“Religious Freedom means to me that you can worship a yellow dog if you so desire.”
So begins a newly released 4-minute YouTube video from the Mormon Newsroom on the topic of (take a wild guess) religious freedom. The video is actually a highlights reel from a longer “mini-documentary” that you can view here.
Freedom of Religion
It’s a topic we’ve discussed ad nauseam on TWiM, and it does seem to be the message du jour among both our church leadership as well as the conservative Christian community at large. And while we have nuanced and even mixed feelings about the timing of this new energy behind the cause of religious liberty, there is no question that the concept of freedom to worship “according to the dictates of our own conscience” is as core to our belief as a faith community, as it is integrated into the DNA of our faith itself.
Watch the Video
What we love about this new video is that the idea that religious freedom requires that we do so much more than defend our faith, but also to defend and respect the expression of faith from any other individual or group in our society. The key is respect. And service. As we become more involved in the cause of religious freedom, we become more in tune to the needs and rights of others. That is the beauty of it in principle. In practice, the tug and pull of rights and liberty is as messy as it is important. We’ve recently been told as much by an Apostle of the Lord. This video serves as a gentle and inspiring reminder that in the meantime, we honor our own freedom of religion by respecting the religious freedom of others as well.
At the end of the 8-minute video there is a featured quote from the prophet Joseph Smith regarding his thoughts on the principle of religious liberty and rights to worship. To that we add another excerpt of that same quote, which you can also find in its entirety in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual for Relief Society and Priesthood.
“When we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be free, possessing unalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws of nature and of self-preservation, to think and act and say as they please, while they maintain a due respect to the rights and privileges of all other creatures, infringing upon none. This doctrine I do most heartily subscribe to and practice.”
And we do “heartily” agree.