Why atheists (and everyone else) should support freedom of religion

LDS Church | 050118

LONDON, England —

While freedom of religion or belief is being seen more and more merely as a right to worship rather than a right to freely exercise one’s faith in daily life and with increasingly concerted efforts to intimidate believers and suppress religious viewpoints and practices, religious liberty should instead be seen as a foundational freedom that sustains other critical freedoms and human rights and is fundamental to societal well-being.

So said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a May 1 address in a meeting of Parliamentarians in the United Kingdom.

“Freedom of religion benefits not only believers, but all of society, whether they know it or not,” he said, “Therefore, all have an interest in protecting this freedom, whether they are believers or not.”

In an address titled — somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he admitted — “Why Atheists (and Everyone Else) Should Support Freedom of Religion or Belief,” Elder Christofferson listed three major benefits to supporting freedom of religion or belief:

  • Religious freedom supports and strengthens the rule of law;
  • Freedom of religion or belief is foundational to other fundamental and cherished freedoms;
  • Religion or belief — freely exercised – promotes civic virtue and is vital to strong, flourishing communities.

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