Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Culture War Is Over If You Want It

With thanks to John Lennon and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, two unlikely yoked oxen if ever there were, I am so very pleased to have my declaration of Peace in the culture wars validated. It was written in 2009 but reflects many years of thought on the subject.

Elder Oaks gave a surprising endorsement of basic constitutional principles of the separation of Church and State although I still prefer a solid wall rather than his curtain. But I get the point that influences for good should filter from one side to the other. His speech was released by the LDS Newsroom, the official informational source for newsworthy items all approved at the highest levels of LDS Church leadership, under the heading:

Mormon Apostle Calls for Balance and Accommodation, Not Culture Wars

I encourage you to read the article and watch or read his entire speech attached.

It delves into the difficult issues of conflict between religious belief and practices and the civil law. And Elder Oaks draws a clear distinction. Government officials should follow the law of the land as established by the ultimate interpretation of such by the US Supreme Court. Individual religious beliefs do not trump the law if you have a civic duty as a public official, specifically referencing county clerks who oppose same-sex marriage licenses. And religious beliefs, practices, and speech should be respected in the public arena.

Everyone is free to speak and exercise their own beliefs but not in public duties where they have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, as I have done along with every federal employee and federal military serviceman or woman who daily put their lives on the line, even in federal buildings like the one in Oklahoma City, in order to form our more perfect union.

This brings me back a few years when Elder Oaks spoke in our Stake Conference. It was the heels of the ugly political conflicts in California over Prop 8 which had left me disturbed, sincerely praying my gratitude for not living in California in those days. Elder Oaks said words to the effect with regard to the church's moral opposition to same-sex marriage, "It's all in how the issue is framed. If it is framed as one of religious freedom, we have a chance. It if is framed in terms of civil rights, we lose."

As a student of the Civil War and the resulting Constitutional Amendments 13-15, I realized right then and there with a shock that we were going to lose. It would be determined as a civil rights issue. 

Elder Oaks is very gracious in his talk with views with which he does not agree and with great respect, with some differences of opinion, towards the Supreme Court and the President of the United States. (I may have missed any respect expressed for the Congress).

The most important thing here is that it seems while we can hold firmly to deeply held religious beliefs and practices, as long as they don't interfere with the rights of others, there are more important issues at stake. 
"All sides should seek to contribute to the reasoned discussion and compromise that are essential in a pluralistic society. And none should adopt an “us vs. them” mentality."
If only.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in holding fast to our religious beliefs and practices while contributing to "the reasoned discussion and compromise that are essential in a pluralistic society."

Culture War is over, if you want it.

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