Elder Robert D. Hales: Preserve agency, protect religious freedom

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks at the Sunday afternoon session of general conference on April 5. (LDS.org)

See more of the The Universe’s coverage of the 185th Annual General Conference.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve opened the final session of the 185th Annual General Conference by calling on members to protect human agency and, in particular, religious freedom.

“We worship him, grateful for our freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and our God-given right of agency,” Hales said.

He continued by recounting the war in heaven and the fight for agency in this life, tying the necessity of religious freedom to the proper exercise of agency. “The faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom.”

Elder Hales identified and outlined four cornerstones of religious freedom, including freedom to believe, freedom to share beliefs with others, freedom to organize and worship peacefully and freedom to live one’s faith.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers,” Hales said. “We are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love.”

The freedom to believe was recently acknowledged by the United Nations as a universal human right, Elder Hales noted.

Elder Hales likened recent political and religious discord to a similar story in the Book of Mormon. The wicked Amlici worked to take away the rights of the people in his campaign to become king. The people gathered together, sharing their feelings and receiving strength from one another, and Amlici was not made king.

“Brothers and sisters, we are responsible to safeguard these sacred freedoms and rights for ourselves and our posterity,” Hales said.

He encouraged church members to “work side by side” with believers from other faiths to safeguard freedom of religion.

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