Monday, July 13, 2015

Religious Freedom Conference at BYU

BYU held a conference on July 6 to address the issues of religious freedom as a reaction to the US Supreme Court Decision of June 26 that forced states to recognize all same-sex marriages, as well as perform them.

Gene Schaerr, the lawyer that defended Utah in the Amendment 3 Case, says that he does not regret his attack on SSM, and that this new SCOTUS decision creates "12 grenades" against religious freedom. Schaerr explained these "grenades" at the conference, and was also joined by Gov. Gary Herbert. Alexander Dushku, author of the LDS Church's friend-of-the-court message asking the SCOTUS to uphold state's rights in traditional marriage, also spoke of the future of religious freedom.

Schaerr encouraged anti-gay-marriage to continue back to the courts to reverse the decision. He believes the "forcing religion to accept" gay marriage chokes the rights of religious people. The decision is a can of worms and says that it threatens "churches' tax-exempt status, religious schools' housing policies, accreditation, government contracts and employment and churches' ability to have marriages recognized".

Herbert stated that he was happy with the nondiscrimination template that LDS leaders and LGBT supporters worked together to pass earlier this year, SB296. Although he says not all the aspects of the issues were addressed in the law, he is hesitant to make adjustments to it. He expects a few lawsuits, but is afraid it will topple the balance of the historical agreement. He understands the baker that doesn't want to cater for a same-sex marriage, but admits it's inappropriate to be able to say, "'I'm going to pick which sinner, in their perspective, I'm going to serve."

Dushku said there are two potential paths for religious liberty as a result of the decision. The first would follow similar results as the Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia decisions, which minimized religious freedom with respect to racism. Racists are not tolerated in most social situations. The other path is that of Roe vs. Wade, which said abortion is a woman's right. Although there is great religious opposition, pro-lifers held to their beliefs and stood their ground, still finding place in the public square to respectfully disagree. Both opinions exist and cannot be punished. This is the path that will keep religious freedom at the strength it currently has.

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