Elder Bednar Criticizes Blanket bans on religious gatherings and lack of trust in Religious Institutions

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not been shy in his criticism towards the way religions around the world have been treated due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. 


A couple of months ago, Elder Bednar in a livestream to the Religious Freedom Annual Review warned there is a danger in limiting a religious organization’s right to gather.

“Gathering, in short, is at the core of faith and religion. Indeed, if the faithful are not gathering, sooner or later they will begin to scatter. And because gathering lies at the very heart of religion, the right to gather lies at the very heart of religious freedom.”


On October 14th, Elder Bednar participated in the  G-20 Interfaith Forum originating from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and is the third apostle to speak at G-20 over the years. 


“My call is for respect, accommodation and cooperation — for creative solutions that mitigate the threat of COVID-19 while not cutting people off from an essential part of their lives,” said Elder Bednar, who remotely participated in a virtual panel discussion from a studio in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.


“In many instances, the lack of such respect has backfired, creating suspicion toward government and the undermining of its legitimate efforts to control the pandemic."



This can be seen in the blanket bans on religious gatherings that have been enforced throughout the country limiting people the availability and opportunity to worship at Church. Contrary to this enforcement, massive group gatherings have occurred throughout the country in the form of protests and riots, as well as recently the celebration of the LA Lakers winning the NBA Championship, and yet no government enforcement or action took place. 


Elder Bednar said religion is a defining core identity for billions who rely on faith for strength, consolation and hope. It also transmits moral and social truths.


“Our faith is more than just important to our dignity as human beings,” he said. “It is essential. How secular officials understand religion and religious people deeply influences how they treat religious institutions and believers in a time of crisis. The deeper and more respectful the understanding, the more legitimate and effective public policy responses can be.”


“To deny such freedom is to deny something fundamental to a believer’s soul."


Elder Bednar went on to discuss the importance of religious leaders being put in the conversation with government leaders on how to navigate through the pandemic. If religious leaders are placed in the know, they can relay those messages to their followers and those that look up to them in order to decrease any more misinformation of the pandemic. 


“Misinformation is a major obstacle in a health crisis. Faith communities can debunk rumors, calm fears, and facilitate accurate information,” Elder Bednar said. “Many will be fearful of vaccines. Religious leaders can be helpful in the fight against the coronavirus.”


What are your thoughts on Elder Bednar's words? What are your thoughts on having more and more religious leaders being invited in handling of government actions of the pandemic? Let us know in the comments!


To read more of Elder Bednar's words from the G-20 Interfaith forum, click here: