The First Annual Forum on Law and Religion of the Southern Cone: Remarks from Speakers and Panelists

The First Annual Forum on Law and Religion of the Southern Cone, “Human Dignity and Religious Freedom,” was held in Santiago, Chile, 28–29 October 2021. A particular focus of the conference was the preservation and protection of freedom of religion or belief in light of Chile’s anticipated constitutional reforms. The forum was sponsored by BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Chilean government’s National Office of Religious Affairs, and the Center for Law and Religion at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. It included participants from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States. Below are links to select remarks made at the conference, available in both Spanish and English.

El Primer Foro Anual de Derecho y Religión del Cono Sur, “Dignidad Humana y Libertad Religiosa,” tuvo lugar en Santiago, Chile, el 28 y 29 de octubre de 2021. El foco particular fue la preservación y la protección de la libertad de religión o creencia a la luz de las reformas anticipadas a la constitución de Chile. El foro fue organizado por el Centro de Estudios de Derecho y Religión de la Universidad Brigham Young, la Oficina Nacional de Asuntos Religiosos del Gobierno de Chile, y el Centro de Derecho y Religión de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Incluyó participantes de Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, y los Estados Unidos. Abajo son hiperenlaces a unas presentaciones seleccionadas, en inglés y en español.

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Religious Liberty: The Basis of a Free and Just Society

Elder D. Todd Christofferson is a Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Introduction

I am grateful for this opportunity to address you. I’m honored to be here among so many who work so hard to build better societies, to lift people out of poverty and desperation, and to protect fundamental human rights. We are all seeking for a more just and free society where every person is valued and where each has a fair opportunity to flourish. Thank you for all you do in the service of that noble end.

I speak to you today as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so, I affirm the eternal human dignity of each person as a beloved child of God. I affirm that each one of us has a divine nature and destiny. We are not merely cosmic accidents in a cold and uncaring universe. We are known and loved by an all-knowing and all-loving God.

I also affirm that each of us has the right to exercise moral agency—the right of choice to live our lives according to the truth as we understand it. Indeed, one of the primary purposes of government is to secure the freedom of all people to exercise moral agency.

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What Should a Constitution Contain in Regard to Religious Freedom?

Gary Doxey is Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.

On the occasion of this First Annual Forum on Law and Religion of the Southern Cone, I would like to address the following question: What should a constitution contain in regard to religious freedom? It is timely to consider this issue since the Republic of Chile is currently drafting a new constitution.

I must emphasize that I speak from an international perspective. I am not Chilean, although Chile is a country very dear to my heart. I deeply respect the responsibility of Chileans, beginning with the honorable members of the Constitutional Convention, to choose the provisions of their constitution. As a foreigner, I merely offer my observations as a student of this subject in the hope that they may be of benefit.

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