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Elder Oaks honored for contributions to the cause of religious freedom

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 6:30 p.m. MST

Elder Dallin H. Oaks will receive the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's Canterbury Medal for his lifelong contributions to advancing religious freedom.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be honored by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty for “his lifelong contributions to advancing religious freedom.”

Elder Oaks will receive the organization’s Canterbury Medal, given each year to someone “who has resolutely and publicly refused to render to Caesar that which is God’s,” according to the organization's website. It will be presented in May during the Becket Fund’s 18th annual Canterbury Medal Dinner at New York City’s Pierre Hotel.

“We’re privileged to add Elder Oaks to the distinguished list of Canterbury Medalists, each of whom has given a lifetime to defending our religious liberty,” said William P. Mumma, president of the Becket Fund. “He is an eloquent advocate for the principle that American society is stronger for a diverse and robust presence of faith in our public square.”

Past Canterbury Medalists include Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, former U.S. Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs James R. Nicholson and Gov. and Mrs. Mitt Romney.

In making the announcement, Mumma referred to both Elder Oaks’ current service as an LDS apostle as well as his prior service as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, president of Brigham Young University, law professor at the University of Chicago and attorney. Throughout his life, Mumma noted, Elder Oaks has continued to be “a highly respected public speaker, addressing topics of law, policy and culture throughout the country.”

Of particular note, Mumma said, was a speech that Elder Oaks gave last year at the Chapman University School of Law on the topic of preserving religious freedom.

“I submit,” Elder Oaks said at the time, “that religious values and political realities are so inter-linked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of religion in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty identifies itself as “a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths.”

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