The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the relationship between religious freedom and public morality. Freedom of religion is the first freedom listed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” The Founders of our nation and the Framers of the Constitution obviously had strong feelings about freedom of religion.
The encroachments on this freedom continues to increase and exert increasing pressures on the freedom to worship as one chooses. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the keynote speaker at a recent gathering of scholars and opinion formers at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, England. Here are some of his remarks.
I am particularly concerned that religious freedom and religious conscience are protected, and that public morality based on religious beliefs can be advocated in the public square….
We live in an age where significant portions of our moral heritage are not only not appreciated, but in many cases, misunderstood or even dismissed, almost with disdain. [I am concerned that] some of the protections contained in various constitutions which emanate from historical moral values have been eroded or undermined….
I am deeply concerned that faith, accountability to God, and the religious impulse are so often seen as antithetical to serious academic pursuits…. I believe some institutions have abandoned the basic moral high ground that gives meaning to this life and has guided civilizations for centuries….
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports the religious freedom of all faiths as well as those with no faith….
Those who feel accountable to God have a responsibility to live upright lives of service to God and our fellowmen, to obey the law, and to be good citizens, neighbors, and friends in all we do. As we do so, ordinary citizens and governmental officials alike will be more inclined to see the value of religion and to respect the basic principles that allow us to freely live it.
It is the responsibility of every American to support and sustain the U.S. Constitution, which includes all ratified amendments. Anyone who does not protect and preserve the right of all Americans to worship or not worship as they choose must understand that other freedoms are also under assault. We must protect all the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, or we stand in danger of losing all of them.