Mormon Discussion

Monday, July 18, 2005

Civil Disobedience and the Equal Rights Amendment

I found a website recently that I can't guarantee the authenticity of, but it claims to be a comprehensive look at Mormon doctrine and appears to be written by a Mormon. If it is authentic and also accurate, then I have found some very troubling things, in my opinion.

"Generally speaking, the Church does not support its members in exercising civil disobedience. This position is based on at least three key factors. First, the Church believes that even bad government is preferable to no government (i.e., anarchy). Second, a common tactic by enemies of the Church has been to falsely portray its members as enemies of the state who seek to overthrow the constituted government of the land. These fabrications have led to many incidents of persecution (e.g., murder, rape, false imprisonment, seizure of property, etc.) against the Church and its members. Therefore, the Church is very careful to avoid even the appearance that we are poor citizens. Third, we believe that God has a plan and the human family is working according to a divine timetable. Since we believe the time will come when God will right all wrongs, we do not feel the compulsion to correct all evils in this life." - found here

Why on earth would the Church not support civil disobedience? This is just shocking and irritating to me. So, we should still be under Jim Crow laws? Women as property? This page I got this from says that the Church advocates dealing with issues in courts of law, but the issue there is that, if the law is unjust, then what are the chances that a person fighting against that law will win? Or will even have legal grounds to stand on? Honestly, do we believe that if a balck man in the South had gone to court to argue that he can't sit at a lunch counter, that 1)anyone would have taken his case, 2) that any judge wouldn't have dismissed the case, 3) that he would have legal ground to stand on, and 4) that he would have won? I seriously have my doubts, especially considering the first landmark case that actually did give blacks equality, Brown v. Board of Education, was so adamently opposed by the society that GUARDS had to be present at the school to let the black students in, while governor George Wallace stood screaming, "Segregation now, segregation forever!"

I don't understand why the Church would oppose this. Honestly, is sitting in so bad? Is marching to the voting booth and demanding to be allowed to vote, regardless of sex, that bad? Personally, I think that most reasonable people can realize that the use of non-violent, civil disobedience helped further the civil rights movement along in a way that going through the standard legal and political routes would never have done. It's only been 41 years since the Civil Rights Act of '64 passed. And that was with the help of civil disobedience. Where would we be without the use of civil disobedience? 6 years since? 10? None at all?

Also, since when do we as a Church think it's ok to sit back and do nothing to fight the evils of the world? The last part sounds like a free ticket to sit back and do nothing, since it's all going to be taken care of eventually. I thought we were supposed to work to help people. I thought we were supposed to fight for the right. Aren't we "all enlisted till the conflict is o'er?" Since when do we get to just slack off and say, "Well, that evil of the world we aren't going to worry about because God will fix it in the end." To me, that sounds like an excuse to be apathetic. It sounds like a cop out.

"In the political arena, where competing claims to civil rights are frequently debated, the Church participates indirectly by encouraging members to vote and to foster a society congenial to Christian teaching and righteous living. Occasionally, when public issues implicate important matters of doctrine and morals, the Church publishes recommended positions on disputed issues and encourages members and others to follow their counsel. Thus, the Church has urged restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages, opposed the legalization of gambling and lotteries, favored right-to-work legislation (no closed or union shop), advocated the defeat of the equal rights amendment (ERA), and spoken out against pornography, abortion, and child abuse." - found here

The first part ruffles my political/law side. We don't live in a Christian nation. We live in a religiously tolerant nation. While it does say "congenial," rather than "militantly opposed to anything but," I personally think this is a dangerous statement because some people are insane and can perceive it to mean that.

My issue with the second part of this is the more important one. Advocated from the defeat of the ERA? Just so everyone is up to speed, here is what the ERA states, verbatim:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any state on account of
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

So, basically it gives women full equality under the law. And the Church works against that? Why? I don't eve understand this. Why would anyone, for one, oppose this legislation? This legislation has been reintroduced every session of Congress since 1923. Firstly, I'm a little disappointed in our nation for STILL not having passed this amendment, and secondly, I'm shocked that the Church would advocate for its defeat. This is so incredibly strange and actually baffling to me that I can't even begin to comprehend it. I have no words to describe it. There is so much lip service given to women in the church:

"Nowhere does the doctrine of this Church declare that men are superior to women. Paul said to the Corinthians, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). Each brings his or her own separate and unique strengths to the family and the Church. Women are not just cooks, stewards of our homes, or servants. They are much more. They are the enrichment of humanity." --James E Faust, Ensign, May 1988

"My beloved sisters, I greet you in love and respect, knowing that you are daughters of our Heavenly Father and knowing what each of you has the potential to become.
In behalf of the general officers of the Church, I thank you for the service you render to the Church, to your families, and to the neighborhoods and communities in which you live. I recognize that many of your unselfish and compassionate deeds are unknown, unheralded, and at times unthanked." --Howard Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1992

"Having looked over all of this, He declared it to be good. He then created man in His own likeness and image. Then as His final creation, the crowning of His glorious work, He created woman. I like to regard Eve as His masterpiece after all that had gone before, the final work before He rested from His labors. I do not regard her as being in second place to Adam. She was placed at his side as an helpmeet. They were together in the Garden, they were expelled together, and they labored together in the world into which they were driven." -- Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1991

My concern here is, is the Church backing up this lip service? In my opinion, no, it isn't. Why would there be opposition from a church that speaks so highly of women to a very important piece of legislation for women? This isn't even a controversial piece of legislation--all it does is afford women equal protection under the law. I find this disturbing and disheartening.

As I said, I can't guarantee the authenticity of the claims on this website, so I plan to do a bit more research and post again on what I find. But, if anyone has any ideas as to whether these are accurate or not, I'd like to know. Also, if anyone has any insights as to why these would be the stances that the Church takes on these issues, I'd love to hear it...


  • I never get doctrine from anything but the prophets and the scriptures. People, including myself, are entitled to their own opinions, but frequently wrong. It'll be interesting to see what you dig up in your own search.

    But as for civil disobedience, we moved ourselves to Mexico and then sent women en masse to D.C. to discuss suffrage. We're not known for pansy-like behavior.

    This guy wants his opponents to shut up and is willing to use the "Church" to achieve it. I wouldn't trust him so much. Sorry to be blunt.

    The ERA is a little unnecessary don't you think? We already have an amendment that gives us everything we need. The ERA just admits that women need "special protection." I'm a bigger feminist than most and see it as useless legislation.

    By Blogger Glo, at 1:33 PM  

  • I'm still looking into the accurateness of this fellow's website...I'll keep you posted.

    I think that the ERA is important, because of 2 reasons. One is that women are not afforded as much protection as other groups, such as minorities, because of the legacy of the Supreme Court's decisions. The level of scrutiny that is applied for women is not the highest it can be. So, there are still some cases where it is ok to discriminate against women and the proof that is required to show it's necessary or ok isn't as much as it is for other protected classes. My second reason would just be that it is just, in my opinion, good form to show that women are valued in society in this way, even if we already are. Even if it is something that is already taken care of, why not protect ourselves?

    By Blogger mellancollyeyes, at 8:41 PM  

  • you need to repent and adhear to your husbands teachings. let your husband lead, turn off your brain before it gets you cast into outerdarkness.
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Even More Latter Day Saints

    By Blogger Elohimus Maximus, at 6:10 PM  

  • I ran across this in my studies today and thought you might find it interesting given the topic.

    "We believe that this abundant life is the application to daily life of the principles that Jesus taught....A fourth essential is social consciousness that awakens in each individual the reaslization that it is his duty to make the world better for his having been in it." --Teachings of Presidents of the Church, David O. McKay.

    Fight your conscience, dear, if you think the ERA is important, then fight for it. The Savior would do no less.

    I think the problem isn't in legislation, but in what we teach young men. Until we portray equality, and not that women are just sexual objects, no amount of legislation will save women's rights.

    By Blogger Glo, at 7:53 PM  

  • That's an awesome quote--thanks so much for pinning it here.

    I completely agree, too, that society is the ultimate determining factor in making the role of women today. But, I think that while legislation won't do much without action, it's still a powerful thing to pass as legislation to show one more way of saying, "We are trying to work towards equality." It might end up being a useless gesture, but at least the effort was made, IMO.

    By Blogger mellancollyeyes, at 11:01 PM  

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