LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

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Joel
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LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Joel » Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:55 pm

LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

PROVO — The top lawyer for the LDS Church proposed Thursday that people of faith should prioritize the defense of an innermost core of religious freedoms.

They also have to be willing to compromise on freedoms outside that core, said Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an emeritus General Authority Seventy.

"Please understand that in labeling some freedoms part of the 'core' of religious liberty, I am not suggesting that freedoms outside that core are unimportant or not worth defending," Elder Wickman said.

"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."

Elder Wickman suggested a hierarchy of religious freedoms to an overflow audience of more than 300 in the BYU Conference Center during the university's third annual Religious Freedom Annual Review. The two-day conference drew experts in law and religion issues to provide an up-to-the-minute review of important developments in religious freedom law.

Speakers shared demographic and political trends that describe a decline in religiosity and support for religious institutions. "Religious liberty in America is in a troubled state," said Thomas Berg, a law and public policy professor at the University of St. Thomas.

Core freedoms

Elder Wickman assigned various religious freedoms to concentric circles.

The innermost core are basically non-negotiable, he said, and include personal belief and family worship and teaching, the free exercise of religion in public, including missionary work, and autonomy for churches in their internal affairs, such as establishing church doctrine, selecting leadership and determining membership.

The core includes the right of believers to the same free speech and expression in the public square as non-believers, he said. Believers also have the right "not to be punished, retaliated against or discriminated against by government based on religion" or to face a religious test for professions regulated by government.

Finally, the core includes protecting the nonprofit status and operation of religious organizations.

"Unless that core is strongly protected, there is no religious freedom as Americans have known it," Elder Wickman said. "These freedoms are essential to individual believers and their families in their private lives."

Other freedoms

Extending out from the innermost core, Elder Wickman described three additional circles. Near the core in the next circle, and vitally important, he said, are freedoms that pertain to the religiously important, nonprofit functions of religious organizations, such as the right to hire based on religious criteria.

For example, the LDS Church has a temple recommend standard for church employment. The right to establish religious schools, colleges and universities is near the core, too, including the freedom to establish student honor codes that reflect religious teachings. Religious charities also should have the right to operate according to their beliefs.

Commercial settings make up the third circle, labeled "moving beyond the core" by Elder Wickman. Here, he said "our expectations of unfettered religious freedom must be tempered."

"Businesses should not be forced to produce products or types of services that fundamentally conflict with their religious beliefs," he said, but secular businesses are limited by longstanding regulations and civil rights. This is a place to make prudential compromises, because a religious person's business is not able to reflect religious beliefs the same way a home or congregation can.
Before the photoshop job :)

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Obrien » Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:59 pm

Cave.

Quit worrying about being a 501c3 and be a church for heavens sake.
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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Ezra » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:38 pm

Wouldn't that be cool

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby mes5464 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:18 am

I could not disagree more. I think the example of the scriptures is one of uncompromising. No unclean thing can enter into the presences of the Lord. He doesn't compromise.

All compromise moves in the direction of evil. It never, ever moves in the direction of righteousness.

You never compromise on a right. Rights are given to us by God and no other human being has the authority to temper, regulate, or infringe on that right.


PS

This article is dangerous and the comments section is even more so. Religion and the religious are truly under fire. We will soon be required to defend ourselves or submit.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Ezra » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:19 am

mes5464 wrote:I could not disagree more. I think the example of the scriptures is one of uncompromising. No unclean thing can enter into the presences of the Lord. He doesn't compromise.

All compromise moves in the direction of evil. It never, ever moves in the direction of righteousness.

You never compromise on a right. Rights are given to us by God and no other human being has the authority to temper, regulate, or infringe on that right.


PS

This article is dangerous and the comments section is even more so. Religion and the religious are truly under fire. We will soon be required to defend ourselves or submit.
501c3 Is dangerous. Because it causes churches to have to bend/cave to the wishes of the government in order to comply with their wishes even if it's slightly to maintain that tax free status.

Like the churches policy of being politically neutral. Which the church used to not be that way. And why the church has in reasont years stopped talking about constitutional political topics almost completely.

501c3 status might be the reason for the above artical to be written. Both are dangerous.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby ajax » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:05 am

What kind of sandy foundation is this?

Subject to whim.

Innermost core? Concentric circles?

An organization run by lawyers I suppose.

Have they forgotten where they live?

No mention of property rights? Freedom of association?

When You Have Property Rights, You Don’t Need Religious Freedom
https://mises.org/blog/when-you-have-pr ... us-freedom" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
When You Have Property Rights, You Don’t Need Religious Freedom

Ryan McMaken

This week, the Little Sisters of the Poor were granted a reprieve by the US Supreme Court from the Federal Government’s Obamacare health care mandates.

To summarize the case in two sentences: the Little Sisters didn’t like Obamacare’s mandates that employers pay for abortions. This meant the Little Sisters had to either pay for abortion services through their employee-provided health care plan, or they had to pay substantial fines.

On Monday, the Supreme Court told the lower courts to figure it out without violating the Little Sister’s religious views.

This is being hailed by many observers as a victory for religious freedom. And yet, court rulings and statutes protecting religious freedom were not at all necessary to preserve their religious freedom. The Sisters would have been far better protected by a respect for ordinary property rights.

After all, in a legislative environment that does not force people to pay for things they find immoral — based on any religious or secular ideology — the Little Sisters would have never been put in this position in the first place.

If the state respected the Little Sister’s right to contract freely with others, and to dispose of their lawfully-obtained property as they wished, then there is no question as to whether or not they should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortions. The answer is obviously that the Little Sisters should simply be left alone. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the Little Sisters’ health care plan for employees, need not work for the Little Sisters.

All Human Rights Are Based on Property Rights

The central importance of property rights remains when we look at the problem more generally. In Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard looked at the problem in the context of freedom of speech:
Take, for example, the “human right” of free speech. Freedom of speech is supposed to mean the right of everyone to say whatever he likes. But the neglected question is: Where? Where does a man have this right? He certainly does not have it on property on which he is trespassing. In short, he has this right only either on his own property or on the property of someone who has agreed, as a gift or in a rental contract, to allow him on the premises. In fact, then, there is no such thing as a separate “right to free speech”; there is only a man’s property right: the right to do as he wills with his own or to make voluntary agreements with other property owners.
In the case of the Little Sisters, they have generally been able to freely exercise their religion not because of a special religious freedom, but because they have been allowed to exercise their property rights.

Specifically, the Little Sisters have been conducting business on their own property or in places where they were given permission by other property owners to be. Their employees worked for the Little Sisters of their own free will, and the Little Sisters (more or less) freely contracted with employees. No one was forcing anyone to work for them. Nor did the Little Sisters force themselves on anyone else. That is, they were free to do and say things — in accordance with their religious beliefs — any place where they were freely invited to do so. On the other hand, they weren’t free to practice their religion in places where the owners did not want them, such as inside a mosque or on the property of anyone who didn’t want the Little Sisters there. Obviously, a mosque’s refusal to host the Little Sisters would not be “censorship” or a violation of “freedom of religion.”

And who can find anything wrong with this situation? This is simply a situation in which people freely exercise their property rights.

This can be applied to freedom of the press, as well. No one has the right to say whatever he wants wherever he wants. For example, a person has never had a “right” to write whatever he wants in a newspaper. People can only say things in newspapers in accordance with what the newspapers’ owners have allowed.

Thus, all we need for free speech to occur, is to allow owners of newspapers — or owners of websites, bookstores, and soapboxes, for that matter — to exercise their property rights.

Once the state gets involved, though, the picture changes dramatically. Once states begin telling newspapers what they can and cannot print, the state is restricting their property rights.

Similarly, the Little Sisters’ freedom of religion is only restricted when the state begins ordering the Little Sisters about in regards to how they contract with employees or spend their money. Yes, freedom of religion is being restricted, but only because the property rights of the Little Sisters were being violated first.

Thus, it’s not surprising that Rothbard equated all rights with property rights when he observed:
The concept of “rights” only makes sense as property rights. For not only are there no human rights which are not also property rights, but the former rights lose their absoluteness and clarity and become fuzzy and vulnerable when property rights are not used as the standard.
Property Is More Concrete than Conscience

Rothbard’s claim here that property rights are more concrete is also of special importance. After all, if we start basing rights on religion rather than property, then we immediately find ourselves in a situation where the state must have the power to define what religion is. And even worse, the state then is put in the position of deciding the motivations of a person or an organization and whether or not the motivations are religious in nature.

For example, who is to say whether or not the Little Sisters were motivated by religious concerns or monetary concerns? If the state decides they were motivated by monetary concerns, then, those who rely on freedom of religion for protection would have no further defense against the state’s edicts. Only if government judges read the minds of the Little Sisters and decide their motivations were religious, are the sisters to be allowed their basic property rights.

Mind you, there is no question at all as to whether or not the health care benefits in question are paid for by the Little Sisters. The property rights at work are concrete and easy to identify. They consist of concrete employees, and concrete wages in the form of health insurance.

Far more murky, however, are the motivations of a group of people and the exact nature of their religion.

In the case of the Little Sisters of course, the sisters benefit from the fact they belong to a large, well-known religion with well-established views on the matter. But what if we’re instead dealing with an individual or group of individuals that adhere to a more obscure religion which has less easily-identifiable views? In that case, we’re left with judges and attorneys arguing over what a specific person’s religious beliefs are, and whether or not they are applicable to a specific situation. This theological debate is obviously far beyond the competence of the state.

But this is the hazy and amorphous road we begin to walk down once we abandon property rights arguments in favor of “freedom of religion.”

Moreover, note how the freedom of religion argument only protects the freedom of people who are part of a religious institution.

An ordinary Catholic, for example, who runs a small family business would still be forced to violate his own religious beliefs by Obamacare because judges are likely to conclude that his motivations are mostly based on profit rather than some religious mission. Whether or not the small businessman views his business as a religious endeavor is irrelevant according to the state in most cases.

Are You Sufficiently Religious to Be Allowed Freedom?

As an additional illustration of the pitfalls behind assigning state judges as arbiters of private conscience and motivation, we might look at the problem of conscientious objection. Conscription has always been one of the most heavy-handed ways of violating property rights, but states have been politically forced (in many cases) to allow exceptions based on ideological and religious reasons.

Rather than allow individuals basic property rights which would naturally invalidate conscription overall, the government falls back on the amorphous and arbitrary task of determining whether someone’s pacifist convictions are sufficiently strong to warrant conscientious objection. At this point, the objector is in the position of making theological arguments or claims about one’s lifestyle and daily habits to prove he or she is a pacifist. The state then also analyzes how long these convictions have been held. Did you decide to become a pacifist only six months before you were drafted? Too bad. The state may decide — based on completely arbitrary standards — that six months is not long enough to “prove” your ideological conviction or your religion.

The irrationality and arbitrariness of this process boggles the mind, and yet this is what is required when governments decide matters based on matters of conscience, religion, and internal motivation.

This case is just another example, of course, of how property rights also protect the rights of the conscientious objector without any need for any special rights of conscience or religion. Any Quaker, for example, who was simply allowed to exercise ownership over himself would be allowed to fully exercise his religious convictions to not take up arms.

Thus, in both cases, the religious-freedom argument fails to protect most people. The only exceptions are those who have filled out the correct government paperwork and met the state’s arbitrary standards for proving one’s internal beliefs to the satisfaction of the courts. Do you have a long enough paper trail for your affiliation with pacifistic religions? Do you have the right documentation showing a religious mission for your business?

This is a pretty weak reed on which to hang essential human rights, but that’s where we end up when we ignore property rights.
“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the smooth-faced hypocrite." - Joseph Smith

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Elizabeth » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:01 pm

"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."
Doctrines of the Gospel are revealed through the Spirit to Prophets... not through the intellect to scholars.

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Think not, that I am come to send peace on earth;
I came not to send peace, but a sword.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby mes5464 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:45 am

Elizabeth wrote:"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."

And if I were debating him, I would argue that we can not "preserve religious freedom and live in peace". You can only preserve religious freedom if you are prepared to disturb the peace (a la Captain Moroni). All compromises are unwise. If we lose the freedoms "that matter less" then we are that much close to losing the freedoms that "matter most".

His concentric circle analogy is best understood as a walled city with the king's walled castle in the middle, the walled ring around that belongs to the citizens, and the outer walled ring belongs to the military. The city is under siege. He is proposing we abandon the outer ring and let the enemy take it, TO SAVE the inner two rings. That is insane.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Obrien » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:52 am

Elizabeth wrote:"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."
So....?
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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Sunain » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:05 am

mes5464 wrote:
Elizabeth wrote:"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."

And if I were debating him, I would argue that we can not "preserve religious freedom and live in peace". You can only preserve religious freedom if you are prepared to disturb the peace (a la Captain Moroni). All compromises are unwise. If we lose the freedoms "that matter less" then we are that much close to losing the freedoms that "matter most".

His concentric circle analogy is best understood as a walled city with the king's walled castle in the middle, the walled ring around that belongs to the citizens, and the outer walled ring belongs to the military. The city is under siege. He is proposing we abandon the outer ring and let the enemy take it, TO SAVE the inner two rings. That is insane.
Either we stand up for everything that we believe in or don't stand at all. Compromising our freedom is what's led to the issues we have today. The little things eventually lead to bigger things. Used to be no shopping on Sunday's, it was a day of rest. Now it's one of the busiest shopping days of the week. One of the reasons we came to earth was to learn about freedom, freedom to choose right or wrong.

I like your analogy of a city protected by walls. The king and those in the inner keep are not more important than those in the outer city walls. Once the enemy is in the inner walls, its very hard to get them out. It's just a matter of time till they get in. The gospel teaches, we are all equal. No single person is more important in the eyes of God, he loves each of us equally the same.
D&C 134:7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby larsenb » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:10 pm

Elizabeth wrote:"What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without."
A very slippery slope.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby larsenb » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:34 pm

Here are extracts from and article on this subject from William Grigg’s web site, Pro Libertate/Freedom in Our Time at: http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; I think he's nailed it pretty good . . . despite what some here may think of Griggs. He's generally a very thoughtful and intelligent commentator in my experience. And yes, he's rough on the corporate Church.
Seek Ye First the Protection of Property Rights....

. . . . . . When “rights” become the subject of triage, they cease to be rights, and mutate into conditional, revocable privileges. All legitimate rights are property rights, and all property rights are absolute. They can, and must, be exercised simultaneously by believers, agnostics, and atheists alike, and are reconciled through commerce and contract.

Believers and non-believers of all sexes and gender identities should seek first the protection of property rights, and all other individual liberties will be added unto them. Arguably the defining liberty is the right to say "no" -- to eschew commerce, as well as engage in it, to accept or decline an invitation to associate with others.


A vulgar expression of a sound principle [left out the image, which contains a vulgar expression]: The Right to refuse.

In a free society, the officially licensed larceny called “taxation” would not exist, and productive people of all descriptions would keep everything they have earned, saved, or inherited. In an unfree but relatively civilized society, religious institutions (and non-religious charities) would be tax-immune, rather than tax-exempt. The Regime dispenses exemptions in the service of the true purpose of the income tax system, which is social engineering. This was pointed out seventy years ago by Beardsley Ruml, who at the time was Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

For corporate churches, tax exemption defines the length of their leash.


. . . . . . . . Wickman’s address made it clear that the property rights of private business owners are expendable in the sacred cause of protecting the corporate privileges of tax-exempt religious institutions. That calculation is based upon the assumption that it is possible to placate a movement that has proven to be implacable, as we are reminded by the disposition of a recent civil action in California.

Facing the threat of a spurious class action suit, Spark Network, Inc, which owns and operates a large number of dating websites, agreed to make its ChristianMingle site accessible to homosexual customers. Three years ago, Aaron Werner of Los Angeles and Richard Wright of San Francisco, filed separate complaints claiming that the Christian-oriented dating site violated state anti-discrimination law by offering “men seeking women” and “women seeking men” options.

Those suits, which sought “compensatory, treble and punitive damages,” eventually yielded a joint settlement under which the website would remove the heterosexual language from that dating site – and several others, including dating sites focusing on Catholic, Mormon, and Adventist markets. The company was required to pay each plaintiff $9,000 as a “service award for the efforts on behalf of the Settlement Class,”and nearly a half-million dollars to the attorneys who brokered this act of state-facilitated extortion.

The wolves aren't satisfied with one victim.

Significantly, the same order demanded that Spark, Inc. “will continue to operate Crosspaths which facilitates faith-based same sex matching and that Spark will continue to operate Crosspaths and provide same or similar same sex matching until at least December 21, 2016.”

In other words, Spark did not discriminate against gay people interested in pursuing “faith-based” relationships. The purpose of the suit was not to require an accommodation for gay customers, but to compel the company to discard sites of exclusive interest to heterosexual Christians, because the very existence of such voluntary associations is considered impermissible.

Under the formula described by Wickman, this is an entirely acceptable outcome, because it doesn’t implicate “core” issues, such as the right of a religious individual to pray at home, or the security of a corporate church’s tax exemption. He and others of his persuasion have badly miscalculated if they believe that the cultural totalitarians who promoted that lawsuit will relent until they have broken all non-conforming institutions on the wheel of their malicious ambition.

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Re: LDS Church's chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

Postby Joel » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:47 am

This guy reminded me of the church's lawyer:

Before the photoshop job :)


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