Religious Freedom and Society


In his April 2022 General Conference address titled “To Heal the World“, Elder Ronald A. Rasband states “Religious freedom allows each of us to decide for ourselves what we believe, how we live and act according to our faith, and what God expects of us.” Religious freedom allows for a variety of views to be expressed in our society.

Articles of Faith Number 11

We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privelege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Articles of Faith 1:11

The quote above affirms two things:

  1. Our right to worship God as we see fit
  2. Allowing others the same right

This is key to harmony between the different faiths around the world. While we may disagree on the “how, where, or what” we worship, allowing others to follow their own conscience means we can get a diversity of opinions. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that we have the fullness of God’s plan. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good things found in every religion.

The “Bad” Side of Religion

I’m getting this out of the way because I know that there are people who will go here. Yes, there have been times when religion has been used to commit atrocities. There have been times when people have been forced to practice a religion. And yes, there have been horrible things done “in the name of God”. However, this “bad” side of religion is not the norm and should not lead us down a path of restricting the free practice of religion in our society.

The Positives of Religion

Religion has two positives that we need to acknowledge:

  1. A personal code of conduct that leads one to a fulfilling life
  2. A group code of conduct that helps others to have a fulfilling life

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a code to guide us in our daily lives. These commandments given by God help us to exercise all aspects of our lives from physical to mental to spiritual. They guide our behavior and our interactions with mankind who we see as brothers and sisters. I believe that each religion strives to help the individual live his/her best life. At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I led a life that was rewarding and fulfilling.

The group code of conduct varies by religion, but in essence allows for members of a religion to help others in their communities and the world. In my church we have the opportunity to make donations called Fast Offerings that allow the church to help those locally and elsewhere meet challenges when times are tough. We are taught to serve everywhere we can.

We have also been taught to help our neighbors. As a church we don’t just watch out for each other. We look to be there for everyone. We don’t care if you don’t believe the same as we do, look the same as we do, sound the same as we do, or think the same as we do. This means that we strive to get to know our neighbors and participate with them in neighborhood activities.

Many churches have humanitarian arms that mobilize when trouble strikes an area of the world. These groups provide comfort and necessities to people. Often this aid comes before the local governments can organize help. Recently my church and others have started to work together more closely to meet the needs of those who are suffering.

How Does Having Multiple Religions Benefit the World?

Some people feel that having so many religions in the world is detrimental. However, different religions bring different viewpoints. They teach differences that help people in different ways. I know personally that I have had to think of things differently when hearing the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t share my same set of beliefs. It has opened my mind up to possibilities I wouldn’t have considered. This is not to say that I doubt my faith. Quite the opposite. I see it as an opportunity to broaden my knowledge and strengthen my relationship with God and His Church.

People are drawn to different things and having a multitude of religions allows for people to find God and draw closer to Him in ways that they feel comfortable. Even though I have a testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s one true church on the earth doesn’t mean people can’t find comfort in other religions. It takes commitment and dedication to be a fervent member of any religion and sometimes people feel that a different religion is one they can commit to. I love hearing stories from others about why they are committed to their religion and how it helps them feel closer to God. I also love to share what I have witnessed and experienced that has led me to my membership in this church.

Conclusion

Religious freedom allows us to “worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience”. Religion brings a personal and group code of conduct that allows each of us to be better citizens and to help others. Having a multitude of religions in the world helps more people draw closer to God and His truth. Every one of us should stand up for religious freedom that allows us to practice our religion without fear of reprisal or discrimination.


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