To the Dictates of Our Own Conscience
by Kathy Penrod
A friend of mine recently had an experience where a couple she had just met began to degrade her professed religion. It created an honest curiosity in her as to the normalcy of this practice. She shared a bit of her experience and questioned, “He tells me my religion has it all wrong and their church is better. I've been told the same by members of the denominations about the other denominations, so it's not unique to this denomination. Is this what some denominations are taught to do? Tell someone their denomination has it wrong? This isn't seen as rude, presumptuous and unchristian like?”
While I cannot speak for other religions, I can answer for my own religion. In a formal statement of our beliefs called The Articles of Faith, it says in #11, “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.”
In addition, a former prophet and president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, stated, “We must not only be tolerant, but we must cultivate a spirit of affirmative gratitude for those who do not see things quite as we see them… We must learn to accord appreciation and respect for others who are as sincere in their beliefs and practices as are we.” (Read more here) On another occasion he stated, “We want to be good neighbors. We want to be good friends. We feel we can differ theologically with people without being disagreeable in any sense. We hope they feel that same way toward us. We have many friends and many associations with people who are not of our faith, with whom we deal constantly and we have a wonderful relationship. It disturbs me when I hear of any antagonisms. … I don’t think they are necessary. I hope that we can overcome them. Be respectful of the opinions and feelings of other people. Recognize their virtues; don’t look for their faults. Look for their strengths and their virtues, and you will find strength and virtues which will be helpful in your own life.” (Read more here)
The LDS church also has a long history of partnering with other churches to accomplish great things. You can read about just some of these occasions here.
I could continue with example after example of what the leaders of the LDS church in regards to tolerance to anothers personal religions. We are taught to love, to accept, to welcome and to respect those of all faiths.
On a personal note, I have encountered a few experiences where strangers have slammed my religion and even more where people I love have done so. It's difficult to experience since my religion is so very sacred to me.
For me personally, I love when people worship God. It fills me with hope and peace. Regardless of their denomination, I find great happiness in knowing that there are good people who devote their life to their beliefs. I believe that this strengthens society.
In our religion we believe that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored and that it is found within our church. So, we believe that we do have the complete truth. We also believe that it is our duty to boldly, but respectfully, share our beliefs so that all who wish can partake of the full blessings found of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But regardless, we respect all truth and a person’s agency to choose what he or she will believe.
Because my beliefs bring me such happiness, I want to share that with those I love so they can experience it as well. We believe many things that would help people make their way through this mixed up world... and I want that for all my friends. In short, my desire to share is not because I feel someone of another religion will go to hell but because I want others to have what I have.
I am grateful for my friend who asked such a sincere, thoughtful question. May we all show each other the kind of love and respect we hope to receive.