Society benefits from believers’ responsibility to God and the good works they do for others, so religions must work together to reduce polarization, religious leaders and academics said at the first religious freedom summit on Monday. of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Indiana.
The opening address was given by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Catholic Archbishop of New York, and was followed by a panel that included Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days.
“My plea today is that all religions work together to defend faith and religious freedom in a way that protects people of diverse faiths as well as those without faith,” said Elder Cook. “Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Latter-day Saints and other faiths must be part of a coalition of faiths that aid, act as a sanctuary, and enact religious freedom across the world. We must not only protect our ability to profess our own religion, but also protect the right of each religion to administer its own doctrines and laws.
The summit and main panel embodied Elder Cook’s advocacy. Cardinal Dolan called the event a “family reunion, because I recognize and appreciate so many of you for our work in defense and defense of religious freedom.”
The panelists have worked together for years, some for over a decade, including Cardinal Dolan, Elder Cook, Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik of the Shearith Israel Congregation of New York, and Jacqueline Rivers, Executive Director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies. .
Cardinal Dolan, Elder Cook, Rabbi Soloveichik, and Rivers have met on several occasions to talk about religion in American life.
Cardinal Dolan, Rabbi Soloveichik, and Rivers each traveled to Utah to speak as guests of Latter-day Saint leaders. Cardinal Dolan, who holds the most prominent American position in Catholicism, spoke at the America’s Freedom Festival in 2019.
Cardinal Dolan and Rabbi Soloveichik spoke with David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a marriage forum in New York in 2017. In 2016, Jeffrey R. Holland helped honor Cardinal Dolan in him presenting the Visionary Leadership Award of the New York. Professional Association of Latter-day Saints.
Rabbi Soloveichik visited the BYU center in Jerusalem with Elder Cook and Holland in 2016 and on Monday called their friendship a brotherhood. Brother Cook visited the Rabbi’s synagogue four times. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visited Rabbi Soloveichik and his synagogue in November 2019.
“Many in this hall have been valiant in protecting the religiously inspired conduct of those who feel responsible before God,” said Elder Cook. “You’ve been involved in the ‘trench fighting’ that has been going on in the United States for some time. You have tried to overcome the societal disease represented by being deaf to the “music of faith”.
He expressed concern that American society is increasingly to the death for this music.
“I am deeply concerned that the profound blessings that flow from religious impulse are often seen as antithetical to what is most valued in our society,” he said.
He said that religious responsibility benefits secular society and that religion inspires people to do a multitude of good works that benefit others.
“My challenge to you today is that in our various capacities we will have to stand against the prevailing winds of disbelief and division,” Elder Cook said.
“Correct the story”
Cardinal Dolan titled his remarks “Correcting the Narrative,” a reference to progressive views that religious freedom has become an excuse to discriminate.
“Religious freedom was non-controversial obvious,” Cardinal Dolan said, “like mum, apple pie, flag and Knute Rockne.… Now some are calling it a buzzword for discrimination. Now , here, I foolishly thought that opposition to religious freedom was discrimination.
Instead, he said religious freedom is historically a progressive and reformer moderator of American life.
“Religious freedom has been the driving force behind nearly every enlightening, liberating, and noble cause in American history,” Cardinal Dolan said. “So the defense of religious freedom is not a white, evangelical, Christian controversy or a savage strategy of discredited religious leaders. It is the quintessential American cause.
The summit is destined to become international and influential. The 2022 summit is scheduled to be held in Rome, followed by Jerusalem in 2023.
In addition to religious leaders, the event drew attorneys, academics, religious freedom advocates, journalists and legal scholars such as Justice Thomas Griffith, a retired U.S. Court of Appeals member for the DC circuit.
Other summit panels discussed overcoming the issue of overcoming polarization in American society, international threats to religious freedom, and the role of the media in covering religious freedom issues.
Rivers and Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered addresses at the Vatican Conference on Marriage in 2014. She was also in Philadelphia at the World Catholic Meeting of Families with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 2015, then spoke at BYU in Provo, Utah, later that year.
Rivers also wrote an article for the current issue of Deseret magazine on the black church and religious freedom.
This story will be updated.