Bri Colorful

Religious Freedom

Posted on: February 11, 2011

I love the way Dallin H. Oaks speaks. He outlines his speech, it progresses logically, it makes powerful points using powerful quotes and stories, and comes to a gripping conclusion. I felt this same way listening to his talk from last Friday given at Chapman University School of Law. In fact, I started listening to the recording of the speech while doing my dishes and found myself so mesmerized that I soon realized I had moved from the kitchen sink to the computer where I could follow along with the transcript. His speech was entitled, “Preserving Religious Freedom” and you can find it here. It is not a speech based on any religious doctrine.

He outlined his four main points at the end of this speech which makes it easy for me to summarize them for you here, though he makes the points much more poignantly in his talk:

1. Religious teachings and religious organizations are valuable and important to our free society and therefore deserving of their special legal protection.
2. Religious freedom undergirds the origin and existence of this country and is the dominating civil liberty.
3. The guarantee of free exercise of religion is weakening in its effects and in public esteem.
4. This weakening is attributable to the ascendancy of moral relativism.

He concludes with an emboldening call to all religious denominations that we unite in the defense of faith in the public sphere:

“The religious community must unite to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence by the kinds of intimidation or threatening rhetoric that are being experienced. Whether or not such actions are anti-religious, they are surely anti-democratic and should be condemned by all who are interested in democratic government. There should be room for all good-faith views in the public square, be they secular, religious, or a mixture of the two. When expressed sincerely and without sanctimoniousness, the religious voice adds much to the text and tenor of public debate”

I hope you will make time to listen to or read it in full.  In one of my classes, someone pointed out that what is really needed is a short “Mormon Message”-like snippet of powerful quotes demonstrating each of his main points with video and music similar to this representation of Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s speech on creativity made almost two years ago:

In my Mormon literature class, we are discussing oratory, and I thought it was so interesting that as Latter-day Saints, we sit for hours at a time listening to people speak and are often inspired to action by such occasions (i.e. Semi-annual General Conferences, Stake Conferences, weekly Sacrament meetings, etc). How often, outside our faith, do we listen to the same form of oratory, for so long a period of time? In the world, messages that travel fastest are short and often humorous.  In order to get people to sit for a longer period to watch a movie, we give them a short trailer to entice them in.  It’s the way our culture is moving: faster, shorter, etc.  I think it is good to be able to appreciate both. Nonetheless, what works to get the word out is a flier-like handout that is easily accessible.


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