Someone at the UVSC paper published something irresponsible. So I responded:

I find David Gillespie’s article on Jeffrey Nielsen (the recently fired BYU professor) and Jay Bennish (the Colorado high school teacher recently put on paid leave) misinformed and irresponsible.

In Gillespie’s words, professor Nielsen, “wrote an opinion editorial condemning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their stern stance on opposing gay marriage.”

But according to professor Nielsen’s article, “As a member, I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as LDS general authorities.”

Professor Nielsen presents his moral and ethical dilemmas with the church’s position with remarkable fairness and thoughtfulness.

In conclusion, professor Nielsen says, “We need to trust the membership of the church and treat them as adults, as equals… [We] are all peers with one another and equally irreplaceable in God’s thoughts and affections.”

Nothing in professor Nielsen’s remarks in the original strike me as a condemnation of the LDS church.

As for Jay Bennish, Gillespie writes, that Bennish gave his students a spiel “on how President Bush is equivalent to one of the worse [sic] mass murders in history.”

Did Bennish do this? Let’s take a look at the original.

After the president’s State of the Union address, Bennish suggested that the Bush’s tone was “eerily similar” to some of Adolf Hitler’s speeches. (We know exactly what was said, because a student present in class recorded the lecture.)

In conclusion, Bennish said, “I’m not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don’t know if I’m even necessarily taking a position. But what I’m trying to get you to do is to think about these issues more in-depth, and not just to take things from the surface. I’m glad you asked all of your questions, ’cause they’re all very good, legitimate questions, and hopefully that’ll allow other people to think about those things, too.”

The nationwide, irresponsible media attention that followed garnered dozens of death threats directed at Bennish, his father, and his attorney. (Bennish, meanwhile, was quietly reinstated after a few days.)

Gillespie calls Nielsen’s and Bennish’s statements “stupid and harmful.” I find their statements ethically relevant and morally courageous.


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