BYU President Elder Cecil O. Samuelson has managed to create quite a stir here in bonnie Scotland after giving a speech before the Scottish Parliament last month. Samuelson was invited to speak at the assembly for their regular Time for Reflection address, which has previously hosted such illustrious speakers as the Dalai Lama. However, Elder Samuelson’s presence was rejected by a number of MPs (Members of Parliament) due to his leadership over a university that labels homosexual behavior as “innapropriate.”
The headlines and commentaries that have been erupting around the UK express outrage at the Samuelson invitation, calling him “homophobe” and “anti-gay.” They refer to Brigham Young University as a “homophobic” institution.
Elder Samuelson, in his very brief remarks, said nothing about the university’s (or the Church’s) stance on homosexuality or homosexual behavior, but presented a very harmless (in my view) introduction to the university/Church’s view on seeing all mankind as brothers and sisters and loving and serving others (citing Mosiah 2:17).
You can read his full remarks here: http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-leader-scottish-parliament-i-bless-you
While I can’t see how anyone would take offense at his comments, some were upset by the fact that he was invited to speak in the first place.
Green Party MP Patrick Harvie, who is gay, said: “Mr Samuelson should never have been invited to address the parliament, given that he leads an institutionally homophobic academic institution.”
He added: “I make this point not in respect to religion, but an academic institution that has a policy that would be utterly illegal and unacceptable here.” (source: The Scotsman.com)
Even more remarkable, to me, was that when the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, courteously sent Elder Samuelson a letter thanking him for his “excellent contribution,” she was thoroughly criticized as well.
Mr Harvie again made comment on this: “It’s frustrating to see that the Presiding Officer still supports the decision to invite such an inappropriate speaker to address Holyrood. Mr Samuelson leads a homophobic institution, and parliament should not have given him this platform. The whole basis for Time For Reflection now needs to be reviewed.”
Personally, I find it tragic that, because of perceptions of his religious affiliation, a good man can’t get up and give a positive message without fear of backlash. Can’t there be an allowance, a bit of tolerance, for diverging views in a governing body such as this? Are they saying that just because a man belongs to a Church (nevermind what his own personal views may be) and runs a university whose policy is that homosexual behavior (not homosexual people) is inappropriate, it means that he is not suited to speak before the Scottish Parliament, although his credentials may be impeccable? What does the Dalai Lama believe about homosexuality? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I don’t mean to make this post a discussion of the Church’s (or BYU’s) position regarding homosexual relationships, but just wanted to point out what seems to be a glaring example of reverse discrimination against a man who’s message had nothing to do with that subject.