by Andrew Birkinsha, 2018 ICLRS Student Fellow
The welcome and keynote session Wednesday Morning was given by Elder L. Whitney Clayton, senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His remarks focused on how religious identity deserves the same legal and social considerations being given to racial, gender, and sexual identities.
In his speech, “In the Marrow of Their Bones: A Latter-day Saint Experience of Religion as Identity”, Elder Clayton highlighted his, and the church’s, pioneer heritage. He indicated that religious beliefs are not just a common choice, but an integral part of people’s lives, a “foundation of character.” He expressed fear that society sees religion as a dangerous and outdated way of thinking that should be cast aside as soon as possible. Elder Clayton closed by claiming that government should not be allowed to constrain religion to private homes as if it were a disease, and that rights to religious thoughts and beliefs should be equal to the claims of other minorities.