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Apostle Talks Religious Freedom to Boston Youth

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles addressed a group of young adults from Boston, Massachusetts, 10 June 2010. His comments touched on a wide range of topics but prominently featured religious freedom and the need to protect the family.

Excerpts from his remarks:

  • "Opposing forces are competing for our allegiance: right versus wrong, good versus evil. They are not always easily discerned."
  • "These forces are, in fact, conflicting religious systems of belief. They are theistic (godly) forces and atheistic (ungodly or satanic) forces. These were cited recently by Elder Clayton Christensen in an editorial calling for theistic balance on the U.S. supreme court."
  • "Theistic forces, be they Islamic, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Mormon, are based on the fact that there is an absolute right and wrong. Theistic forces inculcate an ethic to revere the righteous judgments of a loving God, and to obey civil and divine law voluntarily. Theistic forces instill a conscience to do what is right, and obey laws that otherwise might be unenforceable."
  • "Unfortunately, good culture alone is not strong enough to cause good culture to endure in perpetuity. Additional strength is needed from the power of theistic conviction. For this reason, a policy to separate completely church and state could become completely counterproductive. Theistic forces would be erased and atheistic forces would be allowed to flourish unopposed in the public square. The theistic and noble concept of "freedom of religion," could be twisted and turned to become an atheistic "freedom from religion." Such an unbalanced policy could sweep out theistic forces for societal success and leave the field wide open to atheistic ideology, secularism, suffering huge losses for all."
  • "Without the acknowledgment of God and God's law in one's life, momentary pleasures will be continually contaminated by gnawing guilt."
  • "Even the definition of marriage is now a topic of heated debate. That is only the tip of a larger iceberg. Below this tip is the weightier matter of free exercise of religion. Contention is raging over two main issues: (1) Can marriage survive as the bedrock of our cultural heritage? and (2) Can our precious freedom of religion be preserved?"
  • "If civil law were altered to recognize so-called "same-gender" marriage, you as believers in God, and keepers of His commandments, would then be regarded as exceptions to the rule. Your conscientious convictions would then be regarded as discriminatory. If you were a Christian school teacher, you could be charged with bigotry for upholding the Lord's law of chastity. In truth dear brothers and sisters, if you lose marriage, you also lose freedom of religion. Atheistic moral bedlam and religious repression go hand in hand. At stake is our ability to transmit to the next generation the life-giving and inseparable culture of marriage and the free exercise of religion."

Elder Nelson was an accomplished heart surgeon and medical researcher prior to his call to the apostleship. He is a widely published speaker and writer and listed in Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in Religion.

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