“Going Forward with Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination” by President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency

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I feel privileged to be in this honored place. I love this country, which I believe was established with the blessings of God. I love its Constitution, whose principles I believe were divinely inspired.[1] I am, therefore, distressed at the way we are handling the national issues that divide us. We have always had to work through serious political conflicts, but today too many approach that task as if their preferred outcome must entirely prevail over all others, even in our pluralistic society. We need to work for a better way — a way to resolve differences without compromising core values. We need to live together in peace and mutual respect, within our defined constitutional rights.

As a religious person who has served in government at both federal and state levels and now as a leader in the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have always known of the tensions experienced when persons who rely on the free exercise of religion are conflicted between duties to God and duties to country. More recently, I have come to understand better the distress of persons who feel that others are invoking constitutional rights like free exercise of religion and freedom of speech to deny or challenge their own core beliefs and their access to basic constitutional rights. I deeply regret that these two groups have been drawn into conflict with one another.