Chattanooga members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tuned in to a live stream of a BYU Law School conference on Religious Freedom. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was a featured speaker. A full text of his remarks entitled, “And When He Came to Himself” (Luke 15:17), may be accessed at https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/bednar-byu-religious-freedom-review-speech.
Elder Bednar stated, “I believe it is vital for us to recognize that the sweeping governmental restrictions that were placed on religious gatherings at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis truly were extraordinary. No other event in our lifetime – and perhaps no other event since the founding of this nation – has caused quite this kind of widespread disruption of religious gatherings and worship.”
Elder Bednar shared “four personal reflections” on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Government power can never be unlimited;
• Religious freedom is paramount among our fundamental rights;
• Religious freedom is fragile; and
• In a time of crisis, sensitive tools are necessary to balance demands of religious liberty with the just interests of society.”
Elder Bednar noted that in North America, “jurisdictions deemed services related to alcohol, animals and marijuana as essential, while the services of religious organizations were classified as nonessential, even when those activities could be safely conducted….
This time of restriction and confinement has confirmed for me that no freedom is more important than religious freedom,” he stated. “While believers and their religious organizations must be good citizens in a time of crisis, never again can we allow government officials to treat the exercise of religion as simply nonessential. Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.”
Officials said, "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, locally and globally, continue to be good citizens."
The Church recently highlighted its global response to COVID-19 in a new video that may be viewed at https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/latter-day-saints-expand-covid-19-humanitarian-efforts. Officials said,, “It is the largest humanitarian response ever by the Church and Latter-day Saint Charities Members in the greater Chattanooga area continue to contribute through donations and volunteering their time to serve others.”
Bishop Gerald Causse, presiding bishop of the Church, said, “Reaching out to those in need, helping others that are needy or affected is really at the center of the gospel. It is at the core of our beliefs. We try to emulate the example of Jesus Christ as disciples."