Wednesday, April 23, 2008

LDS Church Commentary on "Respect for Diversity of Faiths"

Yesterday I was made aware of a recent commentary on respect for the diversity of faiths and the importance of interfaith cooperation released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The commentary, published April 18 of this year, begins by stating,

"A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Mormonism. From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance: 'We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may' (Articles of Faith 1:11).

"In that same spirit, Church President Thomas S. Monson made a plea during general conference, a semiannual worldwide meeting, for more religious understanding: 'I would encourage members of the Church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours.' Latter-day Saints accept all sincere believers as equals in the pursuit of faith and in the great work of serving humanity.'"

The commentary concludes by addressing the relationship between interfaith cooperation and the integrity of the boundaries of religious communities in ways that might be reflected upon by evangelicals:

"It is important to note that interfaith cooperation does not require doctrinal compromise. Though the Church asserts its ecclesiastical independence and recognizes its doctrinal differences, this does not prevent it from partnering with other faiths in charitable projects. These efforts are based on universal values. A different interpretation of the atonement of Christ, for example, need not diminish the mandate of Christ to 'love thy neighbor as thyself.' Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a separation between charitable efforts and doctrinal tenets, while at the same time sharing mutual concern for those in need. People of good faith do not need to have the exact same beliefs in order to accomplish great things in the service of their fellow human beings."

With the passing of Gordon B. Hinckley, the previous president and prophet of the LDS Church, questions existed about the new stance the Church might take in relation to dialogue and interfaith activities. This document answers these questions in positive ways. The entire commentary can be viewed here.

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