Getting It Right (Blog Feature)
Beliefs & Practices — September 10, 2014
This “Getting It Right” includes an article in Forbes about lessons leaders can learn from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a commentary from Religion News Service that doesn’t do justice to the Church’s extensive interfaith outreach efforts.
Forbes: The Secret Behind the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Success
How does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do what it does with an all-volunteer ensemble? Rodger Dean Duncan of Forbes provides several reasons, one of which illustrates the ethos of commitment and volunteerism common in the lives of Mormons.
“The Tabernacle Choir’s cause is simply to give voice to the hopes, joys, trials, and triumphs of people around the world,” Duncan says. “Yes, they are unflinchingly devoted to their Christian faith. But their primary purpose is to uplift and encourage, not to proselyte.”
“The Mormons call it consecration,” he continues. “But by whatever term, the fervor with which they embrace their mission produces remarkable results. The Choir includes academics, executives, homemakers, scientists, engineers, and people who work in sales, law, health care and several other disciplines. But whatever their ‘day jobs’ may be, they invest hundreds of hours per year in rehearsals, recordings, and broadcast performances. Tours, which can be grueling for even the most seasoned traveler, are done while they’re on vacation from their paying jobs.”
A commentary from the Religion News Service’s Jana Riess gives the impression that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has only a brief history of partnering with other faiths in common causes for good.
Last week, the Church joined four other faiths to file a “friend-of-the-court” brief with the Supreme Court of the United States. The brief urges the Court to hear Utah’s same-sex marriage case (Kitchen, et al. v. Herbert, et al.).
Riess says that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and these other faiths are “strange, strange bedfellows” that “have not exactly been historical friends.”
True, there have been and always will be differences between religions based on their doctrines and practices, and the way those differences are discussed can be challenging and dividing. Most people understand that. But love for one’s neighbor is at the core of Christian doctrine.
Furthermore, the Church’s commitment to strengthen interfaith relationships is not a novelty, but a divinely required longstanding reality. One of the Church’s Articles of Faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
The reality is that the Church has been working with other faiths for many, many years on a variety of issues. For nearly three decades the Church has partnered with Catholics and other faiths to provide humanitarian aid worldwide.
And after Cardinal Francis George visited Church headquarters and spoke at Brigham Young University in 2010, Bishop John Wester of the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese said, “This is not the beginning, but the continuation of a something that’s already begun — a very fine relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church.”
A few examples of partnering with other faiths include Elder L. Tom Perry’s warm working relationship with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville; interfaith Easter concerts in the Bay Area with the help of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; hosting evangelical leaders such as Dr. Richard Land, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Dr. George O. Wood and Dr. Ravi Zacharias; and hosting six Muslim leaders earlier this year.
In addition to these high-level examples are hundreds, even thousands, of examples of local Mormon congregations partnering with these very faiths in serving in their communities.
Rather than dredging up the past with regard to faith relations, the Church looks forward to continuing and strengthening relationships with our good friends of other faiths. These strong associations in common causes for good seek to bless lives and ensure religious freedom for all.
See the Mormon Newsroom Interfaith Relations page for a longer (though certainly not exhaustive) list of the Church’s interfaith efforts.