Latter-day Saints and their Plea for Religious Freedom

On June 17th, Elder David A. Bednar spoke on a livestream for the Religious Freedom Annual Review, hosted by the Brigham Young University Law School. A big portion of what he talked about was the importance of religious freedom.

Elder Bednar 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.”


This topic came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the governments all around the world, particularly the United States, restricting gatherings and religious meetinghouses being able to function. Elder Bednar stated that health and safety is very importance, but also as well is the spiritual health of individuals.




“I believe it is vital for us to recognize that the sweeping governmental restrictions that were placed on religious gatherings at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis truly were extraordinary,” Elder Bednar explained. “No other event in our lifetime—and perhaps no other event since the founding of this nation—has caused quite this kind of widespread disruption of religious gatherings and worship.” 


Religious freedom is not a new discussion or fight that Latter-day Saints have had. On July 4th, 1838, Sidney Rigdon made his famous "July 4th Oration" that declared religious independence against persecution. This speech unfortunately caused the sad events of the Hauns Mill Massacre and others, but the speech is something that all members of all faiths should be fighting for in these current times:


"We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. For from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.—Remember it then all MEN.We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs.No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall atone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty, to vilify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place."


What are your thoughts on our current times and religious freedom? Let us know in the comments!