Religious freedom preserved through understanding other beliefs, says BYUH community

Written by: 
Gosuke Kawano

BYU-Hawaii Religion Professor Keith Lane and three BYUH students said they think religious freedom is crucial in their lives because it enables them to practice their beliefs. They also said individuals can help preserve this human right in spite of social and political turbulence by learning about and respecting other religions and people.

Lane said, “Clearly Latter-day Saints should be concerned about preserving religious liberty, not just for themselves but for others. The freedom and ability to worship God, to live in accordance with one’s beliefs, to be able to exercise agency and live a life under the framework of a religious world-view, not only as individuals but also in communal, public life—all of these are threatened with the weakening of religious liberty.”

BYUH student Benjamin Coffey, a junior majoring in psychology from New Zealand, said he thinks religion freedom is “fundamental for me because I feel like my religion is a big part of who I am. So if I felt censored or threatened for expressing that, it could be withholding a huge part of myself.”

Coffey said he has been posting things about his beliefs and other topics he finds important on Facebook from time to time in an effort to preserve this freedom. “I think if we are being respectful and just simply sharing perspectives and looking for healthy ways of discussion online or in person, we would be able to get a lot of understanding of not only ourselves but also others as well,” he said.

Rodger Jin, a sophomore studying biology education from South Korea, said he thinks preserving religious freedom is important because “there are many types of religions around the world right now.” Religious differences don’t matter to Jin, who said he has a close friend who is Catholic.

Jin said getting familiar with other religions is one of the things Latter-day Saints should do to gain an understanding and appreciation of the value of religious freedom.

Noreen Pinpin, a sophomore biomedical science major from the Philippines, said, “It’s not only for our religion, but also others as well because religious freedom enables us to speak what we believe.

“You have to understand and respect others’ beliefs. If you have to stand up for yourselves, you should speak up for yourselves through the guidance of the Holy Ghost.”

At the February 2017 Graduation Commencement, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his talk, We all lose when an atmosphere of anger or hostility or contention prevails. We all lose when we cannot debate public policies without resorting to epithets, boycotts, firings, and other intimidation of our adversaries. We need to promote the virtue of civility.

In an article by Gordon B. Hinckley in the December 1995 Ensign, he wrote, “Be respectful of the opinions and feelings of other people. Recognize their virtues; don’t look for their faults. Look for their strengths and their virtues, and you will find strength and virtues which will be helpful in your own life.”

Elder Oaks said at the September 2016 Religion Freedom Conference in Dallas, Texas, “We maintain that all citizens should be supportive of religious freedom because religion is uniquely valuable to society. Persons of faith therefore maintain that religious freedom is not just a concern of religious persons. Nonbelievers have a strong interest in religious freedom because it is a strong force for peace and stability in our pluralistic world.”

In a statement about religious freedom on lds.org, it says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns, however, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Last Edited: 
Saturday, August 19, 2017