Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people. It allows us to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe. But around the world, and in Canada, this freedom is eroding. Churches, religious organizations and individuals face increasing restrictions as they participate in the public square, express their beliefs or serve in society. But there is much good that Church members and people of goodwill can do to preserve and strengthen religious freedom.
What Religious Freedom Means
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and the first among rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is the right to think, express and act upon what you deeply believe, according to the dictates of conscience.
Why We Need Religious Freedom
Religious freedom, or freedom of conscience, is critical to the health of a diverse society. It allows different faiths and beliefs to flourish. Religious freedom protects the rights of all groups and individuals, including the most vulnerable, whether religious or not.
Why Religious Freedom Matters to Mormons
Because of their teachings and history, Latter-day Saints have a special commitment to religious freedom. For nearly 200 years Mormon leaders have taught the importance of religious freedom for everyone: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
How Religion Is Vital to Society
Religion has a vital place in society. To exert its positive influence, religious organizations and people need physical, social and legal space to practice their religion. All lawful voices should be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced. Religion is not just private worship; it involves public expression on social and moral issues.
What Religious Freedom Requires of Us
Religious freedom is as much a duty as it is a right. Religious freedom and civility depend upon each other and form a mutual obligation founded on the inherent dignity of each person. Religious organizations and people are responsible to state their views reasonably and respectfully.
What We Can Do
- Learn about religious freedom — what it is, how it works and the issues that threaten it.
- Practice religious freedom — respect the religious beliefs of others and the beliefs and opinions of those with no religion. Be civil in your conversations and interactions, both face to face and on the Internet.
- Join with others to promote religious freedom — get involved in your community wherever you feel comfortable. Use the Internet and social media to help others learn about religious freedom.