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What do a Baptist and a Mormon have in common? By Diana Verm, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

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By Diana Verm, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

On Monday, October 21st, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressed the faculty of another school, Brigham Young University, an institution run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This occasion was a sign of a growing relationship between religious groups that have historically been—and remain—at odds theologically. In his speech, Dr. Mohler addressed the moral ground common to Evangelical Christianity and Mormonism in the context of growing societal affirmation of secularism. He pointed out that society has evolved from the Modern Age, where it was “possible not to believe,” to a “Late Modern Age” in which it is, for many, “impossible to believe.”

But what does this have to do with religious liberty? With the growth in popularity of intellectual secularism that is often hostile to belief, Dr. Mohler pointed out that one thing that draws Mormons and Baptists together is religious liberty. Dr. Mohler said: “I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together.” It is because of this common threat that he called on different groups to work together to promote religious liberty.

For religious liberty defenders like us at the Becket Fund, this is welcome news. Religious liberty works best when folks from widely different theological, moral, and cultural perspectives stand up for one another’s religious liberty. We at the Becket Fund have seen this happening more openly and often in recent years, but inter-religious cooperation in religious liberty is not new. Every year for almost twenty years we have had a physical reminder of this phenomenon at the Becket Fund’s annual Canterbury Medal Dinner, where supporters of religious liberty from all faiths sit together at a meal and celebrate their common goals. But we know that the Dinner isn’t the only time our clients get along. They see the long term benefits of working towards greater recognition of religious liberty without our help, and what’s more, they do it without sacrificing or watering down their doctrines or beliefs.

Thus, we applaud Dr. Mohler’s broad view when he says to Mormon educators: “I am urgently ready to speak and act in your defense against threats to your religious liberty, even as you have shown equal readiness to speak and act in defense of mine.” His statements affirm that Baptist and Mormon leaders share something with the Becket Fund: a “common vision of a world where religious freedom is respected as a fundamental human right that all are entitled to enjoy and exercise.”