The LDS released a statement that may be in response to Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim comments.
A day after Presidential hopeful Donald Trump revealed his future plans of banning Muslims from entering the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement that reaffirms its commitment to religious freedom and pluralism.
The statement published through the Mormon’s official website cited the core ideals of the Church and reiterated the words of its founder Joseph Smith. The church stressed that it remains neutral in political and election matters but when it comes the idea of religious freedom, it is not neutral and follows what Joseph Smith believed in.
In 1843 Smith is quoted in saying that if he is willing to die for a Mormon, he is equally ready to die “in defending the rights of Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination.” Smith added that anything or anyone that would trample the rights of the Latter-day Saints will also trample the rights of Roman Catholics and members of other religions. Smith believes in civil and religious freedom for the entire human population.
The statement also contains a quote from an 1841 ordinance of the Nauvoo City Council in Illinois where the church is headquartered. The ordinance that shows government assurance of religious freedom reads: “Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans (Muslims), and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city…”
— Val Sederholm (@Neferwy) December 8, 2015
Religious Freedom has been the core belief and advocacy of the LDS church leaders. In an address delivered by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in Argentina, he reiterated the fact that the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom including its practice. Oaks also identified some of the current threats to religious freedom like secularization, legal and cultural changes, including extremism.
But the church leader emphasized that even in this modern and secular world, religion and religious freedom is still significant for every society. As Oaks states “I maintain that the teachings and free practice of religion are essential to a free and prosperous society… I submit that religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of religion in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms.”
The Elder also added that even atheists or nonbelievers should equally be concerned about religious freedom because according to Oaks it is “necessary for peace and stability in our pluralistic world.” It’s all about being assured that everyone’s “deepest concerns and values are respected and protected.”