Mormon leaders call for laws protecting religious freedom, nondiscrimination

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addresses members of the media at a press conference at the worldwide headquarters of the LDS Church. Oaks, along with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (seated at the left), also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Neill Marriott (seated in the middle), a member of the Young Women's Presidency, spoke on issues of nondiscrimination and religious freedom Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a rare press conference Tuesday morning, calling for legislation across the United States that protects vital religious freedoms.

The news conference included three members of the governing Twelve Apostles and one woman leader of the Church.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said state legislatures across the country are being asked to strengthen laws relating to LGBT issues in the interest of ensuring fair access to housing and employment.

“The leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is on record as favoring such measures,” said Oaks. “At the same time, we urgently need laws that protect faith communities and individuals against discrimination and retaliation for claiming the core rights of free expression and religious practice that are at the heart of our identity as a nation and our legacy as citizens.”

Oaks said that both sides of the debate over religious freedom and nondiscrimination should treat each other with respect.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said accommodating the rights of all people, including their religious rights, requires wisdom and judgment, compassion and fairness.

“Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry,” said Holland. “These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse.”

Those participating in the press conference said the Church’s position would be to continue to support such ordinances throughout Utah and the nation, as long as there was a balanced approach to protecting constitutional religious exercise and conscience.

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