The following is adapted from a Sacrament Meeting talk given by the author, Amy Howell Oglesby:
My assigned topic today is the 12th Article of Faith: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”.
On the subject of religious freedom, Elder D. Todd Christofferson has said, “A robust religious freedom is the freedom to live one’s religion or belief in a legal, political, and social environment that is tolerant, respectful, and accommodating of diverse beliefs”.
I’m truly grateful for all of you who are mindful of those who are discriminated against, and mistreated at home, at work, or within the community. I have watched you take a stand to preserve and protect another’s rights. M. Russell Ballard encourages us to “spend our energy on things that make a difference”. You’re doing this! Furthermore, Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer tells us that, “true disciples desire to inspire the hearts of men, not just impress them”.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks professed, “there is a battle over the meaning of religious freedom. The contest is of eternal importance. And it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail”.
Do we not then, have a personal responsibility to learn from the past? In the 1930’s, the German government passed a series of laws that eventually led to the total denial of rights and freedoms of the Jewish population. This process culminated in the death of around 6 million Jews. As a young student learning about the Holocaust, I could never understand how a country, and the world at large, would ever let this happen. So why is it that discrimination, mistreatment, and even genocides are still happening today?
There is extreme danger in the attitude of supremacy, self-righteousness, power and control. For quite sometime, I’ve felt the calling to get civically involved, and just recently, I joined forces with Equality Utah. I’m truly honored and energized to be working with such an amazing organization. I have many good friends – and one in particular – who shared with me his painful experience of persecution in a neighborhood shop – not for being Jewish, but for being gay.
We cannot allow things like this to happen. We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have a moral obligation to spread light and love, and look for ways to alleviate suffering.
As our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson states, “May we show increased kindness toward one another, and may we ever be found doing the work of the Lord”.
In my pursuit of seeking universal truth, I wish to share one tenet of the Baha’i faith that states, “Humanity has passed through its stages of infancy and childhood, establishing unity at the level of the family, tribe, and nation. We are now passing through a turbulent adolescence and nearing a stage of maturity, when unity can be realized at the global level”.
Quoting M. Russell Ballard, “If we are truly the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times”. And who is our neighbor? I look to the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer this question. The time has come for all of us to embrace our commonality. We are one human family. Prejudice in all forms must end. Justice and equality are the foundations of peace.
I’m sincerely grateful for a loving Father in Heaven, who knows us by name, loves us unconditionally, and gave us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who lived and died for us, that we might live again. I love this gospel with all of my heart, and I’m truly grateful for family and friends who inspire, love, and support one another in this awesome adventure we call life.
-Amy Howell Oglesby