3 Nephi 2:12
The Light of Freedom Burns Brightly
As prophets foretold about these latter days in which we live, there are many confused about who we are and what we believe. Some are “false accusers … [and] despisers of those that are good.”1Others “call evil good, and good evil; [and] put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”2
As those around us make choices about how to respond to our beliefs, we must not forget that moral agency is an essential part of God’s plan for all His children. That eternal plan, presented to us in the premortal Council in Heaven, included the gift of agency.3
In that Grand Council, Lucifer, known as Satan, used his agency to oppose God’s plan. God said: “Because … Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, … I caused that he should be cast down.”4
As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom. We already know that Satan does not want this freedom to be ours. He attempted to destroy moral agency in heaven, and now on earth he is fiercely undermining, opposing, and spreading confusion about religious freedom—what it is and why it is essential to our spiritual life and our very salvation.
There are four cornerstones of religious freedom that we as Latter-day Saints must rely upon and protect.
The third cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to form a religious organization, a church, to worship peacefully with others. The eleventh article of faith declares, “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.” International human rights documents and many national constitutions support this principle.
The fourth cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to live our faith—free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places. The Lord commands us not only to pray privately13but also to go forth and “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify As we face increased pressure to bow to secular standards, forfeit our religious liberties, and compromise our agency, consider what the Book of Mormon teaches about our responsibilities. In the book of Alma we read of Amlici, “a very cunning” and “wicked man” who sought to be king over the people and “deprive them of their rights and privileges,” which “was alarming to the people of the church.”15They were taught by King Mosiah to raise their voices for what they felt was right.16 Therefore they “assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute … one with another.”17
In these discussions, members of the Church and others had the opportunity to come together, experience the spirit of unity, and be influenced by the Holy Ghost. “And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king.”18
As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love—“every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind.”19Our Savior’s Second Coming is drawing nearer. Let us not delay in this great cause. Remember Captain Moroni, who hoisted the title of liberty inscribed with the words “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.”21 Let us remember the people’s response: exercising their agency, they “came running together” with a covenant to act.22
My beloved brothers and sisters, don’t walk! Run! Run to receive the blessings of agency by following the Holy Ghost and exercising the freedoms God has given us to do His will.
I bear my special witness on this special Easter day that Jesus Christ used His agency to do our Father’s will.
Of our Savior, we sing, “His precious blood he freely spilt; His life he freely gave.”23 And because He did, we have the priceless opportunity “to choose liberty and eternal life” through the power and blessings of His Atonement.24 May we freely choose to follow Him today and always, I pray in His holy name, even Jesus Christ, amen.
APRIL 1990 | Family Traditions
L. Tom Perry Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“‘Who will redeem the earth, who will go forth and make the sacrifice for the earth and all things it contains?’ The Eldest Son said: ‘Here am I’: and then he added, ‘Send me.’ But the second one, which was ‘Lucifer, [a] Son of the Morning,’ said, ‘Lord, here am I, send me, I will redeem every son and daughter of Adam and Eve that lives on the earth, or that ever goes on the earth.’ ‘But,’ says the Father, ‘that will not answer at all. I give [unto] each and every individual his agency; all must use that in order to gain exaltation in my kingdom; inasmuch as they have the power of choice they must exercise that power. They are my children; the attributes which you see in me are in my children and they must use their agency. If you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption.’” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, pp. 53–54.)
As these spirits have come forth from the council in heaven to take their “turn on earth,” they are still desiring their free agency, and in fact, they are willing to sacrifice for that freedom. We are witnessing today remarkable events occurring throughout the world: evidence of the strength of man’s desire for freedom. The history of man’s mortal experience would indicate that the desire to be free has spiritual roots.
How is our freedom being challenged today? In so many ways that it boggles the mind. We should be aware of these struggles and do all we can to preserve our freedom and to use our agency to do good. Exercise our freedom to worship and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ today. Live our religion to the best of our ability. Let us always remember to thank the Lord for these freedoms that we do have.
HymnsKnow This, That Every Soul Is Free (#240)
ChildrenThe Eleventh Article of Faith (#130)