A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is a hallmark of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the faith’s earliest days, Joseph Smith elevated the principle of religious liberty and tolerance when he penned the Wentworth Letter and included the following specific statement about religious tolerance: “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” (Articles of Faith 1:11).
The spiritual and physical needs of the world require goodwill and cooperation among different faiths. Each makes a valuable contribution to the larger community of believers. In the words of early Church apostle Orson F. Whitney, “God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.” Thus, members of the Church do not view fellow believers around the world as adversaries or competitors, but as partners in the many causes for good in the world.
In a recent interfaith conference held in Bali on November 3, 2022, the organizers of the G20 Interfaith Forum invited leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of tolerance, hope and peace that resonated as he met with leaders of diverse faith traditions. Elder Stevenson said: “Our shared values with people of faith have compelled us to build bridges of interfaith understanding, foster relationships of racial harmony [and] promote fairness for all throughout society.”
And the Church of Jesus Christ is actively building and nurturing interfaith partnerships and understanding. For example, earlier this year, the Church published a pamphlet that introduces Muslims (followers of Islam) and Latter-day Saints to each other.
“When citizens learn to live together with respect and unity despite religious differences, we have the foundational stones to true peace,” Elder Stevenson said. “The gospel of Jesus Christ calls on us to love people of all faiths, cultures, races and nations for the common good — all are alike unto God.”
Locally, the Church is involved in interfaith activities in many areas, from food distribution to pantries operated by different faiths, to involvement in cleanup after a devastating fire that destroyed a church of another faith on the historic West Side, to participation in joint Christmas programs with other faiths, and other activities carried out on local levels.
In addition, for over 30 years, the Church has been a member of the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada where it is a regular participant in the annual fall interfaith forums and other interfaith activities sponsored by the IFCSN. Through the forums, the Church and the IFCSN are working to promote mutual understanding, respect, appreciation and cooperation among people of various faith and cultural communities in Southern Nevada.
It is important to note that interfaith cooperation does not require doctrinal compromise. Though the Church asserts its ecclesiastical independence and recognizes its doctrinal differences, this does not prevent it from partnering with other faiths in charitable projects and other joint activities.
Our purpose in doing so is to assist in moving forward the mission of the Church by developing relationships with them and assisting them in understanding the Church, and, most importantly, assisting in meeting the needs of God’s children.
Members of the Church are encouraged to become familiar with other houses of worship within their ward and stake boundaries and prayerfully seek opportunities to be of service to, or to interact with, those of other faiths. Remembering always that people aren’t projects; they are our brothers and sisters – fellow travelers in the journey of life. We want to be walking through life together, helping each other find the strength to overcome the obstacles and stumbling blocks along the way.