Tuesday, October 6, 2015
On August 6th each year, my wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary with great memories of that day and the wondrous life we have spent together. We look forward with soaring anticipation to the rest of lives together in our mortal life and the eternities beyond.
In sharp contrast, we also remember with great sadness the greatest single act of devastation that mankind has poured out on his fellow travelers in the horrible tragedy of war.
The atomic bombs that dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki most likely saved my father’s life. He was on his way to fight in the invasion of Japan, which would most certainly would have been bloody behind belief. I am grateful that he and his fellow soldiers were spared that experience. But at the same time, my heart mourns for other fathers who did not survive Hiroshima or Nagasaki or the horrific firebombing that preceded these events.
Today I would hope. as we solemnly ponder these photos, that we could unitedly resolve to renounce war and proclaim peace.
From this vantage point, it seems like just another bomb dropping from the Enola Gay …
… but even from far away, the effects from the bomb are ominous.
Who could have imagined the devastation?
The human effects are too gruesome to post. Just Google “Hiroshima” and look at the images.
At a recent religious freedom conference sponsored by the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Alexander Dushku described two divergent paths our culture and law could follow in the wake of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.
The first path may be similar to what happened after the Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia decisions, where subsequent legislation and cultural shifts had dramatic effects on freedom of expression:
they not only made racist actions by government unlawful, but far more profoundly, they also made racist speech, and even racist ideas by individuals, socially and culturally taboo.
What will happen if similar shifts in law and culture happen in the years ahead, following the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision?
If the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision results in support for traditional marriage being equated culturally and legally with racism, then as a practical matter religious liberty will be severely restricted. Under that model, government itself will come to have powerful justifications for suppressing and marginalizing religious beliefs, speech, and especially actions that challenge the new right to same-sex marriage. Schools will be expected to instruct children in the new marriage ideology and to suppress speech and beliefs that run contrary to it, just as schools do when it comes to racist speech and viewpoints.
However, there is another path, exemplified by the Roe v. Wade case, where “a divided Supreme Court removed the issue of abortion from the democratic process, declaring that abortion is a fundamental right during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.” Following this decision, the right to debate whether abortion should or should not be practiced is still protected, both by law and cultural norms.
If, in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage decision, our nation follows the example set in the wake of Roe v. Wade, then religious liberty will survive. There will be hard times, to be sure, but eventually there will be accommodations for those who dissent from the new gay marriage orthodoxy.
So what must be done to assure that freedom of expression and religious liberty survive in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision?
In my view, the effect of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision on religious liberty will depend, to a great extent, on people like you and me. If supporters of traditional marriage retreat—if they are intimidated into silence—if they give up trying to find the right words and arguments to defend their beliefs—if they do not stand as witnesses and living examples of the goodness of their beliefs—and if people of goodwill do not, at least, stand up for the rights of others to dissent in good faith and yet still be numbered among us as our fellow citizens, neighbors, colleagues, and friends—then the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision will indeed be a disaster for religious liberty.
We must actively stand for the freedom of religious expression, even in matters where the Supreme Court has ruled.
But if those who support traditional marriage are examples of what is highest and best about their beliefs—if they, like the pro-lifers, refuse to be silenced—if they find ways to explain and persuade with reason as well as kindness, meekness, and love—and if they cheerfully but resolutely endure the indignities that will be visited on them, and without bitterness ask only for toleration, understanding, and respect for their basic rights as Americans—then I believe that, ultimately, the great goodness and decency of the American people will rise up and our culture and law will carve out and protect enough space so that people of faith who maintain traditional beliefs about marriage, family and sexuality can participate fully in all aspects of American life.
We must “refuse to be silenced.” In the words of Quentin L. Cook, we must “be an active participant, not a silent observer.”
This short video describes the concept of Religious Freedom and outlines the importance of our efforts to practice and defend this vital freedom – being “an active participant, not a silent observer.”
“They [who] seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers…call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt March 15, 1941
In 2007, my son Ryan (standing in the center) and fellow student council members from Mesa High School visited Washington, DC. Yesterday, I happened across this old photo of their visit to the FDR Memorial.
I find it ironic that the man who presided over such a huge expansion of the US federal government would utter these profound words. Now, seventy four years since President Roosevelt made this somewhat prophetic statement, there is ample evidence that a few people in politically elite circles are trying very hard to consolidate power over our lives into the hands of a very few.
On July 16, 1946, seventy years ago today, the first Atomic Bomb was detonated in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico This marked a successful step forward in the Manhattan Project and a pivotal point in the terror and triumph of nuclear energy. A couple of years ago, I read a very interesting and sobering book on the topic, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” I highly recommend it.