‘Mormon Land’: LDS leaders talk a lot about religious liberty, but is it really at risk?

Law professor notes how the issue of, say, balancing faith freedoms and LGBTQ protections, has been politicized and states that some perceived threats may be more imagined than real.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency delivers the 2021 Joseph Smith Lecture at the University of Virginia on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Oaks talked about the need for legislative solutions in balancing religious freedoms and LGBTQ protections.

To say that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often talk about religious freedom would be, well, an understatement.

It is a common theme from the top apostles on down and appears to be a favorite topic of Dallin Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency and a former Utah Supreme Court justice. Recently, President Camille Johnson, global head of the children’s Primary organization and herself a high-powered attorney, picked up on the theme as well in an address in Iowa.

The church has been calling for a balancing of religious liberty and LGBTQ protections. It succeeded in passing such legislation in Utah and has pushed for similar measures in Arizona and Georgia.

It also backs the proposed federal Fairness for All Act, which a number of prominent LGBTQ and civil rights groups oppose.

So why all the attention on religious freedoms? Are they really under threat? If so, from where or whom? And is compromise not only possible but also preferable?

Sarah Barringer Gordon, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on religious liberty.

On this week’s show, Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on religious liberty who has written notably about Mormon history, explores those questions and more. She notes, among other points, that the issue has been politicized in the legislative arena and states that while some perceived risks to faith freedoms may be more imagined than real.

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