Latter Day Saint: Prop 8 backlash compared to civil rights war
In the inevitable clash between cultures, an Apostle of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, compares the post-proposition 8 backlash with the civil rights era of African Americans. He views his religious freedoms as being trampled by "gay zealots'; conversely, gay activism views him and his ilk as unreasonably and in bad faith trying to oppress and disenfranchise them.
It will be interesting to see what happens in Maine and Washington with Question 1, and in what manner this will turn the tide either of Prop 8 or the backlash against it.
LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks on Tuesday likened the post-Proposition 8 backlash against Mormons to the persecution blacks endured during the civil-rights struggle.
Now Oaks faces a backlash himself.
"Were four little Mormon girls blown up in the church at Sunday school? Were there burning crosses planted on local bishops' lawns? Were people lynched and their genitals stuffed in their mouths?" asked University of Utah historian Colleen McDannell. "By comparing these two things, it diminishes the real violence that African-Americans experienced in the '60s, when they were struggling for equal rights. There is no equivalence between the two."
Oaks, in a strongly worded defense of the church's efforts opposing same-marriage, told students at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg that Latter-day Saints "must not be deterred or coerced into silence" by advocates for "alleged civil rights."
Last year, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged its followers to donate money and time to pass Prop 8, the successful ballot measure that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to wed in California. Afterward, protests, including several near LDS temples, erupted along with boycotts of business owners who donated to Prop 8 and even some vandalism of LDS meetinghouses.
"In their effect," Oaks said, "they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation."
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP's Salt Lake branch, said there is "no comparison."
"I don't see where the LDS Church has been denied any of their rights," she said. "What the gay and lesbian communities are fighting for, that is a civil-rights issue."
In an interview posted on the LDS Church's Web site after the speech, Oaks called his analogy a "good one," but acknowledged that intimidation of Mormons in the wake of Prop 8 has not been "as serious as what happened in the South."
In his speech, the LDS apostle, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, cast the anti-Mormon furor as an attack on religious freedom.
"During my lifetime I have seen a significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion in our public life, and I believe that the vitality of religious freedom is in danger of being weakened accordingly," Oaks said. "Atheists and others would intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation."
Judeo-Christian scriptures established the marriage of a man and a woman thousands of years ago, he said, and those who would change this ancient order "should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights."
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