Leavitt warns loss of religious freedoms impacts many, medical professionals, LGBT

former Gov. Mike Leavitt Utah

ST. GEORGE –  The majority of red seats in Dixie State University’s Cox auditorium were filled Sunday evening with a crowd of adults from the community who seemed intent and eager to hear former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt who came to deliver his thoughts on religious freedoms in America.

Leavitt sought to raise awareness about the dwindling of this nation’s religious freedoms. His remarks weren’t so much about celebrating religion as they were “sounding the alarm” to what he said is an erosion process that has been escalating throughout the last 50 years.

Leavitt illuminated the enhanced jeopardy people of faith from all denominations are facing today – something Dixie State’s Raging Red member Jacob Rix said he had never considered before.

“I always felt that my religious freedoms have been safe,” Rix said, “but hearing (Leavitt’s) speech made me aware of where my religious freedoms are in jeopardy. I never thought about these problems before.”

One of the problems Leavitt pointed out were situations within the medical field. There are two options, Leavitt said, for an OB-GYN, with newer laws subjugate a doctor to either perform an abortion and go against their moral belief, or be at risk of losing their job if they choose against performing an abortion.

For example, he said, on his blog post a medical student in her fourth year, Bethany, messaged that if she were directed to perform an abortion she would deny and forfeit her medical practice.

Yet when it comes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender group, discrimination should be thwarted, he said, as all humans deserve the right to choose. At the same time, there is a way for there to be equality between the rights of same-sex couples and religious freedoms.

Leavitt’s personal view on the LGBT concerns centers on the nuclear family and traditional marriage, he said, but after having heart-to-heart talks with about 30 different couples who had a child that had announced him or herself gay, he came to the conclusion that it is wrong to discriminate against any person. Anti-discrimination laws are needed to protect the rights of all human beings, Leavitt said.

Leavitt’s speech leaned in a positive direction, audience member Stanley Liaga said.

“I didn’t feel like my religious freedoms were in danger growing up,” Liaga said, “but as I’ve gotten older I feel like they are. Not that they are more in danger than when I was growing, but now that I’m more mature, I see it.”

There was only one thing Liaga didn’t agree with and that was Leavitt’s idea that if religion were not present, the world could not hire enough police officers.

“I feel like religion is a very big cause in war,” Liaga said.

Leavitt’s examples of the erosion process affecting religious freedom struck home with audience member Richard Bradford.

“My wife and I have observed many of this first hand,” Bradford said. “Increasing government intrusion on our freedom is a huge problem. Government is playing such a close oversight it inhibits creativity and productivity.”

Leavitt ended his speech on the note of exercising an active role in protecting religious freedoms for the people of faith. No matter what religion a person is, Leavitt said, people of faith believe in good and want better for the world. He received a standing ovation.

Seated on the stage with Leavitt were representatives of different religious denominations and officers of the St. George Interfaith Council – Rev. Jimi Kestin, council president and senior pastor of Solomon’s porch foursquare fellowship; Rev. Joe Doherty, council vice president and pastor of New Promise Lutheran Church; Tim Martin, council secretary and representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – as well as DSU President Stephen Nadauld, St. George Mayor Jon Pike, and former Mayor Dan McArthur and his wife Bunny McArthur.

Click on any photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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  • D Hodja March 31, 2014 at 11:53 am

    There is no one there under 60. Except performers. And the reason is that the younger generation is to intelligent for this nonsense.

  • Pheo March 31, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    What a joke. OBs are not being required to perform abortions. There have been rare cases where some idiot administrator has forced someone to participate, but there is no movement for force anyone to do them as a rule. In fact, in the rare instances where someone has been forced to participate, the administrator was breaking federal, state, and local laws.

    The erosion of religious freedom is this: Up until now, religion has been a sacred cow. Now it is becoming accepted for people to question other people’s beliefs, especially when those beliefs trample on the rights of people of other faiths. (Remember several years ago when the state legislature was going to make it illegal to sell cars on Sunday? When would a Jew or a Seventh-day Adventist go shopping for a car?)

    Religious freedom is not being threatened. People are rightly demanding that someone’s religious belief not be crammed down everyone else’s throats through legislation. People just feel like their freedoms are being eroded because they are rage addicts who get their fix through 24-hour news networks that make money off your rage. (How else can they get you to watch more than a few minutes of news a day?)

    One more thing… How is it that Christians in this nation have made themselves into the victims when a non-Christian is almost not electable?

  • Simone March 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    If what I read in this article about Lgbt rights is true, I say , HERE HERE!! I will admit, I thought this was going to be another Sutherland Institute, Paul Mero type hate rant. I guess this proves Republicans can be right at least some of the time. I just hope that he was able to change a few more minds in that crowd.

  • janice howell April 1, 2014 at 10:04 am

    its strange that the people that don’t believe in god, don’t read the bible. people are believing they are so smart, that god couldn’t exist. the bible says in the last days all things good will become bad and all things bad will be good. look around,

    • D Hodja April 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Janice we do read the Bible that is why we know it is ridiculous. Have you read the bible? How about the sexual encounters in Ezekial? Got any issues? How about god sending a bear to maul children because they laughed at his prophets bald head? How about Moses killing hundreds of thousands of men and children yet keeping the virgins? How about god himself flooding and killing all his children but one family? How about god needing people to sacrifice their animals and children to him in the old testament, i.e., the only way to properly communicate with god? Shall we do the new Testament written at least 50 to 70 years after Jesus which has no miracles and or references to Jesus being a god or son of god until about 150 years later? All four gospels not matching in major details? If you have actually read it and my guess is you haven’t I suggest you do so. In addition, you might also read the BofM and understand that not only did it get metallurgy, all foods, all animals, all means of transportation wrong, it has recently been changed, openly, to change the entire purpose from converting the “dark and loathsome”. You might want to look around. Had you or I been born in say Saudi we would be Muslim. Anywhere other than Utah probably not LDS. So you do some thinking and so will we.

      • D Hodja April 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        and if you actually believe the world has become “more evil” may I suggest you get a history book. Hitler, Stalin, Vietnam, WWI, WW2, women having no right to vote, own property until the 70’s, blacks, on and that is just the last century so please point out to us what makes the world more evil today Janice? What exactly that was “bad has become good” in your view? Name one thing?

  • Bender April 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    “Bethany, messaged that if she were directed to perform an abortion she would deny and forfeit her medical practice.”
    Ahh, the wisdom of a 4th year med student. How about dropping the histrionics, not performing any abortions, and just practicing medicine Bethany? This all assumes that you are able to get accepted into and complete an OBGYN residency.

  • Bender April 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    That some sweet demagogueing there ex-gov Leavitt. Riling up the old folks and convincing them that their religious freedoms are under attack. There has never been a society and or time in history when religious freedom was as broad as it is here and now. What Leavitt is really trying to say is “Non-Christian and atheist views are scary — let’s turn the clock back to a less tolerant time and make this a Christian Nation.” Sadly, we Mormons didn’t quite learn our lesson. As soon as we become an intolerant “Christian Nation” the Mormons will be at the top of the list for harassment.

  • Dennis Velco April 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated. 
    I posted it to the largest LGBT Group on LinkedIn with over 25,500+ global members to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup. 
    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 25,500+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries.  
    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.  
    Ed. ellipsis

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