News Story

Mormon Leaders Attend 'Our Whole Society' Conference in B.C.

The second “Our Whole Society” conference was recently held in Vancouver, British Columbia, bringing together representatives from religious and secular organizations across Canada to explore the theme of “Bridging the Religious–Secular Divide.”

Sandra Pallin, national director of public affairs, and Tonya Engen, Eden Engen, Robert Kearl and Kathleen Carter of B.C. public affairs represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Our Whole Society” was sponsored by the Laurier Institution and organized by a national interfaith leadership committee. Held 22–24 March 2015, the conference included a diverse group of religious, academic and community leaders who addressed the challenges of reconciling secularism and religion in a pluralistic society.

The Reverend Dr. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, spoke of the need for religious literacy within society. “We need to continually be broadening this conversation; this cannot be a conversation that is being had just amongst faith traditions. It’s got to be broader, and it’s got to involve a wider selection of society.”

Dr. Gerald Filson, chair of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, addressed the critical importance of bringing religion into the public sphere for religion’s “source of moral and ethical wisdom.” He said, “Religion brings to the public discourse age-old virtues that are lacking right now.”

Through a series of moderated panel discussions, participants addressed a variety of topics, including the importance of civility and mutual respect in the dialogue between religious and secular voices.

Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, said, “The promotion of religious freedom is inextricably linked to the idea of a common human dignity shared by all individuals, regardless of their particular faith tradition or whether they profess any faith at all. Mutual respect and dialogue flow from, and must be informed by, such a shared understanding of human dignity.”

During a discussion on religious accommodation and toleration in Canada, the Honourable Dr. Victor Goldbloom said, “We’re here to carry, from this conference forward, the message of inclusiveness.”

Because of their teachings and history, Latter-day Saints have a special commitment to religious freedom. For nearly 200 years, Mormon leaders have taught the importance of religious freedom for everyone: “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).

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.