Oaks didn?t misuse First Amendment


In his column (“Church, politics don’t mix” Oct. 19), Zack Oakey responds to Dallin Oaks’ assertion that the religiously organized have rights that non-religious people don’t have by quipping “would any Mormon agree to this in isolation, without (Oaks telling them to)?” Would any First Amendment proponent8212;Mormon or otherwise8212;not agree with this? If the Free Exercise Clause granted no unique rights that distinguish religious action from other actions, why is it in the Constitution at all? In attacking the clause, Oakey uses only extreme, unprotected examples of religious exercise (peyote smoking, etc.) and entirely ignores numerous other protected religious acts (requiring that employers reasonably seek to reschedule Sabbath observers, requiring dress code policies to reasonably accommodate religious apparel, etc.). It wasn’t politically inappropriate when Oaks noted that churches are also protected from unlawful retaliation. Who better to remind the religiously organized of their unique rights than a religious leader? In criticizing Oaks for not specifically defining lawful and unlawful retaliation, Oakey patronizingly assumed Oaks’ listeners couldn’t distinguish between picketing a building and vandalizing it, between criticizing an employee for his church’s positions and firing him because of those positions. Unlike Oakey, Oaks assumed listeners were smart enough to make these distinctions. Oakey’s rant both misunderstands the First Amendment and unfairly demeans 14 million people.

Adam Reiser,

Fourth-year graduate student

Law/MBA joint degree