Baptist minister Richard D. Land addressed BYU faculty, staff and students on Friday to inspire them to promote the values of their faith in politics and society in the beginning lecture of the Faith, Family, and Society lecture series.
Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints struggle to make religion and politics coincide. While the values of the world change, members of the Church often don’t know how to adapt or react. They may, at times, feel alone in their values, but Land expressed that this is not the case.
Land, current president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, shared his views about faith, family, religious freedom and America. Brent Top, dean of Religious Education, introduced Land as highly qualified to instruct on these issues. “Dr. Land is truly an example of what each BYU student and faculty member seeks to be — a disciple scholar,” Top said.
Land has been a minister in the U.S. for most of his life and has always felt the need to strengthen American values. “When God called me to preach 50 years ago when I was 16, the burden he laid on my heart was America,” Land said.
One of the issues Land said is especially important to America is current opposition to the traditional family unit in the U.S. “I would argue that there is not one social ill that faces us as a nation that is not a direct result of the disintegration of the nuclear family,” Land said. This idea mirrors those found throughout the Latter-day Saint statement “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Land invited Christians everywhere to be true to the values and commitments of their faith, even in the political process .
Land often referred the audience to words of the founding fathers in an attempt to inspire them to be active politics. “What our forefathers attempted to do was to weld together Judeo-Christian principles with enlightenment ideas of self-government,” Land said, referring to the examples of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. He said government reflects the values of the people, whether good or bad, and that it is still the case today.
Land shared contrasts between the country the founding fathers envisioned and its current state. “Unfortunately, we now live in a country where there are many people, not a majority … who are hostile to religious belief.” Land said the founding fathers always intended for Judeo-Christian beliefs to be part of the United States government.
While doctrinal differences may exist between Baptists and Latter-day Saints, the core values of both are the same, as evidenced in Land’s address. “When I hear the word LDS the first thing I think of is family,” Land said.
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