With Attention on Proposed Equality Act, Read Past Quotes from Church Leaders

Contributed By Alexa Reimschussel, Church News staff writer

  • 14 May 2019

The Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City.

“Care must be exercised to assure that government remains truly neutral in matters of religion, not only in lip-service and constitutional guarantees, but also in impartial application of the law.” —President Russell M. Nelson

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is calling for a more balanced “fairness for all” approach in response to the proposed Equality Act legislation (see Church’s May 13 statement on Newsroom.)

According to the statement, the current proposed act “is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all.” Additionally, the Church has asked members of Congress to “pass legislation that vigorously protects religious freedom while also protecting basic civil rights for LGBT persons.”

The following are statements about religious freedom from Church leaders in recent years:

President Russell M. Nelson

“One’s religion is not imposed by others. It is not predetermined. It is a very personal and sacred choice, nestled at the very core of human dignity.

“Therefore, care must be exercised to assure that government remains truly neutral in matters of religion, not only in lip-service and constitutional guarantees, but also in impartial application of the law. Individuals and institutions are naturally inclined to seek preference over others, but the state must not yield to those inclinations. To discriminate in favor of one religion, using non-religious labels such as ‘culture’ or ‘history,’ is to discriminate against others. If the state allows dominance of any one religious institution over another, discrimination results, allowing unequal treatment and regrettable restriction of other religious societies.”

Elder Russell M. Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the International Scientific and Practical Conference, Mar. 16, 2005

President Dallin H. Oaks

“The fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation is only possible under the free exercise of religion guaranteed in our God-inspired Constitution. Thus, for us, the free exercise of religion is not just a basic and cherished principle of our Constitution. It is essential to God’s plan of salvation. ...

“We maintain that all citizens should be supportive of religious freedom because religion is uniquely valuable to society. Persons of faith therefore maintain that religious freedom is not just a concern of religious persons.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the Regional Religious Freedom Conference held in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area, Sept. 10, 2016

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“The core landscape of history has been sketched by the pen and brush and words of those who invoke a Divine Creator’s involvement in our lives and who count on the ligatures of religion to bind up our wounds and help us hold things together.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from BYU Education Week keynote address, Aug. 16, 2016

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on May 13, 2019, expressing opposition to the Equality Act currently before Congress.

Elder David A. Bednar

“There is a paradox in religious freedom—if I want my religious freedom to be protected, then I must protect the religious freedom of those who believe in a basically different way from my own. This is our task. And it will be our ongoing challenge. Religious freedom is more than a right; it is a duty.”

Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from an interfaith meeting in Brazil, March 2018

Elder Quentin L. Cook

“My plea today is that all religions join together to defend faith and religious freedom in a manner that protects people of diverse faith as well as those of no faith. We must not only protect our ability to profess our own religion, but also protect the right of each religion to administer its own doctrines and laws.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the Religious Liberty and the Law Symposium, Nov. 3, 2017

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“I am convinced that those who question the value or even the legitimacy of religious freedom do not understand that it is woven into the very soul of America....

“Religious participation in public life is not only part of American history and a constitutionally protected freedom; it’s also good for our nation.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the Freedom Festival Patriotic Service, BYU Marriott Center, June 26, 2016

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

“We have faith that you will turn to the Savior to understand how to live a Christ-like life while also showing fairness and love to others who do not share your beliefs. We know you want to be a part of something meaningful, and we know that you are resilient and collaborative...

“Our laws and legislation play an important teaching role in shaping our social and moral culture. We need every individual in society to take an active role in engaging in civic dialogue that helps frame laws and legislation that are fair for everyone.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, from a BYU devotional address, Sept. 15, 2015

Elder Dale G. Renlund

“Religious freedom is a marker for other freedoms in society that temper the natural impulses that are counter to a prosperous, thriving, and progressing society.”

Elder Dale G. Renlund, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from an international religious freedom symposium in Costa Rica, June 9, 2017