Although we are critical of Mormonism, we are grateful when we see positive change that allows for more tolerance coming from Church leadership. Elder Oaks recently said in public remarks the following:
[Those in public office] remain free to draw upon their personal beliefs and motivations and advocate their positions in the public square. But when acting as public officials they are not free to apply personal convictions — religious or other — in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices… A county clerk’s recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle.”
He went on to say:
Constitutional duties, including respect for the vital principle of separation of powers, are fundamental to the rule of law. Government officials must not apply these duties selectively according to their personal preferences — whatever their source.”
“Parties with different views on the relationship between church and state should advocate and act with civility. … We all lose when an atmosphere of anger or hostility or contention prevails,” he said. “We all lose when we cannot debate public policies without resorting to boycotts, firings, and intimidation of our adversaries.”
I think that this approach is a much more reasonable one from the Church. While we still feel the Church has not gone far enough, the reality is that people are able to believe what they want and the Church will continue to exist on its terms, not ours. Having a more tolerant attitude from all parties will lead to more open dialogue, which in turn can lead to even more positive change like this. Hopefully this message of tolerance towards those that believe and live differently will spread through the rest of the Church’s culture.