Press Room

February 26, 2014

Category: Religion & Faith, State Advocacy, State Laws, Arizona

Over 100 Mormons Send Letter to Gov. Brewer and Legislators, Ask for Veto of Discriminatory Bill

Letter cites past horrific discrimination against Mormons as reason to veto bill

PHOENIX – Today a group of over 100 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) sent an open letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and state legislators condemning the recently-passed bill that would allow businesses to refuse services to the LGBT community on the basis of religious freedom.  In the letter, which was facilitated by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Religion and Faith Program, the Mormon signatories cite an 1838 Extermination Order by Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs, declaring that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated from the State,” in their call for a veto of Arizona’s horrific bill.  

The letter goes on to say, “As Mormons, our religious freedoms were undeniably threatened by Governor Boggs. Thus, we strongly feel we should be able to exercise and protect our own religious rights. However, it is also in our culture not to use government to impose our will on anyone who worships differently. We echo the words of our founding prophet, Joseph Smith.”

The Mormon signatories of the letter join a growing chorus of voices calling on Gov. Brewer to veto the bill, including a number of prominent Arizonans like Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake, as well as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arizona Tech Council, dozens of faith leaders from across the state, and even the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the Arizona Cardinals.    

The letter from over 100 Mormons is below.

 

Recipient: Gov. Janice Brewer, State Sen. Andy Biggs, State Rep. Kelly Townsend, State

Rep. Chad Campbell, State Rep. David Gowan, State Rep. Rick Gray, State Rep.

Andy Tobin, State Rep. Bruce Wheeler, State Sen. Adam Driggs, State Sen. Steve

Gallardo, and State Sen. John McComish

 

Greetings,

 

We are a collection of individual members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-

Day Saints who strongly oppose SB 1062. As Mormons, we feel a call to “mourn

with those that mourn... comfort those that stand in need of comfort” and protect

the persecuted from persecution. (Mosiah 18) We express sadness that many

LGBTQ individuals, even in our own community, have endured significant pain

when encountering conflicting beliefs, misunderstanding, and often fear from

Latter-Day Saints. We are appalled to see this fear codified into Arizona statute

under the guise of protecting religious freedom.

 

In 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an Extermination Order declaring

that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated from

the State.” We were violently forced out of our homes, many of us killed. We were

unpopular, part of a minority, and unable to fight for fair and equal treatment. We

lived in a country founded on freedom of religion, but were not permitted to

practice our own. The only way to survive was for us to flee to the West, with

many eventually settling in the Arizona we live in today.

 

As Mormons, our religious freedoms were undeniably threatened by Governor

Boggs. Thus, we strongly feel we should be able to exercise and protect our own

religious rights. However, it is also in our culture not to use government to impose

our will on anyone who worships differently. We echo the words of our founding

prophet, Joseph Smith.

 

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our

own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how,

where, or what they may.” (Articles of Faith)

 

“We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government,

whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual

privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” D&C

134:9

 

It is not our place to judge others. Nor is it our place to cast our own beliefs on to

those who see differently than we do. This bill, however, allows us and others to do

just that. We are sensitive to the desire to protect religious freedom, but these

amendments are missing the mark. The amended language in SB 1062 is

unnecessarily vague and goes to the extreme, especially in transitioning protection

of religious freedom from individuals and religious institutions to corporations,

trusts, and other associations. It is our strong opinion that beyond the intent to

protect religious freedoms, this bill reflects fear and misunderstanding, opening the

door for discrimination in the name of religious freedom. Religious freedom should

be a protected right for everyone, but it should never usurp the right of any human

being. For this reason, we add our voice in asking for a veto of SB 1062.

 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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