LDS Church’s chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

LDS Church’s chief lawyer says not all religious freedoms should be defended the same

PROVO — The top lawyer for the LDS Church proposed Thursday that people of faith should prioritize the defense of an innermost core of religious freedoms.

They also have to be willing to compromise on freedoms outside that core, said Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an emeritus General Authority Seventy.

“Please understand that in labeling some freedoms part of the ‘core’ of religious liberty, I am not suggesting that freedoms outside that core are unimportant or not worth defending,”Elder Wickman said.

“What I am suggesting is that if we want to preserve religious freedom and live in peace in a society that is increasingly intolerant of faith, then we will have to be very clear about what matters most and make wise compromises in areas that matter less. Because if we don’t, we risk losing essential rights that we simply cannot live without.”

Elder Wickman suggested a hierarchy of religious freedoms to an overflow audience of more than 300 in the BYU Conference Center during the university’s third annual Religious Freedom Annual Review. The two-day conference drew experts in law and religion issues to provide an up-to-the-minute review of important developments in religious freedom law.

Speakers shared demographic and political trends that describe a decline in religiosity and support for religious institutions. “Religious liberty in America is in a troubled state,” said Thomas Berg, a law and public policy professor at the University of St. Thomas.

Core freedoms

Elder Wickman assigned various religious freedoms to concentric circles.

The innermost core are basically non-negotiable, he said, and include personal belief and family worship and teaching, the free exercise of religion in public, including missionary work, and autonomy for churches in their internal affairs, such as establishing church doctrine, selecting leadership and determining membership.

Read more at Deseret News

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