A wonderful friend from junior high years made me aware of the following talk by Elder Ronald Rasband:
Please take the time to read his remarks; they present clearly what I have been stumbling over.
I will take the liberty to quote several passages, but will try to be clear in distinguishing his clear message from my rambling thoughts.
“Because you are a sophisticated and intelligent audience, I intend to speak to you with the candor your generation craves. I suspect that for some of you the phrase religious freedom feels more like freedom to discriminate. I want to talk to you about this view and help you understand what the Church means when it talks religious freedom and why it is so vitally important for your future and for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
We must deeply value that he is speaking to us as if we are capable of rational thought, and take seriously the responsibility to actually step up to that expectation. Yesterday we may have been able to plead naïve innocence; but to ensure the security of the gospel tomorrow, we no longer have that luxury today.
We’ve talked about knowing who we stand with and taking the time to understand what we agree on, and what we disagree on.
We’ve talked about using caution in not being caught up in the mob mentality and trying to defend something in the name of God that has no heavenly origin or endorsement.
And we’ve talked about whittling away all the confusion and gray areas to make a clear choice between light and darkness.
Now, we step forward.
Quoting Elder Rasband:
“The Church favors a balanced approach that secures the rights of all people….Utah ha(s) passed a law that protected the LGBT community against eviction, housing discrimination or being fired from a job because of sexual orientation and at the same time protected religious people in the workplace and the public square….No doctrinal or religious principles were sacrificed. No changes were made to God’s moral law and our belief that sexual relations should only occur within marriage between a man and a woman. The outcome was fair to all and reflects the consistency and moral teachings and respect for others.”
We have come to understand the critical need of each member of the Church doing his or her part both in their respective callings and also following inspiration for the organization as a whole to function as it does. One calling isn’t more important than another, they are just different. The nursery leader has the ability to change lives just as does the stake president.
Every voice, every belief, and every choice has the ability to change lives.
Today’s individual choices will determine what we can choose collectively tomorrow.
Elder Rasband suggests three tools to have in our belt as we negotiate the challenging times we live in regarding religious freedom:
“The prophet Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe that all men are created equal and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience.” He went on to say, ‘If I have been willing to die for a Mormon I am just as willing to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.”
It begins with conversations. But it is not enough just to talk. We need to engage honestly and sincerely and find real solutions. Not solutions that “someone else” should do; rather, doable solutions that work in your particular classroom, or workplace, or home, or volunteer shelter.
Solutions that actually help to solve the problem where you are.
Waiting for a grand battle on a national scale will simply be too late. Let’s put real names and faces with these issues and find a way, today, to extend fairness to everyone, including people of faith.
When we treat others in fairness and respect, we have every right to expect the same in return.
For us to win collectively, we must stand up now and choose individually.
I guess the bottom line for me is: are we choosing wisely now so that we will still have the freedom to choose later?