Elder Dallin Oaks calls for unity in protecting religious liberty

Religious freedom is a Constitutional right that must be protected, LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks says

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke today to law professors and students at Chapman University on the topic of religious freedom, a right he views as a foundational element of the Constitution and of a free society. (See LDS Newsroom story and speech transcript.)

The four main points of his address included the following (in his own words):

1. Religious teachings and religious organizations are valuable and important to our free society and therefore deserving of their special legal protection.

2. Religious freedom undergirds the origin and existence of this country [the United States] and is the dominating civil liberty.

3. The guarantee of free exercise of religion is weakening in its effects and in public esteem.

4. This weakening is attributable to the ascendancy of moral relativism.

Elder Oaks called for a united effort among religious people to protect the right to hold, practice, and express religious views without being forced into silence by threats or intimidation. Elder Oaks said:

We must never see the day when the public square is not open to religious ideas and religious persons….There should be room for all good-faith views in the public square, be they secular, religious, or a mixture of the two.

This is not the first time Elder Oaks has spoken on these topics. In October of 2009, he spoke to students at BYU-Idaho about protecting religious liberty. In February 2010, Elder Oaks spoke to Harvard Law and Divinity School students. He addressed the problem of the marginalization of religious belief in our culture as he explained tenets of the Mormon faith. In September of 2010, as part of the Utah Constitution Day Celebration, Elder Oaks gave a speech on protecting the Constitution (read the full text of his speech, “Fundamentals of Our Constitutions”).

Elder Oaks’ professional background is in law. Before becoming a member of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1984, Elder Oaks served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court. He also taught in the law schools at the University of Chicago Law School at at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, and clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court.

For more from Elder Oaks, see the link about a brief interview held before his speech.

For more on the topic of religious freedom, see the following:

  • Read selected statements from LDS Church leaders about the topic of religious freedom here.

This post was edited slightly from the original.