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Private Eye

Dallin Oaks, Foot in Mouth

LDS apostles’ birthright: Alienating and angering anyone who isn’t LDS.

By John Saltas
Posted // October 21,2009 -

When I was in Greece this summer, I bought Pat Bagley a set of Greek worry beads. As editorial cartoonist for The Salt Lake Tribune, I figured he needed them. Worry beads are not prayer beads. Worry beads are for bouncing around in your pocket, for dinking around with, for twirling, for flicking back and forth. They’re basically just something that Greeks use to keep their hands busy between cigarettes.

Anywhere in Greece that you can find worry beads, you’re also sure to find all manner of “evil-eye” trinkets. Many cultures have evil-eye traditions, either to cast a spell on an enemy or to offer protection from one. In modern Greece, and despite some villagers who still swear by their mystical powers, the evil eye is mostly a means to take a few Euros from silly tourists. I killed two birds with one stone by buying Bagley a set of evil-eye worry beads. From here on out, Bagley has nothing to worry about.

There’s a bead for Gayle Ruzicka and another for Sen. Chris Buttars. There’s one for County Councilman Randy Horiuchi, just in case. And there’s one for the guy who signs Bagley’s paycheck, Dean Singleton, who would dump Bagley tomorrow if he weren’t making him money—really, is there any other reason to read the Tribune editorial page? Well, the letters, maybe, and judging by them, Bagley may not have enough evil-eye beads to make a difference. Today, for instance, a Tribune reader named Lynn D. Wardle—a BYU professor, no less—challenged Bagley for his take on the recent controversial speech delivered by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle for the LDS Church. Attempting to defend his faith, Oaks managed to rile blacks, gays and most of Vermont, but not Wardle.

Oaks is not the first LDS apostle to put his foot in his mouth. It seems a birthright to be named as an LDS apostle, then to set about alienating and angering anyone who is not LDS. From Parley P. Pratt (alleged to have been shot in the back by the husband of a woman Pratt was said to be seducing into becoming his ninth wife) to Bruce R. McConkie (who said that “negroes” during the wars taking place in the LDS preexistence weren’t as valiant as other races, and were thus cursed in this existence and denied LDS priesthood) and Bruce C. Hafen (who recently assuredly claimed homosexuality is not found in one’s DNA), certain LDS leaders have done more to burn the bridges of unity than to build them. Oaks is among that divisive group.

To his credit (or blushing red face, it’s not known which), in 1978, when the LDS church unveiled its revelation that members of the black race could indeed attain priesthood rank in the LDS Church, McConkie didn’t skip a beat. He said he was merely commenting on information known to him at that time and with the new information he now had, bygones were bygones, and for everyone to forget everything he previously had said about blacks. As cynics have said ever since, the first to “forget everything” was the BYU football coaching staff. For the past 30 years, blacks have been playing valiantly at the running back, cornerback and safety positions on the BYU football team, but not on the interior line.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before another revelation allows for gay equality in the LDS faith, opening the doors for some of those buffed-up, gay cowboys to step up and kick some straight butt for the Team Down South. But, from the way Elder Oaks is talking, I wouldn’t hold out much hope. He’s taken the issue of gay rights and turned it like a cheap radio dial to announce it’s not gays who are oppressed, but people like him. He said his religious freedoms are being attacked. He said those attacks, spearheaded by gays and their allies (who were responding to attacks on gay marriage by the LDS Church), are a form of religious bigotry equal to the racial bigotry experienced by blacks who fought and died for their own civil rights. Most everyone possessing a sense of irony and a full deck of cards could justifiably ask, “WTF did he just say?”

Bagley drew a cartoon that not only skewered Oaks, it made a souvlaki out of him. The cartoon shows Oaks befuddled by a litany of actual biases endured by gays (from being denied marriage and service in the armed forces to losing their jobs for being gay), and wonders if Oaks really knows what it’s like to be gay. Oaks doesn’t, which is excusable, but what isn’t excusable is that Oaks is also intolerant. And blind. His words speak to that. He speaks for millions of people, including my LDS friends and neighbors. Some agree with Oaks; many don’t. But, Lynn D. Wardle agrees with Oaks and thinks Bagley is the bad guy.

Wardle is a frequent apologist for real or perceived LDS bias against gays. If you can believe Wikipedia, he’s an alleged paid hired gun for groups that advocate denying equal protection to gay couples. That’s what it’s come to. It’s a frequent method of defense, to attack the accuser. It doesn’t change the truth, though—Oaks went far overboard while speaking freely in a free society about losing the religious freedoms that he practices daily. If he were right, could he have done that? His “persecution” is an acorn next to the mighty oak of the black civil rights movement.

I still have Bagley’s beads. I better get them to him, pronto. Judging by other negative Bagley letters, he’s going to need them.

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Post a comment
Posted // March 24,2014 at 16:09 I don't think he is going to apologize nor should he. Your berating remarks against him are an example of his main point: free exercise of religion to call gay sex a sin and gay marriage an unacceptable marriage relationship according to his religious beliefs. I think that what makes you and others so angry and bitter towards him and others with similar Christian beliefs is that you have no Christian way to argue for gay sex or same sex marriage. So you turn to labeling, name calling, and hate speech to bully Christians into accepting what they consider to be "immoral behavior" even if it means to strip Mormons of their religious right to speak against sin and for traditional family. The great thing about religious freedom is you are free to find a religion where you are comfortable and can behave anyway you want and feel good about it.


Posted // November 1,2009 at 15:27

I invite all who read this to please read Elder Oaks entire talk and then you can comment with some sort of understanding. I feel the problem with all of politics is people make a comment on a comment without taking the time to actually read the original script. By being personally informed you will then stop looking like a moron. I have yet to read a commentary on Elder Oaks talk which assures me that the person has actually read his comments at BYU-Idaho in it's entirety. If you want to really form your own opinion, on his talk, go to and there on the main page you will find a link to his talk. You will be surprised what he actually said, and if you know your history at all, you will agree with what he said. I grew up during the time the Blacks were fighting for their God given rights. The things Elder Oaks speaks about are just how all their problems started.


Posted // November 2,2009 at 08:11 - Hey Mustang, because of Arc's suggestion, I read Oaks' entire speech, was not surprised in the least by its content, and formed my own opinion based on it. In fact, I formed questions for Mormons based on it and dare you to try and answer the one dealing with "marriage between one man and one woman." Had you actually read my responses, instead of just popping on here to call people who disagree with you morons, you might have noticed that. After you attempt answering my question, we'll see who "looks" like a moron. Furthermore, unless you're black, or were fighting for their rights along side them during that time, you don't know shit about their experiences. And your reference to Oaks explaining "how all their problems started" is so stupid I can't believe I'm even writing this response.


Posted // October 28,2009 at 09:36

Heyduke, you know the ages-old thing about wrestling with a pig.

When someone says something like,"We love you and sustain you," it's over.

The Thinking Has Been Done.

Another Mormon leader made that comment 35 years ago concerning the LDS Church's opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. As I recall, he was lectruring the faithful who dared question the idiotic stand against women actually having Equal Rights. The Thinking Has Been Done. It was scary for the poor, old guys and the younger misogynist members who thought that perhaps equal pay, etc., would lead to their Celestial Den Mother-Brood Mares-Personal Servants behaving like the tattooed Diesel Dykes who run Lowe's in Murray. Scary stuff!

John Saltas! We love you and sustain you! There. Sounds just as silly. solozia, I hope Brother Oaks calls you at 3 am and tells you to go out in the driveway ane check the pressure in your tires. Fitting reward for blind obedience to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its handsomely paid handlers in every church's headquarters.


Posted // December 8,2009 at 10:04 - Hayduke and the rest of you. You really need to stop talking because you are exposing yourselves... as bigots and highly uneducated in the ways of the gospel as written in the bible. If you had ever picked up an old testament you would know that god commanded to multiply and replentish the earth. In ancient times (old testament) polygamy was practiced, and there are many reasons for it. When Joseph Smith was commanded to practice it there were many reasons that a little insight and study would make clear to you. The LDS church is a wonderful organization, it is the roots from which SLC sprung. NO LDS NO SLC. LDS people don't have problems with gays and their activist groups. They have problems when these same people tell them that what they know to be true is false, and go out and attack them for their beliefs and who they are. That is the point D.H. Oaks was making.


Posted // October 29,2009 at 08:43 - That's some funny shit there. We love and sustain you, Brother Mamba!


Posted // October 25,2009 at 22:49

First of all, what credible journalist writes for the City Weekly! lol

Second, GREAT JOB Elder Oaks!! We love you and sustain you. Thank you for speaking out boldly. I for one was not offended and don't live my life ridden with the guilt that causes me to get offended. John Saltas might, but I don't. Suck it up and take it like a man John!


Posted // October 26,2009 at 09:16 - Are you going to play apologist, then? Go back and answer any one of the questions I posed here. Any one of them would be fine, but it would be really fun for you to try and defend Oaks' statement regarding traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, this having been the commanded way of things since the very beginning. Go ahead...explain that while explaining why Jo Smith and Brigham Young had several dozen wives, even though, according to Dallin Oaks, God, since the very beginning, has commanded that marriage is only to be between one man and one woman. But of course you won't, because you can't. Thinking is not an Article of Faith.


Posted // October 22,2009 at 08:31

How is it that Mormons like Oaks can say stuff like this, "It was Jesus who first stated that all men are created equal [and] that every person . . . is valued and loved by God", without seeing the irony?


Posted // November 1,2009 at 11:53 - they have already played the "holocaust" card...those poor defensless mormons......