As most of you know by now, the Mormon church as come out in opposition to legalization of medical marijuana. And once again, the Mormon church continues to get involved in legislating morality and influencing public policy as though they are the only church who can violate the long held concept of the separation of church and state. This time I think the LDS Church has definitely overstepped its boundaries. I was ready to expound on this issue in this blog when I discovered an outstanding commentary from a friend and colleague of mine from the days when I worked for the state of Utah. I asked Ray Mathews for permission to post the following commentary in my blog. Here it is in its entirety:
The LDS Church has instructed the faithful Mormons in the Utah State Legislature to vote down SB 73 (2016). Utahns originally from states where there is true separation of church and state find this interference appalling. But the rest of you who have grown up in Utah are numbed out of your minds. No need for cannabis here.
Your own territorial legislature and statehood commissions foresaw this and they wrote into the Constitution that would be eventually adopted in this State greater religious liberty protections than would be found in any other state’s constitution. These provisions were required as a condition of statehood.
Let us read chapter and verse our liberties, Article 1, Sec. 4.
"The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust or for any vote at any election; nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror on account of religious belief or the absence thereof.”
This insures that Mormons and those of other religions will never be denied serving in public office. It’s just and it's what we expect in America.
But in consideration of the past history of religious domination in the Utah Territory, unique guarantees of religious freedom were written into this state's Constitution.
Brethren, let us read further in Article 1, Sec. 4:
"THERE SHALL BE NO UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE, NOR SHALL ANY CHURCH DOMINATE THE STATE OR INTERFERE WITH ITS FUNCTIONS. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment."
Public and/or private coercion on the part of the LDS Church in the affairs of state, interfering with its functions, as admitted to by Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, is blatantly unconstitutional.
Where are all those lovers of liberty we hear about daily from Bundyland? Where are all those vest-pocket Constitution thumping Constitutionalists when it comes to domination of the LDS Church in state politics (not only Utah, but in other states as well as we saw in the case of California Prop 8).
We the people demand Separation of Church and State as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Utah. Demand that the Utah Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the long history of violations.