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Recent Apostolic Counsel Regarding Religious Liberty



Below are recent statements from members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relating to religious freedom. All statements are direct quotes with minor clarifications added in brackets. They have been topically organized to facilitate a better understanding of common themes and counsel. Full citations (including links to the full source) are included at the end of this document.


Be Civil in Your Discourse

Elder L. Tom Perry
We must show mutual respect for others and treat all civilly. No one should be belittled for following their moral conscience.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom," 2013




Elder Dallin H. Oaks

On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior's Golden Rule: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12). "Loving Others and Living With Differences" General Conference, October 2014 (Part IV).

When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation.="font-size:80%; color:#808080;"> "Loving Others and Living With Differences" General Conference, October 2014 (Part IV).

[W]hen believers seek to promote their positions in the public square, their methods and their advocacy should always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of those who do not share their beliefs. We should not add to the extremism that divides our society. As believers we must always speak with love and show patience, understanding, and compassion toward our adversaries. Christian believers are under command to love their neighbors (Luke 10:27), to forgive (Matt. 18:21-35), and to do good to those who despitefully use them (Matt. 5:44). They should always remember the Savior's teaching that we "bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]" (Matt. 5:44).  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part V).

To achieve our common goals we must have mutual respect for others whose beliefs, values, and behaviors differ from our own. This does not expect that we will deny or abandon our differences but that we will learn to live with others who do not share them. It will help if we are not led or unduly influenced by the extreme voices that are heard from various contending positions. Extreme voices polarize and create resentment and fear by emphasizing what is nonnegotiable and by suggesting that the desired outcome is to disable the adversary and achieve absolute victory. Such outcomes are rarely attainable and never preferable to living together in mutual understanding and peace.  "Hope for the Years Ahead," Address given at the Utah Valley University Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom on April 16, 2014 (Part III.C).

[R]eligious persons will often be most persuasive in political discourse by framing arguments and positions in ways that are respectful of those who do not share their religious beliefs and that contribute to the reasoned discussion and compromise that is essential in a pluralistic society.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

Even as we seek to speak with love, we must not be surprised when our positions are ridiculed and we are persecuted and reviled. As the Savior said, "so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:12). And modern revelation commands us not to revile against revilers (Doctrine and Covenants 19:30).  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

As we work together to protect religious freedom, we should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for the sincere beliefs of others. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. We should seek the understanding and support of nonbelievers. And we must also enlist the official actions of governments and appropriate multinational bodies. All of this is necessary to preserve the great good that religious organizations and believers can accomplish for the benefit of all humanity. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Cost-and Blessings-of Discipleship," Ensign, May 2014 (p.9).




Elder Quentin L. Cook

We need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. We live in a world where there is much turmoil. Many people are both angry and afraid. The Savior taught us to love even our enemies (see Matthew 5:44). This is especially true when we disagree. The moral basis of civility is the Golden Rule. It is taught in most religions and particularly by the Savior. "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 36).

We caution you to be civil and responsible as you defend religious liberty and moral values.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 38).

You are Latter-day Saints. Where possible, be peacemakers. Explain your beliefs in gentle, loving terms. Be wise, thoughtful, considerate, and friendly. "Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, p. 11.

Be a Righteous Example

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
In applying the sometimes competing demands of truth and tolerance... we should not be tolerant with ourselves. We should be ruled by the demands of truth. We should be strong in keeping the commandments and our covenants, and we should repent and improve when we fall short.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part IV).




Elder Robert D. Hales
[L]ive your life to be a good example of what you believe-in word and deed. How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.




Elder Quentin L. Cook

[B]e a righteous example. You must not be in camouflage as to who you are and what you believe.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 35).

Those who feel accountable to God have a responsibility to live upright lives of service to God and our fellowman, to obey the law, and to be good citizens, neighbors, and friends in all we do. As we do so, ordinary citizens and government officials alike will be more inclined to see the value of religion and to respect the basic principles that allow us to freely live it. There is no better demonstration of the great benefits associated with religious liberty than for devoted members of various faiths who feel accountable to God to model principles of integrity, morality, service, and love. As others see the goodness of individuals and families-goodness that is founded in strong faith and character-they will be much more likely to speak up in defense of the religious freedoms that allow us to be who we are. Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015




Elder D. Todd Christofferson

[T]he Church and society need you to be examples of the believers, in word and deed. Elder Cook has said, "One of the reasons the attack on moral and religious principles has been so successful is the reluctance of people of faith to express their views." We need you to speak up-to express your views and defend the faith. And we need you to do so with respect for the beliefs of others and with dignity and decency as disciples of Jesus Christ. And, just as important, you must live your faith so that others-inside and outside the legal community-will see your good works, experience your genuine love and friendship, and feel the Spirit working through you. Because as they do, they will want to listen to you and understand when you say your religious freedom is being abridged. They may not agree with you or even understand entirely the issue that is so important to you. But if they know you and respect you because you are a true disciple of Christ, they will be far more inclined to work toward a solution that respects the religious freedoms of both you and the Church. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 11.



 

Become Educated

Elder Robert D. Hales
[W]e can become informed. Be aware of issues in your community that could have an impact on religious liberty. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.




Elder Quentin L. Cook
It is important for us to become well educated on this issue and assume responsibility for ensuring that the religious freedom we have inherited is passed on to future generations. We must work together to both protect religious freedom and restore morality.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 37).




Elder D. Todd Christofferson
[I]t is important that you become informed about existing and potential threats to religious freedom... To do that in a truly helpful way, you need to excel in your chosen field of practice, to maintain the highest professional and personal standards, and then to get involved in the important institutions and forums that pertain to your field. You need to be among the best and most respected in your area of the law. As you strive toward this goal, you will gain the expertise to detect religious freedom threats in specific areas of the law and public policy. You will have the respect of your professional colleagues, so they will listen to you as you raise concerns. And in some instances you will be in a position-perhaps even within government—from which you can directly propose and help enact positive solutions. So pursue excellence in your chosen area of practice; be attorneys of the highest integrity; earn the personal and professional respect of your legal peers; get involved where it matters in your field; and be, as it were, "watchmen on the tower" of religious freedom. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 11.
 

Understand "Things Which Have Been"

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
The British North American colonies were originally settled by people who, for the most part, came there for the freedom to practice their religious faith without persecution, and their successors deliberately placed religious freedom first in their nation's Bill of Rights. The guarantee of religious freedom is also reflected in the constitutions of all 50 states, as well as in the constitutions of most other nations. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part II). Elder Quentin L. Cook
[T]o work with people of other faiths to improve the moral fabric of our communities, nations, and world and to protect religious freedom... we need to understand and comprehend "things which have been" (D&C 88:79), with particular emphasis on events that were precursors to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that still need to be protected.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 33).

[F]our major "things which have been" [are:]... Tyndale and the King James Bible...English common law and the U.S. Constitution...Scientific achievements, including the Industrial Revolution, the communications revolution, and advancements in medicine...[and] A return to Judeo-Christian moral principles.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 33-35).

Understand the Importance of Religion to Society

Elder L. Tom Perry

[A]ll citizens benefit from a robust and vigorous religious freedom.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)






Elder Dallin H. Oaks
[R]eligious teachings and the religiously motivated actions of believers are valuable to society and deserving of special legal protections. This of course rejects the assumptions of some secularists that religion is mostly a matter of history that has minimal significance in modern times. Far from relics of the past, religious principles and religious believers are a vital present and future force everywhere. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III). See also "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part I of Speech, May 16, 2013.

Religious freedom is not just the concern of religious persons. Nonbelievers also have a strong interest in religious freedom, which is necessary for peace and stability in our pluralistic world. The protection of conscience is a vital ingredient for stability because it helps people from a wide spectrum of beliefs feel assured that their deepest concerns and values are respected and protected. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III).

Many of the most significant moral advances in Western society have been motivated by religious principles and persuaded to official adoption by pulpit preaching. Examples include the abolition of the slave trade in England and the Emancipation Proclamation in this country. The same is true of the Civil Rights movement of the last half-century. These great advances were not motivated and moved by secular ethics or persons who believed in moral relativism. They were driven primarily by persons who had a clear religious vision of what was morally right.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part I of Speech, May 16, 2013. See also "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III).

Other efforts seek to intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation. Such advocates should answer this question: How would the great movements toward social justice in the United States, such as the abolition of slavery or the furthering of civil rights, have been advocated and pressed toward adoption if their religious proponents had been banned from the public square by insistence that private religious or moral positions were not a rational basis for public discourse? "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part IV).

"For the rights and protection of all flesh" the United States Constitution includes in its First Amendment the guarantees of free exercise of religion and free speech and press. Without these great fundamentals of the Constitution, America could not have served as the host nation for the restoration of the gospel, which began just three decades after the Bill of Rights was ratified.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part IV).

Religious freedom undergirds the origin and existence of [the United States of America] and is the dominating civil liberty.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V).

[The] formation [of the Constitution] over 200 years ago was made possible by religious principles of human worth and dignity, and only those principles in the hearts of a majority of our diverse population can sustain that Constitution today.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part I).

John Adams... wisely observed that: "we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part I) (citing Charles Francis Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, 228-29 (Books for Libraries Press, 1969). See also Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2013, p. 25. Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, pp. 8-10.

Our civilization is based on morality and cannot exist without it.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part V).

Our society is not held together primarily by law and its enforcement, but most importantly by those who voluntarily obey the unenforceable because of their internalized norms of righteous or correct behavior.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part I of Speech, May 16, 2013. See also "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III).

Religious belief in right and wrong is a vital influence to produce such voluntary compliance by a large number of our citizens. The first president of the United States, George Washington, spoke of this reality in his farewell address: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports," he said. "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." (Washington's Farewell Address, ed. Thomas Arkle Clark (1908), 14.) "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III).

A recent essay by our friend and highly honored teacher and thinker Clayton Christensen insists that religion is the foundation of both democracy and prosperity. He reminds us that democracy and capitalism both depend on large-scale obedience to the unenforceable and that this prerequisite is dependent upon religions that teach such fundamentals as "the equality of people, the importance of respecting others' property, and personal honesty and integrity." Secularism, which aspires to displace theistic religion in our country, has no power or program to provide what Christensen calls "the requisite foundation of extensive obedience to the unenforceable."  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.B) (citing Clayton Christensen, "Religion Is the Foundation of Democracy and Prosperity," see http://www.mormonperspectives.com/2011/02/08/religion-is-the-foundation-of-democracy-and-prosperity.)

[O]ur society is not held together primarily by law and its enforcement but most importantly by those who voluntarily obey the unenforceable because of their internalized norms of righteous or correct behavior. We all have a vital interest in religion because religious belief in right and wrong is fundamental to producing the needed voluntary compliance by a large number of our citizens.  "Hope for the Years Ahead," Address given at the Utah Valley University Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom on April 16, 2014 (Part III.C).

Our country's robust private sector of charitable works originated with and is still sponsored most significantly by religious organizations and religious impulses. This includes education, hospitals, care for the poor, and countless other charities of great value to our country. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part III).

An esteemed scholar and friend of religious liberty has stated the goal with which I wish to conclude. At the close of his notable article on international diplomacy and religion, Professor Thomas F. Farr endorsed religious freedom as a means to protect human dignity and bolster civil society. "It means," he concludes, "the durable and mutual accommodation of religion and the state within the boundaries of liberal democracy." "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI) (citing Thomas F. Farr, "Diplomacy in an Age of Faith," Foreign Affairs, March–April 2008, 124.)

Elder Robert D. Hales

As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom. We already know that Satan does not want this freedom to be ours. He attempted to destroy moral agency in heaven, and now on earth he is fiercely undermining, opposing, and spreading confusion about religious freedom—what it is and why it is essential to our spiritual life and our very salvation. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Inherent in liberal democracy is an assumption, a hope, and a belief that free people will use their liberty to choose good over evil, right over wrong, virtue over vice. For that reason, the United States continues to espouse civil liberties, including that precious "first freedom" of religion, which informs the choices we must make in life.  "Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2013, p. 28.; see also "Faith, Family and Religious Freedom," Remarks at Chapman University, February 26, 2015.


Elder Quentin L. Cook
Religious faith is a store of light, knowledge, and wisdom and benefits society in a dramatic way when adherents engage in moral conduct because they feel accountable to God.  "Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (pp. 29).

After World War II the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements established the legal framework for the protection of religious freedom. It was over 65 years ago, on December 10, 1948, that the Universal Declaration was adopted. That document declares that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."[25] Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015 (citing U.N. G.A. Res.217 A (III), art. 18 (1948)).



Elder D. Todd Christofferson
As you review these and other statements by modern apostles, notice that the freedom being spoken of is not merely what political philosophers have referred to as the "negative" freedom to be left alone, however important that may be. Rather, they speak of a much richer "positive" freedom—the freedom to live one's religion in a legal, political, and social environment that is tolerant, respectful, and accommodating of religion. For the faithful, religion is not just a private hobby but a way of life bound up with one’s personal identity and dignity. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 7.

Religious freedom is the cornerstone of peace in a world with many competing philosophies. It gives us all space to determine for ourselves what we think and believe—to follow the truth that God speaks to our hearts. It allows diverse beliefs to coexist, protects the vulnerable, and helps us negotiate our conflicts. Thus, as the European Court of Human Rights has wisely concluded in multiple cases, religious freedom is vital to people of faith and "is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned." This is because "the pluralism indissociable from a democratic society, which has been dearly won over the centuries, depends on it." "A Celebration of Religious Freedom," Interfaith Address in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 29, 2015 (citing European Convention on Human Rights, Article 9, as referenced in Kokkinakis v. Greece, May 25, 1993, para. 31; Nolan and K. v. Russia, 2009, para. 61; and Serif v. Greece, Dec. 14, 1999, para 49.)

Without [religious] freedom, God's great plan of happiness is frustrated, because God's children are not fully able to exercise their agency and choose for themselves what they will believe, how they will act, and what they will become. Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015


 

Religious Freedom and the Constitution

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

The inherent conflict between the precious religious freedom of the people and the legitimate regulatory responsibilities of the government is the central issue of religious freedom.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part IV).

[U]nless the guarantee of free exercise of religion gives a religious actor greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to all actors by other provisions of the constitution (like freedom of speech), what is the special value of religious freedom? Surely the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion was intended to grant more freedom to religious action than to other kinds of action. Treating actions based on religious belief the same as actions based on other systems of belief should not be enough to satisfy the special place of religion in the United States Constitution.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part IV).

The "free exercise" of religion obviously involves both (1) the right to choose religious beliefs and affiliations and (2) the right to "exercise" or practice those beliefs without government interference. However, in a nation with citizens of many different religious beliefs, the right of each to act upon his or her religious beliefs must be qualified by the government's responsibility to further compelling government interests, such as the health and safety of all. Otherwise, for example, the government could not protect its citizens' persons or properties from neighbors whose religious principles involved practices that threatened the health or personal security of others. Lawmakers and judges have wrestled with this tension for many years, so we in the United States have considerable experience in working out the necessary accommodations. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part II); see also "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part I of Speech, May 16, 2013.

The free exercise of religion covers most public actions, but it is subject to qualifications necessary to accommodate the beliefs and practices of others. Laws can prohibit behavior that is generally recognized as wrong or unacceptable, like sexual exploitation, violence, or terrorist behavior, even when done by extremists in the name of religion. Less grievous behaviors, even though unacceptable to some believers, may simply need to be endured if legalized by what a Book of Mormon prophet called "the voice of the people" (Mosiah 29:26). "Loving Others and Living With Differences" General Conference, October 2014 (Part IV).

[W]e can set the right example in our family and Church teachings by acknowledging the blessings of the Lord in the establishment of this nation. To do this "in wisdom and order" we should not seem to deny that this nation includes and is blessed by citizens of Jewish, Muslim, atheist and other non-Christian persuasions. But we should speak truthfully of the fact that this nation was founded by persons and leaders who were predominantly Christians and who embodied the principles of their faith in the constitution, laws and culture of this nation.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.B). Churches should stand on at least as strong a footing as any other entity when they enter the public square to participate in public policy debates. News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015

The precious constitutional right of free speech does not exclude any individual or group, and a society is only truly free when it respects freedom of religious exercise, conscience and expression for everyone, including unpopular minorities. News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015

Foremost among those fundamentals is the vital founding principle that the government should not endorse or establish a particular religion and that the government should guarantee the free exercise of religion by all of its citizens. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part I)

As we seek to preserve religious freedom, we must also be sensitive to its relationship to free speech. We see this relationship in the United States, where the forces that would constrain the freedom of religion are also attacking religious leaders’ rights to free speech in the exercise of their religious ministry. This is evident in the current efforts to narrow the definition of religious expression and to expand the so-called civil rights of "dignity," "autonomy," and "self-fulfillment" of persons offended by religious preaching. This is part of an alarming trajectory of events pointing toward constraining the freedom of religious speech by forcing it to give way to the "rights" of those offended by such speech. "Challenges to Religious Freedom," Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part IV).



Elder Quentin L. Cook
In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded.  "Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (p. 29).

Work with Other Faiths

Elder L. Tom Perry
Besides protecting our own rights, we must protect the rights of others, including the most vulnerable and the least popular. "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)




Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Religious leaders and believers must unite to strengthen our freedom to teach what we have in common, as well as to teach and exercise our very real religious differences. We must walk shoulder to shoulder on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our distinctive beliefs. We must also insist on our constitutional right to exer-cise our beliefs and to voice our con-sciences on issues in the public square and in the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens, including religious believers, leaders, and organizations.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part III of Speech, May 16, 2013.

The religious community must unite to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence by the kinds of intimidation or threatening rhetoric that are being experienced.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V).

[I]t is imperative that those of us who believe in God and in the reality of right and wrong unite more effectively to protect our religious freedom to preach and practice our faith in God and the principles of right and wrong He has established.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V); see also Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 7.

This proposal that we unite more effectively does not require any examination of the doctrinal differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, or even an identification of the many common elements of our beliefs. All that is necessary for unity and a broad coalition along the lines I am suggesting is a common belief that there is a right and wrong in human behavior that has been established by a Supreme Being. All who believe in that fundamental should unite more effectively to preserve and strengthen the freedom to advocate and practice our religious beliefs, whatever they are. We must walk together for a ways on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our own beliefs.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V); see also Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Watchmen on the Tower,” Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 7.

I am not proposing a resurrection of the so-called "moral majority," which was identified with a particular religious group and a particular political party. Nor am I proposing an alliance or identification with any current political movement, tea party or other. I speak for a broader principle, non-partisan and, in its own focused objective, ecumenical.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V).

We all agree with Cardinal Francis George, who said, "In the coming years, interreligious coalitions formed to defend the rights of con-science for individuals and for religious institutions should become a vital bulwark against the tide of forces at work in our government and society to reduce religion to a purely private reality."  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part III of Speech, May 16, 2013 (citing Cardinal Francis George, "Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom," Brigham Young University (Feb. 23, 2010)).

We join in that call for religious coalitions to protect religious freedom. In doing so we recall the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin. At another critical time in our nation's history, he declared: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V) (citing at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).

We need to support the coalitions of religious leaders and God-fearing people who are coming together to defend our nation's traditional culture of belief in God and the acknowledgement of His blessings.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.C).

Elder Robert D. Hales

As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love-"every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind." Alma 2:5...[I]n your individual capacity, join with others who share our commitment to religious freedom. Work side by side to protect religious freedom. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.





Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

We must find ways to show respect for others whose beliefs, values and behaviors differ from ours while never being forced to deny or abandon our own beliefs, values and behaviors in the process. Every citizen's rights are best guarded when each person and group guards for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves. News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015



Elder Quentin L. Cook

My challenge is that we join with people of all faiths who feel accountable to God in defending religious freedom so it can be a beacon for morality.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 38).

Presidents of the Church, including President Thomas S. Monson, have made it clear that all religions hold truths and that we should work together for the common good. In his inaugural press conference, President Monson emphasized this cooperation. He stated, "We have a responsibility to be active in the communities where we live ... and to work cooperatively with other churches. ...It's important that we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute for it the strength of people working together."  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 37) (citing Thomas S. Monson, in "Who Are the Mormons?" http://mormonnewsroom.org/article/who-are-the-mormons).



Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Thus, at a time when religious differences were often the cause of intolerance and violence, the Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed toleration and equal rights for all faiths. He said:

The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Joseph Smith, Discourse in Nauvoo, Illinois (July 9, 1843), as reported by Willard Richards, in History of the Church 5:498–99.

Notice the Prophet's concern about the rights of vulnerable, minority religions that lack sufficient popular support "to defend themselves." That has always been a core issue when addressing freedom of religion. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 6; See also Elder Robert D. Hales, "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015 (citing Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 345).

Educate Others

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

In the long run, the vitality of religious freedom must rely on public under-standing and support.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part II of Speech, May 16, 2013.

We must enlist the support of persons who have what is called "spirituality" but who lack denominational affiliation. Religious freedom must not be seen as something serving only the interests of churches and synagogues. It must be understood as a protection for religious people, whether or not their beliefs involve membership or behavior. Support for the First Amendment free exercise of religion should not be limited to those who intend to exercise it, individually or through denominational affiliation.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part II of Speech, May 16, 2013.

We must give greater attention to the education of the rising generation. If the foundation of religious liberty is weakening, it must be because the role of religion and the contribution of religious organizations and religiously motivated people in our nation is not sufficiently understood.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part II of Speech, May 16, 2013.

The problem of educating the public, and especially the rising generation, needs to be addressed on a front wider than preaching, lobbying, and litigating. We must employ education to broaden the base of citizens who understand and are committed to defending religious freedom. This will require better information for our religious believers and also the enlistment of other groups.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part II of Speech, May 16, 2013.

We should...contend for the inclusion in textbooks and teaching in school settings of accurate accounts of great historical documents that recognize and invoke the blessings of God in the founding and preservation of this nation....Such acknowledgements and pleas are part of our history and should not be omitted from our memories or our culture.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.B).




Elder Robert D. Hales
As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love-"every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind." Alma 2:5."Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.



Elder Quentin L. Cook
Our challenge is to help people without religious faith understand that the protection of moral principles grounded in religion is a great benefit to society and that religious devotion is critical to public virtue.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 37).
 

Be Courageous and Speak Up

President Thomas S. Monson

Inasmuch as the trend in society today is rapidly moving away from the values and principles the Lord has given us, we will almost certainly be called upon to defend that which we believe. Will we have the courage to do so?  "Be Strong and of a Good Courage," Ensign, May 2014 (p.66).

[I]nner courage...includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status. He who stands steadfastly for that which is right must risk becoming at times disapproved and unpopular.  "Be Strong and of a Good Courage," Ensign, May 2014 (p.67).

We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us-all of us-have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully but also as the determination to live decently.  "Be Strong and of a Good Courage," Ensign, May 2014 (p.69).

My beloved brethren, with the courage of our convictions, may we declare, with the Apostle Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." Romans 1:16. And then, with that same courage, may we follow Paul's counsel: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12.  "Be Strong and of a Good Courage," Ensign, May 2014 (p.69).

Elder Russell M. Nelson
In 1986, President Thomas S. Monson said: "Of course we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval. ... Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with [faith] have courage as well." President Monson's counsel is timeless! So I plead with you, my dear brothers and sisters: Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!  "Let Your Faith Show," Ensign, May 2014 (p.31).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

The guarantee of free exercise of religion is weakening in its effects and in public esteem. This weakening is attributable to the ascendancy of moral relativism.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V).

The philosophy of moral relativism, which holds that each person is free to choose for himself what is right and wrong, is becoming the unofficial creed for many in America and other western nations.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part I).

In this troubled circumstance we who believe in God and the corollary truth of absolute right and wrong have the challenge of living in a godless and increasingly amoral world. In this circumstance, all of us-and especially you of the rising generation-have a duty to stand up and speak to affirm that God exists and that there are absolute truths His commandments establish.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part I).

Religious persons should insist on their constitutional right and duty to exercise their religion, to vote their consciences on public issues, and to participate in elections and in debates in the public square and the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens and they are also the rights of religious leaders and religious organizations.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part V).

[W]e must not be deterred or coerced into silence by the kinds of intimidation I have described. We must insist on our constitutional right and duty to exercise our religion, to vote our consciences on public issues and to participate in elections and debates in the public square and the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens and they are also the rights of religious leaders.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

[W]e must insist on our freedom to preach the doctrines of our faith.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

Believers need to be witnesses of God.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III).

[B]elievers should not be deterred by the familiar charge that they are trying to legislate morality. Many areas of the law are based on Judeo/Christian morality and have been for centuries.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part V).

[B]elievers should not shrink from seeking laws to maintain public conditions or policies that assist them in practicing the requirements of their faith where those conditions or policies are also favorable to the public health, safety or morals.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part V).

Elder Robert D. Hales
While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love-"every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind." Alma 2:5. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
[I]f you haven't already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.  "The Cost-and Blessings-of Discipleship," Ensign, May 2014 (p.6).

Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. "The Cost-and Blessings-of Discipleship," Ensign, May 2014 (p.9).

In the face of such waning religiosity-or, at the very least, waning religious affiliation-Latter-day Saints and other churches must be ever more effective in making the persuasive case for why both religious belief and institutional identity are more relevant than ever and deserve continued consideration and privilege within our society. Such appeals, however, will be met with increasingly sophisticated arguments, including from some in the legal profession.  "Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2013, p. 23; see also "Faith, Family and Religious Freedom," Remarks at Chapman University, February 26, 2015.

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws and circumstances and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.  "The Call to be Christlike," Ensign, June 2014 (p. 33).

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Be an active participant, not a silent observer.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 38).

One of the reasons the attack on moral and religious principles has been so successful is the reluctance of people of faith to express their views.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 37-38); see also Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 11.

By training, experience, and judgment, you are among the Church’s most articulate and thoughtful members. So what is your responsibility during this period of unusual public attention and debate? As Elder Ballard asked a BYU Marriott School of Management Society audience...in Washington: "Are you going to be an active participant or only a silent observer?" "Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, p. 11.

We are asking you as individuals to respond appropriately and in a Christlike fashion whenever and wherever it is necessary."Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, p. 11.

Elder Neil L. Anderson
Don't let the whirlwinds drag you down. These are your days-to stand strong as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Spiritual Whirlwinds," Ensign, May 2014 (p.21).


 

Where are We to Put Our Efforts?

Elder L. Tom Perry

I invite you to read carefully the information the Church has produced on religious freedom, and to find ways in your communities to help keep vibrant the God-given gifts of conscience and religious beliefs.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)




Elder Dallin H. Oaks
In our private personal and family prayers we should ask God to help us and our neighbors and leaders recognize God our Creator and the right and wrong established by His commandments. We should do this for the good of His children everywhere.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.A).

We should also assert ourselves against the current trend to refrain from religious references even in private communications. In recent years the inclusion of religious symbols and reverent words in Christmas greetings and sympathy cards have almost disappeared. When we make choices on these kinds of communications, we should not participate in erasing sacred reminders from our personal communications. As believers, we have a duty to preserve the name and influence of God and Christ in our conversations, our lives and our culture.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.A).

[Another] thing believers can do to stand as witnesses of God is to support public recognition of the blessings of God.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.B).

We should press officials in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of governments to honor the constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion. "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.C).

[W]e should be alert to oppose the potential significance of the fact that some government officials and public policy advocates are describing the First Amendment guarantee of the "free exercise" of religion as merely "freedom of worship." But the guarantee of "free exercise" protects the right to come out of our private settings, including churches, synagogues and mosques, to act upon our beliefs, subject only to the legitimate government powers necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare. Free exercise surely protects religious citizens in acting upon their beliefs in public policy debates and in votes cast as citizens or as lawmakers.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.C).

We should also use our political influence to resist current moves to banish from legislative and judicial lawmaking all actions based on religious convictions and motivations.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.C).

[The] symbol of prayer has been under legal attack for over 50 years, first in public school classrooms, where prayers were outlawed 50 years ago, and now in college graduations, city council meetings and other public settings. Whatever the designated pray-er's concept of God and whatever his or her religious persuasion or language of prayer, I hope the citizens of this nation can continue to witness their belief in God by the symbol of prayer, wisely and tolerantly administered. That is worth contending for.  "Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014 (Part III.C).

Elder Robert D. Hales

There are four cornerstones of religious freedom that we as Latter-day Saints must rely upon and protect. The first is freedom to believe... The second... is the freedom to share our faith and our beliefs with others…..The third…is the freedom to form a religious organization, a church, to worship peacefully with others... [And t]he fourth... is the freedom to live our faith-free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Brothers and sisters, we are responsible to safeguard these sacred freedoms and rights for ourselves and our posterity. What can you and I do? First, we can become informed. Be aware of issues in your community that could have an impact on religious liberty. Second, in your individual capacity, join with others who share our commitment to religious freedom. Work side by side to protect religious freedom. Third, live your life to be a good example of what you believe-in word and deed. How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion. "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws and circumstances and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.  "The Call to be Christlike," Ensign, June 2014 (p. 33).




Elder Quentin L. Cook
We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities.  "Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (p. 30).

Much of what we will do to improve the moral fabric of society and protect religious freedom will be accomplished in our families and communities.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 33).

We ask that you do this on the Internet and in your personal interactions in the neighborhoods and communities where you live.  "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (p. 38).

"Church leaders can't do it all, especially at the grass-roots community level....[W]e look to our responsible and faithful members to engage personally with blogs, to write thoughtful, online letters to the news organizations, and to act in other ways to correct the record with their own opinions."Latter- day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, p. 11 (citing Elder M. Russell Ballard, address to the BYU Management Society, Washington, D.C., 19 April 2008).

I'm well aware that part of the Internet is occupied by people who like to abuse and scream at each other rather than discuss things or, as the Atlantic Monthly recently reported, who seem to fit somewhere between bigotry and stupidity. It's not all like that. Those sites attract their own followers, but you can rise above that by reading and commenting on the more thoughtful sites and engaging in more respectful dialogue, sharing your values, and speaking out for the Church when required."Latter- day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, p. 11.

I would like to challenge you to contemplate how you can improve the society in which you live. Participating in government and asserting righteous principles in the public square would be a commendable and much needed goal. Many times your particular talents are needed to defend our faith."Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, pp. 10-11.




Elder D. Todd Christofferson
I come back to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and what you as LDS attorneys can do to help protect religious freedom. Again, without presuming to offer a comprehensive list, let me focus on three areas.

First, it is important that you become informed about existing and potential threats to religious freedom. In the United States at least, and I suspect it is the same here, whenever any sort of construction project is proposed, environmental groups are quick to recognize any adverse environmental effects that the project may create. They have spent the time and effort needed to understand the issues so they can detect threats to the interests they care about. In like manner, we need lawyers who care enough about religious freedom and are well enough informed that they can recognize both existing threats and those that are likely to materialize in the future.

To do that in a truly helpful way, you need to excel in your chosen field of practice, to maintain the highest professional and personal standards, and then to get involved in the important institutions and forums that pertain to your field. You need to be among the best and most respected in your area of the law. As you strive toward this goal, you will gain the expertise to detect religious freedom threats in specific areas of the law and public policy. You will have the respect of your professional colleagues, so they will listen to you as you raise concerns. And in some instances you will be in a position—perhaps even within government-from which you can directly propose and help enact positive solutions.

So pursue excellence in your chosen area of practice; be attorneys of the highest integrity; earn the personal and professional respect of your legal peers; get involved where it matters in your field; and be, as it were, "watchmen on the tower" of religious freedom.

Second, we need you to keep the Church informed of risks and concerns-and then to be patient. The Church needs to know, based on your expertise and position, about threats to religious freedom. It needs to know about gathering storms. We need appropriate and orderly mechanisms so the Church can be better informed of potential threats to religious liberty, and those mechanisms are something we will be developing in the months ahead.

But we also need you to understand that…the Church must make prudential decisions based on what can realistically be accomplished given the Church’s resources, vulnerabilities, and other goals. That may mean that the concerns you raise do not result in the Church’s taking action….But it will also mean that when the Church decides to act, you will be ready to assist in the best way possible.

Finally, and more broadly, the Church and society need you to be examples of the believers, in word and deed. Elder Cook has said, "One of the reasons the attack on moral and religious principles has been so successful is the reluctance of people of faith to express their views." We need you to speak up-to express your views and defend the faith. And we need you to do so with respect for the beliefs of others and with dignity and decency as disciples of Jesus Christ.

And, just as important, you must live your faith so that others-inside and outside the legal community-will see your good works, experience your genuine love and friendship, and feel the Spirit working through you. Because as they do, they will want to listen to you and understand when you say your religious freedom is being abridged. They may not agree with you or even understand entirely the issue that is so important to you. But if they know you and respect you because you are a true disciple of Christ, they will be far more inclined to work toward a solution that respects the religious freedoms of both you and the Church.

Brothers and sisters—fellow attorneys-ours is a noble profession. At its highest, the legal profession defends the vulnerable, secures God-given rights, promotes justice and order, mitigates and often avoids conflict, and brings peace. May we strive for excellence in all we do so we will be ready when the Lord calls us to defend the cause of righteousness and freedom. May we stand as watchmen on the tower, ever vigilant against forces that would harm essential liberties. May we build bridges to all around us by living as true disciples. And may we, as advocates and mediators, strive in all things to emulate Jesus Christ, our Advocate and Mediator with the Father. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, pp. 10-11.

Be Wise

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

[T]he civil rights of religionists must be exercised legally and wisely.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

[A]s advocates of the obvious truth that persons with religious positions or motivations have the right to express their religious views in public, we must nevertheless be wise in our political participation.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

[W]hen believers in Jesus Christ take their views of truth into the public square they must seek the inspiration of the Lord to be selective and wise in choosing which true principles they seek to promote by law or executive action.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part V).

Latter-day Saints must be careful never to support or act upon the idea that a person must subscribe to some particular set of religious beliefs in order to qualify for a public office.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

[W]ise religious leaders and members will never advocate religious tests for public office.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

The religion of a candidate should not be an issue in a political campaign.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part VI).

Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Because we are frequently asked for our position on these matters, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:
1. We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
2. We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
3. We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.
4. We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation.

News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015 Elder D. Todd Christofferson

So how are principles of religious freedom to be advocated in Canada, the United States, and in other places around the world? In secular societies that prize secular values more than religious truths and that increasingly see religion as an impediment to social progress, those who support religious freedom must carefully distinguish between what is vital and what is less critical. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 7.

Extraordinary Effort will be Required to Protect Religious Liberty

Elder L. Tom Perry

[W]e must...remember that religious freedom has obligations.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)

[The] essential freedoms of conscience embedded in religious liberty must be diligently preserved and protected.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)



Elder Dallin H. Oaks

There is a battle over the meaning of [religious] freedom. The contest is of eternal importance, and it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009.

[The] constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion....is in need of being defended.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part IV).

Elder Robert D. Hales
Our Savior's Second Coming is drawing nearer. Let us not delay in this great cause. Remember Captain Moroni, who hoisted the title of liberty inscribed with the words "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." Alma 46:12. Let us remember the people's response: exercising their agency, they "came running together" with a covenant to act. Alma 46:21. My beloved brothers and sisters, don't walk! Run! Run to receive the blessings of agency by following the Holy Ghost and exercising the freedoms God has given us to do His will.  "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
You are among the finest and best trained we have to defend, to advocate, to plead, and to appeal for the great faith, the strong families, and the religious freedom for which and upon which this republic was founded.  "Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2013, p. 29; see also "Faith, Family and Religious Freedom," Remarks at Chapman University, February 26, 2015.



Elder Quentin L. Cook

The Church is a relatively small minority even when linked with people who are like-minded. It will be hard to change society at large, but we must work to improve the moral culture that surrounds us. Latter-day Saints in every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate themselves on the issues, and vote. Our primary emphasis, however, should always be to make any necessary sacrifices to protect our own family and the rising generation.  "Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage," Ensign, Nov. 2013, pp. 90-91.

Extraordinary effort will be required to protect religious liberty. Our doctrine confirms what the U.S. founding fathers and political philosophers have advocated. "No government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience" (D&C 134:2).  ; see also Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 7.

As Latter-day Saints, we need to do our best to preserve light and protect our families and communities from this assault on morality and religious freedom.  "Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (p. 27).

Warnings

Elder L. Tom Perry
In many countries, including the United States, religious freedom is slowly and dangerously eroding. I've seen this erosion in matters of individual conscience, expression and self-determination. But this is not a concern for religious people only. For many reasons, all citizens benefit from a robust and vigorous religious freedom.  "Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom" (Video)

Elder Russell M. Nelson

[F]ull freedom cannot be experienced if part of one's knowledge is ruled "out-of-bounds" by edicts of men.  "Let Your Faith Show," Ensign, May 2014 (p.30).





Elder Dallin H. Oaks

A continuation of [the] trajectory of ignorance and advocacy of diminished religious freedom-inhibiting the free exercise of religion in favor of other (though often worthy) social goals-will fundamentally change the character of America, and not for the better.  "Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Part II of Speech, May 16, 2013.

[T]eachers in schools, colleges, and universities are teaching and practicing relative morality. This is shaping the attitudes of many young Americans who are taking their places as the teachers of our children and the shapers of public attitudes through the media and popular entertainment. This philosophy of moral relativism denies what millions of believing Christians, Jews and Muslims consider fundamental, and this denial creates serious problems for all of us.  "Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011 (Part I).

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.  Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009 (Part V).

[There is] an alarming trajectory of events pointing toward constraining the freedom of religious speech by forcing it to give way to the "rights" of those offended by such speech. If that happens, we will have criminal prosecution of those whose religious doctrines or speech offend those whose public influence and political power establish them as an officially protected class.  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part III).

[R]eligious values and political realities are so inter-linked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of religion in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms. "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part I).

It is well to remember James Madison's warning: "There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."  "Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011 (Part III) (citing James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention on Control of the Military, (June 16, 1788), in 1 HISTORY OF THE VIRGINIA FEDERAL CONVENTION OF 1788, 130 (H.B. Grigsby ed., 1890)).

Elder Robert D. Hales

Some are offended when we bring our religion into the public square, yet the same people who insist that their viewpoints and actions be tolerated in society are often very slow to give that same tolerance to religious believers who also wish their viewpoints and actions to be tolerated. The general lack of respect for religious viewpoints is quickly devolving into social and political intolerance for religious people and institutions.  "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion. Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our "houses" left unto us "desolate"-desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations.  "The Cost-and Blessings-of Discipleship," Ensign, May 2014 (p.7).

Elder Quentin L. Cook
Freedom and light have never been easy to attain or maintain. Since the War in Heaven, the forces of evil have used every means possible to destroy agency and extinguish light. The assault on moral principles and religious freedom has never been stronger.  "Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (p. 27).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Because a society’s deepest values drive law and public policy, and because those values in many Western nations are now almost entirely secular, government is increasingly enforcing secular values at the expense of religious ones. And society itself-even without the force of government-can ostracize, stigmatize, and discriminate against religious believers in overt and subtle ways, leaving people of faith marginalized and sometimes even despised. As this happens—and it is happening more rapidly in some countries than others—the space for us to freely and openly live out our deepest beliefs will tend to shrink and our ability to participate in civic life as free and equal citizens will tend to diminish. We indeed face challenging times.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015, p. 6.
 

Full Talk Citations and Links

President Thomas S. Monson
"Be Strong and of a Good Courage," Ensign, May 2014 (pp. 66-69); also available at: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/be-strong-and-of-a-good-courage?lang=eng

Elder L. Tom Perry
"Mormon Apostle Promotes Religious Freedom," Video at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/religious-freedom

Elder Russell M. Nelson
"Let Your Faith Show," Ensign, May 2014 (pp.29-31); also available at: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/let-your-faith-show?lang=eng

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015. For the full transcript see: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/publicstatement-on-religious-freedom-and-nondiscrimination

"Loving Others and Living With Differences" General Conference, October 2014. For the full transcript go to: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/loving-others-and-living-with-differences?lang=eng

"Hope for the Years Ahead," Address given at the Utah Valley University Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom on April 16, 2014. For the full transcript go to: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/transcript-elder-dallin-oaks-constitutional-symposium-religious-freedom

"Witnesses of God," BYU-Idaho Devotional February 25, 2014. For the full transcript see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/witnesses-of-god

"Strengthening the Free Exercise of Religion," Speech given at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Canterbury Medal Dinner in New York City, May 16, 2013. For the full transcript see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/transcript-strengthening-free-exercise-of-religion-elder-dallin-h-oaks

"Truth and Tolerance," CES Fireside, September 11, 2011. For the full transcript see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/-truth-and-tolerance-elder-dallin-h-oaks

"Preserving Religious Freedom," speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011. For the full transcript see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-oaks-religious-freedom-Chapman-University

Speech on Religious Freedom given at BYU-Idaho on October 13, 2009. For the full transcript see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/oaks-religious-freedom

Elder Robert D. Hales
"Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom," General Conference, April 2015. For the full transcript see: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/preserving-agency-protecting-religious-freedom?lang=eng

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
"Faith, Family and Religious Freedom," Remarks at Chapman University, February 26, 2015 For the full transcript see: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-apostle-delivers-message-on-faith-family-religious-freedom-at-california-university

News Conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, January 27, 2015. For the full transcript see: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/publicstatement-on-religious-freedom-and-nondiscrimination

"The Cost-and Blessings-of Discipleship," Ensign, May 2014 (pp.6-9); also available at: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-cost-and-blessings-of-discipleship?lang=eng

"Faith, Family, and Religious Freedom," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2013, p. 28; also available at http://www.jrcls.org/clark_memo/sections/f13/CMF13_Holland.pdf

"The Call to be Christlike," Ensign, June 2014 (pp. 28-35); also available at: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/06/the-call-to-be-christlike?lang=eng

Elder Quentin L. Cook
"Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage," Ensign, Nov. 2013, pp. 88-91; also available at http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/lamentations-of-jeremiah-beware-of-bondage?lang=eng

"Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom," Ensign, September 2012 (pp. 32-39) http://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/09/restoring-morality-and-religious-freedom?lang=eng
From a commencement address delivered at Brigham Young University-Idaho on December 16, 2011. For the full text, visit http://web.byui.edu/devotionalsandspeeches/speeches.aspx.

"Let There Be Light!" Ensign, November 2010 (pp. 27-31); also available at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/let-there-be-light?lang=eng

Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Latter-day Saint Lawyers and the Public Square," Clark Memorandum, Fall 2009, pp. 4-11, available at http://www.jrcls.org/clark_memo/issues/cmF09.pdf

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Watchmen on the Tower," Clark Memorandum, Spring 2015. Fpr the full article see http://www.jrcls.org/clark_memo/issues/cmS15.pdf

Elder Neil L. Anderson
"Spiritual Whirlwinds," Ensign, May 2014 (pp. 18-21); also available at: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/spiritual-whirlwinds?lang=eng

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