of the society in which I live, and can affect my children by 1) conveying the idea to them that it’s ok to view porn, and 2) potentially making my children/grandchildren targets for those whose porn addiction has led them to act out their fantasies against children.

    By the same token, if the society in which my family lives decides that homosexuality is perfectly ok, and accepts and endorses it on a grand scale, my children/grandchildren grow up and live in a world where morals have been devalued (when I say “morals” I mean those taught by the LDS Church, which I happen to believe), creating, I believe, a bigger challenge to them to stand up for what’s right.

    I may not be the brightest bulb on the tree, but I naively believe that cultural mores–the values of the world around us–can and does affect the way we make moral decisions for ourselves. You can argue that that’s a personal issue, that we have to take responsibility for ourselves, and I agree with that. But you’ll not convince me that the values of the world around me has no impact on my ability to make good choices.

  107. It's Not Me on June 11, 2010 at 9:10 am

    And yes, I do recognize the grammatical errors above. Again, I’m an idiot.

  108. SLO Sapo on June 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

    “By the same token, if the society in which my family lives decides that homosexuality is perfectly ok, and accepts and endorses it on a grand scale, my children/grandchildren grow up and live in a world where morals have been devalued (when I say “morals” I mean those taught by the LDS Church, which I happen to believe), creating, I believe, a bigger challenge to them to stand up for what’s right.”

    By the same token, if the society in which my family lives decides that treating gays and lesbians as second class citizens is perfectly ok, and accepts and endorses it on a grand scale, my children/grandchildren grow up and live in a world where morals have been devalued (when I say “morals” I mean those taught by Jesus Christ, which I happen to believe), creating, I believe, a bigger challenge to them to stand up for what’s right.

  109. B. Bishop on June 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Davis (#105): Yes, I think I basically agree with your understanding of the question/point. Public policy enactments of rights claims reflect a position on or elaboration of shared moral understandings. And we all have a stake in what those moral understandings are.

    #103, I find to be a curious comment. To begin with, Chino copies a comment from a conversation on another blog to respond to it here. I suppose that itself is fine. But the oddity is the content of Chino’s response. In it, Chino simultaneously seems to be claiming to take a sort of high road of avoiding engaging in confrontation, while going out of his way to engage and confront Ralph’s ideas with pscyhologism and denigration. The comment simultaneously says he won’t engage Ralph, while going out of his way to engage Ralph in the form of attributing ill motives to him rather than discussing the ideas (Ralph, it is said, must have “scorn” for homosexuals, which makes his political philosophy mere “window dressing”.)

    For Chino, disagreement with particular political objectives of homosexual rights groups cannot amount to good-willed disagreement, or the conviction that the traditional understanding of marriage is something worth retaining. Instead, it must be scorn. I suppose in a very broad sense of the term, “scorn” could mean just disagreement and the view that the objectives with which one disagrees are not only ill-advised, but damaging. In that sense, I suppose we all “scorn” those whose objectives we disagree with, at least with respect to those objectives. Certainly, Chino seems to “scorn” Ralph in at least that sense, although he doesn’t say exactly why. But Chino’s drive-by engagement of Ralph’s point seems to be doing something different and more than this. It is not the simple observation that Ralph “scorns” others in the sense that and insofar as he disagrees with their political agenda. It is an attempt to reduce Ralph’s thoughts to mere “window dressing,” not by engaging the merits of the proposition, but by supposing there is some (ugly) true motivation that thoughtful-sounding words are meant to obscure. So, Chino, too, seems to “scorn” Ralph in the stronger sense of the term: i.e., to hold up for derision.

    Because Chino so clearly scorns Ralph, Chino’s logic would suggest that whatever ideas he is advancing (were he not declining to advance ideas, other than scorn itself) is just so much “window dressing” that it can be simply disregarded. Except, in Chino’s case, he seems to decline to put up any window dressing at all. It is just scorn. So what is one to do with it?

    I suppose that drive-by scorn is one way to try to end an encounter with the idea of this thread. But it does not strike me as a particularly efficient one. More efficient would be simply to stop paying attention to or writing about this particular thread. Nor do I find it particularly effective or persuasive in dispensing with the idea. For that, one would have to engage the idea. On this post, the main one (and what I have mostly focused on) is Ralph’s second-order thesis about rights not being morally neutral metaphysical facts of the universe, but publicly-elaborated resolutions of moral questions. Secondarily, to frame the second-order thesis, Ralph also raises the question of one particular rights question: whether homosexual marriage is or should be recognized as a marriage at all.

  110. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 10:37 am

    That last bit goes to my point. As long as the question intended to frame the discussion can only be answered one way, it makes consideration of the second-order thesis that much less interesting.

  111. B. Bishop on June 11, 2010 at 10:41 am

    SLO Sapo (#108) is right in recognizing a certain kind of parallelism between the opposing views on the question of homosexual marriage. Both sides may well claim that a loss on the issue would represent a moral challenge, a degradation from some higher ideal. But this is precisely to agree with Ralph’s second-order thesis, and recognize that it is not the case that rights are morally neutral questions.

    The additional question that is then raised is a how one is to sort out the contours of the moral question involved, or its appropriate answer. It seems to me that this unavoidably implicates questions of who or what is recognized as a sufficient or relevant authority. SLO Sapo invokes the morals taught by Jesus Christ. It’s Not Me invokes the LDS Church. These invocations then raise questions of whether the appeal that authority is well-made, misplaced, hasty, correctly applied, etc. (E.g., Is the LDS Church a relevant moral authority? Is Jesus Christ? (I, for one, doubt neither.) What precisely is the teaching of the LDS Church or Jesus Christ? Where do you find it? Is the record clear? Unless there is a clear match between the scope of the moral teaching and the public policy issue in question, how should the moral teaching be applied in these circumstances?)

    Others may invoke other authorities, implicitly or explicitly. For example, majorities (formulated according to laws, voting rules, etc.) are said to constitute authoritative pronouncements of the law. But are these majorities persuasively authoritative on the moral questions, simply by virtue of their majority status? Or is some reference to other authorities important? By a sort of adulatory following on political questions, some implicitly invoke Hollywood celebrities as authoritative figures on these issues. Persuasive? And some authorities remain hidden. Those who reject the relevance of traditional moral sources to public concerns, for example, may implicitly be recognizing the authority of reason understood in a particular and controversially instrumental way that treats faith or age-old tradition as simple suspicion or conformism. Others may explicitly or implicitly invoke the authority of a particular view of historical development. But this, too, is subject to question. One could go on.

  112. Geoff-Australia on June 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Basic to this discussion is how a homosexual becomes one. If, as I believe God creates them like he does hetrosexuals, then can they be morally wrong? What is your alternative?

    The concept that there will be unlimited expansion of the number of gays if it is more acceptable is not sustainable. The % of gays in the population is less than 5%, and has not increased in places where they are accepted.

    Given that they exist, would you prefer them to be in monogomous relationships, or promiscuous? Some of them, like some hetrosexuals, prefer a secure relationship; marriage.

    In the Church we claim to prefer sealings to marriages, perhaps we should leave marriages to the world and reserve sealings for ourselves?

    The suggestion that a less moral, and family friendly society will result, if gays are accepted does not seem to be supported by the results in places where they are. Though these places have different definitions of family friendly to those used by conservative americans. They think it is to do with family time 9annual leave and reduced working hours) so families can be together, and services such as paid maternity leave, living wage etc etc.

    It appears some of you are engaged in a philosophical/ political debate, perhaps you could include some reality.

    It seems to me the Church stand on homosexuality is a function of the ultra conservative culture of the members in the part of America its based in, and therefore it’s leaders.

    Was the saviour particularly concerned about it, there would have been as many gays around then and Roman culture was quite forthrite about sex. Have any of you been to Pompei? where many of the houses were adorned by imigases of the owners sexual equipment.

    In this environment you would be outraged and yet the saviour wasn’t!
    Wasn’t he concerned?

  113. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 11:04 am

    By the way, in terms of understanding the current culture (and this might even shed some light on the results of Hancock’s informal campus poll), here are three reasons why (straight) guys are starting to care less if other guys are gay, among them: calling other people gay makes you look gay.

    Thanks to Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and many others, being perceived as antigay has become the old gay.

    I.e., not cool. Icky, even.

    Pushing back against this development with a tired oppression narrative (e.g., Fred Karger called me a bigot!) ain’t gonna cut it. Dallin Oaks can describe Fred as “a prominent gay-rights spokesman” and a “bigot” as often as he’d like, but it ain’t gonna change the fact that he’s wrong on both counts and spitting into the wind in any case.

  114. Jeff Seaman on June 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Forced compliance to someone else’s views of morality is exactly the sort of abuse the Freedom of Religion (the First Amendment) was meant to prevent. Unfortunately this freedom hasn’t been universally applied. The early LDS church was proscribed against the practice of Polygamy at gunpoint. I think all would agree this was wrong. I think it’s now equally wrong to pass laws forcing your ideas on what marriage should and shouldn’t be upon people who do not share your views. Prop 8 was a blunder, a moral wrong. I don’t care what rhetoric you dress it up with, that sh*t still stinks.

  115. Sam on June 11, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Linked here from an ex-mormon site, so beware. (ha ha)

    I cannot fathom any harm coming from same sex marriage. If you consider homosexuality immoral all I can say is that your morals are derived from an outmoded line of thought and from ancient books whose knowledge and understanding about the world have been superseded in the 2,000 years since which they were written.

    And yes, I say disrupt the status quo in the name of civil liberty. In the 1930s they were up in arms about Joyce’s Ulysses and its filthy words. I say disrupt the dominant moral order for something liberal and worthwhile (like Ulysses). Throw off the dusty coats of yesteryear when our liberal, progressive, civilized sensibilities demand something more.

    Granted, there is no such thing as objective morality. I don’t care if the dominant culture calls something immoral. It does not make it so. In fact, I think it’s immoral to deny someone a right to marriage solely based on the fact that they have matching sex parts. Either we’re drinking out of the same fountain or we are not.

    Most laws are an experiment. The status quo – denying gays equal rights – isn’t working. Time for a new experiment, regardless of the hand-wringing it will cause those who think marriage is ordained by a god that despises and judges a natural instinct, such as homosexuality.

  116. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    T & S admins,

    Looks like it is time to shut this one done. Sheesh.

  117. California Condor on June 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    @It’s Not Me

    You need to look at things from a non-Mormon perspective. Perhaps some Evangelicals think that our Book of Mormon or temple ceremonies are bad influences on society. That does not mean that these things should be banished from society.

  118. California Condor on June 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I find it interesting that when people don’t have a foundation to stand on, they resort to using run-on sentences.

  119. Molly on June 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Cartoonists are always better at revealing misguided priorities than words are:

    http://lolgod.blogspot.com/2010/06/homophobes-and-their-order-of.html

  120. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Yes, Molly…Ralph is a redneck homophobe. You are so clever.

  121. Jeff Seaman on June 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    @It’s Not Me

    You put forward an idea of a “moral fabric” of society where you fear the lower morality of society would negatively impact your children. Thus you reason, letting homosexual’s marry affects your life in a negative way.

    You also bring up MURDER, tacitly comparing the spread of murder in your community with the spread of homosexuality. I’d like to tame the hyperbole a bit. Let’s use a direct and real life, but less dramatic analogy.

    Muslims believe it is immoral for women to show their hair in public. A society where women show their hair freely is considered corrupt and immoral and is offensive to them. This is not a hypothetical. How would you feel if you were required by law in this country to cover up you hair because it offended Muslims and made them uncomfortable? Is this law is reasonable because their children’s concept of right and wrong is at stake? Is this law reasonable as it could be shown some men were aroused at the sight of women not so confined?

    I don’t think we need any religion forcing their concept of moral behavior on others who don’t share their beliefs. It would be far more acceptable for us to instead concentrate on ethics and at that start with our own.

  122. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Here’s an idea for a ‘toon:

    Grumpy ol’ retired blogger mumbling “Get these hoodlums off my lawn!” to nobody in particular as he shuffles the perimeter of his new assisted blogging facility home.

    Or maybe that’s only the first frame. Punchline to follow.

  123. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Wait…Chino you are even more clever. You DAMU-types are so funny AND clever.

    If exmos can comment on Mormon blogs, then surely exbloggers can do the same.

  124. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Touché.

  125. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    In all seriousness, Chris, if the purely anecdotal is good enough for the OP, let the kids comment, and we’ll call it “research” down the road.

  126. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    It does not really matter…but this is not consistent with typical T&S practice.

    This is largely why I avoid this issue. I do not agree with the conservative approach, but I also find some of the bitterness towards the Church over the issue to be annoying.

    I also know Ralph well a bit…our offices are on the same floor. I think his argument is targeted towards me, an academic/Kantian/Rawlsian/liberal. I am not looking to argue with him here. The rest of this is just a bunch of folks talking past each other. Blogging fail.

  127. jimbob on June 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    You know whose viewpoint I’d really like to hear from on this issue? Those thoughtful people over at the erudite “Recovery” board. Chino, any chance you could set that up? Oh, wait, you already did that…

  128. Peter LLC on June 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The rest of this is just a bunch of folks talking past each other. Blogging fail.

    Another day in the life is more like it. The public square can get messy when the public is allowed to participate.

  129. SLO Sapo on June 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    The original post stated:

    “Returning to the more contemporary issue: a number of anti-Prop 8 activists considered the majoritarian victory of Prop 8 as illegitimate, since the ‘discrimination’ involved in the heterosexual understanding of marriage could, on their view, be explained only as sheer ‘bigotry.’”

    I think this sets up somewhat of a straw man. Those of us who opposed Prop 8 did view bigotry as one influence that brought the legitimacy of Prop 8 into question. But it certainly wasn’t the only element. One huge factor was intentional misinformation designed to scare voters into supporting Prop 8. Probably the most egregious example was the infamous “Six Consequences” document that described the following likely outcomes if Prop 8 failed:

    1) Children in public schools would have to be taught that same-sex marriage was just as good as traditional marriage.
    2) Churches would be sued over their tax exempt status if they refused to allow same-sex
    marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public.
    3) Religious adoption agencies would be challenged by government agencies to give up their long-held right to place children only in homes with both a mother and a father.
    4) Religions that sponsor private schools with married student housing would be required to provide housing for same-sex couples.
    5) Ministers who preached against same-sex marriages would be sued for hate speech and risk government fines.
    6) It would cost taxpayers money, because the change in the definition of marriage would bring a cascade of lawsuits.

    Even after these “consequences” were pretty thoroughly debunked, the coalition of churches campaigning in favor of Prop 8 continued to distribute and promote the document. Personally, I heard members of the stake presidency, high council, and bishopric invoke these “consequences” over and over again all the way up to election day, even after I had forwarded them a point-by-point refutation prepared by an LDS attorney.

  130. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Re 127: Yeah, well, B. Bishop kinda called me out, and not in a particularly nice way. You’re all big boys. I’m sure you can handle the influx (not that a couple of comments really amounts to an “influx”).

    Re 126: I get where you’re coming from in your 3rd graf.

    That said:

    a) In terms of blogging “fail” vs “win” … I suspect that we’ve all failed more often than not in our various spheres (DAMU, Bloggernacle, wherever). We’re human and we enjoy remarking on our shared histories and experiences, but taken too far, it’s a tendency that leaves newcomers and passersby feeling left out in the cold. A “win” to my mind is whenever someone new pops by and decides they like the place.

    b) In terms of this particular post, I think #109 correctly noted that Ralph raised a question that was meant to be left open to the forum. It happens to be a question that I’m personally tired of debating, but the invitation was made, and even though I might not engage in any meaningful way re that question, I’m still curious to read what others might have to contribute. Maybe someone will say something new. As far as this issue is concerned, that’d be a treat, for sure. But let’s not kid ourselves that the OP didn’t leave the floor open.

  131. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Peter,

    When did Times and Season become the public square? Are you still bitter about my earlier lawyer comment?

  132. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Chino,

    “Maybe someone will say something new.”

    Maybe I am a tad Burkean after all, but experience tells us that will not happen.

  133. Chino Blanco on June 11, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    What (recent) experience tells me is that it’s not hard to round up a few of Ralph’s former students, and we all enthusiastically agree that he was one of the highlights of our college careers.

    But this latest project. This thing he’s touting here. It saddens me.

  134. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Chris H., you keep invoking poor John Rawls, without actually explaining your position. Please. This is not a difficult question from a Rawlsian position– inequality should favor the disadvantaged. Hmmmm. Who would that be in this particular case? Oh, I know! It’s the people that your friend and original post-writer clearly wishes to discriminate against seeing as how one of the main points he made is his desire to fire them from university positions for the sin of whom they’ve chosen (or would like to choose) for a partner.

    Stats time:
    Number of people killed because they were seen as gay (includes the suicide of a 9 year old) in 2009 — 9 (that I found in Wikipedia)

    Number of people killed because they were perceived as being Mormon — 0.

    Number of states which allow gay people to be fired for the sole reason that the employer has discovered that the employee is gay : 29

    Number of states which allow Mormons to be fired for their religion : 0

    It’s not a graduate-level exercise to figure out which side Rawls would take. So, please, enough with the Rawls. (Actually, by invoking Rawls are you saying, in code, that you disagree with your friend? I bet that’s it.)

    Plus, if a poster makes blatantly anti-some random group references, expect for that poster to be called out. Even if he is your friend. And yes, Paine was a deist, my mistake (reminder–don’t rely on memory) but boy did he hate Christianity.

  135. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    B. Bishop; “traditional marriage” is a meaningless phrase, seeing as how it embraces female-female marriages in Africa, male-male marriages in what is now the United States, Polygyny pretty much everywhere, Polyandry in parts of Tibet and Nepal, and something amazingly confusing but certainly allowing multiple partners for both sexes in Australia and Hawaii.

  136. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Oh, polyandry, or something close, was also practiced (and may still be, for all I know) in the Amazon basin.

  137. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    And how does a Mormon use the word “traditional marriage” with a straight face? (Says one with not only polygamous ancestors, but who had the offspring of them in the family until I was pretty much grown?)

  138. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Shoot, Chris H., I think I just outed you. Not as gay, but as well, sorry. I’m just a little slow on the uptake, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed.

  139. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Actually the most disadvantaged are the poor. It is not the difference principle, but other aspects of Rawlsian thought which touch on this issue.

    Elsewhere (in Square Two), Ralph has pointed out that the Rawlsian social good of a social basis of self-respect which might lead to a liberationist-style liberalism which would include a certain openness to such things as gay-marriage. B. Bishop and Ralph have largely been referring to a different aspect of Rawls’ thought.

    djinn,

    Chris H and John Rawls are pretty interchangeable terms, at least within bloggernacle circles. I am not engaging Ralph on this because, as I have posted elsewhere, I am no longer looking to reconcile my Mormonism and my liberalism to anybody but myself. Their is not much outing about me, that I have not already outed about myself already.

  140. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    “It’s the people that your friend and original post-writer clearly wishes to discriminate against seeing as how one of the main points he made is his desire to fire them from university positions for the sin of whom they’ve chosen (or would like to choose) for a partner.”

    BYU, and other church schools, give a special preference to practicing Church members. They do so under not only the freedom of religion, but the freedom of association. Ralph’s comment only applies to such schools. This may be a good reason to not attend or support such schools, but they should be allowed to do so. I argue this not just as a BYU employee, which I am, but as somebody who supports Mills argument about allow beliefs and practices even if we do not like them. Now, this same view would likely lead one to be open to things such a gay marriage, but for me it is less about policy formation, but more an attitude of tolerance.

    Now, before people start whining about the OP’s (Ralph: here I am referring to your post and not the original position ;)) of toleration, I am not arguing that anyone should accept Mill, I am just explaining my perspective. If Mill could shrug off polygamy, there is much that we can shrug off. All of us.

  141. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    But Chris H., as I explain wayyy up in the earliest comments on this post, there is no chance of BYU being forced to change their hiring policies. None. It’s a non-argument. It’s not pining for the fjords, it’s not resting, This argument is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late argument! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed him to the philosophical position he would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It’s hopped the twig! It’s shuffled off this mortal coil! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This…. is an EX-ARGUMENT!

    So, what’s the point?

  142. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    djinn,

    I do not think anything is that sure. Anything.

    The question really is not whether BYU will be forced to hire any particular person, but whether it will be able to continue to receive federal student loans. Any university the size of BYU relies on such aid to survive. Such concerns are relevant if we portray people who oppose gay marriage as mere bigots. No many are, but I think it is an over-simplification.

    My guess is that half your comment above will likely discourage Ralph or anybody else from responding.

  143. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Other than that the inestimable and much smarter than me (not disputed) and other commenters (no way to know) Prof. Hancock pretty clearly behaves as if he hates the portion of humans that are born homosexual. I get to call him a bigot. I think this is the point of the post. Prof. Hancock wishes to treat decent people badly and not suffer the consequences. Tough.

  144. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Shall I post the Supreme Court case again that says that BYU can continue to discriminate without any problem at all? Here it is: Corp. of Presiding Bishop v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327 (1987). It’s settled law. Hate on!

  145. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Chris H, why would my little innocent girly comment prevent someone with a tenured position from replying? Nothing comes to mind. Though I must say, I admire you more with each comment you make, even though you disagree with me.

    I actually proofread, and I’m guessing that the word “bigot” is what prompted your post saying that it prevented Prof. Hancock “or anybody else from responding” to me. But why? I’m just some random idiot. Show me, tell me that I’m wrong.

  146. Ardis E. Parshall on June 11, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    You are not wrong.

  147. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Well, rulings related to gay rights from the 1980s (particularly those against it) are on shaking ground (for the most part that is a good thing). Since Lawrence in 2002 (??) I think it would not be crazy to think that such law is less than settled.

    I do not think you are a random idiot, but I have interacted with you for a longtime.

    “Prof. Hancock pretty clearly behaves as if he hates the portion of humans that are born homosexual.”

    I can tell you that comments like these usually turn me off. Why would I engage the person writing them about me. Now, I am often a punk and on purpose. But do not pretend that you just want answers and dialogue.

  148. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Or does Prof. Hancock and the mysterious others just hate Monty Python?

  149. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Chris H., and anyone else listening, what would you think about someone who wrote the following sentence: “In the long run, the victory of the MORMON-rights faction would be incompatible with the religious freedom of those who oppose such rights – the freedom, for example, to teach one’s children that MORMONISM is wrong and not conducive to ultimate happiness, or to run a private university in which the practice of MORMONISM is grounds for dismissing a student or an employee.” Not a nice person?

    Concerning the law and the future, none of us have any idea, but Roberts and Alito are in their 50′s, and the liberals actually believe in precedent, so I wouldn’t be quite so worried.

    I would, however, be worried about the opinions of your kids/grandkids. ‘Cause they may just not agree with you.

  150. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Chris H., and Prof. Hancock, just ask Kaimi.

  151. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Oh, Prof, Hancock, as a fan, I’d just like to say that I admire anyone who can work the word ‘ontology’ in any of its myriad forms into a conversation. I’ve only managed it maybe once in my life.

    (Sorry, sorry, sorry, I know I’m posting too much. Please delete me as I’m sure I’m getting tiresome.)

  152. ludlow on June 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    This is an old meme, but I believe a truth. The younger generations care less and less about prohibiting gay relationships and marriage. It won’t be long until most pro-8 voters will be dead. And even sooner will come the time when pro-gay marriage voters will be the majority.

    Mores do change over time. And I’m glad. I should never want to have had to fit into a bustier.

  153. Ralph on June 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    OK, well, if my job was to generate some comments/responses, then I guess I’m a huge success! By other standards, well, compared to what, I suppose? I do really appreciate all those who made a good effort at thinking about questions I have raised, and even those who have kind of shot off and then repented and then relapsed. At least the repenting part is affecting. I can see I don’t quite “get” the tone expectations of web “discussions” like this.
    I thank Brant and Chris H. for stepping up and taking some fire for me – that’s way beyond the call of duty for an unrepentant Rawlsian, Chris. But then you and I have different Rawls’s. And thanks to It’s Not Me and any others who grasped at least part of what I was saying and helped to clarify, even simplify in a useful way. I might have tried to intervene again earlier, but I’ve made my way to LA for a really interesting, rich conference at USC on Mormon Engagement with World Religions, sponsored by my friends Randall Paul and Brian Birch and others of the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy. I’ll be talking tomorrow morning (9am Pacific), along with Fred Gedicks, Kristine Hagland, others on matters closely related to this ill-fated (?) post: The Mormon Voice in a Pluralistic Society. I’ll try to give some report on that maybe early next week, when I’m back to my full-sized keyboard (since my figures are not that agile on this little netbook).
    I suppose it was too much to hope that my appeal to the “second order” issue would succeed in lowering the temperature and raising the quality of the debate re. Prop 8 and all that. What I was somehow hoping to help some people see is simply that the ever-expanding-rights position is not a morally neutral position, nor a simply rational position, nor a position without a downside. It is a position based upon a distinct and contestable understanding of what it means to be human, what human existence means. A society that increasingly adopts such an understanding will be decreasingly friendly to other understandings, in particular any understanding of human existence compatible with something like The Family: a Proclamation to the World. And yes, I am quite convinced that the plate-tectonics of public opinion, the fundamental, mostly implicit beliefs that political philosophy strives to articulate and to shape, are more powerful “in the long run” than the nuts and bolts of constitutional law. You have noticed that I’m don’t have all the law cases at my fingertips (which does not mean necessarily that I’m as innocent as some of you experts would like to believe). I welcome information from such experts, but I really don’t think it’s decisive. You see, I’m not talking about what the court is likely to do next year or even in the next decade. I’m talking about a sea change in basic premises that would constitute a re-founding or un-founding of a constitutional regime such as we have known it. It’s a sea change that to be sure has been in the making for decades, but I think we may be reaching a point of no return, and the complete liquidation of legal and thus cultural support for “traditional” marriage strikes me, just possibly, as such a point.
    Some of you are very quick to conclude that I just hate gays, I and those “conservatives” like me are just prejudiced, we were just raised that way, there’s nothing to be done. What can I say, except, isn’t that convenient for you? Well, I suppose I’ll add this: I became “conservative” (of a certain kind, broadly Tocquevillean), not because I was raised in a little town of Utah where everyone was straight and white and Mormon (I went to a Seattle-area H.S. with 2 other LDS, lots of Jews); my parents weren’t particularly political; I was still politically unformed, voting Democratic, studying Rawls (when Rawls was new), exploring socialism with an open mind when I arrived at Harvard Graduate School and was introduced to a tradition of political philosophy extending from Plato through Machiavelli to Mill, Marx, Nietzsche. So I might be wrong (though, like Adrian Monk, I don’t think so), but it’s not because I’ve never gotten over what I learned on my Mother’s knee or in some John Bircher’s Sunday School class.
    That said, my religious convictions are not irrelevant to my politics – and why should they be? If I occasionally seem exasperated (I’m all too human in this respect and others), it’s because I find what modern prophets say against the radicalization of liberalism to be very well supported by the deepest philosophic thought on this subject, and yet so many would-be intellectuals think they have proved themselves to be enlightened by rejecting wise counsel from Church leaders.
    Am I anti-“gay”? Yes, I am against increasing the public respectability of “gays” and granting them new rights on the basis of some analogy of “sexual preference” with race. I don’t know if or why God made gays, just as I don’t know why lots of people were allotted lots of troubles and challenges in this life. But “preferences” they want to express. I think every society instantiates certain priorities and requires its members to conform. The coming regime of liberation, if that is indeed what is coming, would be no different, and in many ways more exigent that earlier, more moderate and tradition-based forms of liberalism. I haven’t cited all the cases and examples, but you can find them if you want: a wedding chapel being shut down for not performing “gay marriages,” “hate speech” prosecutions for saying homosexuality is wrong (is that only in Canada and Europe? – well, that’s the future of the U.S. for which many of you seem to pine). The regulation of sexuality and reproduction by law and custom is clearly one of the essential functions that any reasonably stable society must accomplish. Correspondingly, the governing of sexual passions within a viable life-plan and life-order is on the whole essential to a decent and orderly and fulfilling existence for the individual. To pretend that we can just let everyone make up the rules for themselves, and “society” will pick up the pieces, fill in the gaps, is not responsible. For one thing, the complete separation of sexuality from reproduction (in the large sense that includes nurturing and educating one’s offspring) seems to be leading (in Progressive European societies) to demographic disaster. (And by the way: you need not intervene here to remind me that some very nice couples don’t have babies, and some very nice “gay” couples make fine parents. I’m talking about the shape emphasis and general tendency of a whole political society.) A culture of liberationism seems to amount in practice to a culture of death: if the strongest passions do not fit into some larger, meaningful, lasting whole (including children), then the center really doesn’t hold, does it? (And the fact that some African tribe practiced polyandry doesn’t really prove anything, now does it? I bet that society had some fairly strict norms of some kind that you wouldn’t want to be binding. And are you sure you like the overall results in that society – is it one you want to emulate?)
    So, do I wish homosexuals to be “second-class citizens”? Well, not exactly. I think it best that homosexual activity continue to be, as it always has been, a second-class activity, which may be tolerated but not widely approved or emulated. A society that “respects” any expression of sexuality whatsoever is one that cannot give the various commitments and duties associated with the hard work of building real families all the respect and protection they need to survive.
    If my term as guest blogger doesn’t end too soon, I’ll try to fill you in on good stuff here at USC.

    Oh, and finally: I don’t regard it as an argument to say that opinions are trending in a certain direction and that settles the question. Trends can change, and even if they don’t, they can be for the worse.

  154. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Ah, Prof. Hancock, so your objection to people with sexual preferences different than your own is entirely religious. Fine. Mormonism is, what, 3% of the US? Good luck with that.

    As to your comment about reproductive disaster, the population of the earth has taken off exponentially since, uh somewhere between the 1920′s and 1940′s increasing the population from 2 to close to 7 billion people in rougly 70 years. This is simply unsustainable.

    Also how dare you say that homosexuals “cannot give the various commitments and duties assoiated with the hard wark of building real families.” You are a bigot. Congrats. Also, you obviously haven’t looked at the most recent peer-reviewed studies which show that kids do thee best with lesbian couples. So there.

  155. Chris H. on June 11, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    An Adrian Monk reference…awesome. I knew that I liked you for a good reason.

    I think what I most appreciate about your arguments about this issue are that you place some this type of issue within a more philosophical context. That is a type of debate that I value, though I am doubting whether our audience is ready.

    I would love to here more about the USC conference.

    I know that I do not have a vote in the matter but…Hancock for Perma 2010.

  156. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Chris H., you need new friends.

  157. djinn on June 11, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Monk sucks. It so obviously starts at the conclusion and builds a tenuous string backwards.

  158. Ralph on June 12, 2010 at 12:00 am

    OK, well, djinn, in case there was any doubt, you have finally proven yourself definitively, beyond all doubt, totally unequipped for rational discussion. If you ever want to try — if it’s not irrevocably too late — to begin to develop actual powers of reasoning, then try reading what I just wrote above, then read what you wrote in ostensible reply, then repeat, etc.

  159. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 12:00 am

    #156: I will stick with the ones that I have. It is a small group, but they cannot be beat.

    #157: Them be fighting words. Call Ralph a bigot all you want, but do not mess with Monk.

  160. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Wait, wait, wait. Tucked neatly into Prof. Hancocks fear about the low birth rate in Europe in spite of the the exponential human population growth is an unspoken but obvious racial bias. More people, many many more people with skin darker than yours are being born. Are you a racist or just clueless?

  161. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 12:02 am

    djinn,

    Time for you to go to bed.

  162. Mark Brown on June 12, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Am I anti-“gay”? Yes, I am against increasing the public respectability of “gays” and granting them new rights on the basis of some analogy of “sexual preference” with race.

    Professor Hancock, may I point out, as respectfully as possible, that this position is in direct opposition to the position articulated by elder Holland in support of the action by the city council of Salt Lake City? It is one thing to oppose same sex marriage; it is quite another thing to oppose granting any other new rights such as the right to not be fired from work or evicted from your apartment because you are gay.

    Please note, I do not want to make you an offender for a word, there has already been plenty of that on this thread. If I have misinterpreted what you mean, please help me understand.

  163. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I truly love the actor who plays Monk, Tony Shalhoub, and even watched some stupid tv show about airplanes to see him drive a cab, but Monk I cannot stand, for the reasons given. The plots are just clearly too contrived. I have the same problem with House, FWIW.

  164. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Chris H., sometimes it is time for me to go to bed. But, I suggest you suggest that your friend rewrite his comment.

  165. Ralph on June 12, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Thanks, Mark, for a fair question. I don’t equate Elder Holland’s position with full public respectability of homosexuality in the sense of equal status with traditional marriage. I regard such questions as thsoe addressed by the city council as prudential matters of balancing considerations. I find the slope a little slippery — there are always costs involved in using law to prevent practices we may well regard as unfair, misguided, etc. –, but I defer to Elder Holland’s judgment.

  166. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Ralph! I wouldn’t call you that, but that’s the name that appears on your post. Please tell me why I’m definitely unequipped for rational discussion. Examples please. A simple insult is difficult to refute.

  167. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 12:15 am

    “A simple insult is difficult to refute.”

    Ummm, indeed.

  168. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:16 am

    I’m quite willing to grant Prof. Hancock’s right to hate me; or dislike me, or whatever, but it does not negate a single point I made.

  169. Mark Brown on June 12, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Thanks Ralph.

    Just one other, semi-related question. I am already on record in comment # 1 as saying that I think everything is always on a slippery slope. Is it fair to say that the underlying assumption of self-government is that, in general, the populace will be able to make the necessary, temporary adjustments and course corrections to prevent sliding all the way to the bottom? Maybe I’m just temperamentally disinclined to think we are always sliding downwards, and that is the only way slippery slopes arguments go.

  170. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I am doubting whether our audience is ready.

    Seriously? Maybe it’s just me, but you seem to be fawning over an exceedingly accessible comment.

    And Ralph seems to be dialing this stuff in from an alternate universe where Lawrence never happened. Meanwhile, back here on Earth, we’re mostly curious to hear what the big deal is about gay marriage on our post-Lawrence planet.

  171. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Chino,

    I was not talking about the thread. Ralph and I have been discussing over the last many month the prospect of engaging Mormons in a deeper, more philosophical, discussion about politics/morality. I have seen Skousenites/Beckites react much more negatively to Ralph than anything said here.

  172. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Slippery slope arguments are stupid. Sorry; I just liked the alliteration. Actually, they’re a well-recognized logical fallacy.

  173. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 12:34 am

    djinn – c’mon, it’s not too much to ask that you ratchet it down a few notches.

  174. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Prof. Hancock: “And the fact that some African tribe practiced polyandry doesn’t really prove anything, now does it?”

    I’m not actually aware of any African societies that practiced polyandry, though Mormonism (Joseph Smith), certain parts of Tibet, Nepal, and tribes in the Amazonian basin did. The point of my post that you misread was that “Traditional Marriage” (a phrase you’re quite fond of) comes in more forms than you are willing to admit, or even quote correctly.

  175. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I’m just some stupid female: see Prof. Hancock for proof. So, it seems to me that my comments, by definition, and by experience here don’t count.

  176. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 12:44 am

    djinn,

    Actually, I was never sure of your gender. Your comments have received more than a sufficient amount of attention. As commenters, we do not really have some sort of claim that requires the post author or anyone else to address any and all of our comments.

    Ralph,

    I look forward to future posts.

    Chino,

    Till later.

  177. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Chris H. – Sorry if I misread your comment.

    By the way, I don’t think the problem here is a question of “tone” … The reality is that blogging tends to be a slog because it requires stating and restating certain original positions over and over again for the benefit of those who are only lately joining the conversation. If that effort had been made early on here, quite a bit of this drama most likely could’ve been avoided.

  178. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Actually, my gender didn’t enter into Prof. Hancock’s remarks, on further reading; my mistake. He just insulted me which is certainly his right. I thought my gender was known.

  179. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Chino Blanco, I only come at one speed. It’s a serious problem.

  180. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Chris H., want me to quote some Stormfront (the American Nazi Party) posts that make the same point as uh, someone or other?  Here’s one.  And Godwin for the win.  And now to bed. And banning?

  181. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Darn it, forgot the spanking reference.

  182. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 1:27 am

    djinn – Whatever speed you’re traveling, if you find your brakes are failing or the wheels are threatening to come off, can I suggest a pit stop at FLAK or MSP?

    Running at full throttle is no excuse for running others off the road.

    And I’m sorry if this seems like I’m targeting you. I simply don’t want to be associated with anything like shouting down my opponents.

  183. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 1:38 am

    I promised to be off to bed but overt homophobia and thinly veiled racism make me angry. I also find it hard to belive that such beliefs actually represent the Mormon church either. Night night.

  184. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I’m not running anyone off the road. Anyone who wants can correct me. And I’ll even admit that I’m wrong.

  185. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Well, this is me flipping you the bird as you complicate my morning commute. There are purpose-built racetracks for the kind of antics you’re bringing here. I suggested a couple.

    This is not me twirling my baton and leading a parade for what Ralph is bringing here, but I sure hope our behavior here hasn’t scared him off from bringing what he has to say to this forum.

  186. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Prof. Hancock is a grown man and can defend himself.

  187. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Prof. Hancock, as a sincere request, could you make the Rawlsian argument for your post?

  188. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Prof. Hancock left a comment at #153 that speaks for itself. You’re a grown woman. Respond.

    Not that you haven’t, but, c’mon, the non sequiturs are unfortunate distractions.

  189. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Maybe I should take my own advice. So here goes …

    I suppose it was too much to hope that my appeal to the “second order” issue would succeed in lowering the temperature and raising the quality of the debate re. Prop 8 and all that.

    Yeah, if only it were that easy. Our collective bad on that front. Shorter Ralph: a better audience, please.

    As if we haven’t covered this ground countless times in these parts. In terms of Prop 8, welcome to the burned-over district, Ralph. Talk about your naïveté.

    Moving on … B. Bishop’s word salad response left me unsatisfied, so I’ve gotta ask: How long can Ralph Hancock continue to willfully misapprehend homosexuality before the gig is up? Is there some yet-to-be-conducted study that would finally settle the issue to Ralph’s satisfaction? I suspect not and suspect that determining this issue on such terms is anyways a non-starter for Ralph. If so, no matter how we rank our various “issues” it’s all down to waiting for further notice from God in Ralph’s world, isn’t it?

    I think we may be reaching a point of no return, and the complete liquidation of legal and thus cultural support for “traditional” marriage strikes me, just possibly, as such a point.

    It annoys me to no end that it’s been years now and folks like Ralph still haven’t figured out that those of us fighting for marriage equality are really, truly, simply fighting for extending the benefits of marriage to all. Scary stuff. ;-)

    Am I anti-“gay”? Yes, I am against increasing the public respectability of “gays”

    To what end? My kingdom for a Mormon Burke.

    I don’t know if or why God made gays

    But somehow you know enough to support making their lives more difficult. Basis?

  190. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 6:24 am

    As it always has been?

    I think it best that homosexual activity continue to be, as it always has been, a second-class activity, which may be tolerated but not widely approved or emulated.

    Wasn’t it previously illegal? Not quite the same as second-class.

    Good gravy, man. I was a waiter at Michael’s on 55th and have no idea how “emulating” homosexuality is supposed to work in the real world. In other words, my social network in New York was extremely gay, but, as far as I can tell, I’m still extremely straight. How much more exposure do I require before teh gay takes hold (or I otherwise start spontaneously “emulating”)?

    A society that “respects” any expression of sexuality whatsoever is one that cannot give the various commitments and duties associated with the hard work of building real families all the respect and protection they need to survive.

    There are plenty of societies that prove this claim false on its face. And I’m talking about manly Group of Eight kind of societies.

  191. Chino Blanco on June 12, 2010 at 6:46 am

    And yes, I am quite convinced that the plate-tectonics of public opinion, the fundamental, mostly implicit beliefs that political philosophy strives to articulate and to shape, are more powerful “in the long run” than the nuts and bolts of constitutional law.

    Which is why I’ve always wondered why these outfits are always named after John Adams or James Madison. Why not show PR geniuses like Edward Bernays, Richard Wirthlin, or Gary Lawrence a little respect?

  192. Chris H. on June 12, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Chino #191,

    I think that quote means that he is interested in ideas and their power role in public opinion and not the detail of the Supreme Court rulings. In other words, political thought over case law. So, something deeper than polling which we often associate with public opinion and political thought.

  193. ExMoHoMoDon on June 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    While of course I am no professor, might I pose a question or two regarding Ralph’s contention that the expansion of rights inevitably leads to a sort of unsustainable collapse of too many rights? Other than the equal civil right of homosexuals to marry, what other rights is he willing to curtail? Perhaps as Rand Paul suggests, he prefers we roll back 60′s civil rights laws–too many rights there perhaps? Perhaps the good professor can manage at least one other example? If his contention that denying homosexuals equal protection under the law is simply ‘defending traditional marriage’, would he define Mormonism’s core doctrine (DC 132) of polygamy as traditional? I am a father of 3 boys, one of whom is adopted from meth-addicted parents who abused him severely–so am I allowed to simultaneously puke and be angry at the statement that people like me are incapable of doing the hard work of raising good families? If it matters, all three of my boys are heterosexual, so they didn’t catch ‘the Gay’ from me. If, as in Prop 8, the learned professor is wiling to enshrine inequality for homosexuals into the CA Constitution, would he be willing to do the same for those who divorce? (how about making divorce illegal altogether?) Heterosexual divorce creates more children without a Mommy or Daddy than homosexual marriage does, in spite of the fear-mongering tactics (Prop 8 for the Children!!) of Prop 8 supporters. How about making it illegal for felons (even those who murder women and children) to marry? Any prisoner in any jurisdiction has the right to marry, in spite of their crimes. Does it damage ‘traditional marriage’ for Charles ‘Tex’ Watson to marry and father 4 children in prison? I am sure my questions do nothing to lower the temperature of the Prop 8 debate nor are they high falutin’ enough for the good professor, so I ask in advance for everyone to forgive my comments based on my gut reaction of anger over what I consider to be an attack on me and my family–yeah, I do take it personally. BTW, Ralph lost me when he used the term ‘homosexual lifestyle’. While I don’t pepper my comments with references to any philosophers, I do make it point not to use words or terms I can’t define myself. Therefore, I ask anyone, especially the Professor, just once to tell me what the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ is?

  194. ExMoHoMoDon on June 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    For those too young too know, Charles Watson was convicted of 8 murders, using strangulation, stabbing and a gun in the Manson killings. In 1979, he married in prison and has fathered 4 children. Any Mormons willing to cough up 20 mil to stop that kind of ‘traditional’ marriage? At least he hasn’t tried to marry a guy….that would be really icky.

  195. djinn on June 12, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    chino blanco — contact me djinngenie at gmail.com

  196. ExMoHoMoDon on June 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    So that perhaps my raw reaction to the Professor’s thesis might be deemed worthy of consideration, let me pose the questions in terms of his ‘second order thesis’. How does the legal right of heterosexuals to divorce or the right of Charles Watson and thousands of other inmates guilty of heinous crimes to marry ‘reshape the dominant substantive morality.’ ? Let me hazard a guess…these rights don’t, because they apply to heterosexuals and not to those homosexuals who deserve a second class status according the the Professor. I will now be quiet and wait for an answer hopefully from the heights from which the Professor proposes that I deserve inequality and second class status.

  197. ExMoHoMoDon on June 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Sorry, make that the rarified heights.

  198. queuno on June 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    djinn (58) – “Due to a Supreme Court Case from 1987, “Corp. of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos,” religious organizations are exempt from prohibition of religious discrimination in employment even in secular activities. Now I realise that that last sentence was somewhat tendentious, but what it means is that it is settled law in the United States that the Mormon Church can prohibit homosexuals from attending BYU, from working in any position offered by the LDS church (even those with no direct connection to the church).”

    Given the Church’s recent statements on homosexuality, I don’t think they’d get away with discriminating solely on that basis, rather, on the basis of a “practicing homosexuality”.

    It wasn’t *that* long ago that there were openly gay professors at BYU who weren’t practicing and were considered employable (name is drawing a blank now, but there was one in the Spanish Department in the 1990s).

  199. ExMoHoMoDon on June 12, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Given the Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of speech, free practice of religion, and freedom of association, the conflict between the Constitution’s guarantee of these freedoms and the guarantee of equal protection under the law (even for homosexuals) is largely a hysterically imagined one. Equal protection of civil marriage for homosexuals does not conflict with the freedom to practice your religion, however hateful it may be towards homosexuals. The NJ case always dragged out to demonstrate this conflict is the perfect example of histrionics, not solid case law. The property in question was a money making venture, open to the public, and as such subject to NJ’s requirement of non discrimination. It was not a Church, and did not involve the Church’s freedom to worship or believe as it chose–it simply required that a money making venture owned by the Church by providing public accommodation be open to all citizens. How awful!! Imagine the horror. The fear that someone might sue is real. People can sue for anything–doesn’t mean that the suit has legal merit. Furthermore, the pushback from homosexual activists is loudly proclaimed as proof that religious freedom is threatened. (Elder Oaks) Overwhelmingly, protests, boycotts and demonstrations have all been legal and peaceful. Outside of minor vandalism to the fence of the LA Temple, can anyone name a single case of any gay person or group convicted of or accused of any illegal activity whatsoever? Any cases, names? Anything? I think what Elder Oaks and others really don’t like is being questioned at all. Sorry, the Constitution does not afford you the privilege of immunity from criticism, thoughtful and respectful or otherwise. You can and should be able to say, believe and think what you feel and to be safe in your person and property: the Constitution protects that. It doesn’t protect you from having your feelings hurt because those you believe to be inferior to you have the audacity to question, criticize and even say mean things about you when you take civil rights away from them. That guarantee could only be afforded to you by a theocracy.

  200. Kaimi on June 13, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Professor Hancock writes,

    In the long run, the victory of the homosexual-rights faction would be incompatible with the religious freedom of those who oppose such rights – the freedom, for example, to teach one’s children that homosexuality is wrong and not conducive to ultimate happiness, or to run a private university in which the practice of homosexuality is grounds for dismissing a student or an employee.”

    I haven’t cited all the cases and examples, but you can find them if you want: a wedding chapel being shut down for not performing “gay marriages,” “hate speech” prosecutions for saying homosexuality is wrong (is that only in Canada and Europe? – well, that’s the future of the U.S. for which many of you seem to pine).

    As multiple legal academics (including me) have written on multiple occasions, these conclusions (which have been circulated in the LDS community) are incorrect. I’d be happy to go into this in further detail if folks would like. (For instance, how many LDS church leaders — who have clearly said that homosexuality is a sin) have been prosecuted for hate speech? Zero. How many forced gay weddings in the Boston Temple? Zero.)

    Professor Hancock’s legal statements are incorrect. To the extent that his other conclusions rely on faulty legal analysis, they may also be suspect.

    (Of course, it is possible to make pro Proposition 8 arguments without resorting to dubious legal claims. However, for a variety of reasons, church leaders and members seemed to prefer to couch Prop 8 advocacy in legal argument.)

  201. Kaimi Wenger on June 13, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Let’s address the other issue.

    Professor Hancock writes,

    “You have noticed that I’m don’t have all the law cases at my fingertips (which does not mean necessarily that I’m as innocent as some of you experts would like to believe). I welcome information from such experts, but I really don’t think it’s decisive. You see, I’m not talking about what the court is likely to do next year or even in the next decade. I’m talking about a sea change in basic premises that would constitute a re-founding or un-founding of a constitutional regime such as we have known it.”

    This is a more complex claim.

    Simpler sorts of claims which I’ve heard repeatedly from members (“Church leaders will be arrested for saying that homosexuality is wrong!”) are

    Let’s look at the broader claim.

    Without Prop 8, foundations will shift, such that at some hard to define point in the future, things will get worse in some unspecific way.

    This is a basic appeal to status quo preservation.

    As a descriptive matter, it is absolutely true that large societal shifts often take place in particular steps; and that people are sometimes poor judges of potential future effects of political change. Marriage Cases _could_ be step one in the inexorable shift toward the 2050 establishment of the United Gay States of America, and in 2010 we almost certainly would not know it.

    Sometimes slopes slip.

    At the same time, it is also true that a *lot* of specious slippery slope arguments have been made over the years. It’s not hard to see why. Slippery slope arguments in favor of the status quo are very easy to make. They require little proof, and are high on speculation. And because of this, they are very often wrong.

    (And making these statements as a church leader is not a guarantee that they are correct. Do I need to post some Ezra Taft Benson predictions?)

    Sometimes slopes slip. A lot of times, they don’t.

    And people — including church leaders — tend to be poor predictors of which slopes will slip, and where and how.

    Because of that, I don’t find the consequentialist argument that “we should not do X because we can’t know for sure what kinds of unpredictable future effects it might have” particularly convincing in most cases.

    (And I find the general status-quo argument even less convincing when it is linked to more specific claims or predictions which are incorrect or misleading.)

  202. Chino Blanco on June 13, 2010 at 1:47 am

    djinn – I apologize for the string of rude comments that I directed your way up above. Totally undeserved. I’m the one who should’ve kept to my bedtime rather than making a jerk of myself at your expense. Sorry.

  203. djinn on June 13, 2010 at 2:17 am

    Chino Blanco, I was doing my best to not comment on this string ever ever again, but I appreciated your comments. I think you were doing your best, and hold nothing against you.

  204. djinn on June 13, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Darn it, I can’t help myself, but Mr. Blanco, does this mean you realize that no one even bothered to refute my substantive analysis, even you, rather going for the infinitely easier route of misquoting me and calling me a series of uninteresting (but presumably unflattering) names? Thank you.

    Posters! Listen! Improve your insults. To Me. Now. Or I will be, uh, bored.

  205. Mark D. on June 13, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Slippery slope arguments are stupid. Sorry; I just liked the alliteration. Actually, they’re a well-recognized logical fallacy.

    Some slopes are slippery. It is just typically virtually impossible to establish. To say nothing of all the lazy arguments that assume that actions are never followed by reactions. Every slippery slope advocate should be required to recite Le Chatelier’s principle ten times before going to sleep.

  206. djinn on June 13, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Mark D., slopes go up and down. And sideways.

  207. djinn on June 13, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I decided, for fun, to write a substantive comment on this post, rather than just amusing myself. The blowback from Prop. 8 was not religious at all. It was entirely because some organization from outside of California–an amazingly well funded and well run organization– decided to take existing rights away from actual human beings who wished to be families. The fact that the organization was religious was just a side issue.

    Another substantive issue; in the original post, as far as I can tell, Prof. Hancock states that granting rights to a portion of the public that does not have them is a curtailment of his rights. He gives the example of the civil rights act and property laws. Well, wehen slaves were freed, it hurt the property rights of slaveowners and we fought a rather astonishingly deadly war over the subject.

    So I say, tough. The presumed right you suppose, to hate homosexuals t deny them basic rights and not be called a bigot has only a marginal effect on your life. (Perhaps, as you’re a BYU Prof it has a positive effect.)

    That is, it has no real effect on your life. You can still marry a woman. Or even several in succession (I’m thinking of Rush Limbaugh’s 4th marriage, that noble exemplar of traditional rights.)

    But the right to marry (and associated rights, such as the right to adopt) have serious consequences for those that you feel it necessary to be left out of the equation.

    The world “Rawls” has been batted around. I’ll just say let’s do the least harm–let gay people marry. It’s simple.

  208. jimbob on June 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    “does this mean you realize that no one even bothered to refute my substantive analysis, even you, rather going for the infinitely easier route of misquoting me and calling me a series of uninteresting (but presumably unflattering) names?”

    djinn,

    I did a quick count, and you’ve made about 60 comments on this thread. About half look something akin to stream-of-consciousness and are hard to tie to any other comment in particular. As such, you’ve put yourself in position where people are so tired of your comments, that no one really cares what your position is anymore, to the extent they’re still reading you at all. There is such a thing as being your own worst enemy, regardless of the rightness or wrongness of your overall points. (Believe me, I know from sad experience.)

  209. Davis on June 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    djinn,

    If I’m not mistaken, Prof. Hancock was referring to this quote from you, “Also how dare you say that homosexuals ‘cannot give the various commitments and duties assoiated with the hard wark of building real families.’”

    This was an egregious misquotation – accidental or otherwise – of what Ralph actually said, which was that, “A society that “respects” any expression of sexuality whatsoever is one that cannot give the various commitments and duties associated with the hard work of building real families all the respect and protection they need to survive.”

  210. Dan on June 14, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    why is my comment awaiting moderation?

  211. Alison Moore Smith on June 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I’m just wading through all this. Good stuff.

    Kristine #15:

    The problem is not that the church gets too involved in politics…We of all people ought to recognize that being anxiously engaged in improving the temporal welfare of our neighbors and our country is a spiritual duty…which is explicitly defined as not only remaining unspotted from the world, but visiting the fatherless and widowed.

    While I agree that being anxiously engaged in improving the (temporal and spiritual) welfare of my neighbors and country is a spiritual duty, I think few spiritual duties should be politically mandated.

    Many Mormons who who will gladly mandate dental care and green cars for all as some kind of “right,” aren’t equally compelled to keep innocent, healthy babies from being aborted with protective legislation. If we’re going to “force our values on others” — which, of course, we do with EVERY law — some things seem to be more morally compelling than others to me. And if you’re wondering, I’m not really worried about getting everyone a hybrid through taxation.

    Geoff-Australia #22:

    One of the problems here is whether homosexuality is a choice or a condition.

    I don’t think this IS the issue at all. Unlike skin color, the church’s position with the problem of homosexuality is not the person’s inclination, it’s his/her BEHAVIOR. And when behavior is the issue, the church (and society as well) rarely gives some kind of exception to appropriate behavior. “Oh, well, you were born aggressive, so go ahead and beat your kids.”

    Modern pop psychology lists almost EVERY inappropriate behavior as some kind of condition, syndrome, addiction. And then we use it to absolve us of responsibility for our BEHAVIOR. Personally, I don’t think inclinations, feelings, leanings, desires, etc., give us a special dispensation from moral behavior.

    I have a couple of good friends and a few more distant friends who are homosexual and LDS (or former LDS). It has been sad and troubling and I have no answers. I would personally welcome a policy change about homosexuality. But I think it’s entirely possible that God actually, really, long-term wants to keep sex to married men/women combos. And if that’s the case, it’s not going to make some people happy.

  212. Alison Moore Smith on June 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Raymond #100: I, too, remember the street dancing. :) I was 14 in 1978, living in Orem, Utah. My mom was practically screaming up the stairs. We all ran down and she told us. We all jumped up and down yelling. We went out into the front yard and, literally, everyone was spilling out into the neighborhood to hug and talk.

    Today, I guess we’d all flood to our computers to blog about it. :/

    Chris H. #139:

    I am not engaging Ralph on this …

    If my quick search was accurate, you’ve got about 34 posts on this thread. That’s an interesting way of ignoring the OP. ;)

    Thanks to Its Not Me (#106) and Ralph (#153).

  213. Chris H. on June 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    “Modern pop psychology lists almost EVERY inappropriate behavior as some kind of condition, syndrome, addiction.”

    Though, to clarify, “modern pop psychology” does not classify homosexuality as a “condition.” I have dealt with the choice factor elsewhere.

    “Many Mormons who who will gladly mandate dental care and green cars for all as some kind of ‘right,’ aren’t equally compelled to keep innocent, healthy babies from being aborted with protective legislation. ”

    I do not care about green cars, but otherwise, Alison has me figured out. I do think that Alison makes a good point (though this may not be her point). Nobody here is arguing for some form of absolute liberty. Living in society requires a certain amount of give and take.

  214. Chris H. on June 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Alison (#212),

    I was talking specifically about the philosophy of John Rawls which Ralph and I deeply disagree about.

    My active engagement on this post has to do with the fact that the permas here allowed this guest post (by my friend)to be overrun by …. well…do I have to point it out.

  215. Geoff-Australia on June 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Allison,

    If homosexuality is something people are born with rather than choose, THEN GOD MADE THEM THAT WAY AND WHO ARE WE TO SAY IT IS WRONG?

    Then the question becomes what have we against their being married? Don’t all the reasons we claim for hetrosexual marriage also apply to homosexual marriage?

    In my ward we have a range of family make ups. Couples with childre, couples without children, father and son, mother and sons, single individuals, mother sons and her father, two sisters and their children, two sisters their children and one husband. Most of these possibilities seem to be some how second rate to the ideal family.

  216. John Taber on June 15, 2010 at 8:20 am

    quenuo (#198):

    It wasn’t *that* long ago that there were openly gay professors at BYU who weren’t practicing and were considered employable (name is drawing a blank now, but there was one in the Spanish Department in the 1990s).

    I remember his name; I knew him personally. He was gay, but celibate. The administration said he could stay on, if he could commit in writing to staying celibate. He didn’t feel physically able to do that, so they gave him a year to find another job. He landed at Weber State, I believe.

  217. John Taber on June 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Allison #212:

    Today, I guess we’d all flood to our computers to blog about it. :/

    When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 there was plenty of street dancing – it was the first championship for Philadelphia since 1983.

  218. Alison Moore Smith on June 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Chris H., thanks for the clarification.

    Geoff-Australia #215:

    If homosexuality is something people are born with rather than choose, THEN GOD MADE THEM THAT WAY AND WHO ARE WE TO SAY IT IS WRONG?

    The real question is, “Who is GOD to say that it is wrong?” And, well, he’s God.

    Last I checked, there isn’t conclusive science on this issue. But, for the sake or argument, let’s assume there is and that homosexuality is purely (or mostly or partly or …) hard-wired.

    I have six kids. Each was born with very, very different personality traits, inclinations, leanings, desires. Some positive, some negative and, as with most character traits, many that could be either depending on the context. The fact that they were “born that way” is only meaningful with regard to what their strengths, weaknesses, challenges, or advantages will be. It’s not some kind of allowance with regard to BEHAVIOR. Although I see homosexual tendencies or desires or leanings (or whatever you’d like to call them) as more difficult, more troubling, more challenging, than many, many other challenges, issues, I don’t see them as distinctly different.

    Years ago I read studies that suggested that pedophilia had genetic correlation. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it were true, it wouldn’t meant that we should simply accept the BEHAVIOR. (And, before anyone says I’m equating pedophilia with homosexuality, take a deep breath and READ what I wrote.)

    Like I said, I’d welcome a policy change in the church, but ultimately I’ll leave it up to God to decide whether or not this issue is just cultural or doctrinal. What other basis is there for morality?

    Then the question becomes what have we against their being married? Don’t all the reasons we claim for hetrosexual marriage also apply to homosexual marriage?

    What are the “reasons” we claim for heterosexual marriage? The only reason I really know of is that the husband/wife commitment is the place to be sealed and to create, raise, protect, and nurture children. As far as the church is concerned — at least at this point — there is only one kind of couple that works to meet this end.

    Most of these possibilities seem to be some how second rate to the ideal family.

    So? If there is an ideal family (and the church seems to think there is), then anything else IS less than ideal. This argument seems more an appeal to self-esteem than to truth. What’s the point?

    I’m a second-rate (make that third-rate or fourth-rate) karate student. So what? I can go sit in a corner and cry or I can do the best with the 46-year-old body I have. I don’t say you can’t call better karate students (which would be just about ANY karate students) first-rate. I don’t think the truth is a problem.

    To celebrate my 40th birthday, I ran a marathon. I won’t even TELL you my time — because it was definitely way below second rate. But I finished the entire 26.2 without liver failure. I still think it was pretty cool to survive.

    I think we do ourselves (and our kids) a disservice when we pretend that there aren’t ideals and that some things aren’t better than others. If there is no standard, then the church, morality, and goodness don’t exist. And if there is a standard, they might as well hear about it.

    John, good on the Phillies fans. :)

  219. ExMoHoMoDon on June 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    No one is disputing your right to have an ideal in ‘The Church’. When you decide whether or not that is one man and many women or one man and one woman, then let the rest of us know. Wasn’t too long ago that the one man many women ‘ideal’ was said to be God-directed and anything less, was well…less. In the meantime same gender marriage is an issue related to secular equality only. Most of us are frankly not interested in the latest thing that God is telling the Mormons. God also said at one time that people of African descent were less-much less–than anyone who is white, and now that doctrine is in the ‘Oh Never Mind File’. Believe as you will, those of us who are homosexual will continue to push for secular equality, and in the not too distant future will achieve it. At that point, please move on to someone else who is less than ‘ideal’ and please take your smug self righteousness with you. BTW there is plenty of morality and goodness in the lives of homosexuals and their families, in spite of hateful political campaigns that say otherwise.

  220. California Condor on June 15, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @ Alison Moore Smith

    The issue isn’t what we as Mormons believe about homosexuality. The issue is us trying to make non-Mormons conform to our beliefs.

  221. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Alison BTW for those of us who don’t enjoy the same direct communication from God that you do, is the God that opposes equal civil laws for homosexuals the same one that said absolutely that black people were the Sons of Cain? Until they weren’t…just wondering.

  222. Alison Moore Smith on June 17, 2010 at 2:49 am

    No one is disputing your right to have an ideal in ‘The Church’.

    Um, yea, I think someone was.

    Don, I’m kind of aware of church history and I’m not a defender of polygamy or the church’s current response to it. So your point is? And ad hominem doesn’t prove your point — whatever it is supposed to be.

    In the meantime same gender marriage is an issue related to secular equality only. Most of us are frankly not interested in the latest thing that God is telling the Mormons.

    Then why worry yourself about it on a Mormon blog? And why identify yourself in relation to the church?

    BTW there is plenty of morality and goodness in the lives of homosexuals and their families, in spite of hateful political campaigns that say otherwise.

    It seems that you have a memorized party line to quote, based on particular word phrases that migh appear in a comment. You might note what I actually said, which — even though the words “homosexual” and “morality” appeared in the same comment — has nothing remotely to do with whether or not homosexuals have any morality or goodness in their lives.

    “Like I said, I’d welcome a policy change in the church, but ultimately I’ll leave it up to God to decide whether or not this issue is just cultural or doctrinal. What other basis is there for morality?”

    If we don’t base morality on what God wants — as best as we can perceive it — then we have only to base it on what humans think. And if that’s the case, then what the most raging white supremacist, anti-semitic, homophobe says is as valid as what you say. If you’re fine with that, then cool and I appreciate your consistency. But I’m not.

  223. Alison Moore Smith on June 17, 2010 at 2:55 am

    is the God that opposes equal civil laws for homosexuals the same one that said absolutely that black people were the Sons of Cain?

    Don, do you really think this proves something? I haven’t spent time reading your thoughts and philosophies, so it’s a sincere question. But I sincerely hope that someone so outspoken would only throw something like that out because they just thought everyone else on the planet was stupid, not because they really thought it got them points for their cause.

    And, by the way, do you want to show me where it is I said that God opposes gay marriage?

  224. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Alison,

    Just want to say that I appreciate your responses here on the last part of this thread.

  225. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Although I didn’t think I would have to explain it, ExMoHoMoDon is my handle simply to save time. It makes it easier for people to ignore what I say and dismiss it without trying to deal with it and proceed directly to attacking me as a homosexual and former Mormon ‘apostate’ leaving the few who actually try to deal with what I say to do so.

    Your right to have an ‘ideal’ in ‘The Church’ in my view is fully protected by Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion. If someone doesn’t agree with that, it is not I, and I further think they haven’t a legal leg to stand on.

    If you are not sure what my point is, how do you simultaneously proclaim that I haven’t made it?

    I wasn’t aware that there was a requirement of being a Mormon to participate in the blog–I thought the topic was about Mormon participation in the town square. So is this part of the town square roped off for Mormons only?

    You said: ‘If there is no standard, then the church, morality and goodness don’t exist’. Obviously by that statement, you believe that goodness and morality don’t exist outside of the Mormon Church. Quite the contrary–goodness and morality exist in plenty of people who don’t believe in religion at all.
    Anti Semites, racists and homophobes overwhelmingly claim that their beliefs are based on Biblical Christianity. Increasingly those who advocate violently overthrowing the US government also claim the Christian religion. Those who flew planes into the WTC thought God was telling them to do so.

    So how do you know what God wants? God told the Mormons that polygamy was the only correct form of marriage, until the practice not the doctrine was abandoned. God also said that blacks were unworthy and the ‘Sons of Cain’ until that was thrown out. So how do we determine what God wants, if, as the Mormon Church says, only the President of the Mormon Church speaks for God.

    The entire stance of Mormon Church opposition to same sex marriage is that it is outside the framework for marriage that God requires–if you are confused about that, then I suggest you visit lds.org. I am interested only in Constitutional equal protection under the law in our secular society, not in the everchanging view that someone else believes God is telling them. The right to believe as you choose in you religion or without religion is also my interest as long as someone else’s religious view is not forced on me in secular law. You may have your civil or Temple marriage–I only care that I am treated equally under the law.

    If as you say, you haven’t read my thoughts, then I suggest you read what I have posted here–you might be more ready to actually deal with what I have said, and won’t need to resort to the kind of mind reading that leads you to state that I think ‘everyone on the planet is stupid’. Quite the contrary, I don’t think you are stupid, you just haven’t actually addressed yourself to the points I have made which related to the original article.

  226. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    “Those who flew planes into the WTC thought God was telling them to do so.”

    No, they thought that they were carrying out a political/military objective.

    What is up with commenters demanding that others address their points. Start your own blog.

  227. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    “…as the Mormon Church says, only the President of the Mormon Church speaks for God.”

    Ummm, no we don’t. Some Mormons may believe that, but they are wrong.

    Hey, if your handle is meant to turn people off, do not complain when it does.

  228. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    If someone’s handle ‘turns you off’, then you perhaps you should stay out of politics. No complaints about people’s reaction at all. I am a homosexual, a former Mormon and my name is Don. Wow, I guess that is a lot to deal with–no wonder it turns you off. Perhaps there is a another ‘Prophet, Seer and Revelator’ that I am not aware of? The word ‘demand’ is yours. I simply think it is more helpful and realistic to address what I have actually said, not some hocus pocus about ‘thinking everyone in the world is stupid’ which I didn’t say.

  229. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Well, I will return all my degrees in the subject. It doesn’t turn me off (you are the one who brought it up). I actually love the handle. But I do not think you are trying to convince me. Maybe more people would deal with your arguments if they were interesting, rather than stale and rehashed.

  230. Holden Caulfield on June 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I’m glad djinn stuck around long enough to at least get Ralph to frankly state he is anti-gay.

    If some one says they don’t want Mormons to be Mormons, that they don’t want Mormons to get married, that they are “against increasing the public respectability of” Mormons and want laws passed to ensure Mormons didn’t recruit their young, I’m thinking they would be correctly labeled anti-Mormon.

    Cracks me up that most Mormons don’t at least fess up to this. Thanks for your honest self-assessment, Ralph.

  231. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I do not think Ralph was hiding anything from anyone. He just used words that all could understand. Darn those Ivy League-types.

  232. TMD on June 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    The gay marriage debate is really all about social affirmation, and using the state to assist in that process. The talk about “rights” is a canard. Accordingly, it is profoundly appropriate that the Church be involved in this process: as things stand, if we keep fighting, the best we will get is a settlement that is not too unfavorable to us and others who do not believe that homosexual lifestyle is a component of the good life, in this world or the next. If we do not fight, it is clear from the experiences of other countries that have trod these paths before–and indeed in our own experience with a different view of marriage in the past–that the state will be used against us.

  233. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    TMD The ‘homosexual lifestyle’ being defined as?

  234. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Chris Yeah, I suppose you are right. Can’t count all the threads about the right of Charles Tex Watson to marry. Maybe with all of your degrees you are more up on those things.

  235. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    TMD In fact, I am a homosexual, so please specify what about my ‘lifestyle’ is wrong, and please don’t spare us the details.

  236. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    See, the Charles Tex Watson point is still not compelling or interesting whether in comment 196 or 234. By taking such an absurd example you are doing nothing but peddling is strawmen. You may not be the only one, but it is not clever.

  237. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Because in fact you are incapable of addressing it you call it a strawman. Maybe you didn’t get your money’s worth from all your degrees. What about heterosexual divorce….is that a strawman too. Sounds like a copout to me, but then I don’t have all the degrees you do.

  238. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Perhaps it is best if I go back to the other side of the rope, where those who are not Mormons and don’t have sufficient degrees should be.

  239. ExMoHoMoDon on June 17, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    And especially where those with a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ belong.

  240. Chris H. on June 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Okay, inmates can get married.

    And….

    YOU NEVER MADE ANY FREAKING POINT!

    Not all married people are perfect. Some are horrible. No kidding. This is not an argument. It is a reality.

    Some gay marriages will be great. Some will be bad. I wish them luck. My issue is not with gay marriage (which does not bother me) it is with you.

    Please, do go away.

  241. Kaimi Wenger on June 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    The inmate example doesn’t seem all that important to me, either.

    On the other hand, I think it’s very problematic that the Protect Marriage folks are going even further, and now trying to unmarry people who were legally married in the interim period.

    As for the consequences of gay marriage, I think they’re nicely charted here.

  242. TMD on June 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I believe, consistent with the doctrine of the church, traditional christianity, indeed, the orthodox Islamic tradition, the orthodox Buddhist tradition (as in, Tibet, India, etc.), the orthodox Jewish tradition, and many others, that the homosexual lifestyle is incompatible with a divinely ordered life; that, in the parlance of Roman Catholicism, it is disordered. Nevertheless, compassion and love are necessary, particularly for those whom current culture tells that particular urges and behavior are beyond their control or the range of choice. Surely, this denial of the possibility of choice is precisely what we are told to be on guard against. Surely, such a doctrine is not of God.

    As to those who criticise “slippery slope” arguments relative to social change, the fundamental omitted variable in their analysis is political power. Only exceedingly rarely do courts–particularly the US Supreme Court act against public opinion in these matters. The idea “marriage equality” is the end of the agenda is either disingenous our self-deluding (see for example http://voices.washingtonpost.com/debonis/2010/06/gay_marriage_check_now_legaliz.html?hpid=sec-metro). In such as cases as this, where activists seek to push the state over the slippery slope, an active role in the public square is absolutely necessary just to maintain a consistent position.

  243. Chino Blanco on June 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    How long after watching Prop 8 defenders humiliated in court will it take before someone identifies a new archvillain? Oh, wait, what? There’s already a new post up on that very topic? Impressive efficiency. But I’m beginning to suspect that a select few got the memo that it was gonna be co-belligerence week way back on Tuesday.

  244. Cynthia L. on June 18, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Anyone truly deeply concerned that religious perspectives are being received with increasing hostility in the public square would do well to make certain that he or she is not contributing to the track record of such perspectives being frequently wrong, harmful, hateful, etc.

    As a religious person who would like to be well received in the public square, without having to shed that critical part of identity at the gate, I have observed with foreboding the advancement of ideals I find abhorrent under the banner of religion. (the “Religious Right” movement in this country, anti-science, the Taliban, myriad other horrific examples abroad, …)

    Little wonder there is growing skepticism of the value of our contributions. While the value of one’s contributions and track record—basically whether people like what you have to say—is no kind of argument about whether you have the right to say it, I’m not sure we’re talking about rights to the public square anyhow. The concerns really seem to be more about the nature of our reception from others. All I can say is, we have to earn the respect in how we make use of our patch of the public square.

  245. TMD on June 18, 2010 at 6:45 am

    CYnthia L, I would say that you have already bought the anti-religious propaganda, by even considering that “religion” is best represented by the Taliban, etc. There are far more horrid things done by the people who are overtly non-religious, or who have left religion behind (ex: people talk about NI as if it was a religious struggle; but the IRA has been explicitly Marxist since the 1940′s). This is all about politics, and the advancement of different sets of values. The only way to be welcomed by, say, Frank Rich, is to agree with Frank Rich’s political values. “Respect” has nothing to do with it.

  246. Cynthia L. on June 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

    TMD, I’m not sure where you get the idea that I consider religion “best” represented by the Taliban. It was third on my list, so at most it is 3rd best, but reading that as a “best” list is wrong to begin with. However, objectively, the Taliban is one example of religion entering politics. It is a problem, among many, that is polluting our “brand” in the minds of many and there is no getting around that. Your desire to just deny it without confronting it is exactly the kind of head in the sand mentality I am arguing against.

  247. Chris H. on June 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

    “I would say that you have already bought the anti-religious propaganda”

    Yes, Cynthia, you are being tricked by the evil secular atheist proganda machine. Oh, wait, that would be me…

  248. Alison Moore Smith on June 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks, Chris H.

    Don #225:

    Although I didn’t think I would have to explain it…

    You don’t. But posting on an LDS blog about LDS folks in the public square using the moniker you do — and then proclaiming “Most of us are frankly not interested in the latest thing that God is telling the Mormons.” — is just a tad nonsensical.

    If you are not sure what my point is, how do you simultaneously proclaim that I haven’t made it?

    Because the only point that is made by using ad hominem is that the person injecting it has no real basis for their position. So, if you’re point was that you’re clueless, then you are right, I can’t dismiss it. If, on the other hand, you were trying to make any other point by using ad hominem, then you didn’t. You choose.

    I wasn’t aware that there was a requirement of being a Mormon to participate in the blog

    Again, I’m wondering what you’re talking about. Can you show me (I keep asking you to back up your assertions, but you don’t) where this was said?

    You were, I believe, the one who dismissed the idea — on an LDS blog about LDS people — that people here care about what Mormons believe. If you don’t care about Mormon theology or belief or practice, I can’t imagine why this topic (or most others here) would interest you. So, I guess a “requirement” of being here is that you probably DO have interest in LDS something or other — from whatever position.

    You said: ‘If there is no standard, then the church, morality and goodness don’t exist’. Obviously by that statement, you believe that goodness and morality don’t exist outside of the Mormon Church.

    Do you sincerely believe those two are synonymous? Not being terribly familiar with your style, I’m wondering if you’re prone to hyperbole or you just take wild leaps of logic. “Obviously” what I said and what you said aren’t remotely close.

    You ask me how we know what God wants. It’s a great question. And you give a few of the myriad examples of why this is important. But the other question is, “How do you define goodness without God?” There are, obviously, even more problematic examples of that problem.

    I suggest that removing God from the equation makes the definition of goodness MORE volatile, not less so.

  249. ExMoHoMoDon on June 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Allison

    I will happily leave the question of what God wants or doesn’t want up to those of you who claim to speak for God. (as in Only True Church, Living Prophets, etc.) and, as I said, it doesn’t interest me until that point when, as in Prop 8 and Professor Hancock’s post, Mormons decide that denigrating, marginalizing and demonizing me and my family and making us second class under the law, removing civil rights given to us the by the State of California is what God wants. Only then am I interested–I hope you’ll forgive me for taking it somewhat personally. Hope that clears up the conflict in what I said.

    I am not capable of including God or removing God from any discussion–God by definition is beyond what I am as a mortal so by definition God is beyond anything I think or feel. I am not comfortable when others feel the need to tell me that they are certain what God wants, and I needn’t recite the litany of horrors committed by those who were certain that God wanted them to do it.

    If you all want to participate in the town square, aren’t you just a bit touchy? I posed two perfectly reasonable examples of ‘rights’ and asked how those rights affected society’s moral position–of course no one has answered them, except to dismiss one as unworthy of discussion. The good professor wanted examples of how rights affected the ‘dominant substantive reality’. I gave two–but of course they are unworthy of discussion because they involve heterosexuals. It would seem that rights are only harmful to the dominant morality when they are given to homosexuals.

  250. ExMoHoMoDon on June 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    In fact, no one including the Professor himself, has given a single example of any right that they suggest should be taken from any person or group because that right detracts from the dominant morality, not one, except of course the right of homosexuals to equal protection under the law. Kind of sums it up–Prop 8, Professor Hancock’s post–just the same anti-homosexual BS. If I missed an example of one, please point it out.