“It’s not about cake—it’s about the freedom to believe.”

I will defend your right to be gay till the day I die. Will you defend my right to be Christian?

Tammy Bruce is a talk-show host and a life-long lesbian who has lived through the abuse, the hatred, and the discrimination lashed out at the LGBT community. She recently spoke out about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has put the state of Indiana on the hot spot. Her opinion differs from the LGBT activists, and it is a voice that needs to be heard. Her perspective is simple—it is hypocritical for a people, who have seen first-hand the effects of hate by mobs against a minority, to turn around and act in like manner towards others.

Persecution is not God’s Way

For centuries, lesbians and gays have suffered persecution and death because of their gender attraction. It has never been part of God’s Eternal Plan to persecute and kill a person for who they are and what they believe. Never. And yet there are members of the LGBT community in many countries around the world that will be killed today by their government officials if they are discovered to be homosexuals. This is not God’s way.

Christians have also been persecuted and put to death for their beliefs. The Romans had them thrown to the lions to be eaten alive for their entertainment. Later, Christians suffered persecution by their own kind over doctrinal matters, interpretation of scripture and even over the printing of the Bible itself.  The state of Missouri put out an extermination order on Mormons in the 1830’s, causing them to flee for their lives. The Armenian Christians suffered genocide during the turn of the last century. A Christian holocaust is taking place in the Middle East right now. None of these acts have been authorized by God.

1620 pilgrims in America

What do these two groups have in common? They both want the freedom to be who they are, to believe what they hold dear in their heart, and to live their lives free of persecution.

Freedom Itself comes from God

All freedom, especially the freedom to believe, is an eternal gift from Heavenly Father. Our freedom of agency, to make our own choices as to how we live our lives and to deal with the consequences as they come, is the foundation for our existence here on earth. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

We must not forget that moral agency is an essential part of God’s plan for all His children. That eternal plan, presented to us in the Pre-mortal Council in Heaven, included the gift of agency (“Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom,” Conference talk April 2015).

The adversary knew this—and frankly, he hated it. It has been Satan’s plan all along to disrupt our agency. His plan was to usurp it, control our lives, and deny us the freedom of choice. God’s plan, to allow us freedom to choose and to learn from our choices, was the better way. Satan and one third of the hosts of heaven fought God’s plan, and ultimately lost. Satan forfeited his own freedom when he was cast out of God’s presence for rebellion. And because of that, he would love nothing more than to see us at odds with the very people we should team up with and support.

Recognize the Assault on Freedom

Robert D. Hales said,

The first [cornerstone of religious freedom that we as Latter-day Saints must rely upon and protect] is freedom to believe. No one should be criticized, persecuted, or attacked by individuals or governments, for what he or she believes about God. It is very personal and very important” (“Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom”, Conference talk April 2015).

Tammy Bruce is a hero in my book. She challenged the LGBT community to take a step back and see that the very hatred and bigotry they fought so hard to overcome should be shunned from all aspects of their lives. They should be the leaders in compassion toward others who are different from them, and they should support everyone’s rights to their own beliefs, just as they would hope others would support their right to be who they are. Religious beliefs are sacred. No one should be forced to do something that contradicts their deep, religious conviction.

wedding cake

Image via boards.weddingbee.com

A lesbian caller to a conservative talk show station stood behind the words of Tammy Bruce. She told the host that she too supported the recent RFRA law. She understood the importance of protecting the rights of religious people to stand behind their sacred beliefs and not be forced by the government to do anything contrary to them. She said if she were to have a lesbian wedding and if she approached a Christian florist or baker who wished to uphold their deeply held doctrine, she would honor their request rather than force them to do something they didn’t want to do. It is important to make the distinction that to deny service to a person because of gender orientation is discriminatory and illegal, but to decline participating in an event that conflicts with a person’s religious views should also be honored. There is a fine line here, but in order to respect both groups, the line must be drawn. I applaud this strong woman’s respect for others who are different from her.

As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right  (Robert D. Hales, “Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom,” Conference talk April 2015).

Most religious people are not fascists—most LGBT members are not radicals. We often get swept up in a media-frenzied portrayal of reality, which is not reality at all. It is driven by marketing, ratings, and an agenda based on hate and lies. Satan is the father of all lies. Most people in the real world want to get along with each other. When we let the fanatics have the loudest voice, we do a disservice to the peaceful members of society who live in harmony with those with whom they may disagree. Don’t let the fascists hijack your group.

egyptian copts

Egyptian Copts: Image via now.mmedia.me

Our nation was founded on freedom and equality, and a balance can and should be met here. Burning homosexuals alive and throwing Christians to the lions are one in the same atrocious act. Yet while we argue over wedding cake, the exterminating of gays and Christians is currently taking place all over the Middle East and Africa. Let us walk past the political train-wrecks in this country and combine our energies to fight against the true atrocities that are happening around the world.

As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom,” Conference talk April 2015).

Stand by your religion. Stand by who you are. Be a good person. True Christianity does not support the persecution of Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, or anyone who is different from you. It is designed to help us overcome hate and treat people with dignity. Likewise, the LGBT community should stand for all peoples who are persecuted for what they believe and defend their right to believe it, even if they do not agree with it.

The prophet Joseph Smith said,

I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 345).

If we cloud our vision with fear and hate, we will not recognize the real enemy—Satan’s assault on the freedom to believe.  We will be in danger of losing the very freedom we fought for before the world began.

 

About Nanette ONeal
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.

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