News Release

Church Leaders Uphold Freedom of Worship

In his presentation, Elder Stanley G. Ellis who serves as the first counsellor in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, upheld religious freedom in the world.

Speaking at the commencement of the conference, Elder Ellis said. “The world has been a sea of religious intolerance and persecution throughout its history.”

He noted with sadness that some of the greatest atrocities in history, have been committed by religious people, in the name of religion, against other religious sects. "That is wrong".  He said. "War would not be possible if people just knew each other.  People who perpetrate evil begin by first vilifying there would be victims."

He told the conference that truth, knowledge and sharing should be increased.

"Religious liberty really needs to be the foundation of all other freedoms," he said.

He urged participants to go forth from the conference standing for truth and to be influences for good in their societies,

He also highlighted an article of faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which states; "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".

He emphasized that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in religious freedom, and in a rigorously pluralistic society.

He asked participants to remember the statement that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

In an effort to strengthen positive relations with leaders of other faiths, and also to promote and protect religious liberty in Africa, Elder Ellis accompanied by fellow General Authority Elder LeGrand R.Curtis Jnr., who presides over the Africa West Area, visited one of the most sacred Islamic sites in Africa - the Anwar Mosque in Addis Ababa. They also visited the main Orthodox Christian Church in Addis Ababa.

The conference was designed to focus on religious pluralism in Africa, particularly in relation to contemporary questions of heritage and social development. "Heritage" is to be understood broadly as including religious, cultural, legal, and historical traditions, and the way these shape religious identities and societies in Africa today.

The conference addressed challenges for organizations like UNESCO and ICOMOS to promote and protect heritage in diverse African contexts.

The scope broadened to include intangible as well as tangible heritage, and broader issues of religion and state, particularly in areas where multiple heritages and identities exist peacefully or come into conflict.

The annual African Law and Religion Symposium was organised by the college of Law and Government studies in the Addis Ababa University, the International Centre for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, and the International consortium of Law and religion Studies.

It was opened by Mr. Kassa Tekleberhan, Minister of Federal and Pastoralist development affairs, in the Government of Ethiopia,

Topics covered at length included: The future of heritage, and social development in Africa, Religious Traditions, customs and patrimony in Africa, Hate speech, Issues related to Homosexuality, Christianity and the Law in Africa, Navigating inheritance across religions by Muslim and Non-Muslim Heirs, with the case study of Nigeria, Religion and the Secular state in Africa, Sharia and Islam in Africa, Law religion and women in Africa and several others.

Over seventeen countries were represented at the three day event.

The next conference is due to be held in the North African Country of Morocco.

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