Thursday, August 10, 2017

Elder Quentin L. Cook on religious principles in public discourse

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"In addition to protecting our own families, we should be a source of light in protecting our communities. The Savior said, 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven' (Matthew 5:16).
"Our day has been described as 'a time of plenty and an age of doubt' (Roger B. Porter). Basic belief in the power and authority of God is not only questioned but also denigrated. How under these circumstances can we promote values in a way that will resonate with the nonbelievers and the apathetic and help abate the spiraling descent into violence and evil?
"This question is of monumental importance....
"My personal experience of living and interacting with people all over the world has caused me to be optimistic. I believe that light and truth will be preserved in our time. In all nations there are large numbers who worship God and feel accountable to Him for their conduct. Some observers believe there is actually a global revival of faith. As Church leaders, we have met with leaders of other faiths and have found that there is a common moral foundation that transcends theological differences and unites us in our aspirations for a better society.
"We also find the majority of people are still respectful of basic moral values. But make no mistake: there are also people who are determined to both destroy faith and reject any religious influence in society. Other evil people exploit, manipulate, and tear down society with drugs, pornography, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, robbery, and dishonest business practices. The power and influence of these people is very large even if they are relatively small in number.
"There has always been an ongoing battle between people of faith and those who would purge religion and God from public life.... Still, the majority of people aspire to be good and honorable. The Light of Christ, which is distinct from the Holy Ghost, informs their conscience.... This is why many will accept moral values even when founded on religious convictions which they do not personally support....
"In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded.
"Religious faith is a store of light, knowledge, and wisdom and benefits society in a dramatic way when adherents engage in moral conduct because they feel accountable to God."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Let There Be Light!," General Conference Oct 2010; see also Ensign, Nov. 2010, p. 27-30
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is a thought-provoking passage from Elder Cook. What is the role of religious principles, or even moral principles, in public discussions and settings? How can we have a positive influence in ways that let our "light so shine"? Elder Cook teaches that many people are able and eager to respond to these suggestions and discussions because of the influence of the Light of Christ that rests with every man. It is our duty to see that the discussions are held—that the principles of truth and eternal values are part of the discourse.

Society will be benefited "in a dramatic way" as individuals, like each of us, are willing to be spokesmen and representatives for the teachings and values contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the religious faith of a few, many will be benefited in profound ways.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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