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Latter-day Saint apostle speaks on the role of religion in COVID-19 crisis

Elder David A. Bednar speaks from a studio in the Church Office Building to participants at the G20 Interfaith Forum on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. The digital 2020 forum is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

SALT LAKE CITY– An apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a strong case for ensuring religious liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic to an international audience.

Elder David A Bednar spoke to the G20 Interfaith Forum on Wednesday. He addressed the lockdowns on churches and religious groups.

“For billions of people around the world, religion is at the center of our lives, and the very core of our identity,” he said in the live video address.

 

Practicing religion during COVID-19

Some governments labeled religion as a non-essential activity.  Elder Bednar said international law says basic religious freedom cannot be taken away even in times of an emergency, even during the COVID-19 crisis.

“To deny such freedom is to deny something fundamental to a believer’s soul,” he said.

Elder Bednar explained how the shutdown actually made some groups more distrustful of the government.

“The ongoing pandemic has demonstrated that some government officials fail to understand how and why religion is fundamental to the lives of billons of people. COVID-19 regulations have often distinguished between “essential” and “nonessential” activities and then treated religious activities as “nonessential.” This completely misconceives how vital religion is to people’s lives.”

He said religious leaders can work with secular leaders on spreading correct information. Faith communities can also debunk rumors and calm fears.

“My call is for respect, accommodation and cooperation; for creative solutions that mitigate the threat of COVID-19, while not cutting people off from an essential part of their lives,” said Elder Bednar.

Recommendations from the forum will be presented to the G20 in November. The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation.

You can read Elder Bednar’s full remarks here

Related: Church leaders discuss religious freedom with Vice President Pence in Salt Lake City