Elder Dallin H. Oaks Champions Religious Freedom in Mexico

Contributed By Kevin Kimball, Church News contributor

  • 20 January 2017

Elder Dallin H. Oaks greets participants at a J. Reuben Clark Law Society regional conference in Mexico City January 13. Elder Oaks spoke about the importance of Mexicans understanding and protecting their religious liberties.  Photo courtesy of the Mexico Area.

“All Mexican citizens should be aware of these important [constitutional] rights and actively teach them to their children and their associates.” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Elder Dallin H. Oaks encourages Mexican citizens to better understand their constitutional rights related to religious freedom and how current issues affect religious freedom in Mexico.

During his keynote address for a J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) regional conference in Mexico January 13–14, Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “All Mexican citizens should be aware of these important [constitutional] rights and actively teach them to their children and their associates. The ability to defend religious freedom presupposes a solid understanding of such rights.”

Elder Oaks also noted, “If citizens are only dimly aware of the rights afforded under the Mexican Constitution and laws, protecting religious freedom and other essential rights is difficult or impossible.”

The other keynote speaker for the opening session of the JRCLS first regional conference in Mexico, held in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies (comparable to the U.S. House of Representatives), was Mariano Azuela Güitrón, retired chief justice of the Mexico Supreme Court. He also spoke on religious freedom.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks January 13 at the first J. Reuben Clark Legal Society regional conference in Mexico City. Photo courtesy of the Mexico Area.

Approximately 300 people attended, including members of Mexico’s eight JRCLS chapters, legislators from several parts of the country, and religious leaders. Minister Azuela observed that conferences like the one hosted by the JRCLS would not have been possible in Mexico in the not-too-distant past because of restrictions on religious freedom.

Elder Oaks and Minister Azuela both discussed the many societal benefits that flow from religious teaching.

“Religious teachings, practices, and organizations are important to a free society and are therefore deserving of special legal protection,” Elder Oaks said.

He stated that studies have shown that “believers” give more to charity, live longer and are healthier, are more likely to be happy, commit less crime, and provide greater service to society.

Virginia Isaacson, the international chair of the JRCLS, also spoke. She indicated that Mexico, with its formation of seven new chapters in the last 13 months, has provided a significant part of the recent international growth of the JRCLS.