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California's Proposition 8 and the Tyranny of Tolerance

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California's Proposition 8 and the Tyranny of Tolerance


The pulpit and politics in my church -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- rarely come together. Ranking religious institutions and political involvement on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most politically active, my church is likely to be rated a 2 or 3 on the scale.

My church affirms it's political neutrality. However, it maintains the right to speak out on social and moral issues that affect the Church and families. And occasionally the Church encourages action.

Most recently, our church leaders are encouraging members to vote YES on Proposition 8 in California to provide a legal definition of marriage being between a man and a woman., the Church's website, offers various links to discussions and information on this issue.

One point made in the discussions is the idea of the "Tyranny of Tolerance" -- when tolerance is redefined to mean acceptance rather than love.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Latter-day Saint church leader, clarifies and reminds us what "tolerance" means:

"Tolerance obviously requires a non-contentious manner of relating toward one another’s differences. But tolerance does not require abandoning one’s standards or one’s opinions on political or public policy choices. Tolerance is a way of reacting to diversity, not a command to insulate it from examination."

I am strongly put off by dialogues in the community that suggest my supporting marriage between a man and woman makes me intolerant, or worse labels me as a "hater".  For that reason, I have been slow to join the discussion on this blog and elsewhere when same-sex marriage is discussed. I don't want to open myself up to unfair criticism. I don't want to be misunderstood.

However, I am being encouraged by my church leaders to speak out. That is because we have learned from other countries and areas where same-sex marriage is legalized that it can negatively impact religious liberty and free speech (see article: The Divine Institution of Marriage).

Please don't misunderstand. I do not support measures that promote unkind and inhumane actions. For instance, I don't support restrictions towards same-sex partners for hospital visitations. Legislation can be put in place, and many laws already exist, to protect people from unfair treatment.

I appreciate the guidance given by my church leaders to promote civil dialogue and action in support of Proposition 8.

The video discussions and articles linked below elaborate much better than I can on why this issue should be important to Latter-day Saints and how we can conduct ourselves in a Christ-like manner:

SALT LAKE CITY 16 October 2008 These pages will help the news media, the public and Church members better understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement in supporting Proposition 8.  

Letter from the First Presidency to California Latter-day Saints

This letter, regarding Proposition 8, was sent from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Church leaders in California to be read to all congregations on 29 June 2008.

The Divine Institution of Marriage

This in-depth article explains the importance of protecting the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

This is the official Web site of ProtectMarriage, a coalition supporting Proposition 8.

This Web site provides multimedia resources to help Latter-day Saints and others better understand the Church’s position on Proposition 8.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

This proclamation, released by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995, emphasizes the importance of the family.  

Interview With Church Leaders on Same-sex Attraction

This interview was conducted with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. They answer questions about the Church’s stance on the marriage issue specifically and on homosexuality in general.  

Video: Discussion With Elder David A. Bednar

Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, discusses Proposition 8 and same-sex marriage with a group of young adults.

Video: Broadcast to Church Members in California

Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton talk to Californian Church members about becoming involved in supporting Proposition 8.

Video: “I Support Proposition 8”

Young adults from California discuss their involvement in preserving traditional marriage.

Video Resources:

Additional videos explaining the Church’s stance on this issue are available on


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