With all the persecution faced by those around the world, it's not difficult to appreciate what religious freedom means.
However, the good religious freedom brings, what it does to protect human rights, is not always seen or even experienced by some.
In a recent Facebook post, Elder Christofferson shared why religious freedom is so important, and what the cost is of denying others this special freedom.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about religious freedom and its connection to the rule of law and indeed to all the rights and liberties we cherish. To be clear, by “religious freedom” I do not mean just freedom from persecution based on religious belief or practice. Such freedom is crucial, of course, but it’s hardly enough. Religious freedom, in short, “gives us all space to determine for ourselves what we think and believe—to follow the truth that God speaks to our hearts.”
Wherever we look in the world, we see that religious freedom not only protects religious people and institutions. It also acts as a catalyst in protecting the whole range of human rights. Freedom of speech, for instance, embraces the right to speak about God. But it also embraces the freedom to speak about one’s opinions and beliefs in matters of politics, art, literature, history, morality, or virtually any other topic.
Serious impediments to religious freedom will carry untold costs by denying religion the capacity to do good for everyone. That will only impoverish all of us. It was Mahatma Gandhi who wrote, “The golden rule of conduct, therefore, is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never all think alike and we shall see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision.” Mutual toleration and respect for diverse religious beliefs is the best way forward.