5. Why should religious views be part of public policy debates?
Everyone’s voice should be heard. Every policy choice is based upon a set of moral reasoning—an idea of right and wrong—whether those reasons are labeled as religious or secular. Interestingly, many secular arguments have religious roots, including the most basic assumptions about theft, deception, and violence. So the claim that “we shouldn’t legislate morality” doesn’t make a lot of sense. What people who make that claim are really saying is that they don’t want everyone’s assumptions about right and wrong to be part of the discussion. Rather, they just want the reasons that match their opinions. While we shouldn’t expect that beliefs based upon religious principles be automatically accepted or given preferential status, we should expect that they be examined on their merits. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “Everyone has a right to be heard—‘to compete’—in the marketplaces of ideas and in influencing governmental decisions. To silence one voice potentially leads to silencing all others. Religious voices are at least as deserving of being heard as any others. …
“… If you’re a person of faith, you have a critical contribution to make to our country and society. Public discussions about the common good are enriched by men and women like you who routinely put duty above convenience and conscience above personal advantage. And don’t be intimidated by those who claim that you are imposing your religious beliefs on others. In a pluralistic society, to promote one’s values for the good of society is not imposing them on others—it is putting them forward for consideration along with all others. Societies will choose and decide. Someone’s values prevail in the end, and all of us have the right—and duty—to argue for what we believe will best serve the need of the people and most benefit the common good. Without you, our political and social debates will lack the richness and insights needed to make wise decisions, and our nation and communities will suffer.
“… I want you to remember … that the religious voice is vitally important to our country—both to society and to wise government” (“Religious Freedom—A Cherished Heritage to Defend,” Freedom Festival Patriotic Service, June 26, 2016).