Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke at BYU-Idaho today on religious freedom but garnered coverage for his remarks on the lasting effects of Proposition 8.
The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking leader in the LDS Church says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday.
More than just commenting on Prop 8, Elder Oaks’ talk “Religious Freedom” deals with some of the concerns he has with those trying to silence religious voices in political debate and the conflict of religious freedom with “newly alleged civil rights.”
Apparently anticipating the attention this would get Elder Oaks spoke with the AP reporter before the talk.
In an interview Monday before the speech, Elder Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of LDS Church members in the election’s aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.
“It may be offensive to some — maybe because it hadn’t occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era,” he said. . .
In an interview Monday, Elder Oaks said the Proposition 8 saga was one of several trends that motivated him to deliver the address, but it was “not the trigger.”
“There are civil rights involved in this — the right to speak your mind, to participate in the election,” Elder Oaks said. “But you don’t have a civil right to win an election or retaliate against those who prevail.”
Elder Oaks said he is specifically concerned about a movement toward using hate crimes laws to prosecute or threaten preachers who preach that homosexual acts are sinful.
Elder Oaks’ address also rejects any religious test for public office. He said that if “a candidate is seen to be rejected at the ballot box primarily because of religious belief or affiliation, the precious free exercise of religion is weakened at its foundation …”
In the interview Monday, Elder Oaks said he was referring in part to the 2008 presidential bid of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose LDS faith troubled some evangelicals.
The LDS Newsroom has a news release “Apostle Says Religious Freedom Is Being Threatened.”
Elder Oaks’ talk “Religious Freedom” transcript.