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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Religion in the Public Square

Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman spoke at Brigham Young University on Tuesday 25 October 2011 about the necessity of religion in the public square.  He also spoke of Governor Romney and Mormonism.  Senator Lieberman made telling remarks concerning those who try to alienate religious freedom from the public square.  Said he, "Anybody who tries to separate faith from America's public square is doing something unnatural and ultimately bad for our country" ("A test of fairness", Deseret News, Wednesday 26 October 2011, A6).

Indeed it is foolish for those who are non-believers to say religion should stay out of the public square.  Well did Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then of the Quorum of Seventy but later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, prophesy of the rise of the irreligious sentiment when he said,

Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. . . . In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values.  In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments. . . . But there is occurring a discounting of religiously-based opinions.  There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations. ("Meeting the Challenges of Today", 10 October 1978, p. 2).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of the need for religious freedom's defense as well as religion's place in the public square and political debate.  Said he,  

We are fortunate to have such a guarantee [of religious freedom] in the United States, but many nations do not.  The importance of that guarantee in the United States should make us ever diligent to defend it. . . . The extent and nature of religious devotion in this nation is changing.  The tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding, and this probably portends public pressures for laws that will impinge on religious freedom. . . . Such forces — atheists and others — would intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation. . . . We should never be reticent to declare and act upon the sure foundations of our faith.  The call of conscience — whether religious or otherwise — requires no secular justification. ("Religious Freedom", speech given at BYU-Idaho, 13 October 2009).

I know that God has established the Constitution of the United States of America to protect the rights of all people.  In addition to the establishment of the Constitution, He also established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - and no other religion whatsoever.  The Church of Jesus Christ - and all Americans - have a mandate, as stated in the Constitution, to ensure all people receive God's gifts of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".  Religion must have a place in the public square - along with all other reasons why one maintains the political beliefs he does - in order for the United States to function correctly.  I know this is true.  I know what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches regarding the Constitution is true.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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