PROVO — The LDS Church has posted on its website a link to a significant speech about faith, family and religious freedom, three issues "that my brethren and I talk about a good deal as we look at the world around us in the initial years of the 21st century," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said.
Elder Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the speech Feb. 15 at the annual J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference in Washington, D.C. The speech was published in the fall issue of the Clark Memorandum, a BYU law school publication.
"Faith. Family. Freedom," he said. "Big issues with great complexities. Big issues inextricably linked with the hope and promise of democracy. Big issues that are intertwined, interlinked and interlocked so tightly that when one of them is struck, the other two are damaged; so that when one of them is cut, the other two will bleed."
Elder Holland quoted George Washington, John Adams and others about the importance of faith to the fabric of America to counter statements by others like Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago, whose book "Why Tolerate Religion?" argues religious liberty should not be singled out for special legal protection.
"Fortunately," Elder Holland said, "he does make a considerable case for 'liberty of conscience,' which for us is half a loaf — a very important half — but his argument does, in the end, undercut institutional protections that have been important in the past and may be even more important in the multicultural future of this country. It is encouraging that, at least at present, our First Amendment commits us to the more protective interpretation of religious freedom. We will see what future interpretations might bring."
In the section on family, Elder Holland quoted several contemporary thinkers and statistics and said that in an age when the family is disintegrating, "we should be declaring boldly that inherent in the very act of creation is, for both parents, a lifelong commitment to and responsibility for the child they created. No one can with impunity terminate that life, neglect that care, nor shirk that responsibility."
He added, "So rather than redefining marriage and family as we see increasing numbers around us trying to do, our age ought to be reinforcing and exalting that which has been the backbone of civilization since the dawn of it."
Elder Holland said democracy is based on "an assumption, a hope and a belief that free people will use their liberty to choose good over evil, right over wrong, virtue over vice," and that religious freedom is a foundation of that hope and belief.
The church's post about Elder Holland's talk comes on the heels of the publication of religious-freedom materials on the church's website. The materials include an array of information, talks and videos about the importance of religious freedom in the lives of individuals and in governments and societies.