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.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

61 thoughts on “Gary Johnson campaign responds to comments on Mormons

  1. ” 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 wonder if Governor Johnson realizes that people of faith are having struggles with the government now, with religious schools under attack, individuals losing their jobs if or publicly expressing their religious views, pharmacies being forced to close for not supplying abortifacient medications against their religious beliefs, businesses being forced to pay for employees abortions, businesses being fined and forced out of business for refusing to participate in and profit from religious ceremonies to which they are morally opposed, etc.

  2. Freaking crap. Anyone who thought he was talking about Muslims said so because they knew this was extremely ignorant for him to say and he said, “back to Mormonism,” when any version of that interview I found didn’t ever reference Mormons to begin with. It was confusing.

    He made it clear that he was referring to the Mormons being targeted in the name of God, not being the ones doing the shooting. He made it clear the government is not the best at picking and choosing what religious freedom should NOT entail, like photographing a gay wedding.

    You seem to have made your mind up about Johnson and you’re choosing to not take his words at face value. I get that he’s a politician, but they all are.

    Trump is a wicked man that boasts about who he is unapologetically. He’d be dangerous as president. Hillary is an evil criminal with so much organized power that she’ll be president of we don’t start calling her out on her crap. There’s NO accountability for either of these two.

    We need a revolution! Rather than starting a civil war, I’d much rather revolutionize this process by wholeheartedly voting 3rd party or a write in. We must send the message that Americans give a crap about our future.

    Attack Johnson all you want, you have your rights. But mocking his supporters doesn’t make you any better off a person and definitely not a source worth ever reading again.

  3. I had hoped that he had misspoken, inadvertently saying ‘Mormon’ when he meant ‘Muslim’ since he had made several references to them. Except for the Mountain Meadows massacre Mormons haven’t been infamous for taking lives.

  4. “Acts of violence and aggression can not be excused by religion ….” Is he referencing a gay couple not getting a cake?…. Or individuals being threatened by legislation and losing jobs to live contrary to their beliefs….? I don’t see Christians acting with violence and aggression. I DO see that rather than relieve persecution, our current tweaking with government and morality has simply shifted the peoples it’s acceptable to persecute. Once that was Mormons. Now it’s anyone who wants to openly live their beliefs contrary to popular trends in morality.

  5. What he is saying is that equal treatment (non-discrimination) and freedom of religion are often in fundamental conflict – when that conflict occurs he comes down on the side of equal treatment.

  6. I suspect Johnson is unfamiliar with Mormonism and may have gotten his impressions from Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. I think this explains his comment better than the post hoc “clarification”.

  7. Cut out the “Back to Mormonism” gaffe. The quote is still terrifying, and he didn’t back off from it — just said he was sorry to offend.

    “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.”

    “God has spoken to them”? That has absolutely zero to do with Mormons being persecuted by the Fed. Only a loon could pretend that he meant the God told the Fed to kill Mormons. He’s saying religion is exempt from protection because their adherents can make nutty claims.

    While Johnson correctly backed down the implication that somehow religious freedom provides the faithful a get-out-of-free card for crimes like murder, he is making it plain that religions are dangerous and he will not protect your rights if you make a choice based on religious principles.

    *sigh* Its too bad bc he was the only actual moral choice….. For a few minutes anyway.

    We’ve got to start a write in, y’all.

  8. JSH, just for the record, Johnson shows no nuance when discussing the issue of “equal treatment.” He has said several times that he is in favor of the government forcing Jewish bakers to serve Nazis. He makes no exceptions for public accommodation. As I said in the other post, it is one thing to insist that the only florist in town must serve a gay wedding. It is quite another to insist that one florist serve a gay wedding when there are 10 other equally good florists a few blocks away. And lastly, Johnson’s interview is all about supposed threats in the future. He would force people to violate their religious consciences today to prevent possible violations of equal treatment in the future. This is a terrible way of creating public policy. There are so many things to be worried about right now in society — why is Johnson obsessed with future problems that may or may not happen?

    Reason magazine, which supports Johnson for president, discusses other problems with his position on religious liberty here:

  9. It seems to me the original statement by Gov. Johnson was made with knowledge of 1 Nephi 4, the story of Nephi killing Laban at the Lord’s command. Another possibility is that he knows about the accounts of the people at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, who said that the local church leaders said God wanted them to kill the Arkansas pioneers who were passing through Utah on their way to California. A rational non-Mormon might read either of those things and think that we have some kind of claim to a right to kill in the name of God. But if he has so many friends who are LDS, maybe he would have picked up on the fact that we do not use those accounts as precedent for killing others in the name of God.

  10. The more I think about it, it is even moe insulting that he was talking about violence against Mormons because he is actually trying to equate the persecution of the early saints to someone refusing to take someone’s picture or bake someone a cake.

  11. It is also possible that he doesn’t know about Mormon history and that his Mormon friend and campaign manager wrote the response.

  12. LB35 – Exactly on the Laban killing. From a *doctrinal* point of view our premier scripture sanctions murder if God tells you to do it. Anyone who just wanted to read the Book of Mormon to find out what we believe would read that in first Nephi.

    For the record I’m not defending Johnson or his statement (I’m not in his camp), but I get that in his view non-discrimination is higher in the hierarchy of rights than religion. I think (my attempt at long distance mind reading) what he is trying to get across is that once we start allowing people to discriminate when running a business it is a slippery slope that he does not want to be on. His clarification went tot he idea that one’s beliefs should not be controlled or outlawed, but that one’s actions can be constrained.

  13. The point everyone seems to be missing is people use religion as a excuse to do things that aren’t right and if government condones that in seemingly insignifacant areas that will set the stage for it to be abused. Personally I think any privately owned business with no government funding or govt protected monopoly (utilities) should be able to refuse service to anyone.

    That being said I’m sick of Christians trying to use their religion as an excuse to judge others when that is the exact opposite of what they are taught. If you claim to follow a religion that preaches tolerance and forgiveness but are completely intolerant or judgemental then how in the world can you try to use your religion to justify it.

    This goes both ways too. If you disagree with how a business conducts business then take your business elsewhere instead of forcing yourself on them. Americans seem to have a screwed up view of what exactly is meant by rights. Everyone seems to think that means force your view on everyone else. Just live and let live. If you don’t want to sell flowers to gay people then you shouldn’t have to, but don’t use your religion as an excuse. If someone doesn’t want to sell you flowers then screw them, take your business elsewhere. Government should not be involved and there’s no since in wasting government resources on petty crap pike this. We have real problems in this country that need to be dealt with.

  14. Although I completely understand and agree with what has been said, there is still a problem that I see from these arguments. What if there are two choices in a town and they still won’t serve a person for whatever reason? There is a chance, and history has I believe examples even with Mormons both for and against, where the 10 stores still don’t serve particular groups. Would you sue all 10 stores, 1 store, and can the government get involved in that case or should they start their own business? As many of you know, I lean toward allowing religious people having the freedom to not serve, but its more tricky that some here state.

    On the other hand, I really don’t like the idea that “one’s beliefs should not be controlled or outlawed, but that one’s actions can be constrained.” This is both a cop-out of faux tolerance and total misunderstanding of religion as nothing more than philosophy. Perhaps allowing human sacrifice is going too far, but I can stretch to say only if the person used is not of age and unwilling. Discrimination to the point of endangering lives, not just sensibilities and feelings, should be at least considered.

  15. A little bit of a thread jack, but Geoff B, I’m not sure I agree with you that the government should compel a florist who is the only on in town to provide flowers for a gay wedding if it goes against their religious belief. Flowers are not a matter of life and death. You can still have a wedding without them.

  16. It seems to me that Gary Johnson’s point was the same one that the leaders of the church made in 1835: “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;…” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:4)

  17. He said what he meant to say. He’s been getting his religious history from entertainment programming like AMCs Hell on Wheels. More troubling to me are his beliefs the the Government can ban discrimination by individuals and private organizations. Discrimination is, by strictest definition, choice. It should be banned in government contexts under equal protection under the the law, but banning private entities from choosing whom they associate with violates the express language of the first Amendment

  18. Just confirmation that he is not a viable candidate but just another bad choice in a field of historically bad choices.

  19. He doesnt understand religious freedom because he doesnt understand negetive law. He’s a progressive “Libertarian”.

  20. Funny, when I read his original comments, I figured he must be referring to the Bundy debacle where they invaded the government bird refuge, and the wack-a-doo justifications (religious and otherwise) for doing so.
    Sometimes Mormons do weird things. In today’s day, not just in the olden days

  21. The comment made about Mormons was in regards to an “extermination order” out out on them in Missouri. Up until the 1960’s I believe, it was “legal”, at least according to Missouri law, to murder a mormon for whatever reason you felt.

  22. Ryan, then his comments are even more weird. “Religious liberty is a slippery slope/black hole, because if you have too much of it, religious groups could be hunted down and killed.” How does that make sense? How were Mormons in Missouri guilty of too much religious freedom?

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