5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Rasband’s topic is paramount for our times. If you have not yet felt the rallying cry for religious freedom ripple through your soul – this talk might help catch you up.
Elder Rasband does a superb job of championing religious freedom and making a case for it worldwide.
You can find his full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All quotes by Ronald A. Rasband and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (champion)
This makes a great intro to the topic. Possibly use it as a warm-up for more class participation.
There is another scourge sweeping the globe: attacks on your and my religious freedom. This growing sentiment seeks to remove religion and faith in God from the public square, schools, community standards, and civic discourse. Opponents of religious freedom seek to impose restrictions on expressions of heartfelt convictions. They even criticize and ridicule faith traditions.
I invite you to champion the cause of religious freedom. It is an expression of the God-given principle of agency.
Religious freedom brings balance to competing philosophies. The good of religion, its reach, and the daily acts of love which religion inspires only multiply when we protect the freedom to express and act on core beliefs.
Possible discussion questions: In what ways have you noticed religion and faith removed from the public square? What kinds of restrictions are imposed? How does that make you feel? How can we protect the freedom to express religion? (speak up, get involved in the community and politics)
Quote #2 (at the center)
First. Religious freedom honors the first and second great commandments, placing God at the center of our lives. We read in Matthew:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of such love and service. During His ministry, He cared for the poor, healed the sick and the blind. He fed the hungry, opened His arms to little children, and forgave those who wronged Him, even crucified Him.
The scriptures describe that Jesus “went about doing good.” So must we.
Possible questions: What kind of “good” can we do for others? Elder Rasband lists several examples of the Savior’s love and service – which one stands out for you today? How can we do something similar? Why are the first two “great commandments” so important? How do we place them at the “center” of our lives – what does that mean to you?
Quote #3 (expression)
Second. Religious freedom fosters expressions of belief, hope, and peace.
As a church, we join with other religions protecting people of all faiths and persuasions and their right to speak their convictions. This does not mean we accept their beliefs, nor they ours, but we have more in common than we have with those who desire to silence us.
I recently represented the Church at the annual G20 Interfaith Forum in Italy. I was encouraged, even buoyed up, when I met with government and faith leaders from around the world. I realized wounds and differences can be resolved and even healed when we honor God, the Father of us all, and Jesus Christ, His Son. The Great Healer of all is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Possible questions: Why is it important to express our beliefs today? How can we give hope and peace to others? Why do we allow others to choose a different religion or conviction? Elder Rasband says, “This does not mean we accept their beliefs, nor they ours, but we have more in common than we have with those who desire to silence us.” How does that apply to our personal lives? Why is it important to let other religions know we support them in religious freedom?
Quote #4 (heal the world)
Third. Religion inspires people to help others.
When religion is given the space and freedom to flourish, believers perform simple and sometimes heroic acts of service. The ancient Jewish phrase “tikkun olam,” meaning “to repair or heal the world,” is being reflected today in the efforts of so many. We have partnered with Catholic Charities, known as Caritas Internationalis; Islamic Relief; and any number of Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Christian organizations like the Salvation Army and the National Christian Foundation. Together we serve millions in need, most recently by aiding refugees of war with tents, sleeping bags, and food supplies, and providing vaccinations, including polio and COVID. The list of what is being done is long, but so are the needs.
No question, people of faith, working together, can make significant interventions. At the same time, one-on-one service is often unheralded but quietly changes lives.
Possible questions: Is it our job to “repair or heal the world”? Has anyone had experience working with charity organizations of other faiths? Why do we encourage that kind of cooperation? What are some opportunities in our community?
Quote #5 (we will)
And fourth. Freedom of religion acts as a unifying and rallying force for shaping values and morality.
In the New Testament we read of many turning away from Jesus Christ, murmuring of His doctrine, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
That cry is still being heard today from those who seek to expel religion from discourse and influence. If religion is not there to help with shaping character and mediating hard times, who will be? Who will teach honesty, gratitude, forgiveness, and patience? Who will exhibit charity, compassion, and kindness for the forgotten and the downtrodden? Who will embrace those who are different yet deserving, as are all of God’s children? Who will open their arms to those in need and seek no recompense? Who will reverence peace and obedience to laws greater than the trends of the day? Who will respond to the Savior’s plea “Go, and do thou likewise”?
We will! Yes, brothers and sisters, we will.
Possible questions: What stands out for you today from this quote? What is Elder Rasband’s message to you personally? What can you do to keep religion in the public square?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Rasband’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
I’m SO GLAD this lesson is taught in your ward or branch. There is probably more material here than you will have time for…that’s great! It means some real conversation took place. Have faith in what content you feel drawn to.
I am very grateful for your dedication and that you seek to get your class engaged and talking. This brings lots of blessings to your group. Personal revelation often happens in situations like this too. God speed.
If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Please put the five quotes in any order that makes sense to you.