Talking about religious freedom can get tricky because for some people it’s taken on a negative connotation. “I suspect that for some of you the phrase ‘religious freedom’ feels more like ‘freedom to discriminate,’” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in an address to students at Brigham Young University. He added: “Some of you might struggle with an understanding of religion’s role in society, politics, and civic issues. Some in your age group wonder why religious groups are involved in politics in the first place, and they are often skeptical of the motives of religious people when they do so. In recent years the collective voice of groups who feel that religion should not play a role in political deliberation has grown louder.”
We all hear that voice growing louder in society, and it can seem pretty convincing in a world where we want everyone to be able to do their own thing. We just need to be careful of a growing danger, as taught by Elder Rasband:
“Our society has become so blinded by its quest to redress wrongful discrimination against one class of people that it is now in danger of creating another victimized class: people of faith, like you and me.”
“Already some religious schools are being questioned because they require students and faculty to adhere to an honor code that requires fidelity and chastity. CEOs of large companies have been marginalized or forced to resign because their personal religious views are no longer politically acceptable. And some businesses have been forced to close because their owners have spoken their conscience.”
So, how can two opposing views come together in a meaningful way that protects everyone? Elder Rasband gave this insight:
“We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. When the rights of one group collide against the rights of another, we must follow the principle of being as fair and sensitive to as many people as possible. The Church believes in and teaches ‘fairness for all.’”
Read more from Elder Rasband on how to protect and talk about “fairness for all,” including examples of why it matters for both a gay individual and a conservative Christian in the workplace.
Learn about the basics of religious freedom and why it’s essential for society, individuals, and religious organizations.
See what prophets and apostles have taught about religious freedom.
These FAQs may help you know how to answer tough questions in difficult conversations.