5 times Church leaders have spoken on the importance of religious liberty

From BYU Law School in Provo, Utah, to the G20 Interfaith Forum hosted by Saudi Arabia, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spoken on the importance of religious liberty in a variety of places and settings.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was at the at the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit at the University of Norte Dame in Indiana where he noted that religious freedom wasn’t just for those who are of a particular faith.

“The Church supports the religious freedom of all faiths as well as those with no faith,” he said. 

He also hoped that “we can collectively elevate appreciation of faith in and accountability to God. It is my hope that both by what we teach and by our example we can help re-establish the profound significance of the music of faith.”

At the international G20 Interfaith Forum hosted by Saudi Arabia last fall, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic at it relates to religion.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, presented a joint keynote address at Brigham Young University Law School’s 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review that focused on the Prophet Joseph Smith and how he was an advocate and champion for religious freedom.

Here are quotes from these and other Church leaders who have spoke recently about religious freedom.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles virtually participates in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles virtually participates in the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference, held June 21-23, 2021, at the historic Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor, England. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

On the experience of those in refugee camps: 

“Let’s make sure we give [refugees] that opportunity to continue their hope, their expression, their love of God or their relationship with God in whatever way it is that they believe.” 

“We need to give to people the bonds that tie them together and that make them who they are, and music is going to be one of those.” 

— Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the 2021 AMAR Windsor Dialogue Conference June 21-23, 2021, that focused on mental and emotional health of millions in refugee camps and the support they need in expressing religious faith. 

Elder David A. Bednar  

Elder David A. Bednar speaks from a studio in the Church Office Building to participants at the G20 Interfaith Forum on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. The digital 2020 forum is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Elder David A. Bednar speaks from a studio in the Church Office Building to participants at the G20 Interfaith Forum on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. The digital 2020 forum is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“By recognizing religious freedom in a time of COVID-19 and by acknowledging the essential place of religion in people’s lives, governments and policy experts can win allies in a common struggle against not only health risks, but other serious risks as well. 

“Strong connections among family, deeply held religious beliefs, and a community of faith have long been associated with better mental, emotional and physical health. These critical connections are at risk when blanket bans are issued against religious gatherings. 

“My call is for respect, accommodation and cooperation — for creative solutions that mitigate the threat of COVID-19 while not cutting people off from an essential part of their lives. In many instances, the lack of such respect has backfired, creating suspicion toward government and the undermining of its legitimate efforts to control the pandemic.” 

— Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the G20 Interfaith Forum, an international assembly of religious leaders and political representatives, on Oct. 14, 2020.

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, andCardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, share a laugh during the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Monday, June 28, 2021.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, andCardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, share a laugh during the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Monday, June 28, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“My plea today is that all religions work together to defend faith and religious freedom in a manner that protects people of diverse faith as well as those of no faith. 

“Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Latter-day Saints and other faiths must be part of a coalition of faiths that succor, act as a sanctuary and promulgate religious freedom across the world. We must not only protect our ability to profess our own religion, but also protect the right of each religion to administer its own doctrines and laws.” 

— Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit on June 28, 2021. 

Elder Dale G. Renlund  

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, speak during the BYU 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, speak during the BYU 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Credit: Screenshot, Youtube

“Time after time, when Joseph Smith called on government officials to enforce enumerated constitutional rights for him and his fellow Saints, he was turned away.  

“His interest in religious freedom was not theoretical; it was a repeatedly lived experience. 

“He had been directed by Heaven to restore the Church of Christ. Without the rights to freely exercise their religion, to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress, Church members were prevented from physically gathering and establishing roots in a geographical location of their choosing due to repeated forced evacuations.” 

— Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, during a joint keynote address with his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, at the Brigham Young University Law School’s 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review on June 15, 2021.  

“Joseph’s assassination demonstrated the point of his campaign — that democratic rights for people to practice their religion had been completely ignored, and it cost him his life. 

“Underlying Joseph’s thinking on democracy in the United States was his firmly held belief that constitutional rights, freedom of religion and universal freedom should be available to all, including those in minority groups. His very approach to democracy is one that is still being debated and examined today.” 

— Sister Ruth L. Renlund during a joint keynote address with Elder Dale G. Renlund at the Brigham Young University Law School’s 2021 Religious Freedom Annual Review on June 15, 2021.  

Elder Ulisses Soares 

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasizes a point as he tapes his Oct. 28, 2020, keynote address for the annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasizes a point as he tapes his Oct. 28, 2020, keynote address for the annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“These rights speak for themselves but cannot defend themselves. That is our task. We believe our rights come from God, but the care of those rights is up to us. This divine origin is important, because if rights become simply what the majority of people want, then they are nothing more than a power play or mere opinion. But time, wisdom and practice show that they are grounded much more deeply.” 

— Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during opening keynote address for the 2020 Annual DFW Summit on Religious Freedom, Oct. 28-30, 2020.