Sunday, January 18, 2009

Political free speech is un-American?

Tom Hanks is one of America's most beloved actors and directors. He has always struck me as someone apolitical, you just never heard him making inane political comments as so many other Hollywood types feel inclined and empowered to do because they have become rich and famous pretending to be someone else.

But apparently he thinks that only certain free speech is acceptable and by his statements shows himself to be just another one of Hollywood's self-declared cultural prophets. Mr. Hanks recently expressed his opinion of the mormon church and California's Proposition 8 at the premier of Big Love, his show about a polygamous family in Utah.

Tom Hanks, an Executive Producer for HBO’s controversial polygamist series “Big Love,” made his feelings toward the Mormon Church’s involvement in California's Prop 8 (which prohibits gay marriage) very clear at the show’s premiere party on Wednesday night.

“The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”

Apparently the "constitutional process" doesn't mean that the people should be able to make their will law, but instead means that the courts can feel free and be encouraged to overturn the will of the people, declaring constitutional amendments to be unconstitutional. As I have mentioned before and what should be clear from my writings is that theologically I have no allegiance with mormonism, nor do I consider them suitable allies in any sort of cultural crusades. Mormons, members of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" are a lost people group nor different than Muslims or Hindus. "Enemy of my enemy is my friend" doesn't work with the Gospel. We can have no fellowship nor friendship with enemies of the Gospel.

Having said that, the idea that mormons using their own resources to stand up for a cause that they believe strongly in qualifies as "un-American" demonstrates the opinion of someone who is obscenely ignorant. The right to free speech and free religious expression is foundational to our republic. I think the Founding Fathers might have had a comment or two about that...

Amendment I

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.

So where do we see that mormons do not have the right, individually or collectively, to express their political will? Where is it un-American? Mr. Hanks has a disturbing and quite dangerous idea of what American Constitutional government is founded upon. His sort of freedom is the same sort of freedom we saw in every totalitarian government that has ever existed. Certain ideas are approved by the elites, and other ideas are considered dangerous and deserving of being suppressed. What he is counting on, the California Supreme Court overturning the will of the people, is an intrusion in the democratic process that is unprecedented.

Bill McKeever from the Mormonism Research Ministry is quoted in the Fox News article and I affirm what he says:

Bill McKeever, a rep for the Mormonism Research Ministry, added, “Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn’t vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn’t ‘like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.’ Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks’ comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion.”

Our differences with mormons does not mean that they do not have the same rights as any other Americans, and as a religious group they have even greater protections under our system of government. We should witness to mormons with the Gospel of Jesus Christ but we should also defend their right to free speech as vociferously as we would any other Americans.

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