The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that religious freedom brings diversity into the social and political picture and brings growth in various other areas. While the world was facing down North Korea and the United States endured yet another eruption of violence, a religious leader received a World Peace Prize in India.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson was honored for his “relentless mission of love, compassion and sacrifice” (World Peace University President Vishwanath Karad). This great honor was bestowed not only upon Elder Christofferson but upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The world today, with all its problems, it needs you, the church you represent and your work. It needs you more than ever” (Michael Nobel, a great-grandnephew of the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize).
Elder Robert Kumar William, an LDS Area Seventy from Bangalore, India, said: “Elder Christofferson has personally visited and worked with church members and government, civic and religious leaders in 80 nations” since he became a general authority of the Church in 1993.
One of the reasons for the prize is that the Church gives so much in humanitarian aid throughout the world, $1.89 billion since 1985. Nobel gave the following explanation for the prize. The prize includes approximately $8,000, which Elder Christofferson will donate to a school for the disabled in India.
Why would they deserve (the prize)? … The members of the church have shown us that it’s possible to translate into worldwide action something that lies deep in the hearts of many of us, compassion for others. … The Mormon church and its organizations richly deserve this commission for its outstanding humanitarian accomplishments.
Elder Christofferson focused on the good that is done by religion and urged world leaders to recognize this good and support religious freedom.
Failing to appreciate the good religion does society or the nation as a whole and to accommodate religion whenever possible results in social conflict….
Government officials and policy makers, like yourselves, who seek to establish lasting peace and prosperity for people of all faiths should understand why and how….
True religion offers a stable foundation for a just and healthy society. It strengthens and ennobles nations, communities and individuals. It is my hope that we will all recognize and appreciate the great good religion does and work together – as people of diverse faiths or no faith at all – to build more peaceful nations and ultimately a more peaceful world.
Elder Christofferson obviously deserves the title “champion of religious freedom” as stated by one presenter. He promoted religious freedom on Friday in Cambridge, England, and echoed his remarks on Saturday when he said, “Recognizing and protecting faith is the path to peace” and added that it also can lead to prosperity.
Countries with strong traditions of religious freedom tend to be not only more stable and safe, but more prosperous. A recent study reached the remarkable conclusion that the presence of religious freedom in a country is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth….
This honor could not have come to a nicer, more pleasant, or humble man than Elder Christofferson. I appreciate the numerous times that I have had the opportunity to converse with him and his wife Kathy. I am pleased with his title of “champion of religious freedom.”