Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Religious Freedom and Genealogy

As a former trial attorney with a background in U.S. Constitutional law and as a genealogist with ancestors who suffered mob violence, incarceration and persecution for their religious beliefs, I am intensely interested in the topic of religious freedom. Very recently, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke on September 13, 2016, in part, about religious freedom at a devotional held in Marriott Center of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Shortly before that between September 10th through the 14th, 2016, another leader of the Church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke twice at a conference sponsored by the Amar Foundation at Windsor Castle, outside of London, England on similar subjects. These are only two examples of the Church leaders' interest in this vital topic.

In addition, the Church has established a Religious Freedom website., to promote religious freedom. On that website is the following statements.
  • Become informed about the basics of religious freedom and understand your rights. Study the materials on this site and stay aware of what’s happening in the news regarding religious freedom. You can follow this Facebook page to stay more up-to-date.
  • Live and respectfully share your beliefs. Have meaningful, kind conversations with those of differing beliefs. Focus on seeking to understand one another’s perspective and finding common ground that unites you. While such discussions might create some tension, which occurs naturally in any democracy, if you proceed with faith and compassion rather than fear you’ll often discover fair compromises that result in a stronger society. 
Some of the major motivations for my own overwhelming interest in family history are the doctrine of the Church and my personal beliefs as they pertain to those doctrines. Because of my beliefs, religious freedom and genealogy are inseparably involved. As the recent addresses given by Elder Oaks and Elder Holland point out, it is time to become more than passive in my support of religious freedom.

This blog is entitled, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad..." The reason for such a general title is to provide a certain latitude in the subjects I intend to address. Because I see such a close relationship between my beliefs that form the foundation of my interest in genealogy and the additional subject of religious freedom, in the future, I choose to address some topics that bear on both subjects and where appropriate, where they overlap and relate.

As I pointed out in my opening sentence to this post, my ancestors suffered intense religious persecution for their beliefs. In fact, some of my ancestors were among the earliest European settlers in America. Three of my direct-line ancestors were passengers on the Mayflower when it arrived in 1620. Subsequently, many more of my ancestors left England and other countries as a result of seeking religious freedom.

Initially, I plan on writing about the legal aspects of religious freedom in the United States. Over time, I may also write about religious freedom in other countries.

As I usually say, stay tuned.


  1. The topic of religious freedom is a timely one. I support your exploring it here.

    The Arizona Bar just created a Religious Liberty Law Section. It is the first new section in 10 years. The executive council had its first meeting yesterday (19 Sep 2016). It is not listed as one of the sections on the State Bar web site, but we were promised it will be soon. At that time the mission and by-laws will be easily available but I have copies of both. The section currently has 54 paid members, with 187 attorneys stating they would be interested in joining once the section was established.

    1. That would have been a section i would have been interested in, but fortunately, I am totally retired and no longer a member of the Bar Association.