Commissioner of international religious freedom praises family home evenings

Dr. Daniel Mark addressed BYU students at Varsity theater about the importance of defending religious freedom ethic and religious freedom. (Tracie Cayford Cudworth)
Dr. Daniel Mark addressed BYU students at the Varsity theater about the importance of defending family ethic and religious freedom. He promoted the institution of family home evening.
(Tracie Cayford Cudworth)

Dr. Daniel Mark, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania addressed BYU students on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 to talk about “what politics can learn from the family.” Mark serves on the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Mark began his discussion by stating the importance of applying family principles to the nation’s politics. He explained the trait of mercy is one essential principle to be practiced and obtained to be part of a family.

“Those who stand on their rights are fit for membership in a political community, and they are entitled to justice, but they are not fit for membership in a family,” Mark said.

He explained polity and family must be different. He also said the political model of justice is a recipe for disaster in family life.

“Family relationships are not healthy if they are based first and foremost on who owes what to whom,” Mark said.

Mark said political life can be improved by applying the family ethic and religious freedom. Mark, an Orthodox Jew, said the nation promotes respect within a society of different beliefs through family home evening.

“Religious freedom is secure when it is seen as right, but, nowadays, when it is seen less and less as a right, it can only be secure in a society that respects religious difference,” Mark said.

He explained that both the Jewish and LDS community not only promote religious freedom but take importance of protecting it. He also said it is religious freedom that allows citizens to be more helpful to a society.

“Your task is first, to build strong families that sustain our republic by producing responsible citizens and by serving as models for the rest of society and, second, to carry the family ethic out into the world,” Mark said.

When a student asked Mark what he thought of the Family Proclamation, Mark said he thinks it is a fantastic document.

“I think it strikes an excellent combination of reminding the church of the importance of cultivating these values in the  family and the need to create a political system and culture that nurtures and supports those,” Mark said. “I think the church is a good example to us in the world of how to engage your neighbor and how to engage the society.”

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