The Church issued a statement this morning reaffirming their commitment to fairness regarding LGBT issues, specifically “in areas like housing, employment, and appropriate public accommodations.” The Church has been a leader in forging public compromises on this and other hot button issues. We fight for moral agency and equality while remaining uncompromising in doctrine and not shifting the core teachings of eternal families and chastity.

Our fundamental understanding of the Plan of Salvation teaches us that moral agency is something that we fought for in the pre-mortal life and is something we continue to battle for on a daily basis. We also understand that the family unit is eternal – should we make and keep covenants. Strengthening the family helps to maximize joy in this life and creates a stable society in which we can build safe communities and allow for anyone to have the opportunity to experience prosperity. Proclaiming the foundational doctrine of agency while unapologetically teaching the truth of the traditional family is not a mutually exclusive proposition.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson has long advocated for our religious liberties.

Whenever the Church issues a statement regarding public policy, the world invariably tells the Lord’s servants to keep their opinions to themselves. Even more distressing is seeing faithful members of the Church express the same talking points that are being lobbed from the Great and Spacious Building. “Separation of Church and State!” is the rallying cry for Satan’s troops and some under the covenant repeat the false and tired tropes.

I can’t help myself and I almost always engage with the following questions:

  • Where in the Constitution are the words “Separation of Church and State?”
  • What does the “free exercise” of religion mean to you?

Oftentimes, even members will state that the Church has no right to express an opinion on public policy because they’re tax-exempt. Under that line of thinking anyone who doesn’t pay taxes loses their freedom of speech, right? What is the free exercise of religion if one can’t publicly express their opinions? Why is it okay for other non-profit organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, to not only express their opinions but donate to political campaigns while remaining tax-exempt and receiving a government subsidy?

A private organization has every right to “discriminate” to hire employees that meet their standards, to admit students that agree to uphold the institution’s norms and to regulate their activities according to the dictates of their own conscience. Protection of private property was of absolute importance to the Founding Fathers, and no property was more valued than that of conscience. Protection of Religious Freedom is of utmost consequence – it is the bedrock of our society, our Constitutional freedoms, and our communities and families.

As members of the Church, we need to recognize the battle that is going on. Do our political views inform our religious beliefs and the dictates of our conscience, or the other way around? Do we understand the consequences of ceding our religious freedoms? Rather than murmuring when the Church makes a public statement, shouldn’t we celebrate the fact that we have the freedom to make such statements? If we’re afraid of the Church publicly declaring our fundamental beliefs publicly, what does that mean about our boldness in our private affairs?

We can fight for the moral agency of others while maintaining our liberty to declare the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Murmuring only undermines the efforts of those who are actually bridging the divide.

Supplemental Reading:

Church Expresses Support for ‘Fairness for All’ Approach” – Official Statement, May 13, 2019

Religious Freedom

Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom” – Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2015

You can follow Dustin on Twitter @dmturner1232.

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