Religious Freedom is Incompatible with Moral Relativism

Aside from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ great name, he’s also got a great legal mind. He recently gave a landmark speech on religious freedom and how our 1st amendment protection is under attack. Several of his remarks are directly pertinent to the issues we are dealing with in Utah, while others are shocking to see them happening anywhere in America.

This talk is not an “LDS” talk. It is specifically non-denominational on this subject and he liberally quotes from non-LDS sources throughout his speech.  I have included a few quotes below but I encourage you to read the talk in its entirety (link).

“I submit that religious values and political realities are so inter-linked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of religion in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms.”

“Whatever the extent of formal religious affiliation, I believe that the tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding. A writer for the Christian Science Monitor predicts that the coming century will be “very secular and religiously antagonistic,” with intolerance of Christianity “ris[ing] to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes.”10

“A visible measure of the decline of religion in our public life is the diminished mention of religious faith and references to God in our public discourse. One has only to compare the current rhetoric with the major addresses of our political leaders in the 18th, 19th, and the first part of the 20th centuries. Similarly, compare what Lincoln said about God and religious practices like prayer on key occasions with the edited versions of his remarks quoted in current history books.11 It is easy to believe that there is an informal conspiracy of correctness to scrub out references to God and the influence of religion in the founding and preservation of our nation.”

“Granted that reduced religious affiliation puts religion “in the background,” the effect of that on the religious beliefs of young adults is still in controversy. The negative view appears in the Oxford book, whose author concludes that this age group of 18 to 23

“had difficulty seeing the possible distinction between, in this case, objective moral truth and relative human invention. . . . [T]hey simply cannot, for whatever reason, believe in—or sometimes even conceive of—a given, objective truth, fact, reality, or nature of the world that is independent of their subjective self-experience.”13

This is precisely what John Goodlad, John Dewey, Bill Ayers, and the NNER are working toward…democratic classrooms where truth doesn’t come from God, it’s only what you can see, feel, hear, taste, and touch. If you can’t, then truth is relative to the experience of the individual. This is such a dangerous position to hold for the future of our nation. It is almost unbelievable how strongly this false philosophy has permeated our state of Utah, in particular in Utah county.

“It is well to remember James Madison’s warning:

“There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”40

Part 4 of his speech completely focused on this issue of moral relativism. Here are a couple of great quotes from his talk.

“What has caused the current public and legal climate of mounting threats to religious freedom? I believe the cause is not legal but cultural and religious. I believe the diminished value being attached to religious freedom stems from the ascendency of moral relativism.

More and more of our citizens support the idea that all authority and all rules of behavior are man-made and can be accepted or rejected as one chooses. Each person is free to decide for himself or herself what is right and wrong. Our children face the challenge of living in an increasingly godless and amoral society.

I have neither the time nor the expertise to define the various aspects of moral relativism or the extent to which they have entered the culture or consciousness of our nation and its people. I can only rely on respected observers whose descriptions feel right to me.

In his book, Modern Times, the British author Paul Johnson writes:

“At the beginning of the 1920s the belief began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value.”53

On this side of the Atlantic, Gertrude Himmelfarb describes how the virtues associated with good and evil have been degraded into relative values.54

A variety of observers have described the consequences of moral relativism. All of them affirm the existence of God as the Ultimate Law-giver and the source of the absolute truth that distinguishes good from evil.”

“Moral relativism leads to a loss of respect for religion and even to anger against religion and the guilt that is seen to flow from it. As it diminishes religion, it encourages the proliferation of rights that claim ascendency over the free exercise of religion.”

In his conclusion he lists these 4 points:

1. Religious teachings and religious organizations are valuable and important to our free society and therefore deserving of their special legal protection.

2. Religious freedom undergirds the origin and existence of this country and is the dominating civil liberty.

3. The guarantee of free exercise of religion is weakening in its effects and in public esteem.

4. This weakening is attributable to the ascendancy of moral relativism.

This is ultimately what has been the debate in Alpine School district over the past year. Goodlad’s indoctrination center has been gradually teaching the need for democratic classrooms that are accepting of false notions in the name of tolerance for others’ beliefs. We face an incredible battle in the future to help people understand that only through belief in God and His absolute truths can we have any kind of anchor in this world that we can create common standards from. Without God, and religious belief in Him, we will be tossed as the waves of the sea.

There is much more in this excellent speech by Elder Oaks which covers persecution, the gradual loss of freedom, the redefining of rights, and anti-religious bigotry. I strongly encourage you to read the whole talk here:

2 Responses to “Religious Freedom is Incompatible with Moral Relativism”

  • Susie:

    Thanks for posting this Oak. It is truly a historic speech for our time and I hope parents and other citizens will read it again and again to empower them to speak up against this threat against religion. I’ve heard many sad stories of students losing faith in their religion after being handed out school assignments which incorporate moral relativism. This talk directly addresses our concerns. It is timely that now more than ever we don’t separate religion from politics or schooling. That is what our Founders had in mind to keep this country strong, educated and moral.

  • cea7of9:

    As with many situations, this, too, can be related to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. The part I am referring to is when Scrooge is speaking to his nephew and says, “… keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep in mine.” To which his nephew replies, “Keep it? But you don’t keep it.” Then Scrooge responds, “Let me leave it alone, then.” His nephew wishes from him, “Don’t be cross, uncle.” Later, his nephew asks, “I want nothing of you. I ask nothing from you. Why can’t we be friends?”

    And so it is with religion and moral relativism. Moral relativism says, “Keep religion in your own way and let me keep it in mine.” To which religion says, “Keep it? But you don’t keep it.” and moral relativism replies, “Then let me leave it alone!” A concept that most religions do not have any problem with. Most religions understand that we all have our own path and we should not condemn one person’s path over another. Well might all religions say, “Don’t be cross. I want nothing of you. I ask nothing from you. Can’t we be friends?” To which they often receive Scrooges response to all kindnesses, “Humbug! Good day. Good day!”