“Religion’s Role in Society: 5 Points to Ponder,” Liahona, April 2017
It’s no secret that religious liberty and the role of religion in today’s world are highly debated topics. As you seek for understanding, consider these points from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Religious freedom is at risk. Eighty-four percent of the world’s population identifies with a particular religion, yet 77 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religious freedom.
Religion advances civilization. Many of the most significant moral advances in Western civilization have been motivated by religious principles and persuaded to official adoption by pulpit preaching.
Religion protects democracy. Western societies are not held together primarily by the overall enforcement of laws, but most important by citizens who voluntarily obey the unenforceable because of their internal norms of correct behavior. For many, it is religious belief in right and wrong and an anticipated accountability to a higher power that produces such voluntary self-regulation.
Religion preserves freedom. Religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of Western nations that we cannot lose the influence of religion in our public life without seriously jeopardizing all our freedoms.
Religions owe responsibilities to their governments. Governments have an overriding interest in preserving the security of their national borders and defending the health and safety of their citizens. They obviously have the right to insist that all organizations, including religions, refrain from teaching hate and from actions that could result in violence or other criminal acts toward others.