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Religious Leaders Consider Vital Need for Religious Freedom

Religious, political and academic leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., Thursday to discuss the importance of protecting religious freedom at the American Religious Freedom Program conference.

Among those attending were Southern Baptist leader Richard Land; Baltimore Archbishop William Lori; executive director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Nathan J. Diament; chancellor of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, The Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield; the former governor of Utah and former Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt; and a member of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), Elder L. Whitney Clayton.

Attendees of the 2012 National Religious Freedom Conference, titled “Rising Threats to American Religious Freedom,” participated in five sessions on the following topics:

  • Shredding the Fabric of Freedom and Peaceful Pluralism?
  • Unprecedented Threats to American Religious Freedom and Rights of Conscience
  • Uniting to Preserve Robust Freedoms
  • Legislative Action to Constrain Overreaching Officials
  • Defending the 200-Year Tradition of Religious Diversity and Freedom for U.S. Soldiers and Veterans.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton spoke during one of the five sessions sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program. His remarks emphasized the need for preserving religious freedom and the importance of civility in our public discourse.

He said that the Church deeply appreciates and honors religious freedom as protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, Elder Clayton said that religious freedom is the first and most fundamental of the rights extended to us as citizens. Consequently, the Church is committed to helping protect this inalienable right.

Acknowledging the ongoing discussion and political discourse surrounding this foundational freedom, Elder Clayton reminded the audience of the importance of civility, stating that “civility ought to be the hallmark in the way we deal with one another.”

Earlier this year, the Church published a six-part series on religious freedom. Read each one:

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