I was perusing the blogosphere reading about Elder Oaks’ talk at Chapman University, the talk where he said religious freedom is under attack by secularists and gays. (Roll eyes here.)
The talk didn’t surprise me. But a photo on the Church News website of Elder Oaks walking next to a man named Dr. John C. Eastman did surprise me.
Taking a page from Ezra Taft Benson’s playbook, Elder Oaks appears to be on good terms with a man on the far-far Right.
I know who Dr. Eastman is because lately he’s been almost a regular in Arizona. He’s a lawyer who is pals with Arizona’s own divisive Mormon, Senate President and unofficial Governor, Russell Pearce.
Dr. Eastman is the director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, an ultra-conservative public interest law firm. He has been in Arizona twice in the past few weeks to champion Senate Bill 1308 (otherwise known as the “anchor baby” bill) an un-American, immoral, unconstitutional, illegal effort to undermine the citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Brother Russell Pearce is one of the sponsors of the bill.
Back in 2000 Dr. Eastman echoed a quote that should be familiar to Mormons: that slavery and polygamy were “twin relics of barbarism.” Then he said that the two new indications of barbarism in the 20th century are abortion and homosexuality. In 2010 he spoke to a group of Republicans in California saying that if gays and lesbians are ever allowed to marry in California, the citizens have a right to react to “insufferable” government policies by “rising up and abolishing those governments.”
I was taught in Young Mens to choose my friends wisely because I would be judged by the people I was associated with. I understand why the racist and homophobic Brother Russell Pearce has invited Dr. Eastman to speak in Arizona. But I wondered, “Is Dr. Eastman the kind of guy that an Apostle (and by extension, the Church) want to be connected with?”
In the long run Oaks’ talk and association with people like Dr. Eastman will only alienate the more moderate, progressive Mormons who don’t agree with Oaks’ politics and find themselves grappling with a lot of new questions. To those Mormons I say, “Welcome to Main Street Plaza.”