Oaks suggested that atheists and others are seeking to intimidate people of faith and silence their voices in the public square, according to his prepared remarks.
"The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing," said Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a church governing body. "The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom."
"Blacks were lynched and beaten and denied the right to vote by their government," said Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, which spearheaded the No on 8 campaign. "To compare that to criticism of Mormon leaders for encouraging people to give vast amounts of money to take away rights of a small minority group is illogical and deeply offensive."
Fred Karger, founder of the gay rights group Californians Against Hate, said Oaks' speech is part of a public relations offensive to "try to turn the tables on what has been a complete disaster for the Mormon church ... They are trying to be the victim here. They're not. They're the perpetrators."
I've said from the beginning that I don't agree with the focus of our ire over Prop 8 should be against the Mormons. I saw behavior at the protests around the Los Angeles Mormon temple immediately following the passage that I not only felt embarrassed by but shame for our community, though the anger behind these actions was justified.
However, I find it very ironic that the Mormon leadership is playing victim and comparing this current backlash against them to hundreds of years of oppression that African Americans suffered, because the LDS church was part of that oppression, calling them cursed because of their skin color or what they considered the "Mark of Cain" and declaring them unable to be saved, go to heaven or to be members of their church. It was only when the church experienced societal pressure that one of the apostles experienced a "revelation" and suddenly African Americans were A-OK.
But on top of that, in reference to Proposition 8, the LDS church was a major player in creating the ballot to strip LGBT citizens of an existing and fundamental right. How can they turn around and then claim victimization?
This arrogance and playing victim is offensive on so many levels.
I guess it's only a matter of time before another apostle experiences another "revelation" and we gays will be A-OK, too.