Religious Freedom – Dallin H. Oaks

In a recent address to BYU-Idaho on October 13th, 2009, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a speech entitled “Religious Freedom” he discusses how freedom of religion is under attack. I am not going to post his entire speech here, but if you click on the title of the speech, you can read the entire thing. I am just going to highlight some of the points I feel are important to me.

The greatest infringements of religious freedom occur when the exercise of religion collides with other powerful forces in society. Among the most threatening collisions in the United States today are (1) the rising strength of those who seek to silence religious voices in public debates, and (2) perceived conflicts between religious freedom and the popular appeal of newly alleged civil rights.

Elder Oaks continues to give us “five points of counsel” on how we as Latter-Day Saints should address attacks on our religious freedom.
  1. “we must speak with love, always showing patience, understanding and compassion toward our adversaries.”
  2. “we must not be deterred or coerced into silence…”
  3. “we must insist on our freedom to preach the doctrines of our faith.”
  4. “have the right to express their religious views in public, we must nevertheless be wise in our political participation.”
  5. “Latter-Day Saints must be careful never to support or act upon the idea that a person must subscribe to some particular set of religious beliefs in order to quality for a public office”

In conclusion Elder Oaks states:

It was the Christian principles of human worth and dignity that made possible the formation of the United States Constitution over 200 years ago, and only those principles in the hearts of a majority of our diverse population can sustain that constitution today…

Religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of Christianity in the public square without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms. I maintain that this is a political fact, well qualified for argument in the public square by religious people whose freedom to believe and act must always be protected by what is properly called our “First Freedom,” the free exercise of religion.

Elder Oaks is supported by the Founding Fathers in his assertion that loosing the influence of Religion would seriously jeopardize our freedoms.

“Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seams to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”
George Washington – First Inaugural Address

“it is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of the Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extend to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”
James MadisonThe Federalist Papers, No. 37

For more quotes, see my post “Remain Virtuous and Morally Strong

Bottom line, don’t let anyone stop you from voicing your religious views. It is your right and your obligation to voice them.