J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Editing Content
Revert to History:

Other Leaders Speak



Quotes on Religious Liberty

The following are selected statements by political figures, leaders from other faiths, thought leaders and prominent governmental organizations regarding religious freedom.


Political Leaders

President Barack Obama
Foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose... we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace.   "President Barack Obama, U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2012"


George Washington
The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field[;] the object is attained[;] and it now remains to be my earnest wish & prayer, that the Citizens of the United States could make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them.   "George Washington, Letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York City (November 27, 1783)"



Samuel Adams
...Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.   "Samuel Adams, Speech at the State House, Philadelphia (August 1, 1776)"



 

Religious Leaders

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.  Supreme Court Decision On Hobby Lobby: A Great Day For The Religious Freedom Of Family Businesses, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (June 30, 2014)

Pope Benedict XVI
The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed.  Meeting with Representatives of Other Religious, address given at "Rotunda" Hall of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center of Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2008)

May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task–through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion–we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.  Meeting with Representatives of Other Religious, address given at "Rotunda" Hall of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center of Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2008)

Pope Francis
Reason recognizes in religious freedom a fundamental right of man that reflects his highest dignity, that of the capacity to seek the truth and to adhere to it, and recognizes in that right an indispensable condition in order to deploy his own potentialities. Religious freedom is not only the freedom of a thought or of a private sect. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent to discovered truth, whether privately or publicly. Remarks on Religious Freedom, St. John's University School of Law's Center for Law and Religion Forum, remarks given at Center’s Conference in Rome, Italy (June 20, 2014)

Legal regimes, national or international, are called to recognize, guarantee, and protect religious freedom, which is a right that inheres intrinsically in the nature of man, in his dignity as a free being, and is also an indicator of a healthy democracy and one of the principal fonts of the legitimacy of the state. Remarks on Religious Freedom, St. John's University School of Law's Center for Law and Religion Forum, remarks given at Center’s Conference in Rome, Italy (June 20, 2014)

Cardinal Francis George
In the coming years, interreligious coalitions formed to defend the rights of conscience 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. "Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom," Brigham Young University (Feb. 23, 2010).


 

Other Leaders

John Graz
...Many global trends today are not in favor of continued religious freedom. There is a great battle to come and we must be ready to defend religious freedom for all. John Graz, public affairs and religious liberty director for the Seventh-Day Adventist world church and the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) secretary general, speech given at BYU's 22nd annual conference of the LDS International Society about the global challenges and trends affecting religious freedom (April 4, 2011).

Timothy Samuel Shah
Religion is central to human life, enmeshed in human experience, and integral to human fulfillment. Religion is so profoundly intertwined with human existence that it cannot be repressed except at the price of undermining individuality and disrupting society. The Witherspoon Institute, Religious Freedom: Why Now? 15 (2012).

Religious freedom should be understood...not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one's own choices in accordance with truth. Religious Freedom: Why Now? 16 (2012) (quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace (January 1, 2011)).

We believe that liberty of religious faith is the first and foremost freedom in human society, is a universal value in the international community, and is also the foundation for other political and property rights. Without the universal and equitable liberty of religious faith, a multi­ethnic, multi­religion country would not be able to form a peaceful civil society, or bring about social stability, ethnic solidarity or the nation's prosperity. Religious Freedom: Why Now? 19 (2012) (quoting the pastors of the Shouwang Church, Beijing, China (May 2011)).

Douglas Laycock
Religion is unlike other human activities, or at least the [American] founders thought so. The proper relation between religion and government was a subject of great debate in the founding generation, and the [United States] Constitution includes two clauses that apply to religion and do not apply to anything else. This debate and these clauses presuppose that religion is in some way a special human activity, requiring special rules applicable only to it.  Douglas Laycock, professor of Law, University of Virginia Timothy Samuel Shah, Religious Freedom: Why Now? 44 (2012) (quoting Douglas Laycock, professor of law, University of Virginia).
 

Governmental Organizations

US Commission on International Religious Freedom
Understanding and communicating the breadth and depth of religious freedom is essential to spurring our country to do more to advance this fundamental right abroad. This is particularly crucial today, since by any measure, religious freedom is under serious and sustained pressure across much of the globe. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2014 Annual Report, 15th Anniversary Retrospective: Renewing the Commitment, 2

The defense of religious freedom is both a humanitarian imperative and a practical necessity. To betray it is to betray human nature and well–being; to affirm it is to affirm our very humanity and its thriving. It is an indispensable freedom that merits our firm and dedicated support abroad, wherever it is threatened. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2014 Annual Report, 15th Anniversary Retrospective: Renewing the Commitment, 3

Full Talk Citations and Links

President Barack Obama
U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2012; also available at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper

George Washington
"Letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York City (November 27, 1783)"; also available at: http://www.foundingfatherquotes.com/search.php?q=Religious+Liberty&Submit=GO

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Supreme Court Decision On Hobby Lobby: A Great Day For The Religious Freedom Of Family Businesses, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (June 30, 2014).; also available at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-116.cfm

Pope Benedict XVI
Meeting with Representatives of Other Religious, address given at "Rotunda" Hall of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center of Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2008); also available here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/april/documents/hf_ben- xvi_spe_20080417_other-religions_en.html

Pope Francis
"Remarks on Religious Freedom, St. John's University School of Law's Center for Law and Religion Forum, remarks given at Center's Conference in Rome, Italy (June 20, 2014); also available at: http://clrforum.org/2014/06/27/pope-franciss-remarks-on-religious-freedom-for-our-conference-degirolami­trans/

Cardinal Francis George
"Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom," Brigham Young University (Feb. 23, 2010);

John Graz
Speech given at BYU's 22nd annual conference of the LDS International Society about the global challenges and trends affecting religious freedom (April 4, 2011). A copy of his speech will be made available by calling 801-422-3377.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom
2014 Annual Report, 15th Anniversary Retrospective: Renewing the Commitment, 2 (available at http://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/USCIRF%202014%20Annual%20Report%20PDF.pdf

 

CONNECT