Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

What Do Apostles Say about Religious Freedom during a Pandemic?

             The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that freedom of religion is essential even during pandemics. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke on religious liberty during the G-20 Interfaith Forum that originated from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is the third member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to speak at this annual meeting in three years. He participated as a member of a virtual panel discussion and did so from a studio in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.

My call is for respect, accommodation, and cooperation – for creative solutions that mitigate the threat of COVID-19 while not cutting people off from an essential part of their lives.

In many instances, the lack of such respect has backfired, creating suspicion toward government and the undermining of its legitimate efforts to control the pandemic.

            According to Elder Bednar, there are some government officials who failed to understand “how and why religion is fundamental to the lives of billions of people” as they made rules and acted to enforce them during the pandemic. Even though government officials should be applauded for their efforts to keep people safe during the pandemic, “religious activities should be carefully limited when truly necessary to keep people safe.”

No one has a right to spread a dangerous virus.

But that is not the end of the matter. How secular officials understand religion and religious people deeply influences how they treat religious institutions and believers in a time of crisis. The deeper and more respectful the understanding, the more legitimate and effective public policy responses can be….

Our faith is more than just important to our dignity as human beings. It is essential….

To deny such freedom is to deny something fundamental to a believer’s soul….

Misinformation is a major obstacle in a health crisis. Faith communities can debunk rumors, calm fears, and facilitate accurate information. Many will be fearful of vaccines. Religious leaders can be helpful in the fight against the coronavirus….

Religion plays a primary role in that comprehensive totality of healing.

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at the G20 Interfaith Forum held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2018. His message was that religious freedom does three essential things in a society: protects other fundamental rights, promotes civic virtue, and nurtures strong families. Therefore, everyone should be involved in protecting religious freedom because it is fundamental to the well-being of the society.

            Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke at the G20 Interfaith Forum held in Chiba, Japan, in 2019. He spoke about how empirical evidence dispels the myth that religion leads to violence. Instead, religion provides inspiration, discipline, transcendence, faith, hope, and goodwill. 

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