People from all over the world mark a special day during the year wherein they celebrate a national day of commemoration. They honor the establishment of rights, privileges and protection afforded citizens of every belief that safeguard the opportunity to live according to the dictates of their faith. Religious freedom is at the heart of these most basic and fundamental rights.
On the Fourth of July, the United States’ holiday, people enjoy parades, fireworks, picnics, flying the flag and relaxing on a day off from work. And while the holiday is all-American, the expressions of love of country are not exclusive to the United States.
One of the articles of faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) is “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.”
The freedom to practice religious convictions and rites is very much a part of the Church, regardless of where Latter-day Saints gather in the world. Another closely held belief is “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
MormonNewsroom.org recently published a six-part series on religious freedom. The series examined what religious freedom means, why religious freedom is necessary, why religious freedom matters to Mormons, religion’s vital place in society and what is required of every citizen to keep religious freedom healthy.
The introduction says that “religious freedom is the human right to think, act upon and express what one deeply believes, according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience. The breadth of religious freedom and its relationship with freedom of conscience helps explain why religious freedom is important for everyone, not just for people of faith.”
Church founder Joseph Smith stated very simply this same principle: “All men are created equal, and … all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience.”
He further explained in 1843: “The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing before Heaven to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbytarian [sic], a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination.”
Read the series on Religious Freedom.