A front page Daily Herald article on Dec 31st bore the headline: “Will LDS bishops have to perform same-sex marriages?” The article quoted Clifford Rosky, a University of Utah professor who chairs Equality Utah, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization. Mr Rosky says the First Amendment would prevent the government from forcing a religious organization to act against its beliefs.
I trust you said that tongue-in-cheek, Mr. Rosky, for you surely know the current government disregards the law at will. Consider the NSA scandal. Our First Amendment right to free speech and Fourth Amendment protection from unlawful search without a probable cause search warrant had all the staying power of a used tissue. As further insult, after the illegality surfaced this administration did not apologize or reverse engines, it ramped up its encroachments. Local artist Jon McNaughton nailed it with his painting, “The Forgotten Man”, in which he depicts our current administrator standing on the Constitution. Is this the government you say will not impound religious freedom because it’s unconstitutional? Surely you jest!
Is there the possibility of a hidden agenda here? Isn’t taking Mr. Rosky’s word on this a little like asking the fox if the henhouse is secure? Only until no one is watching, that fox would say. Only until I can get away with it, that fox would say. Only until the media can rile the unthinking into demanding it, that fox would say.
If we were a law-abiding nation, Mr Rosky’s statements could console us. At present, however, we are not. We stand in a unique position in history: we are schizophrenic. We profess a limited government, with laws formed and ratified by the people’s representatives, an executive office with strictly limited duties, and judicial integrity. We practice a capricious law which cavorts at the whim of a monarchy, embraces a Congress that abdicates to regulatory minutia, and a Supreme Court that works by political agenda independent of constitutional law or common sense. That doesn’t bode well for LDS bishops, or any other clergy who wish to follow individual conscience.
Under our original Constitution, referred to by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus as the “irreplaceable backstop against government overreach”, this issue would never have drawn breath. Our Framers were near unanimously Christian and saw God at work in their efforts. As they put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor into sound government, binding religious freedoms and expression was not their objective. They agreed that the morality taught by religions—the knowledge of right and wrong and the integrity to live that morality—were fundamental to the whole political system. Washington taught in his Farewell Address: “Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports…”
The Founders walled government off from sacred worship. They stated in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They reiterated in Article VI that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Note, they said ever—this was not a temporary or erratic move. They said, “Government, leave religion alone.”
But, alas, we have two Constitutions. The first, dedicated to “Providence” (the colonials’ word for God), has been replaced by an evolving second Constitution during a century of self-serving interests and political chicanery. Religion went from the “good guy” that helps us live better, to the “bad guy” demonized through political correctness.
It is hard to imagine those that Mat Staver, of Liberty University School of Law, calls “sexual anarchists” leaving Mormon bishops and the clergy alone for long. It would be nice if they did; it would respect their rights, it would be constitutional if they did. We can hope, but in the end, it’s a likely HO! HO! HO!