News Release

Church Leaders Encourage College Students to Proclaim Truth With Love

President Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Clark G. Gilbert speak at Ensign College

At an Ensign College devotional on Tuesday, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints outlined five ways students can proclaim truth with love.

The First Counselor in the First Presidency was joined by Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System (CES). The duo spoke from the Assembly Hall on Temple Square to hundreds of gathered students.

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    President Oaks encouraged students at the Church-owned school with the following five ways to proclaim truth with love:

    1. Avoid overly contentious settings.
    2. Love others and find common ground, even amid disagreements.
    3. Hold to truth even when reaching out in love to others.
    4. Be a light to the world.
    5. Stay anchored in Jesus Christ.

    “We should reach out positively to express our concern and love for those with whom we disagree,” President Oaks said. “We should seek to find common ground on which to stand with those who might otherwise consider us their enemies. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should remember the Savior’s teaching: ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’ (John 13:35).”

    “We can trust in the great promises of the Lord. If we are prepared we shall not fear,” President Oaks added. “The Lord has prepared a way for us to accomplish what He desires us and commands us to do.”

    “We hope each of you will carry the quiet strength of a disciple of Jesus Christ,” Elder Gilbert said. “You can look to the example of Jesus Christ of standing fast with love. Take the case of the Samaritan woman at the well or the calling of the publican as one of Christ’s disciples. He knew their shortcomings and their weaknesses. Importantly, they knew their shortcomings and their weaknesses. Nevertheless, He treated them with love while he taught them truth. Rather than condemning others, we should simply proclaim what we know and what we believe and invite others to follow the Savior. It is their opportunity to choose, not ours to compel.”

    President Oaks spoke briefly about the importance of the family, religion and the U.S. Constitution — three topics that reinforce and strengthen each other. He said the family is “a core institution of civil society.” Religion strengthens society generally and “stands as a firewall against the adversary’s onslaughts against many other key institutions or ideas in the world.” And the Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects the good that religion can do. “It’s vital to all of us to understand the importance of these protections and our democratic form of government,” President Oaks said.

    President Oaks and Elder Gilbert addressed two additional topics that require great love and concern in the modern world: race and LGBTQ issues.

    President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ is joined by Elder Clark G. Gilbert of the Seventy at a devotional for students of Ensign College in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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    Concerning race, President Oaks said Latter-day Saints must recognize the challenges of racism, condemn racial prejudice and strengthen victims of racism.

    “In condemning and working against racism, we encourage our students, our teachers, and all our members to avoid extreme or polarizing positions and teachings that undermine the U.S. Constitution and other core institutions,” President Oaks said. “[The Constitution’s] inspired principles, including the freedoms of speech and religion and its authorized amendments, have allowed subsequent generations to continue to improve and strengthen the rights of all of its citizens.”

    President Oaks taught that “a gospel-centered approach to combating racism empowers all parties to support, apply and teach the power and light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    President Oaks quoted recent comments from Rev. Amos C. Brown, a board member with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    Ensign College students listen to a devotional address from President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency and Elder Clark G. Gilbert of the Seventy in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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    In January 2022, Rev. Brown wrote of the importance of acknowledging the racial progress the Church is making. And in April, at the beginning of the Washington D.C. Temple open house, Rev. Brown pointed to Joseph Smith’s pro-abolitionist presidential platform that predated Abraham Lincoln’s.

    In a similar vein, Elder Gilbert mentioned how Nelson Mandela focused on reconciliation instead of revenge to bring an end to South African racial segregation. Elder Gilbert also spoke of the resilience of inner-city Latter-day Saint youth in Boston who were “determined not to let polarizing agendas separate them from the very Church that would present them with mentors, spiritual opportunities and the education they needed to succeed.”

    Elder Gilbert noted the diversity of the CES student body. For example:

    • More than 50% of Ensign College students have a multicultural background.
    • More than 60% of BYU–Hawaii students are from Asia and the Pacific.
    • BYU–Pathway Worldwide has served more than 10,000 students in Africa.

    “The Church Educational System is helping all of its students succeed in ways that embrace their different backgrounds, cultures and races,” Elder Gilbert said. “If any of you have faced attitudes of prejudice, know that you are part of a church that is striving to root out racism both within the Church and across society. You are part of a church that believes in you, will provide you opportunities to grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ and is committed to your education and future success.”

    LGBTQ Issues

    President Oaks spoke of the Church’s support of initiatives that support rights for LGBTQ individuals in housing and health care while preserving basic rights of conscience and freedom of religion.

    “In seeking common ground, we encourage fair treatment and respect for others, and we ask the same for ourselves,” President Oaks said.

    Such respect “does not mean we walk away from our beliefs and fundamental doctrine on the family and its importance to God’s ‘plan for the eternal destiny of His children’ as revealed in the Family Proclamation,” President Oaks said. “Please remember the responsibility we members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must declare the truth as God has revealed it. We are not free to pick and choose which truths we will preach and defend.”

    Elder Gilbert said LGBTQ issues require a measured approach rooted in the love and laws of God.

    “Individuals or groups who do not treat our LGBTQ members with empathy and charity are not aligned with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ,” Elder Gilbert said. “At the same time, ignoring God’s laws has never been the Savior’s pattern for showing love. Remember, Jesus asked us to love God first.”

    Elder Gilbert praised the commitment of those who do their best to live according to their covenants and respect the Ensign College honor code.

    “We recognize your commitment, and we appreciate your example. We welcome you [and] we want you to feel a sense of belonging as we work together to be true to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ,” he said.

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