MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
On Jan. 13-14, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) held its first regional conference in Mexico.
The keynote speakers for the opening session, which was held in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies (comparable to the U.S. House of Representatives), were Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Mariano Azuela Güitrón, retired chief justice of the Mexico Supreme Court. Both spoke on religious freedom.
Approximately 300 people attended, including members of Mexico’s eight JRCLS chapters, legislators from several parts of the country, and religious leaders. Minister Azuela observed that conferences like the one hosted by the JRCLS would not have been possible in Mexico in the not-too-distant past because of restrictions on religious freedom.
Elder Oaks emphasized the importance of understanding the constitutional rights related to religious freedom and how current issues affect religious freedom in Mexico.
“All Mexican citizens should be aware of these important [constitutional] rights and actively teach them to their children and their associates,” he said. “The ability to defend religious freedom presupposes a solid understanding of such rights.”
Elder Oaks also noted, “If citizens are only dimly aware of the rights afforded under the Mexican Constitution and laws, protecting religious freedom and other essential rights is difficult or impossible.”
Elder Oaks and Minister Azuela both discussed the many societal benefits that flow from religious teaching.
Elder Oaks observed: “Religious teachings, practices and organizations are important to a free society and are therefore deserving of special legal protection.”
He stated that studies have shown that “believers” give more to charity, live longer and are healthier, are more likely to be happy, commit less crime, and provide greater service to society.
Virginia Isaacson, the international chair of the JRCLS, also spoke. She indicated that Mexico, with its formation of seven new chapters in the last 13 months, has provided a significant part of the recent international growth of the JRCLS.