Elder Christofferson Speaks to Latino Journalists on Protecting Free Speech

“Safety does not come from stifling speech, but from giving it a chance to breathe,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a group of about 300 Latin American journalists participating in the 73rd Annual Assembly of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) in Salt Lake City.


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“We applaud the efforts of IAPA to defend and promote freedom of press and expression throughout the Americas,” said Elder Christofferson in his remarks to the media gathered Saturday night, October 28, 2017, at the Conference Center Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. “So many of the blessings of life and the prosperity of society rest on these freedoms.”

Elder Christofferson delivered the speech in Spanish (see the Spanish and English transcripts), a language he first learned as a 19-year-old Mormon missionary serving in Argentina. “There is a special place in my heart for the people of Mexico and Central and South America.” He later lived in Mexico City with his family while directing Church operations in Mexico.

“Not everything that comes from our pens or our mouths will be useful, but when freedom is discouraged nothing good will come out of them either. To get the sublime, sometimes we have to put up with a little of the ridiculous,” expressed Elder Christofferson.

The Mormon apostle said the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Chapultepec “provide a common framework by which we can construct fair and open societies.”

Elder Christofferson told the journalists, “Your privilege and calling as a journalist is to facilitate discussion and debate between people who have different beliefs, races, nationalities and political opinions.”

The senior Church leader spoke briefly about religious freedom, which he and other apostles have addressed in public forums over the past few years. He said that it “acts as a catalyst” in protecting other human rights.

Elder Christofferson said “voices of faith” such as Martin Luther King Jr., a pastor who advocated for racial and civil justice, can “elevate public discussions.” Other leaders he mentioned included William Wilberforce, who applied Christian ethics to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain; Abraham Lincoln, who used the Bible to heal a divided United States; and Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to independence by employing nonviolent civil disobedience.

“We honor your efforts to give voice to the voiceless, to shine light on the difficulties of our world, and to bestow dignity on the human experience,” he concluded. “May God bless you and protect you as you go forward as ambassadors of freedom and human rights.”

The Inter American Press Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes the interests of newspapers, broadcasters and digital media throughout the Americas.

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