Norman Vincent Peale Award Winner Speaks of Defending Religious Freedom

Contributed By By Janet Peterson, Church News contributor

  • 3 June 2014

From left, Dr. David Leaming, Blanton-Peale president emeritus and CEO; Dr. Yoon Soo Park; Denise Richardson; and Ahmad S. Corbitt. Brother Corbitt received the 2014 Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking in New York City on May 21, 2013.  Photo by Janet Peterson.

Article Highlights

  • Brother Corbitt spoke to 180 people representing many faiths and varied backgrounds and quoted Joseph Smith.
  • The Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking is given annually to three individuals who think positively with faith.
  • Brother Corbitt spoke about the importance of having and defending religious freedom.

NEW YORK CITY

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have,” once said Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and quoted by Ahmad S. Corbitt, director of the Church’s New York Office of Public and International Affairs.

Brother Corbitt received the 2014 Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking, named in honor of the minister and preacher, prolific author, and television and radio host. In remarks given at the awards dinner held at the prestigious Yale Club in Manhattan on May 21, Brother Corbitt proposed that the threat to religious freedom is an obstacle that has become increasingly larger and stronger.

He referred to a statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which warns, “Our most cherished freedom [of religious liberty] is under threat” and also to the warning of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, recipient of the 2014 Canterbury Medal, that “the loss of the fundamental right of religious freedom necessarily jeopardizes all other basic rights in a democracy.”

Brother Corbitt then mentioned President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt: “Freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.” “The solution and indeed the opportunity,” said Brother Corbitt “is unity in our common cause” of defending and promoting religious freedom.

He again quoted from Rabbi Sacks’s vigorous speech on religious freedom given May 15 in New York City: “You have to be willing to stand alongside other faiths [even] when your own liberties are under attack.”

The growing obstacle or threat to religious freedom can be met by people of faith, by people of good faith, and by people who have no faith uniting to preserve religious freedom throughout the world.

“We live in a time and a place where Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and so many others of our brothers and sisters—each within their own designations—can unite to preserve the freedom we each need to thrive and survive,” said Brother Corbitt. “As we work together toward our common values of religious freedom, whether we are religious or not, liberty will increase and be more secure for all.”

From left, Dr. David Leaming, Blanton-Peale president emeritus and CEO; Dr. Yoon Soo Park; Denise Richardson; and Ahmad S. Corbitt. Brother Corbitt received the 2014 Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking in New York City on May 21, 2013. Photo by Janet Peterson.

Speaking to an audience of 180 people representing many faiths and varied backgrounds, Brother Corbitt quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith, very much a defender of religious freedom: “The same principle that would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination. … If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing 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 Presbyterian, a Baptist or a good many of any other denomination. … It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.”

The Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking is given annually to three individuals “whose lives clearly and inspirationally exemplify the power of thinking positively, with faith, deep caring for people, and dedicated commitment to improving the world.”

Previous awardees have included President Ronald Reagan, the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., James Earl Jones, the Very Rev. James Parks Morton, and General Colin Powell.

Brother Corbitt was nominated for this year’s award by Dr. Dale T. Irvin, president of the New York Theological Seminary and was introduced as “my friend and brother” by Rabbi Noam Marans, director of the American Jewish Committee in New York. Also honored were Dr. Yoon Soo Park, a retired physicist, educator, and a leader of the Korean Methodist Church of Greater Washington, and Denise Richardson, a television personality, fundraiser, and community volunteer.