News Release

In New York, Elder Christofferson Praises People of Faith for Their Leavening Influence

Apostle also honors a former New York Yankee and announces donations to local food pantries

In New York City, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at a charity event and emphasized the many contributions that religious individuals make to the communities in which they live.


Downloadable b-roll and SOTs for journalists

“Religious faith, freely exercised, promotes civic virtue and is vital to strong, flourishing communities,” said Elder Christofferson. “I am not for a moment suggesting that religion is the only source of virtue within society, or that secular people cannot be highly moral. My point is simply that very often religion does the hard work of inculcating the habits and mores necessary for free and democratic societies to flourish.”

The global faith leader shared his remarks as part of the New York Latter-day Saint Professional Association’s annual banquet program on February 27, 2020, at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. Read his complete transcript.

The association is a nonprofit organization sponsored by, but not limited to, Latter-day Saints and members of the Brigham Young University Management Society.

Each year, the charitable event presents a Visionary Leadership Award to a local member of the community who embodies moral and ethical qualities. The association also uses the banquet to raise funds to provide need-based scholarships for New York area youth.

This year, the alumni group nominated Mariano Rivera, a former New York Yankees baseball player and 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, as the recipient of its leadership award.

“It is what we do to others. It’s not what I did in baseball, it’s not what I did on the field,” said Rivera. “I believe that together we can change a lot of people’s lives.”

Elder Christofferson, who was invited to speak and support the association in honoring the celebrated Panamanian American, attributed Rivera’s humanitarian work to his deeply rooted faith in God.

“Recognizing what he has accomplished as a result of his faith and philanthropy, I decided that I should speak about the good that religion and people of faith do in society,” said Elder Christofferson.

In addition to his baseball legacy, Rivera is also known for establishing the Mariano Rivera Foundation. For almost 22 years, the charity has provided youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds in the U.S., Panama and several other countries with educational opportunities that focus on schooling, sports and spirituality. The organization has also funded churches and schools.

“My faith in Jesus Christ is everything. Without that, there is no Mariano,” said Rivera. “The Lord has given me the opportunity to gain this platform and share this gospel.”

Rivera went on to explain that, “We all can make a difference, you don’t have to have a lot to bless people.”

In his tribute to the retired major league baseball pitcher, Elder Christofferson underscored the five-time World Series champion’s altruistic nature.

“He has donated 10 percent of his baseball salary to the foundation, plus all of his substantial earnings from endorsement deals. The Giving Back Fund ranked him 25th on its list of most-generous celebrity donors,” said Elder Christofferson. “When you think of all the celebrities around, that is quite an achievement.”

Elder Christofferson explained, while highlighting religious individuals like Rivera who desire to serve their fellow man as a reflection of their love for God, “religious conscience encourages the virtues and habits of good citizenship necessary for a free society.”

The Latter-day Saint apostle then gave detailed examples of attributes faith-centered individuals develop as a result of their relationship with Deity including honesty, duty, moral self-discipline, sacrifice and country, compassion toward others and civic engagement.

Other prominent New York City interfaith leaders attended the Latter-day Saint affiliated event.

“At the end of the day, our goals are for a better community,” said Hanadi Dolehof The Interfaith Center of New York.

“The core of all [interfaith] teachings is that humanity comes first,” said Imam Tahir Kukiqi, a chaplain of the New York Police Department.

Rivera explained that if people of faith unite as one body, mind and mentality, they can gather their forces and help others in need.

Elder Christofferson Announces Donations to 200 New York Food Pantries

That same evening, Elder Christofferson announced that 600 tons of food will be delivered to 200 pantries across New York state to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision (his first encounter with Deity, a foundational event in Church history), which occurred in Palmyra, New York.

The faith leader said the food pantries that will receive the donations are sponsored by other faiths and churches, including African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Islam, Seventh Day Adventist, and the Riverside Church, which is interdenominational.

Elder Christofferson emphasized that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ humanitarian work is almost always accomplished in partnership with other religious and government entities.

“Religious institutions are at their best working with one another and in collaboration with secular and governmental organizations to relieve suffering and to act preventatively in strengthening families, communities, and society in general,” he said.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.