Faith Viewpoint 23 August 2018

Religious Freedom

There are many political, social and legal pressures today that seek to undermine religious freedom. For the prisoners of conscience worldwide, faith leaders and others continue to raise their voices in protest.

One of the desires of the early Latter-day Saints was simply to be allowed to live their religion in peace. But wherever they moved, peace eluded them. In 1833, mobs forced the Saints out of their homes in Missouri, and later, Joseph Smith too, in Ohio. He said: “The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample on our rights would trample on the rights of Roman Catholics or of any other denomination who may be unpopular or too weak to defend themselves.”

He further stated: “We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to Him and to Him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”

~ Mike Humphreys, Interfaith Chair