News Release

Timely Visit of World Famous Judge to South Africa

A luncheon honoring Senior Judge J. Clifford Wallace included several distinguished guests who are each champions of religious freedom and human rights.

During a recent visit to South Africa, Senior Judge J. Clifford Wallace attended a luncheon held in his honor at the Africa Southeast Area (ASEA) Office in Johannesburg. Judge Wallace was in the country by invitation from the Chief Justice of South Africa, and participated in training of 16 High Court Judges and Magistrates. He commented that he found those judicial leaders "very teachable." Judge Wallace has travelled throughout the world, working with retired judges to provide training to local judges, including Botswana, Namibia and now South Africa.

Judge Wallace began his judicial career as a federal trial judge on the United States District Court. He was later nominated to the US Court of Appeals by President Nixon in 1972. After taking senior status, Judge Wallace has focused his attention on the effort of religious freedom and human rights, working directly with judiciaries in more than 50 countries and on every continent.

The special luncheon was sponsored by ASEA Public Affairs and included distinguished guests who are each champions of religious freedom and human rights. Guests included members of the Turquoise Institute (Turkish Studies) and Rene Ferguson from WITS University with some of her former top students. All members of the ASEA Area Presidency and their wives were also in attendance.

In remarks given following the lunch, Judge Wallace observed that religion is not getting the kind of protection as in the past, which makes him concerned for what life will be like for the next generation. He identified key points when posing the question, "Why is it good to have religion?" First: Taught that there is a God; Second: Taught how you are supposed to live your life; Third: Accountability; Fourth: Importance of serving others.

He shared specific instances in the United States where cases arose regarding religious freedom, some resulting in Amendments to the US Constitution i.e. The First Amendment. Judge Wallace noted that South Africa's Constitution is based on "rights". He addressed questions regarding the separation of church and state and concerns of having one national church in the history of some countries. He stated, "Embrace the idea OF religion, not of A religion."

Judge Wallace concluded his remarks in reminding all in attendance that it is each individual's responsibility to work together on protecting religious freedom. He shared a sweet experience his wife had of organizing an event celebrating Martin Luther King Day. At the conclusion of the event, over 700 people of various religions joined together in singing, "We Will Overcome!" It was a very powerful demonstration of how people can come together, in spite of their religious diversity, for a common cause.

Judge Wallace entertained questions from guests, including one from a young French foreign exchange student. She stated concern after a recent visit to her country over intolerance of religion. She shared that French citizens may practice religion, but must do so in private. Another question was asked about how to manage differing core beliefs. Judge Wallace counseled, "Focus on the issues that can bring people together, instead of driving them apart."

Judge Wallace is a devout member of the LDS Church, and has served in various church callings throughout his life. He is also a longtime supporter of the Boy Scouts, serving on the local chapter's board of directors and executive committee from 1977 to 1993.

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