The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that freedom of religion is necessary in order to have peace. One must be free to worship according to one’s conscience and to share one’s beliefs without persecution, or one is not truly free.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at an interfaith “Celebration of Religious Freedom” in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 29, 2015. In his talk he recognizes that Brazil is “a nation rich with diverse culture and people. By embracing its diversity, including its religious diversity, Brazil has prospered and will continue to prosper.” Elder Christofferson congratulates Brazil as being “recently recognized by the Pew Research Center as the country with the lowest government restrictions on religion.” Elder Christofferson continues his remarks with these paragraphs.
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….
A robust freedom is not merely what political philosophers have referred to as the “negative” freedom to be left alone, however important that may be. Rather, it is a much richer “positive” freedom – the freedom to live one’s religion or belief in a legal, political, and social environment that is tolerant, respectful, and accommodating of diverse beliefs.
We use our freedom of religion and belief to establish our core convictions, without which all other human rights would be meaningless. How can we claim the freedom of speech without being able to say what we truly believe? How can we claim the freedom of assembly unless we can gather with others who share our ideals? How can we enjoy freedom of the press unless we can publicly print or post who we really are?
When and where there is freedom of religion, all people are blessed. The freedom to worship as one chooses allows people to choose not to worship at all. Thus, this freedom protects everyone – Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or agnostic. When this kind of tolerance and respect is present, there is peace.