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Hillsdale College
Court rulings and executive regulations tend to be much more one-sided, sweeping and prescriptive — winner-take-all — and thus should have as little as possible to do with the delicate diversity of 320 million souls' deepest beliefs. —Sen. Mike Lee

In a speech at Hillsdale College Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, highlighted America's tradition of religious liberty and tolerance, and encouraged listeners to lead the movement to protect those traditions by pushing to advance the religious liberty debate in the legislative branches of government.

"If the coming conversation about religious freedom is left to the judicial and executive branches of our government, all Americans — whether they know it or not — will lost that debate before it even begins," Lee said. "Court rulings and executive regulations tend to be much more one-sided, sweeping and prescriptive — winner-take-all — and thus should have as little as possible to do with the delicate diversity of 320 million souls' deepest beliefs."

No matter what direction the Supreme Court rules in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court cases addressing state same-sex marriage bans, Lee said the opportunity will exist for "Americans of good-will to come together to reinforce religious liberty, and to further protect and enrich the free space it inhabits."

The Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage is expected to be announced near the end of June.

Controversies following the case will likely circle around the question of whether or not Americans can publicly express and act upon their beliefs without facing retribution or government-driven consequences, Lee said.

In his speech, Lee also spoke about the early history of the LDS Church and the 1838 extermination order in Missouri, quoting Joseph Smith in saying that when it comes to the free conscience of mankind, "truth will cut its own way."

"As witnesses to that truth, in our pursuit of protecting religious liberty, we must proceed with resolve and conviction, and also with cheerfulness and charity," Lee said. "To truly succeed, we must be gracious, and civil, and solicitous. Not only to preserve our own freedom, but the equal freedom, too, of those who disagree with us . . . If we can do this, as we have done before, the truth will once again cut its own way, and all of us will be free to follow."