Religious freedom is a fundamental part of the United States Constitution and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also a fundamental tenet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church’s 11th article of faith states, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Agency, or freedom of choice, is an essential part of God’s plan for His children, and the freedom to worship how we choose is part of having agency.
Religious freedom encompasses not only the right for all to believe and worship privately as they choose, but also to gather in communities of faith, to teach their faith to their children, to practice their religion in public as well as in private, and to share their beliefs with others. Governments have the responsibility to protect these rights, so long as the basic rights of others to safety, health, and property are also protected.
Freedom of religion also includes the right to form churches, which have the ability to teach their own doctrines and standards and to regulate their own requirements for membership, ecclesiastical office, and employment. This freedom protects religious persons and organizations from persecution and discrimination in rights of citizenship, employment, and other basic services.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in protecting religious freedom for all people. Because of this belief and in connection with many public conversations concerning the topic, religious freedom has been an oft-discussed subject on campus. The following BYU devotionals and forums call on the expertise of prominent figures in law and government in the BYU faculty and Church leadership, as well as guests of the university who have emphasized the need for religious people and organizations to work together toward the goal of “fairness for all.” Together, these speakers explore the “why” and “how” of religious freedom, both from a practical, social perspective, and often from the perspective of LDS doctrine.