Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BYU dumps professor who disagreed, but ...

A professor at the Mormon-owned Brigham Young University has been fired because he wrote an op-ed column in the Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune saying the Mormon Church's opposition to gay marriage -- and support of a constitutional amendment banning it -- was wrong. On June 4, part-time philosophy prof Jeffrey Nielsen's newspaper column said, in part:

"I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral."

A few days later, he got a letter from his boss: "In accordance with the order of the church, we do not consider it our responsibility to correct, contradict or dismiss official pronouncements of the church. ...Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over."

Assuming that Nielsen wasn't spouting propaganda in the classroom, this firing is at least a moral violation of free speech, if not a legal one. He expressed an opposing view off-campus -- as is his inalienable right to do -- and an extremely draconian church landed on him with its considerable weight.

Mormons aren't jihadists, but sometimes they act (and react) with the same intolerance. They control the State of Utah and many of its social, cultural and economic affairs. Like America itself, if the inflexible and corporate Church of Latter-day Saints can't absorb dissent on a clearly divisive issue that will ultimately not cost anyone's life or liberty, it's a house of cards.

(But it gets better ... see the next posting....)


Chancelucky said...

The modern Mormon mainstream church isn't Jihadist, but we forget that there were points where Mormons had a reputation in the US that wasn't much different from the current image of militant Islam. In fact, the last time the Federal Government intervened in the institution of marriage was Reynolds v. United States (the Mormon polygamy as freedom of religion case).

I'd also point out that some of the more extreme Mormon old ways types haven't been that far off. It seems to me that there's been talk about some of the polygamist communities on the Arizona border arming themselves, harboring fugitives, etc.

similarly on the matter of illegal immigrants using up state and federal programs and money, one of the big claims against the group marriage communities is welfare fraud.

I do find it interesting that BYU has gone so far in repudiating its past, that they seem to be welcoming the Federal Government's attempt to define marriage.

Ron Franscell said...

That's an excellent point, Chance: Suddenly, the Mormon Church supports the government's attempts to define appropropriate marital arrangements.

Strange bedfellows. Pun intended.