Prophet Statesmen, Quentin L. Cook
A second example of how religious faith benefits society and contributes light to the world is the role of religion in treating all of God’s children as brothers and sisters.
Many faith-based institutions in the last two centuries have been at the forefront in reaching out and rescuing those subjected to cruel circumstances because their members believe that all men are made in the image and likeness of God.23 William Wilberforce, the great British statesman who was instrumental in outlawing the slave trade in Great Britain, is an excellent example.24 “Amazing Grace,” the touching hymn, and the inspiring movie of the same name capture the feeling of the early 1800s and describe the account of his heroic effort. Wilberforce’s untiring efforts were among the first steps in eliminating this terrible, oppressive, cruel, and venal practice. As part of that effort he, together with other leaders, set out to reform public morality. He believed that education and government had to be morally based.25 “His . . . vision of moral and spiritual enrichment was what he lived for, whether in defending the institution of marriage, attacking the practices of the slave trade or emphatically defending the Sabbath day.”26 With great energy he helped mobilize the country’s moral and social leaders in a nationwide struggle against vice.27
In our early Church history, the vast majority of our members were opposed to slavery.28 This was a significant reason, along with their religious beliefs, for the hostility and mob violence they experienced, culminating in the extermination order issued by Governor Boggs in Missouri.29 In 1833 Joseph Smith received a revelation stating, “It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.”30 Our commitment to freedom of religion and treating all people as sons and daughters of God is central to our doctrine.
These are just two examples of how faith-based values undergird principles that greatly bless society. There are many more. We should both participate ourselves and support people of character and integrity to help reestablish moral values that will bless the entire community.
Let me be clear that all voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced. Furthermore, we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles, they will automatically be accepted or given preferential status. But it is also clear such views and values are entitled to be reviewed on their merits.
The moral foundation of our doctrine can be a beacon light to the world and can be a unifying force for both morality and faith in Jesus Christ. We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities.
Source: Quentin L. Cook’s October 2010 General Conference Address, Let There Be Light! Quentin L. Cook is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Watch his entire address on video here.