The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) is currently hosting an open house for their newest temple in Brigham City, Utah. The open house is almost a month long (August 18th – September 15th) and is an opportunity for the public to see the insides of a Mormon temple.
Since the Mormon Church refuses to give explicit clarification of its teachings, some Christians feel compelled to politely engage the public with the intent of making a distinction between Mormonism and Christianity by handing out newspapers explaining some of the differences. For these Christians, this distribution of religious literature is evangelistic in nature. It is an act of worship.
Unfortunately, Brigham City passed a law right around the same time as the announcement was made regarding the construction of the temple. This regulation limits free speech. Part of the ordinance states, “Protest means any demonstration, picketing, speechmaking, marching, vigil, and all other like forms of conduct which involve the communication or expression of views or grievances. ‘Free Speech Zone’ means the area in which protesting is allowed. ‘Unlawful protest’ means a protest held outside the boundaries of a designated free speech zone.”
First, let me say that I reject the definition of the word “protest” in the city ordinance. It is semantic gymnastics to label a difference of opinion a protest. Under this definition, Mormon missionaries are protesting on private property each and every time they express a religious difference of opinion with a householder not of their faith. I know of no Mormon who would accept this definition of protest if it were applied to them.
The term “free speech zone” is itself a contradiction to the first amendment which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
This law makes it potentially illegal for anyone to express an opinion, ANY opinion on any public sidewalk in all of Brigham City. “Free speech zones” really aren’t free speech at all. More accurately, they are an anti-speech zones created within a free speech zone. To create a zone for free speech is to assume that there is no free speech and zones for speech need to be created. This is an Orwellian tactic of naming something opposite of its purpose. More on that shortly.
The city ordinance also dictates, “For each event in which the Free Speech Committee establishes a free speech zone, Brigham City shall make available to the public… boundaries of the event, location of the free speech zone, boundaries of the free speech zone, the hours of the regulations on free speech, and any other restrictions.”
If this wasn’t so similar to concepts found in George Orwell’s book, 1984, I would think the term “Free Speech Committee” would be humorous. For those who are unfamiliar with Orwell’s book ( I may send a copy to the Brigham City Mayor, City Administrator, City Attorney, Chief of Police and the Temple President for early Christmas gifts), it is filled with similar references.
The government controls the thought process of its subjects by naming different parts of the administration in self-contradictory terms, yet people accept the definitions simply because the authority figure tells them it is true. For instance the purpose of The Ministry of Peace is to keep the country in a constant state of war. The Ministry of Truth controls the falsifying of history. The Ministry of Plenty oversees the rationing food, supplies and other goods. Lastly, the purpose of the Ministry of Love is to enforce love and loyalty to the government, also known as big brother.
Does any of this sound familiar? The Brigham City ordinance defines the responsibilities of The Free Speech Committee as dictating the location, boundaries and hours of free speech. In other words, the Free Speech Committee is designed to limit speech. What could free speech cost you? Violations of the free speech zones can cost up to $750 and 90 days in jail. Free indeed. I am curious how all of this squares with the LDS 11th article of faith which declares, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
The Constitution, which Mormons are taught is an inspired document, guarantees that the United States of America is a free speech zone. There are no free speech committees, boundaries, locations, hours or any other restrictions which should abridge the rights of Americans who simply want to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. Many Mormons have expressed their opinions on this matter in the comments sections of just about every newspaper which has reported this story. Undoubtedly some will here too. I find it interesting how patriotic Mormons are until they realize that their patriotism is in conflict with the desires of the Mormon Church. The vast majority are in favor of Christians being disenfranchised from their rights to free speech. This is disgusting and un-American.
In conclusion, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the LDS Church really is true. I can picture the scene right before the war in heaven. Lucifer and his armies are lined up against the armies of Jehovah. In a last-ditch effort to avoid war, Lucifer approaches Elohim with a compromise.
“All I want is for all men to return to live with you.”
“Yes, but you desire to rob them of their free agency in the process.”
“What if we were to create ‘free agency zones?’ We could organize a Free Agency Committee to set aside certain areas of the planet where men can exercise their free agency.”
“That would presume that the whole planet is an “anti-agency zone” and we are allowing free agency in limited parts of the world. Lucifer, the whole planet is a free agency zone.”
I can hear the voice of Elohim speaking to the President of the Mormon Church now. “Thomas Monson, the whole country is a free speech zone. I set it up that way in the inspired document called the constitution of the United States of America. What harm can a newspaper do to truth?”