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Top Mormon Leader Says Only God Can Judge Him For Gay Suicide Crisis Caused By LDS Church

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LDS Elder Says Question of Whether Church is Responsible for At Least 32 Deaths Can Only Be Answered by ‘Higher Authority’ on ‘Judgment Day’

Mormon parents with LGBT children are outraged over a church leader’s callous remarks last week concerning the youth suicide crisis that’s been linked to a horrific new anti-gay policy.

Mama Dragons, a support group for those parents, reported lsat month that at least 32 young LGBT Mormons had taken their own lives since early November. That’s when the church unveiled its policy — said to be divinely inspired — that labels people in same-sex marriages “apostates” and bars their children from being baptized until they turn 18 and disavow their parents’ relationship. 

Last week, Elder Dallin Oaks became the first Mormon leader to address the suicide crisis publicly, when he suggested that people are wrongly blaming the church for the deaths of their loved ones, according to audio of his remarks posted by the Mormon Stories podcast.

Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, added that the question of whether the church is responsible for the LGBT youth suicides can only be answered by “a higher authority” on “judgment day.” 

“I am angry,” Mama Dragons member Brooke Caldwell, the mother of a transgender son, told Salt Lake City’s Fox affiliate for a story that aired Monday. “I am fiercely angry at the church.” 

Mama Dragons’ report about the 32 LGBT youth suicides is not verifiable and has been questioned by Utah state health officials. However, LGBT-affirming Mormon therapist Hollie Hancock told the station that if even one young member of the church has taken their own life, “we’ve lost too many.”  

“It’s as if we hear, ‘Love your children, love your families, be there for your families, family is the most important thing in the church,” Hancock said. 

“Except your gay children,” Caldwell added. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hasn’t responded to media inquiries about Oaks’ statements, which he made following a speech about the importance of religious freedom at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 9. 

A member of the audience, Andrew Evans, referenced a comment Oaks’ made about “social warfare,” then explained that his gay Mormon friend had committed suicide in D.C. less than a year ago. 

“You’ve gone on record that the church does not give apologies,” Evans told Oaks. “Does religious freedom absolve you from responsibility in the gay Mormon suicide crisis?” 

Oaks responded that Evans’ question could only be answered “on judgment day.” 

“I can’t answer that beyond what’s already been said,” Oaks explained, apparently referencing an official statement issued by the LDS church concerning the suicides last month.

Oaks also used the term “sexual preference,” considered offensive by many in the LGBT community because it implies that being gay is a choice. 

“I know that those tragic events happen,” Oaks said. “And it’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference. There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church – my church – or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth, and I am ready to be accountable to that authority, but I think part of what my responsibility extends to, is trying to teach people to be loving, and civil and sensitive to one another so that people will not feel driven, whatever the policy disagreements, whatever the rules of the church, or the practices of a church, or any other organization, if they are administered with kindness, at the highest level or at the level of the congregation or the ward, they won’t drive people to take those extreme measures; that’s part of my responsibility to teach that.”

“And beyond that,” Elder Oaks adds, “I will be accountable to higher authority for that. That’s the way I look on that. Nobody is sadder about a case like that than I am. Maybe that’s a good note to end on.”

Some responses via Twitter:

 

Image by Harvard Law Record via Flickr and a CC license

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'SOUNDS ABOUT WHITE'

‘Completely Corrupt’ Barr Blasted for Blaming ‘Antifa’ for Violence While Ignoring Arrest of Right Wing Extremists

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Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire for claiming in a Thursday afternoon press conference that “Antifa” is responsible for violence seen at some of the largely peaceful protests across the nation, while ignoring the arrest of far right wing extremists for actual or attempted violence at protests. Barr mentioned “other similar groups” but none by name or specific political affiliation, including right wing white supremacists.

Barr made his remarks attempting to attack the left despite his own Dept. of Justice on Wednesday announcing the arrest and filing of charges against members of a far-right extremist movement “for conspiracy to cause destruction during protests in Las Vegas, and possession of…a Molotov cocktail.”

The FBI, in fact, has issued a report contradicting President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr’s politicized claims that “Antifa” is at the center of the violence being committed as largely peaceful protestors respond to the killing of George Floyd.

“The FBI has found no evidence that the American militant anti-fascist movement Antifa was involved in violence that erupted during national protests over the death of George Floyd,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday, citing a report at The Nation.

On Sunday, Attorney General Barr had issued a statement claiming the “violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

On Thursday afternoon he echoed those words, ignoring his own FBI’s report, saying: “We have evidence that Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.”

Aside from Antifa, which is not an organized group but rather a straw man the right uses to attack the left, Barr did not specifically name any of the other groups he says he has evidence of committing violence and other illegal acts – or their actual political affiliation.

On social media, many are recoiling in anger and outrage over his latest politicization of the Dept. of Justice. Some were happy to provide actual evidence that the violence is largely instigated by those on the right, including white supremacist groups and the right-wing “Boogooloo” movement – some of whom have already been arrested this week.

 

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TAXPAYER FUNDED DISCRIMINATION IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Trump DOJ Urges Supreme Court to Let Religious Adoption Agencies Discriminate Against LGBTQ Families

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President Donald Trump’s Dept. of Justice is telling the U.S. Supreme Court it should allow religious and faith-based adoption agencies discriminate against LGBTQ families.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco has filed a strongly-worded 35 page amicus brief in a case claiming that Catholic Social Services is being denied their First Amendment rights after signing a contract with the City of Philadelphia to provide adoption and foster services – and to not discriminate. Philadelphia dropped the religious non-profit after it said it would not allow same-sex couples, married or unmarried, adopt or foster children.

Catholic Social Services can continue to operate as it chooses, but the City of Philadelphia will no longer place children with it. CSS is essentially saying it has a First Amendment right to taxpayer-funded placements of children.

In the brief Francisco and other DOJ attorneys, including Eric Dreiband, actually criticize a Philadelphia Human Services Commissioner for what they call “an impermissible lack of neutrality,” after she told Catholic Social Services “they should be following ‘the teachings of Pope Francis’ as she understood them.”

The DOJ goes all-out against those remarks, calling them “unconstitutional,” and claims they represent an “overt hostility toward religious belief,” an “animosity to religion or distrust of its practices,” and an “impermissible hostility to religion” – despite admitting a lower court noted the Commissioner was educated as a Jesuit and was “simply making ‘an effort to reach common ground.'”

The DOJ uses the word “hostility” in its brief 25 times.

“The U.S. government isn’t a party to the case, known as Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, so the brief is completely voluntary,” The Washington Blade reports. “In justifying the brief before the Supreme Court, the filing makes the case the Justice Department has a compelling interest to intervene.”

The Supreme Court accepted the case in February. The far right wing Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Catholic Social Services.

Francisco has represented the Trump administration in telling the Supreme Court the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay people in the workplace from discrimination. As Solicitor General he has also asked the Supreme Court to rule that firing an employee simply because they are gay is legal, and that it is legal under federal law for employers to fire transgender workers merely for being transgender.

Francisco clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who represented the court’s animus against LGBTQ Americans and same-sex couples for decades. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Lumen Christi Institute, which says it works “to renew our civilization by forming leaders for a global society in need of Christian wisdom.”

In years past anti-gay activists and the Catholic Church have falsely claimed the Catholic Social Services adoption agency in Boston was “forced” to shut its doors in 2006 because it refused to allow LGBT people adopt. In reality, its board members voted to allow LGBT people to adopt, but it chose to close rather than allow same-sex parents adopt.

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PRESIDENTIAL REBUKE

‘We Are Better Than This’: Former President Carter Silently Scorches Trump – Calls for a ‘Government as Good as Its People’

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Former President Jimmy Carter has issued a statement in response to the police killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent nationwide protests. But the nation’s 39th President also took a silent swipe at President Donald Trump, and his handling of the protests.

“We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this,” Carter, who is now 95, writes.

It is a stern rebuke to the nation’s 45th President, whom Carter does not mention by name.

Carter’s comments come in the wake of criticism in the handling of the nationwide protests by former President George W. Bush, who also issued a silent rebuke to President Trump. Bush called for law enforcement to “protect” the protestors and asked: “How do we end systemic racism in our society?”

Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter say their “hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination.”

On Wednesday former President Barack Obama held a town hall on the killing of George Floyd and the protests, calling for police reform and focusing on what Americans, especially young Americans, can do.

This week Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced he opposes President Trump’s desire to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would pave the way for U.S. Military troops to police American cities.

Former Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday broke his silence by saying Trump is a danger to the Constitution, and compared his methods to Hitler’s.

Here is President Carter’s full statement:

Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.

As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: “The time for racial discrimination is over.” With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.

Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.

We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.

 

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