News Release

Law and Religion, Where Justice and Mercy Meet

Namibia May 17-19 International Law and Religion Symposium

Local and regional leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended a landmark conference on religious freedom, held in Windhoek Namibia.  Elders LeGrand R. Curtis and Kevin Scott Hamilton - both general authorities of the Church, representing  the highest levels of leadership in all of Africa - and Demus Makuwa, the Church’s most senior leader in Namibia, joined academics, judiciary, and fellow religious leaders from 20 different countries at the Safari Court Hotel in Namibia’s capital of Windhoek.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by the University of Namibia and other bodies including the church-owned Brigham Young University's International Center for Law and Religion Studies, is examining the intersection between law and religion.  In the opening welcome, Yvonne Dausab, Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Law at the University of Namibia, stated that “religion gives law its spirit, and law gives religion its structure.” “This is reminiscent of the biblical principles of justice and mercy, and in both cases one must find the balance”, she said.

Sean Donnelly (Area Public Affairs Director for the LDS Church), who assisted at the conference, commented that the recent non-discrimination law passed in the State of Utah (USA), is a model of balance between law and religion. The law shows how when dialogue and legislation are developed with a win-win attitude, it is very possible to protect the rights of minorities and uphold the basic human rights of every human being. For more information see:

The presentations and debates addressed very challenging dilemmas, such as so-called secular governments making religious decisions, or in practical terms, the questions of religious holidays, the wearing of religious dress in schools and so on.  The dialogue and academic papers presented will help to inform future decisions that will determine just how secure religious freedom really is.

Elder Kevin Scott Hamilton, a member of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency of the LDS Church, speaking directly to members of that faith said “Our doctrine remains unchanged, we follow Jesus Christ, we believe in civility, respect and kindness, we are all children of a Heavenly Father, everyone must be treated with love and respect.”

Religious freedom, along with strengthening faith and supporting traditional family values, remain some of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ highest priorities.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.