First Presidency statement: ‘We urge all people to remember the precious and fragile nature of freedom and peace’

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemned violence and lawless behavior — including the “recent violence in Washington, D.C. and any suggestion of further violence” — in a statement issued Friday, Jan. 15.

“While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics, we remind our members — whatever their individual political views — to be united in our commitment to the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His teachings,” they wrote in the statement. “As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God’s children with respect, dignity and love. No political or other affiliation should supersede that covenant and sacred responsibility.”

In the statement they emphasized that the principles of government that allow God’s children to maintain human dignity and freedom belong to all mankind (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:5).

“We urge all people to remember the precious and fragile nature of freedom and peace,” they wrote. “As citizens of the United States look ahead to the Inauguration of a new President, we urge our members to honor democratic institutions and processes, and to obey, honor and sustain the law (see Articles of Faith 1:12).”

The statement in many ways epitomized President Nelson’s ministry. In the last three years, the leader of almost 17 million Latter-day Saints worldwide has traveled extensively, changed Church organization, utilized technology, issued historic invitations and built bridges of understanding.

Speaking on July 21, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan — a city known for its steeped history in the civil rights movement — President Nelson issued a call to action to members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can,” he said. “This world will never be the same.”

Simply stated, he said of the Church and its leaders, “we strive to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation.”

A year later, after racial tensions and riots erupted in the United States, President Nelson and senior leaders of the NAACP published a joint op-ed column on the online platform Medium. They asked “people everywhere to join us in a journey of understanding and overcoming.”

“We invite all to pray to God that the people of this land will heed the Divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children,” wrote the leaders. “We also invite people of goodwill everywhere to look for ways to reach out and serve someone of a different background or race. Everyone can do something.”

President Russell M. Nelson, center, shakes hands with general authorities after the Sunday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Following President Nelson is President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.
President Russell M. Nelson, center, shakes hands with general authorities after the Sunday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Following President Nelson is President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

As president of the Church, President Nelson has also traveled to 35 countries, meeting with the leaders of religious, government, civic and charity groups.

In March 2019, President Nelson met Pope Francis in Vatican City, becoming the first Church President to have a formal audience with the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He invited the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to join him in Rome — a symbol of the unity he champions within the Church.

President Nelson has also supported unity in other countries.

Following the tragic shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in early 2019, President Nelson stood with Dr. Mustafa Farouk, the president of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand, in Auckland and announced a $100,000 donation to help rebuild the mosques damaged in the attacks.

“We are brothers,” President Nelson said. Dr. Farouk added: “We are all united. We are all one.”

Later, on the same trip, President Nelson met with New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern in Wellington and thanked her for the courage she showed as a world leader in the aftermath of the shootings. 

Official statement

Following is the full statement issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Friday, Jan. 15:

“Principles of government that allow God’s children to maintain human dignity and freedom belong to all mankind (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:5).

“With great concern we observe the political and cultural divisions in the United States and around the world. We condemn violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington, D.C. and any suggestion of further violence. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics, we remind our members — whatever their individual political views — to be united in our commitment to the Savior, Jesus Christ and His teachings. As His followers, we should treat one another and all of God’s children with respect, dignity and love. No political or other affiliation should supersede that covenant and sacred responsibility.

“We urge all people to remember the precious and fragile nature of freedom and peace. As citizens of the United States look ahead to the Inauguration of a new President, we urge our members to honor democratic institutions and processes, and to obey, honor and sustain the law (see Articles of Faith 1:12).”