Covid-19 and religious freedom

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4413
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by nibbler » 18 Jun 2020, 10:04

I need a little help processing this:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.or ... us-freedom

It's really hard for me to organize my thoughts on the religious freedom debate, so I'll (try to) let it gestate. I can say that this sort of thing makes it harder for me to StayLDS.

Ok, some stuff is going to leak out...

Governments are in uncharted territory doing the best they can to keep their people safe... and it's used to feed into the church's persecution complex?

The church is well positioned to broadcast a weekly message from the Q15. No one stopped them from doing that... they just chose not to do it.

No one stopped the cootie squad from going door to door during quarantine to help people bless the sacrament.

Schools were closed too. Schools. But no, it was a targeted attack on religious freedoms.

This sends a mixed message. We were playing it safe, we were erring on the side of caution, we were putting people's health above all else. Now what? Sour grapes over religious freedom? What do they want to do with their religious freedom? Discriminate? Spread the plague?
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.
― Mark Twain

Jabraso
Posts: 8
Joined: 16 Jun 2020, 17:33

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by Jabraso » 18 Jun 2020, 10:57

I agree that the church is in a good position to do a lot virtually. They could broadcast messages and instructions as often as they want. The problem here is a virtual church doesn't accomplish what should be the most important function of the church meetings. Human beings are social creatures and need to interact with other people.

I've actually enjoyed not having church meetings. We did short home sacrament meetings for a few weeks that were short and sweet. This approach has been good during the circumstances surrounding this pandemic, but it isn't a long term solution.

The way I see this issue regarding religious freedom lies with who gets too make the choice. Everyone needs to be given the most accurate information and allowed to make their own choices. There needs to be options to protect vulnerable and cautious people. At the same time with the proper measures and limitations in place Church meetings can continue for those who chose to attend. Church services are as much of an essential service as many other businesses that remained open.

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1745
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by On Own Now » 18 Jun 2020, 12:37

Thanks for the post, nibbler. That's a very frustrating article and completely unnecessary, IMO.

I think DAB misses the mark badly, and in doing so, he encourages bad behavior.

Social distancing, avoiding unnecessary exposure, washing hands, wearing masks. The thing is that since January 1, we have lost twice as many Americans as died in all of the Vietnam War. In fact, in just the first half of 2020, we have lost 7 times as many Americans to Covid-19 as Americans who were lost in all of 1968 in Vietnam (the worst year of the war for American deaths). Comparing with WWII, we are almost at 1/3 of the total WWII American deaths. We've done it in 1/7th of the time. In other words, our death rate is more than double the American death rate of WWII.

I think one problem with how Covid-19 precautions are being messaged is that this is about staying healthy as an individual. It is about YOUR health. If you don't want to social-distance or wear a mask, then, that is up to you and according to your freedom. But if, instead, it were viewed as a societal responsibility, then social-distancing and wearing a mask is about the life of your neighbors. And surely, that is something the Church should be supporting.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

Roy
Posts: 6035
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by Roy » 18 Jun 2020, 13:35

This really touched a nerve with me.

1) I was introduced to the article by the quote that included the words "the pernicious social plague of racism." I was hopeful that this could be a more recent example of the church making a statement against racism. I was not prepared for what I read.

2) I live in Oregon where there were recent court battles challenging the right of the Governor to restrict the rights of religions to assemble. Even though the state Supreme Court eventually sided with the Governor it is still uneasy. Some churches feel that by continuing to meet and openly flout health regulations, they are in fact protesting government overreach. They may see themselves as modern day "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." Recently a church that had been holding meetings in this way become a COVID hotspot with hundreds of members (over 60%of the membership) testing positive. The pastor in his live stream afterwards said that the did the "right thing," that others should do the same, and that life was meant to be lived.

3) I have been quite proud of what I believe is my church acting quickly and decisively to put health and safety of the membership and the communities as a priority.

It is with this background that I read the excerpts from Elder Bednar's speech and I have been flabbergasted.
“While believers and their religious organizations must be good citizens in a time of crisis, never again can we allow government officials to treat the exercise of religion as simply nonessential. Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.”
The decisions around what businesses are considered essential and can remain open are imperfect. Closing down department stores but allowing Walmart to stay open because it has grocery is imperfect. The line has to be drawn somewhere but it will hurt - especially those businesses that were closest to the cut off line and shut down completely only to watch the competition stay open.

Elder Bednar states that the right to worship God is at least equal to the ability to buy gas.

1) No government official ever took away the right to worship God - only the ability to do so in large groups was curtailed. Why the exaggerated hyperbole?
2) I really need to buy gas. I suppose from a certain point of view it would be better to starve to death and go to heaven than to eat like a king and go to hell. That argument could be made but I am not sure that Elder Bednar is making it here. What he is trying to say is a mystery to me, that as long as gas stations are open then churches should also remain open? Is it just the label of non-essential that is offensive?
3) I very much dislike his use of the words "never again." I understand this emphatic phrasing to be associated with the Holocaust and other genocides. It seems quite out of place for what I understand happened - the church taking voluntary and prudent steps to protect the membership and the public.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4413
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by nibbler » 18 Jun 2020, 13:51

Comparing attending church to filling up with gas is also a false equivalency.

I'm not in an enclosed building when I buy gas.
When I pump gas I typically do so alone. At the very least I wouldn't use the word "gathering" to describe the number of people in my periphery.
Even if there were a few people around, they probably wouldn't be singing (forcibly exhaling) around me.
It doesn't take 45 minutes to an hour to gas up.
I don't eat anything that teenagers hand me while filling my gas tank.

If the virus only had an impact on the people taking the risk it would be a little different. The challenge is that the virus spreads asymptomatically. One risk taker can unwittingly bring the virus to others that are trying to stay safe. I think that's why the government has reacted with an overabundance of caution. Also, imperfect people react imperfectly... and that goes for the people in the shut down camp and people in the open up camp.

The comments also gave me the impression that Bednar feels that religions were singled out/targeted. All large gatherings were targeted and churches were lumped in with them. In addition, churches were deemed especially risky because of a few experiences with churches that became hotbeds for transmission.
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.
― Mark Twain

User avatar
felixfabulous
Posts: 118
Joined: 10 Jul 2018, 07:13

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by felixfabulous » 18 Jun 2020, 14:52

For me, this talk sounded like we were complaining about ash on our lawn after our neighbor's house burned down . . .

grobert93
Posts: 120
Joined: 30 Nov 2015, 16:05

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by grobert93 » 19 Jun 2020, 05:59

Roy wrote:
18 Jun 2020, 13:35
This really touched a nerve with me.
It is with this background that I read the excerpts from Elder Bednar's speech and I have been flabbergasted.
“While believers and their religious organizations must be good citizens in a time of crisis, never again can we allow government officials to treat the exercise of religion as simply nonessential. Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.”
The decisions around what businesses are considered essential and can remain open are imperfect. Closing down department stores but allowing Walmart to stay open because it has grocery is imperfect. The line has to be drawn somewhere but it will hurt - especially those businesses that were closest to the cut off line and shut down completely only to watch the competition stay open.

Elder Bednar states that the right to worship God is at least equal to the ability to buy gas.

2) I really need to buy gas. I suppose from a certain point of view it would be better to starve to death and go to heaven than to eat like a king and go to hell. That argument could be made but I am not sure that Elder Bednar is making it here. What he is trying to say is a mystery to me, that as long as gas stations are open then churches should also remain open? Is it just the label of non-essential that is offensive?
3) I very much dislike his use of the words "never again." I understand this emphatic phrasing to be associated with the Holocaust and other genocides. It seems quite out of place for what I understand happened - the church taking voluntary and prudent steps to protect the membership and the public.
I giggled at this, having skimmed over his temper tantrum article in laughter and shock.

I think Bednar should demonstrate an example of his Christ-like claims by giving up that nice looking iMac and MacBook Pro in the video first before complaining about the gas stations being opened during a pandemic (so that, you know, doctors and nurses can fill up their cars on the way to work to save lives, while fully funded beyond their means apostles of the mormon church continue to enjoy 1st class amenities and "talk" to god for the rest of their life.

Perhaps Bednar needs to be reminded of the costs to run church buildings, power road lights (stop lights), pay road workers to maintain the roads and snow plows to remove the snow from the roads that his followers use to travel to church weekly? Not to mention the tithing members continue to willingly give to the church without blinking an eye.

No, Bednard, your freedom for religious worship hasn't been affected nearly as much as your white privileged self would like to think. You just miss the control and power of knowing millions of faithful members are attending a church that funds your retirement.

/gets off soap box

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1745
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by On Own Now » 19 Jun 2020, 10:17

Just in the interest of trying not to turn this into an ad hominem attack on the person of DAB, I think it is useful to point out that DAB is a very accomplished professional educator/administrator. He earned a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Purdue University, was a published author and college professor/administrator at the University of Arkansas College of Business before becoming the President of Ricks College and then leading the transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho. He left his high-arcing career at the age of 45 to become a Seventy in the LDS Church.

I think it is safe to say that he would now have a lot more money and live in a very comfortable retirement if he were not a General Authority in the Church. And as a GA, he gives far more personal sacrifice than any of us would be willing to give to such a cause.

I don't agree with his take on this issue. I think it is unnecessary and promotes bad behavior. Over the years, I have frequently found his theological views to be quite different from my own.

But, I have to admit, with regard to the content of his character, it's impossible for me to find fault in him.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

grobert93
Posts: 120
Joined: 30 Nov 2015, 16:05

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by grobert93 » 20 Jun 2020, 07:23

On Own Now wrote:
19 Jun 2020, 10:17
Just in the interest of trying not to turn this into an ad hominem attack on the person of DAB, I think it is useful to point out that DAB is a very accomplished professional educator/administrator. He earned a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Purdue University, was a published author and college professor/administrator at the University of Arkansas College of Business before becoming the President of Ricks College and then leading the transition from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho. He left his high-arcing career at the age of 45 to become a Seventy in the LDS Church.

I think it is safe to say that he would now have a lot more money and live in a very comfortable retirement if he were not a General Authority in the Church. And as a GA, he gives far more personal sacrifice than any of us would be willing to give to such a cause.

I don't agree with his take on this issue. I think it is unnecessary and promotes bad behavior. Over the years, I have frequently found his theological views to be quite different from my own.

But, I have to admit, with regard to the content of his character, it's impossible for me to find fault in him.
If Bednar was not claiming to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, running the one and only true church... I'd completely understand and agree with you. From a non-church perspective he's a fascinating individual with a deep history, just like literately all of the apostles and even the prophet. I have nothing "wrong" with them as men. They are fine.

When you claim to speak to Jesus and make choices that you claim Jesus approved of in a church that you claim Jesus leads, your "imperfect moral life" becomes relevant. It's just the reality of being a celebrity, even if it's religious. If Bednar was still employed or was retired and made these statements as a general nobody, sure I'd allow him to have any kind of opinion he wants. But when a man who claims to lead the church, claims to have authority, and has had a history of rebuking the faithful for not paying their tithing and for doubting the church, makes statements about losing religious freedom and his fears of government power, it is natural that he will be judged more harshly.

This is just my unpopular opinion, of course. I used to love Bednar, Holland and oaks when I was full believer back in the day.

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7069
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Covid-19 and religious freedom

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Jun 2020, 08:18

I was bothered by this as well and for multiple reasons.

1) Every church "religious freedom" talk I have ever heard is really just a veiled anti-gay marriage talk. This is no exception. The message is, "If we let them tell us we can't meet, they can tell us we have to recognize gay marriage" (no matter how ridiculous that argument is). At last count I knew 0 gays who wanted to be married in the church (or wanted anything to do with the church). Gay marriage has been legal in my state since 2011. How many lawsuits have there been since then asking any church to perform or recognize gay marriage? Zero. I do not for one minute believe it's part of the "gay agenda."

2) Essential vs. non-essential. I suppose some states may have made the declaration that churches are non-essential, although I admittedly don't know which ones and I know my state did not. I live in the epicenter, New York, although hundreds of miles from the city. Our ban was not on church services, it was on large gatherings which makes perfect sense - it's obvious the virus is spread that way. There were churches in NY city where services were "shut down" because they were violating that order, not that churches are non-essential. There were also bars and retail establishments shut down for the same reason (a local Lowes was closed for a day while they came up with a plan, and a local bar was fined $10,000 and lost its liquor license for repeated offenses among several other cases). ALL of our restrictions were/are put in place by the church itself. Until last week we couldn't give laying on of hands blessings and it's only been a couple weeks since we were allowed to do the sacrament for people without the priesthood. Even though the state now allows meetings/groups up to 25 people, the church still says no live meetings (not even bishopric). My government is not restricting my freedom of religious expression, my church is (which is not really unusual).

There's more but my blood pressure is rising so I'll leave it. I have never been a Bednar fan and I am even less so now. It is unfortunate that he will almost certainly be in the big chair one day.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Post Reply