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LDS Church leader references Kim Davis, says public officials ‘not free to apply personal convictions’ in office

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Posted at 4:53 PM, Oct 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-20 22:23:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said public officials who take an oath have a responsibility to support the U.S. Constitution.

In a speech in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about “the boundary between church and state.” In a transcript of the speech released by the LDS Church, Elder Oaks did not directly mention embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis by name — but clearly disagreed with her actions.

Listen to the full speech below:

“Office holders remain free to draw upon their personal beliefs and motivations and advocate their positions in the public square. But when acting as public officials they are not free to apply personal convictions — religious or other — in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices,” he said. “A county clerk’s recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle.”

Dallin H. Oaks speaks during the LDS Church's General Conference on October 4, 2014. Image courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dallin H. Oaks speaks during the LDS Church’s General Conference on October 4, 2014. Image courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in June. She was jailed for refusing to comply with a federal judge’s order to issue the licenses.

In his speech, Oaks also called out governors and attorneys general who refused to defend same-sex marriage bans.

“Constitutional duties, including respect for the vital principle of separation of powers, are fundamental to the rule of law. Government officials must not apply these duties selectively according to their personal preferences — whatever their source,” he said in the speech.

Focusing his speech on the concept of separation of church and state, Elder Oaks said he rejects the concept of a wall.

“The more appropriate metaphor to express that relation—reinforced by various decisions of the United States Supreme Court—is a curtain that defines boundaries but is not a barrier to the passage of light and love and mutual support from one side to another,” he said, according to the transcript.

Elder Oaks also promoted the compromise legislation passed by the Utah State Legislature earlier this year that provided nondiscrimination in housing and employment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — but also had accommodations for people of faith.

Read the transcript of the speech here.