News Story

Mormons Join Conference to Explore Religion and Citizenship at Canada’s 150th

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a conversation sponsor and participant of the third Our Whole Society conference held May 8–9, 2017, in Ottawa. This conference brought together representatives from religious and secular organizations across Canada to explore the theme “Religion and Citizenship at Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation.”

Mormon public affairs representatives from across Canada participated in the two-day event. Bob Thompson, public affairs representative for southern Alberta, observed, “This was a great opportunity to share stories of faith with others. The diversity of our experiences and the commonalities of our convictions to serve our brothers and sisters as children of God was so inspiring.”

Keynote speakers at the conference were Dr. John Ralston Saul, an award-winning essayist and novelist and a long-time champion of freedom of expression, and Dr. John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria. Dr. Borrows, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Victoria, British Columbia, offered, “I want to ensure we don’t oversimplify our similarities and differences. … The juxtaposition of our stories can assist us in welcoming diverse perspectives into public spaces. … I believe comparison and contrast can advance religious, spiritual and secular pursuits through intersocietal and interfaith action — even when people hold drastically different points of view.”

Additionally, through a series of moderated panel discussions, participants addressed a variety of topics, including solidarity in diversity, reconciliation and immigration and refugees. The final panel discussion was held with parliamentarians to discuss how their faith informs their political life as they work to promote the common good.

The Reverend Dr. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches and chair of the conference, remarked, “My hope for this conference is the strengthening and deepening of this vital conversation about religion and secularism in Canadian public discourse.”

Dr. Gerald Filson, director of public affairs for the Bahá’í Community of Canada, noted, “In a climate of so much polarization we need an event like this conference to bridge the divide and bring people together, both the religious and the non-religious sides of life. We can really learn from each other in a sense of unity and fellowship.”

The conference was organized under the auspices of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation (CIC) in partnership with 12 conversation participants, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Cardus Faith in Canada 150 project.

Sandra Pallin, national director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Our Whole Society executive committee member, explains, “The CIC charter vision advocates for religion in a pluralistic society and in Canadian public life. It also promotes harmony and religious insight amongst religious communities in Canada and those with no religion. The Our Whole Society conference is one way that Canadian Interfaith Conversation seeks to accomplish its mandate. Partnering organizations are united in this cause. It’s been my privilege to work alongside this remarkable and faithful group as we advocate for deep and respectful conversation.”

Church President Thomas S. Monson has said, “I would encourage members of the Church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours” (“Looking Back and Moving Forward,” April 2008 general conference).

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