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Elder Oaks meets with British Parliament to discuss religious freedom



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LONDON — An apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was part of a panel discussion at the British Parliament Wednesday, advocating for religious liberty.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was invited to London to participate in an informal roundtable discussion with the All-Party Parliamentary Group in the House of Lords. The topic? Religious freedom around the world.

“We want the blessings of religious freedom to be claimed by all the inhabitants of this planet, and we are far short of that at present,” Elder Oaks said.

Elder Oaks, along with Princeton professor Robert George, who was the former chair of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, were welcomed to Parliament by baroness Elizabeth Berridge, a member of the House of Lords — bringing government together with scholars and a religious organization, to find solutions when people of faith are oppressed because of their beliefs.

"And it is important that we are a team, with professor George we have the academics, the academic input to what is happening here,” the baroness said. “So it is essential that people like LDS and BYU are around the table because otherwise parliamentarians like myself, we don’t have access to the best of thinking.”

With the current refugee crisis largely driven because of religious persecution, professor George believes that religious organizations need to engage and work together in this discussion.

“There are limits to what can be done by governments and international organizations like the United Nations, an enormous amount of necessary work needs to be done by faith groups and other non-governmental organizations,” George said.

All agree that society as a whole benefits when people can freely engage in a religion of their choice.

“We are at a time when religious freedom is under pressure,” Elder Oaks said. “There is pressure to define religious freedom as something that takes place in church or a synagogue and is not entitled to a place in the public square. We demand as a matter of constitutional right a place in the public square and want to use our religious freedom to accomplish the goods that have been identified by the baroness and professor George.”

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Sam Penrod

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