Work with Other Faiths

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
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.  “Hope for the Years Ahead,” Address given at the Utah Valley University Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom on April 16, 2014 (Part II). 

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 exer­cise our beliefs and to voice our con­sciences 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.

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. Leaders of different faiths and philosophies 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. This proposal that religious leaders 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.  “Challenges to Religious Freedom,” Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI).

All that is necessary for unity and a broad coalition to defend and promote religious freedom is a common belief that human beings are endowed with conscience, the critical faculty that guides our understanding of the standards of right and wrong in human behavior that we believe have been established by a Supreme Being. All who accept that fundamental should unite more effectively to preserve and strengthen the freedom to advocate and practice our religious beliefs, whatever they are.  “Challenges to Religious Freedom,” Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI).

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 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.”  “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)); see also “Challenges to Religious Freedom,” Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI).

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).

The enormous challenges facing religious freedom are beyond what can be achieved by any one government. As our good friend Pasquale Annicchino observes, “The key to making this move [to strengthen religious freedom] genuinely efficacious rather than merely symbolic will be multilateral and multi-sector collaboration.”  “Challenges to Religious Freedom,” Address at the Argentina Council for Foreign Relations (CARI) April 23, 2015 (Part VI) (citing Pasquale Annicchino, “Is the European Union Going Deep on Democracy and Religious Freedom?” The Review of Faith and International Affairs, July 13, 2014, 33, 38.)

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).

In addition, my challenge is that people of faith work together to improve the moral fabric of our respective nations and protect religious freedom.  Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015

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).

My plea today is that all religions join together to defend faith and religious freedom in a manner that protects people of diverse faith as well as those of no faith. We must not only protect our ability to profess our own religion but also protect the right of each religion to administer its own doctrines and laws. Lord John Acton in 1862 said it this way: “Where ecclesiastical authority is restricted, religious liberty is virtually denied. For religious liberty is not the negative right of being without any particular religion, just as self-government is not anarchy. It is the right of religious communities to the practice of their own duties, the enjoyment of their own constitution, and the protection of the law, which equally secures to all the possession of their own independence.”  Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015 (citing Lord John Acton, “The Protestant Theory of Persecution,” in Essays on Freedom and Power, ed. Gertrude Himmelfarb (1948), 90.)

Australian and United States citizens, Catholics and Latter-day Saints, must be part of a coalition of countries and faiths that succor, act as a sanctuary, and promulgate religious freedom across the world.  Notre Dame Sydney School of Law Religious Liberty Lecture, Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2015

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). 

I echo what my colleague Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently stated in a forum similar to this: It 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. . . . All that is necessary for unity and a broad coalition along the lines I am suggesting is a common belief that there is right and wrong in human behavior that has been established by a Supreme Being. All who believe in that fundamental [principle] 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.  “A Celebration of Religious Freedom,” Interfaith Address in São Paulo, Brazil, April 29, 2015 (citing Dallin H. Oaks, “Preserving Religious Freedom” (lecture at Chapman University School of Law, Orange, California, Feb. 4, 2011), mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-oaks-religious-freedom-Chapman-University.)

May we pursue peace by working together to preserve and protect the freedom of all people to hold and manifest a religion or belief of their choice, whether individually or in community with others, at home or abroad, in public or private, and in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.  “A Celebration of Religious Freedom,” Interfaith Address in São Paulo, Brazil, April 29, 2015


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)

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