Naming a public university's program to support families after Packer further marginalizes many members of our community who already face both intended and unintended discrimination, given positions advocated by Packer in the past. I believe that we should not support a public university's naming of a family center after someone who's publicly and prominently expressed opinions have, intentionally or not, disparaged the loving families of so many others.
In the press announcement for the center, the director of the CFCE said Packer's emphasis on education and family is in "perfect sync" with the center's education outreach programs. But is this an accurate representation? While Packer has dedicated his life to a specific form of religious education, he has made a number of public pronouncements which are not in keeping with the ideals of a public university. For example:
In 1977, Packer warned against the danger of interracial marriage by saying: "We've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise." (http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1051)
Equally disturbing, in 1993 Packer attacked three groups in one blow by stating that the greatest threats to society were from "the gay‑lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever‑present challenge from the so‑called scholars or intellectuals." (http://www.zionsbest.com/face.html) Do homosexuals, feminists, and scholars honestly have no place in an academic university devoted to honest scholarship?
And then, in remarks he made this April directed at the possibility of homosexuals being legal family units, he called tolerance of homosexual families a "trap."
In 1994 Packer criticized the public education system for creating atheist children and equated atheists and humanists to people without morals. In a 1996 talk at The David O. McKay Symposium at BYU he claimed public schools are "too dangerous for children to attend" physically and morally, and schools are responsible for "producing the problems that we face."
Packer made all these statements after his experience as a student at Weber in the 1940s! It seems unfortunate that his time there didn't sufficiently instill a love of secular education or a tolerance toward certain types of diverse families.
Naming a state university program that is supposed to represent and serve a variety of non-traditional families in the community after Packer sends the message that only certain types of families are valued by the state, and that is insensitive at the least. In Utah, where the separation of church and state is often unclear, this naming of a public program sends a loud, clear message to many that discrimination is both acceptable and embraced at Weber.
(references, see http://www.weber.edu/WSUToday/050113PackerCenter.html and http://mobile.standard.net/standardex/pm_109839/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=R7R9jShx)
- Weber State University
Charles A. Wight
Do not name your Center for Family (CFCE) after Boyd K. Packer
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