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Posted 22 Oct 2001   For week ended October 12, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Oct01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Politician Worries That War Will Hurt Religious Freedom

PROVO, UTAH -- Speaking at BYU's 8th annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), one of five members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. Senate, worried that the current war on terrorism would lead some governments to "sacrifice some freedoms for security," and worried that religious freedoms would be among those sacrificed. Smith's comments were echoed by other speakers at the three-day symposium which ended yesterday.

Organizers of the group say that the symposium is the world's leading religious liberty conference, drawing international legal and religious scholars annually to look at religious freedom around the world. Smith, and Jorgen S. Nielsen, director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the University of Birmingham, addressed the opening session of the conference.

Smith also pointed out that some western countries, including Germany, France and Belgium, have recently embraced laws that list some religions as "dangerous cults," allowing prosecution of priests and lay leaders if they are engaged in "mental manipulation." "Even a Mormon Sunday School teacher could be prosecuted under some of these laws," said Smith.

But he offered some hope for the future of religious freedom, saying that it is based on democracy, "The dictatorships don't allow freedom of speech, religion and thought," Smith said. "And I can't think of a democracy that has attacked another democracy."

But Professor Nielsen, the other speaker in the opening session, noted that religion is sometimes seen as the cause of conflict in the world, in such places like Bosnia, Northern Ireland and, of course, Israel. But, he said, its not that simple, "Religion is not the cause of war. It is part of the armory," said Nielsen. "It is used to broaden support for your side."

Nevertheless, added J. Reuben Clark Law School Dean H. Reece Hansen, the religious overtones in the current war will be "profoundly important for the future of our world." Now, more than ever, "there's not been a more pressing time" to allow religious freedom and "appreciate each other and honor differences as a human family."


Will war spur crackdown on religious freedoms?
Deseret News 8Oct01 T4
By Jeffrey P. Haney: Deseret News staff writer
Y. speaker says there's no better time for tolerance


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