So, does this guy get anyone’s vote?

I know I am likely going pure protest vote, since I can’t bring myself to vote the somewhat lesser of two pretty evil evils when it’s basically Voldemort vs. Dolores Umbridge (this analogy doesn’t quite map that well onto Trump vs. Clinton, but it’s “close enough for government work”).

I’ve been hearing a lot about this Evan McMullin guy,  who was apparently a real life Jason Bourne (without the memory loss) before becoming a GOP policy director.  Even for a 3rd party guy, this seems like the longest of long shots.

Any thoughts?

Saul, Alma the Younger, and the tale of Martha Brotherton

Saul at stoning

Saul (seated) holding the coats of those stoning St. Stephen, from the tympanum of Saint Étienne du Mont, Paris

As we consider scripture, we see great individuals who have overcome a terrible past.

Saul, later Paul, began his career of tormenting Christ’s followers by volunteering to hold the clothing of those who stoned Stephen, a believer. He went on to actively persecute Christians, until he was stopped by a divine revelation on the road to Damascus. Yet he went on to become one of the greatest of the early Christian apostles.

Alma, son of the Alma who had been a priest in the court of King Noah, went about actively destroying the Church of God. It is unclear how much of the later apostasy and warfare that troubled the Nephite and Lamanite peoples were directly attributable to the youthful actions of Alma “the younger.” Yet the younger Alma went on to become a great political and religious leader, honored in his own time as well as by modern Mormons.

I have suggested that some early Mormons were like Alma the younger and Saul/Paul. We know them and honor them for their great goodness. But I detect the traces of a troubled past of which they repented.

This past month, as a tangential result of my foray into an alternate Mormon-themed website, I tumbled across something that has stood in plain site, yet unseen across the decades. It makes sense of things, yet it does not make me glad. I am now persuaded that someone I previously saw as uncorrupted had an episode in their past that rivals the evil of Saul and the youthful Alma. Continue reading

Gary Johnson’s Deseret News piece on the issue of religious liberty and Mormons

Please read this article here.

Here is an excerpt:

Yet there have also been times in our history when religion has been invoked to justify serious harm. In years past, opponents of interracial marriage, desegregation and other efforts to protect civil rights too often cited scripture and religion in making their arguments.

To be blunt, certain politicians have twisted religious liberty and used it as a tool to discriminate.

Thus, in response to a question thrown at me while walking down a street (in the rain), I expressed my reservations rather emphatically — and cited the experience of Mormons as a case-in-point where religious persecution resulted in violent episodes right here in America.

My point was that even a respected, peaceful people experienced tragic harm in the name of religion and was, in fact, persecuted by the government itself by politicians who opposed their beliefs and practices.

And on a personal level, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to mind because I had been in Utah the day before, as my campaign is actually based in Salt Lake City. I am well aware of the painful history of government interference with Mormons and the practice of their faith.

In part because of this unique history, I believe Utah has found an appropriate balance in a religious freedom law that serves as an example to the rest of the country that non-discrimination and religious freedom are not opposing forces, but can instead go hand in hand.

I want to be clear. I believe we can, and must, strike a balance between our shared American values of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination. My concerns lie with the possible consequences of politically-driven legislation which claims to promote religious liberty but instead rolls back the legal protections held by LGBT Americans.

Gary Johnson: a post-game analysis

Recently, in an impromptu interview, Gary Johnson expressed some deep reservations about the idea of “religious freedom.” He essentially argued that it could lead to a slippery slope, in which religious individuals justify all sorts of crimes using their religious conscience. He said:

I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything. Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn’t somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead.”

Now, this comment was admittedly incomplete. We’re not getting the full picture, since he’s referring to something previously addressed in the conversation, but wasn’t included in the interview transcript. So some people reached out and asked for clarification. Johnson responded:

My point, made with an unfortunate example, is that religion has been used too many times to justify discrimination, persecution and, yes, violence. Acts of violence and aggression can not be excused by religion and all people must be held accountable for their own actions.

Here’s my issue. No one (credible) is advocating for an unfettered ability to justify any crime under the auspices of relgious conscience. In short, nobody who is concerned about the rights of wedding vendors, doctors, and religious schools is asking for the ability to murder people with impunity.

His example may have been unfortunate, but he has only doubled down on his strawman: he believes that if you enact accommodations for those of religious conscience, you risk a slippery slope where you must accommodate ANY crime undertaken in the name of religion. And this simply is not true. It is wholly, unequivacably false.

Johnson’s perspective ignores hundreds of years of actual jurisprudence surrounding religious freedom. Since the founding of our nation, it has been recognized by courts that religious freedom is bounded by laws that protect public health and safety, or any other “compelling state interest.” Never has the Supreme Court — even under the strongest and broadest readings of the First Amendment — permitted people to engage in criminal behavior with impunity merely because their motives were religious.

There is no slippery slope here. No law passed by a legislature in the modern U.S. to protect limited religious freedoms of wedding vendors, pharmacists, pro-life doctors, or church universities is going to give ANYONE legal pretext to murder, plunder, or steal in the name of religion, or anything like it. Nobody (credible) in the debate even wants such a pretext. To imply otherwise is not merely a straw man of the religious freedom movement, but a overtly hostile reading of their intentions and proposals. Continue reading

Gary Johnson campaign responds to comments on Mormons

I reached out to the Gary Johnson campaign today in response to his comments on Mormons and religious liberty and got the following response:

Statement from Gov. Gary Johnson regarding comments reported in Washington Examiner column:

“My reference to the LDS church, made during an impromptu conversation, was an admittedly very imprecise reference to the violence that accompanied the Mormon’s early history in the 1800s– violence that was prompted by the persecution of the Mormons themselves by both the federal government and others. Absolutely no offense was intended, and I regret any that has resulted.

My point, made with an unfortunate example, is that religion has been used too many times to justify discrimination, persecution and, yes, violence. Acts of violence and aggression can not be excused by religion and all people must be held accountable for their own actions.

Few in America have experienced that persecution more than Mormons, and I understand and respect that. The LDS church and its historical struggles with the government are perfect examples of the need for true religious freedom, not selective freedoms legislated and created by politicians. I consider many of the LDS faith to be my closest of friends including National Campaign Manager Ron Nielson.”

My take: Gov. Johnson still does not seem to understand the importance of religious liberty, but at least he was not accusing Mormons of wanting to use religion as an excuse to shoot people dead. Personally, I am very relieved that he is aware of the Mormons’ history of religious persecution. Many readers may know that the Johnson campaign is based in Salt Lake City, so it is clear that Gov. Johnson has many Mormon friends.

If only some of his friends could help him understand the importance of religious liberty….

As some readers may know, Gov. Johnson was quoted as saying the following:

“Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn’t somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead.”

So what the candidate was apparently trying to say was that Mormons have suffered from other groups because of religious persecution, and this is what he wants to try to avoid.

I am thankful that the Johnson campaign clarified.