"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
I've been thinking about this one for a long, long time, because ever since before I even started writing about the Articles of Faith, I knew this was the one where people might be like, "Lies! All lies! You don't allow people that same privilege!" I refer, of course, to the matter of Proposition 8. So I hope you'll bear with me as I try to reconcile the whole Prop 8 thing with this Article of Faith. Keep in mind that this is my own opinion (with Athena's input).
First of all, I don't think anyone, not even members of the LDS church, were forced to vote yes on Prop 8. We were all encouraged to vote for it, and we were encouraged to encourage other people to vote for it, but we were told to be respectful of all points of view, and no one was excommunicated for voting against it (and we're pretty sure there are members of the church who did vote against it).
As for why we would be encouraged to vote for something that would take away, in a sense, someone's right to do something a certain way... Well, I think I've used a similar analogy before, but that was a few years ago, so let's go ahead and do it again. Let's say something came up on the ballot voting to outlaw smoking, period. According to our religious beliefs, smoking is bad for you on many levels (of course, there's scientific proof to this too, but we're disregarding that for the sake of the analogy), and you can lead a much happier life on earth as well as in the next life if you just don't. Voting to prohibit smoking, or even just raise taxes on cigarettes, would hurt all the people in California who smoke while they have to go through withdrawal (or pay more money to smoke or whatever). But we believe that in the long run, they will be much happier people once they get smoking out of their lives.
Of course it's more complicated with the matter of gay marriage, but the basic principle is the same: according to our religious beliefs, if you follow the law of chastity, you're going to be a happier person, and the law of chastity states no sex with anyone but your legally wedded spouse of the opposite sex. (Note that it doesn't say anything about being attracted one way or the other, only about who you actually have sex with. In other words, being gay is not a sin. Having illicit sexual relations is, regardless of anybody's gender.) So we claim the privilege to vote for laws that are in line with that belief, and allow all men the same privilege--to vote for what they think will make them happier.
(For more reading on LDS views of gender identity and sexuality, here are some fascinating articles:
By a gay Mormon man who is married to a woman. But make sure to read it all the way to the end, because his message is NOT that his way works best for everybody.
By a Mormon feminist, explaining how the Gospel helped her find value in being a woman.)
As for why the leadership of the church felt the need to step in and encourage its members to vote a specific way...well, there are several reasons for that, but one of the main ones is that the foundation of the LDS Church is the family. And all that is explained here: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Okay, I think that covers everything. But as usual, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Just remember we're going out of town for a couple of days, so if we don't get back to you right away, that's why.
Today I'm thankful for the lovely linger longer we had at church today, order confirmations on our concertina, finding the ink for our printer, remembering to print our tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party, and having plans to see Wreck-It Ralph on Friday.