​​​​Freedom-of-Religion

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).


In view of current experience and culture, how should religious persons and their organizations whose positions are dictated or affected by religious beliefs lobby or otherwise enter the debate on public issues? They should not be required to forego or deny their religious or other beliefs or motivations, but they should be counseled to be prudent. They will usually be most persuasive in political discourse by framing arguments and explaining the value of their positions in terms understandable to and subject to debate with those who do not share their beliefs. All sides should seek to contribute to the reasoned discussion and compromise that are essential in a pluralistic society.  Remarks at Claremont Graduate University Religious Freedom Conference, Part III, March 25, 2016.

Our friend Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught on this subject with a quote that seems as modern today as when he used it nearly 40 years ago. His talk, appropriately titled “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” included this quote:  “What the secularists are increasingly demanding, in their disingenuous way, is that religious people, when they act politically, act only on secularist grounds. They are trying to equate acting on religion with establishing religion. And—I repeat—the consequence of such logic is really to establish secularism.” Remarks at Claremont Graduate University Religious Freedom Conference, Part III, March 25, 2016 (citing M. J. Sobran, writing in the Human Life Review, quoted in Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” Brigham Young University 1978 Speeches, 2.)

Advocates who seek to banish religious arguments from the public square 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 participating on the issue by the assertion that private religious or moral positions were not an acceptable basis for public discourse or lawmaking?  Remarks at Claremont Graduate University Religious Freedom Conference, Part III, March 25, 2016.

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.

Be Wise