Elder Dallin H. Oaks encourages students to protect religious freedom

October 13, 2009

Writer: Writer: Colby Flint

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged students to stand up for religious freedom during Tuesday's devotional at Brigham Young University-Idaho.


Elder Oaks told students that religious freedom, as outlined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, is and will continue to be under attack. "The contest is of eternal importance," he said, "and it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail."


Elder Oaks began his address by describing the inspired origin of the Constitution and then explained the need to protect it. He said religious freedom has always been at risk, and the risk will remain.


"The greatest infringements of religious freedom occur when the exercise of religion collides with other powerful forces in society," Elder Oaks said. "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 then outlined five steps to protect religious freedom: always speak with love, don't be deterred or coerced into silence by intimidation, insist on the freedom to preach doctrines of the LDS faith, be wise in political participation, and never advocate that religious tests are necessary to qualify a candidate for a public office.


In conclusion, Elder Oaks reiterated the importance of standing up for religious freedom at all costs.


"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," he said. "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."