Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm Exercising a Constitutional Right.

So I'm not usually one to get into the heat of serious political debates or topics.

Which, is kind of funny in a way, since I grew up around a dinner table where my mother would discuss her views on the latest candidates, government policies, and political leaders. She is very smart about these types of subjects and always up to date on them. She has always followed the news closely and is always up on forwarding me any emails that I should pay attention to regarding anything political.

I of course delete them without even reading because I have never had very much tolerance for email forwards of the political nature. I just have no interest in it.

And my mom knows this because I tell her this (and apologize to her too.)

So yes, I readily admit, that even though I spent a year obtaining a paralegal degree, spent many hours in a law library studying my brains out and writing appelate briefs and aced the course...that I really have no interest in following much of the political news of today. Which also explains why I pursued my music over my brief (very brief) trial run in the legal field.

However, my mother will most likely be proud to read what I am about to write.

Lately, I have stumbled across a topic that has actually effected me. It has stirred emotions within me that include surprise, anger, worry, defense. And the whole reason I am writing about it here on our blog, which is public, is to excersize my right that is at the very heart of the issue itself: Freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard people here and there bring up a certain talk by an apostle of our church, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, that was given at a BYU-Idaho devotional on October 13th to an audience of BYU-I students and faculty. You can read the transcription of the address here.

I have heard that the talk created a great amount of media buzz, much of it in a negative nature from the usual liberal media sources (which is practically 99% of our media in this nation). Normally I would say "Oh really, how interesting" and forget about it. But the fact that it has been coming up in MANY conversations lately really sparked my interest.

So this morning I went and read the talk (thank you Will for finding it and forwarding it to me).

The bravery that Elder Oaks took on to even give that talk impresses me so greatly, and the powerful words he gave still are ringing in my ears.

When I was in college, I had the fun opportunity to be in the pit orchestra for a stage musical that the theater department put on. It was a play called "1776". As you can guess by the title, it was all about the formation of the Declaration of Independence and how our country came to be. It went through detailed scenes, conversations, struggles and trials of our forefathers (particularly from the point of view of John Adams) when they were striving to gain freedom from England and establish this country. I was always deeply effected by the play (and the movie version) to see these acts and it made me feel so proud to be born into this country.

It is sad and eye-opening for me, to see "cracks" in the very foundation that this country was built upon happening right now before our eyes. It is our responsibility to protect that foundation. It is our right as citizens of this country to talk about it and defend that foundation.

Just last night, Will and I were sitting on the couch talking, and it came up between both of us how we have been so shocked lately (meaning the past few years) about how much it is okay for "minority groups" to speak their minds and insult the majority, but if the "majority groups" speak their mind and defend themselves, they are considered to be infringing on civil rights.

I think it would be safe to say that the majority of the people in the United States practice some sort of religion and have a belief in God. No matter what shape or form that type of religion takes. I remember when the attacks of 911 happened and all of a sudden, when people across our nation were terrified and saddened, there was a huge rise in church attendance, prayer (even in school squares). They even came out with some studies that showed that there was (I can't remember the exact number) but above 90% of the people of this country believed in a God.

So how is it, that the majority of the citizens of the United States who believe in God and practice religion are somehow the unpopular ones when they defend their given and fought for rights of religion freedom if they speak up on subjects that attack the very core of their beliefs?

Elder Oaks talked about the whole thing that happened with Prop 8. I like what he said. "The marriage union of a man and a woman has been the teaching of the Judeo-Christian scriptures and the core legal definition and practice of marriage in Western culture for thousands of years. Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights."

Just because we choose to defend a tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years does not mean we are fighting against civil rights. It's not about civil rights. It's about defending your religious freedoms and beliefs.

The other day, I was doing a bit of marketing research for my lullaby album, as I have been trying to get some of the major "Mommy Bloggers" out there to feature my album on their blogs and do giveaways, etc. since that is my niche audience. On my own small 'mommy blog' I asked for my readers to let me know who some of their favorite professional major mommy bloggers were. There was one that kept coming up as a suggestion, and so I checked out the blog. This blogger had hundreds of thousands of followers - which got me excited to contact her about promotions/advertising because the possible exposure for my album could be huge. But the more I read her blog, about her, I soon discovered that a good portion of her blog was dedicated to ripping my church. I read some, well, some very crass remarks about my church and my beliefs and whatnot. Of course it was offensive to me. Obviously I decided that she was not someone I even wanted to contact about marketing, despite how many followers she had. I could not support that in the least. The sad part for me even beyond that, was to see with each post that the wrote negative and hateful things about my dear religion, she had hundreds and hundreds of comments from people commending her for speaking her mind.

I am not saying that she should not speak her mind. I totally respect her freedom of speech to do that. The part that really gets me, is that if I were to leave a comment on her blog in my own defense of my religion, the backlash towards me (or anyone else doing the same thing) would be monumental and I would most likely be accused of violating her rights or whatever else they could jive up.

There is just something wrong with that picture.

Why is it okay for someone to say something bad towards a group of people, but if that group of people speak up to defend themselves they are the ones in the wrong? Why is it when Christians speak up and defend marriage, that they are accused of violating civil rights? It does not make sense to me.

So it is, with this blog, that I am practicing my own freedom of speech. I am publicy stating my support of the talk that was given by Elder Oaks. If he has come under media scrutiny for it, for standing up for things that any good person in this country SHOULD stand up for, then I'm right behind him. I'm not going to be a coward. These are my rights as a citizen of this country, so there.

The good people in this country should not have to come under retaliation for standing up for what is good.

11/1/09 Post Edit:

After reading a few of the comments, I need to clarify something here. This post was not about my opinion of alternative lifestyles. It is not about whether or not that people who have alternative lifestyles are good people or not. I have family members in fact (a brother), who practice an alternative lifestyle and I still love them and think they are good people. In fact, the blog was not about alternative lifestyles at all. If you notice above when I mentioned Prop 8, I specifically said "Just because we choose to defend a tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years does not mean we are fighting against civil rights. It's not about civil rights. It's about defending your religious freedoms and beliefs. "

The heart of this post was about people in this country who are not able to exercise freedom of speech or practice freedom of religion or defend their right to do so without backlash. It was about the fact that the very foundation that this country was built upon has come under attack. And it was about the fact that sometimes being a good Christian is sometimes not popular or cool.


Will Thomas said...

ditto that!

Marissa and Scott said...

Good for you Jenni. It really irks me too when people get their backs up so quickly about things like that. I completely agree with everything you said. It's not right or fair that the majority should be made to feel badly for voicing their opinions. I disagree with a LOT of what the mainstream media puts out there (and don't get me started on those Hollywood celebrities) but I respect their right to say what they want to. Why then are the so narrow-minded about what other people believe. They call themselves "liberal" but really they are closed-minded because they don't want to hear the other side of the argument. Freedom of speech should apply to everyone - not just those whose beliefs you agree with.

And that story about the mommy blogger makes me mad. I don't agree with other religions but what right do I have to bash someone else's faith that is very dear to them. The way I see it is if they are trying to be closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (or whatever god they believe in) it's a good thing. Let them do it the way they want to do it and let me do it the way I want to do it. Religious bashing makes me so angry because it's hard not to take it personally. Anyway, good for you for standing up for what you believe in.

MarieC said...

YOU GO, GIRL!!! I agree with you 100%.

Carolyn said...

You'r right Jen....I'm very proud of you.

Dan Thomas said...

Mom and I were driving back from Jakson and got to hear the full talk. Mom was really impressed. (I am afraid I slept during much of the talk.)

Annalea said...

For the most part, I agree with you. It's not equitable that the minority villanizes (or persecute) the majority. With all the talk of how much "we" love "our democracy", there's a lot of the tyrrany of the minority going on, eh?, as opposed to the tyrrany of the majority (which is usually more the case in democracies).

One last thought (from a ticky-tacky writer ;o): there are good people on both sides of the issue . . . because I know you, I know those last sentences of yours were written in vernacular, and you weren't intending to imply that those who hold views opposing ours aren't "good". I just wanted to point that up, so others wouldn't misunderstand. :o)

Good job, Jenni, for taking the time to take a stand. You've got my respect for that. Have a great weekend!

Jenni said...

Annalea you are right, I was not implying other people were not "good". I was simply saying that when it comes to the real good vs. evil stuff in this world, a lot of time good is looked at as lame or unpopular and if the good sorts of people stand up for themseles, well they are inflicting their views on the evil and get scorned for it. It had nothing to do with people of different opinions or whatnot not being "good people". It was much more broad.

Justin and Olya said...

Ooh, this is such a complicated topic. I am a 100% on with you about religion and respect, and everything That wouldn't the 'seriously, so blessed" blog, would it? Just curious. I've seen it , and always have ...mmm... interesting reactions to her posts. Anyway.
About freedom. I've read the talk and loved it. At the same time... Right now I am thinking about 3 gay friends that I have, one of whom is relative, one a living friend and one that committed suicide because he was constantly called to repentance. All LDS.
Knowing all 3 closely... And having a fabulous relationship with 2... I must say, that my perception of gays changes. honesly, Jenni, all are very nice and loving, and faithful. And sorry that cannot participate in church. This is such a difficult topic, because it really IS hard to understand the conditions of where and how. I agree that the marriage IS a union between a MAN and WOMAN. At the same time , is it better for a child to grow in an abusive family with the man and a woman, or in a loving atmosphere with of the same sex parents?
I always thought first, until recently. The letter left by the passed away friend described his struggle through life of him suffering and hurting himself because he was taught that only the sinners could be gays. Since he was 10, he constantly punished himself, physically, secretly, and terribly, hoping that if he does that then he'll kill the desire. The letter made me cry. He continued to write that he wished that children were taught to love all - colors, cultures, etc. Accept all. Care for all. Be patient with all. So that people of the world would be closer to God. just a little bit more every day.
Doesn't sound that bad, does it? It's hard, Jenni. So , so , so hard. I am seeing my dear cousin ( Justin's actually, but we connected well ) that i LOVE being shunned away from grandparents, other cousins, etc for the fear of INFLUENCE. No other boy dances in the family. And Josh is shown as an example why not to. Sad. I know that Justin's family is a little ,,, interesting, but there are more people like this around. I wish , sincerely, that we all did our best and let others do the same, without coming to tell them how to do it , and that we know better.

I agree though about the minority/majority. Being in the east I see so many minority groups that have WAY more rights applied then majority CAN ( although we have those rights too) . I also notice often how some create the problem and then blame others for it. My persona favorite is "hey, you , white people, feel the music, don't be dumb". try to say " hey you , BLACK people, ...". Where is the WHITE that would way that will end up ? :)

Jenni said...

anyone who gets follow-up comments emailed to them, please see my "post edit" on the original post. This will just reiterate a few things I should have mentioned in the first place. :) Thanks.

Tessha said...

I've listened to Elder Oaks talk too and he speaks with such balanced logic. "The marriage union of a man and a woman has been the teaching of the Judeo-Christian scriptures and the core legal definition and practice of marriage in Western culture for thousands of years. Those who seek to change the foundation of marriage should not be allowed to pretend that those who defend the ancient order are trampling on civil rights."

You're a talented writer Jenni and I'm glad you choose to speak up on this topic, that is the freedom we have to speak and worship as we do. I thought you did a nice job.

Amanda said...

Thanks for posting this. You're right on!