Elder Ronald A. Rasband is a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The organizers of the G20 Interfaith Forum invited Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss religious freedom and its impact on minority religions In his remarks in front of global religious leaders he spoke of the beginnings of the Church—itself once a minority. From its humble 19th-century start in New York and its turbulent times in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, the Church is now a worldwide faith of nearly 17 million members.
“When religion is given the freedom to flourish, believers everywhere perform simple and sometimes heroic acts of service,” Elder Rasband said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder in service with many of you.”
Elder Rasband outlined the service the Church has done with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, he said, service included contributions to COVAX to provide nearly 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccines, 26 million meals given to the hungry, and 294 service projects for refugees in 50 countries.
“I hope that universal goodness prompted by faith traditions will be honored and admired,” Elder Rasband told the forum. “People around the world are blessed as we lift and encourage others through life-saving aid. May we be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference. In these ways, we fulfill and expand the truth [that] ‘God loves all his children in every nation of the world’—even the smallest of minorities among us.”
In his forum remarks, Elder Rasband shared two teachings of Joseph Smith that underlie religious freedom’s key role in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The first, canonized in the Church’s Articles of Faith, says, “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.”
The second is a comment the Prophet Joseph Smith made in 1843:
If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a [Latter-day Saint] I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is love of liberty that inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of humanity.
“Religious liberty is taken so seriously, even in the highest councils of the Lord’s Church,” Elder Rasband said after his G20 remarks. “We can now be more than a single voice, and the Catholics be more than a single voice, and the Greek Orthodox be more than a single voice. And instead of being soloists in different parts of the world, we can be a choir, and we can put aside the differences in our tenets. And we have differences, of course. But there are some things that we’re completely in agreement on, and that’s what we’re going to focus on together with others.”
Elder Rasband said he is optimistic about the future of humanity because “healing can take place if people will humble themselves and approach [God]. God the Father is the Father of us all, and Jesus Christ, His Son is who we know Him to be.”
See Elder Ronald Rasband’s video presentation: https://youtu.be/_x37llnkLtE