Respecting Differences While Defending Religious Freedom

The Church released a new series of videos on how to navigate conversations on sensitive social and religious topics, such as defending religious freedom, with others.

Elder Von G. Keetch of the Seventy presented the first video during a devotional at Brigham Young University-Idaho on June 14, 2016. He spoke about being an example of the believers and also quoted Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve:

Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made…We must stand up for truth, even while we practice tolerance and respect for beliefs and ideas different from our own and for the people who hold them. This inspired caution reminds us that for persons who believe in absolute truth, tolerance for behavior is like a two-sided coin. Tolerance or respect is on one side of the coin, but truth is always on the other.

In the video, Samantha, a Latter-day Saint, and Miki, a college classmate, get in a heated debate over the Church’s view on gay marriage. Despite the early argument, they both learn to understand each other’s views and ask questions civilly.

Elder Keetch points out five lessons we can learn from the dialogue between Samantha and Miki:

  1. Engage others with love, respect and understanding, never abandoning our religious truths.
  2. Avoid “large group free-for-alls” and engage people one-on-one.
  3. Respect your interlocutors and seek understanding.
  4. Stand up for the basic civil rights of others.
  5. Recognize that mutual understanding will take time.
Elder Christofferson religious freedom
Elder Christofferson speaks on religious freedom. (via

On Sunday, June 26, 2016, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke at the Freedom Festival Patriotic Service in Provo, Utah, on religious freedom and said, “We live in challenging times. Religious freedom is indeed under fire. And things may get worse before they get better. But these are our times. This is our moment to defend our fundamental freedoms.”

Church leaders hope everyone understands their teachings on emphasizing “fairness for all” when teaching about religious freedom. Everyone’s rights should be considered and treated equally.

The Church will be releasing two more videos in this series, which can be used in classroom settings to teach youth and young adults.

Sugene loves to write, play and watch all sports, and spend time with family and friends. She graduated at BYU with a communications degree and is expecting a little girl in July.