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My view: A danger to religious freedom

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at The Manor Complex in Wilton Manors, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at The Manor Complex in Wilton Manors, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016.
Patrick Farrell, Associated Press

On Sunday, Oct. 16, the Deseret News prominently displayed an op-ed by Kem C. Gardner titled “Why Mormons should support Hillary Clinton.” Gardner quotes from an earlier Deseret News op-ed by Mrs. Clinton, in which she said that “everyone has the right to worship however he or she sees fit. I have been fighting to defend religious freedom for years.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch responded to the Clinton op-ed with his own op-ed that cited Clinton’s earlier record, suggesting she could not really be trusted to be a supporter of religious liberty ("Hillary Clinton is no friend of religious liberty," Aug. 17).

Gardner’s op-ed states, “I was asked to assemble a small, nonpartisan group of Mormons to meet with President Bill Clinton in my office on Main Street in Salt Lake City. … President Clinton then looked me in the eye and said the following: ‘I know how important religious freedom is for your people. I want you to know if you are under attack, Hillary and I will be in the fox hole with you.’”

Can Bill and Hillary’s statements to Utah Mormons be trusted, as recommended by Gardner, or should we instead suspect that Mrs. Clinton’s future actions will be guided by a long record of very different statements and actions, as suggested by Hatch?

Mrs. Clinton’s policies are clearly guided by an “enlightened” liberal progressive social and political agenda that includes strong support for the legality of late-term abortions and marriage rights for the LGBT community, as she forcefully reiterated on Oct. 19 at the beginning of the last presidential debate in Las Vegas. She said she would nominate Supreme Court justices who would defend those rights. She and her advisers share the elitist attitude that those who disagree are backward, need to be re-educated, or are part of an irredeemable “basket of deplorables.”

Catholics and evangelicals were ridiculed in her hacked emails. An article of faith of “enlightened” progressives is that non-discrimination must always take precedence over religious freedom, and the power of government should be employed as necessary to accomplish this end. I suspect that with the power of the presidency at her command, Mrs. Clinton would not hesitate to issue an executive order that all religious institutions that perform the ordinance of marriage must include gay couples, with tax-exempt status being denied to any who do not comply. This is why I believe a Clinton presidency will be dangerous for religious liberty.

Exactly four hundred years ago, William Brewster, who later became the spiritual leader of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and in America, set up a publishing house in Holland that began printing “prohibited books” supporting religious freedom and funneling them into England. The king launched a determined search for Brewster early in 1619, requesting the assistance of the Dutch authorities in his apprehension. Brewster had to go into hiding and was not seen again until late in 1620, when he appeared hidden on the Mayflower after she was well out to sea on her “waighty vioage.” If he had been caught, he might well have been hanged, as one of his friends had already been.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season and remind ourselves of the sacrifices of our Pilgrim fathers in planting the seeds of religious liberty in this country, we need to also recognize that the powerful forces of political correctness today are placing religious freedom under siege as never before. I am persuaded that the election of Hillary Clinton will pose the greatest danger to religious freedom that our country has yet faced.

Michel L. Call is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in political science. As a student, he was BYU president and Utah chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom. As a genealogist, he is the founder of the Mormon Pioneer Genealogy Library and author of the "Royal Ancestry Bible" and "A Brief History of the Mayflower Pilgrims."