Professor Smith on “How an Attorney Can Further Religious Freedom”

In an event held on 6 October 2011 in connection with the Washington, DC  Colloqiuim on Religion Policy and the Second International Religious Liberty Award Dinner, Professor Robert T. Smith, Managing Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies addressed members of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Society on the topic “How an Attorney Can Further Religious Freedom,” explaining some current and critical threats to religious freedom and outlining how his hearers could help.

“The work of religious freedom requires the efforts of many dedicated men and women who join together in diverse ways,” said Professor Smith, who recommend the words of Steve Jobs in a commencement address at Stanford University: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

For those whose inclinations would be towards aiding the cause of religious freedom, Professor Smith recommended several principles:

The specific recommendations Professor Smith made for following these prinicples included volunteering for work with the Center and other organizations working to promote religious freedom, speaking out at schools and churches and in matters affecting legislation, offering pro bono legal work for churches, and running for public office.

Following upon advice of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Professor Smith recommended that in all actions the following should be remembered:

“First, we must speak with love, always showing patience, understanding and compassion toward our adversaries ….

Second, we must not be deterred or coerced into silence . . . . We must insist on our constitutional right and duty to exercise our religion, to vote our consciences on public issues and to participate in elections and debates in the public square ….

Third, we must insist on our freedom to preach the doctrines of our faith ….

Fourth, . . . we must nevertheless be wise in our political participation.

Fifth and finally,[we] must be careful never to support or act upon the idea that a person must subscribe to some particular set of religious beliefs in order to qualify for a public office ….”