“Sacred Ground” Initiative Event Organizers holds free event to the public-to those they approve

Eric Ethington wrote an account of his experience on his blog about the Sutherland Institutes’s "free" event to the public to kick-off its copy cat project (to the Common Ground Initiative) "The Sacred Ground Initiative" on Thursday night. 

The event was advertised as "This free and open to the public" according to a Sutherland Institute press release and post on its website , but it really wasn’t.  the organizers were selective in who they let in, despite advance registrations by attendees.  Here is an excerpt from Eric’s blog:


….the “gays” were the first ones to arrive at Thanksgiving Point, standing in line in the cold waiting to get in. Once the doors opened, we were shepherded into a long thin tent leading up to the main doors, inside of which was a table to sign in, and about 8 security guards. It was a notable difference from Equality Utah’s “Common Ground Initiative” kickoff event, which was an open-to-the-public, media and all-welcome event. To actually get in, you had to have previously registered with the Sutherland Institute, including providing your home address and email, although they didn’t tell you until afterwards that you were signing up to receive regular mail from them.

Deciding that opposite opinions were not welcome, the Sutherland Institute sent out an email to many of the prominent gay activist leaders in the community (Jacob Whipple and Michael Mueller) in the hours prior to the event letting them know they and their groups were no longer welcome to attend. This went so far as the young man who checked me in apologized for the extra security, saying, “there are supposed to be a lot of bad people trying to get in tonight, so we’re being very careful.” To enforce this decree, they pulled the list of attending people from Facebook, and listed them as banned from the event. Many people, not aware of this change, were actually forcibly removed from the event. Rebecca Huggins, a local single mom who registered well in advance, attempted to sign in with the registration people. Watching closely, she saw them scan down to her name, note a check mark next to it, then was asked to speak to the security guard. “He said I needed to leave immediately,” Rebecca said, “then he grabbed me by the elbow and attempted to escort me out.” Rebecca, who was there not to protest, but to listen and see what the Sutherland Institute had to say, was shocked and in tears after her ill-treatment.

Eric goes on in further detail to describe the event.  Much focus was placed on "America" and "God’s Law".  Paul Mero, of the Sutherland Institute, even makes a comment to Eric’s post.  Read it all here.  My comment was this:

I think Dominique is spot on.  This whole event and its organization (raving about "God’s law") sounds and looks like this is the Christain version of the Taliban, to wit:

“We do not make laws, we merely distort and twist God’s laws,” so we must do all we can to correct that.

These people do not want civil law, they want "God’s Law". (likened to  the  "Sharia").

Also, Mero is incorrect in the principles regarding the founding of this country.  The preamble to the constitution states that

"we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator "(not "God" as Mero alludes – to an atheist, this might mean their parents) "with certain unalienable rights". 

Finally, what about the LDS article #11 in the articles of faith regarding the right of pursuing their worship the way they want (religious freedom) and  also acknowledges the right of others to pursue their own religious freedom? 

I too respect the rights of EVERYONE to believe in what they want – and WITHOUT persecution.  This whole event and the driving forces behind it smack of hypocrisy to the max.


3 thoughts on ““Sacred Ground” Initiative Event Organizers holds free event to the public-to those they approve

  1. Sort of agree
    I agree completely with the hypocrisy of their argument and the attacks they have waged on the Common Ground initiative. Not much substance to it for a rational person to hold onto. But I think we are wrong to criticize their conduct at the event. I mean, it was their event, right? They aren’t obligated to let someone disrupt their efforts to express their point of view. I’d hope Equality Utah would do the same if a group of protesters wanted to stop them from getting their message out for the purpose of discussion.


  2. Re: Sort of agree
    Thanks for the comment!
    I was not taking issue with them *expressing* their point of view. I do take issue *with* their point of view, which is, in my view, a distorted view.
    I hope that made sense! 🙂


  3. Re: It’s called benefit of the doubt …
    Of course, they’re not obligated to allow their opponents to make a hash of their event. That said, did any of the opposing side who made it inside do anything to disrupt their precious event?
    I think there are very solid grounds for criticizing the host’s door policy. We are not a country of children. It’s OK to allow dissenters to hear opposing views. The only expectation and requirement is that they conform to mutually-understood notions of decorum while in attendance. If they breach those, sure, throw them out. But to institute a door policy based on the assumption that the only reason anyone with a dissenting view would bother to attend must be to disrupt the event is fundamentally anti-democratic. It reeks. It’s un-American. Have we become so fearful of dissent that we must preempt any and all potential displays of contrary political views, lest somebody’s sensibilities get offended? If the Sutherland Institute has a case to make, how would misbehavior on anyone’s part undermine that? Wouldn’t it actually bolster their case that their opposition is unruly and unserious? In fact, that is what this is all about: by preventing their opposition from entering, they can delude themselves into thinking that they managed to dodge a bullet and keep the wild ones away from their precious forum. Here’s a reality check: even if they’d allowed everyone in, chances are, the evening would’ve gone off without a hitch. That’s what scares them. What if the storyline ran: Sacred Ground Opponents Arrive En Masse to Hear Arguments Against Equality, Polite Discussion Ensues … ??
    It would be a veritable PR disaster for the “Sacred Ground” crew. Better to keep up appearances and keep plugging the meme that their opposition is out of control.


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