Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series on how individual members of the Church can defend religious freedom. To see the previous article in the series, click here.
Elder Robert D. Hales’ address in General Conference, as discussed in the April 20th column in this series, reaffirmed that protecting religious freedom requires visible actions. With a plea of urgency, he compared our day to the time of Captain Moroni:
“Our Savior’s Second Coming is drawing nearer. Let us not delay in this great cause. Remember Captain Moroni, who hoisted the title of liberty inscribed with the words ‘In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.’ Let us remember the people’s response: exercising their agency, they ‘came running together’ with a covenant to act.”
So now the question: Where should we come running together to show our faces and be counted?
Here are four ways to set your radar so you will know where the battles are forming.
#1: Set up Google alerts
Though Satan has corrupted swaths of the Internet, God inspired its creation so we can quickly get our hands on knowledge and facilitate the spread of the gospel. In hundredths of a second, our desired information pops to our view after typing a few search words.
Let electrons monitor the web for you. One good tool is the Google alert and here’s the how-to:
- Go online to googlealert.com.
- Follow the instructions to set up your account – username, password, and the email address where you want information sent. I recommend that you establish a new email address for this purpose and keep your personal and/or business addresses separate.
- Follow directions to establish your list of search words and phrases, such as “religious freedom.” (Use quotes to narrow your search; the phrase without the quotes may not always yield info about religious freedom.) For each search word or phrase, you determine how often and how many. I suggest choosing “as-it-happens” and “only the best results.” Otherwise you will get too many leads to sort through.
You will have to tinker with the search words to find your Goldilocks sweet spot – not too many, not too few. You might add a geographic qualifier such as “religious freedom” California or “freedom of speech” Texas to monitor the action closer to your home.
#2: Check local government agendas
Keep an eye on the agendas for your city, your county, and your local school board. For example, to keep tabs on my city’s doings, I click on …
… and I find out the upcoming agenda, minutes of past agenda items, and staff reports. Much of it doesn’t apply to my interests, but it may someday give me an early warning of what may soon bubble up. There does not appear to be a standard website formula all cities use, but googling your city, county, or school district will lead you to the right web page you can then bookmark.
#3: Organize your grapevines
Don’t try to monitor all potential battlefields. We members of the Church have social networks that extend beyond our home ward; let’s organize them in a non-official way. When we interact with others through social media and/or by bumping into them at stake meetings or at the temple, it’s easy to tell them of your interest in defending religious freedom and to ask them to “keep your ears open” and let you know of anything they hear going on in their locales.
Those funny old-fashioned things called newspapers can also keep you abreast of happenings.
#4: Monitor key websites
Your Google alerts should uncover budding events, but certain websites can be a double-check on what activists on the religious freedom issue are doing. You will find out where a pro-freedom presence is needed as well as key arguments pro and con.
Good websites to bookmark on our side include:
- Alliance Defending Freedom: alliancedefendingfreedom.org
- American Enterprise Institute: aei.org/policy/society-and-culture
- American Religious Freedom Program: religiousfreedom.org
- The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty: becketfund.org
- The Heritage Foundation: heritage.org/issues/religion-and-civil-society
- Power Line: powerlineblog.com/religion
You will find it helpful to understand the arguments of those who believe in restricting freedom of religion as we know it, especially those who substitute “freedom of worship” for “freedom of religion,” a narrowing of freedom to the confines of a church building. You may also discover where they intend to voice their activism:
- American Atheists: atheists.org
- Daily Kos: dailykos.com/news/religion
- Freedom From Religion: ffrf.org (especially their Publications and Outreach & Events sections)
- Huffington Post: huffingtonpost.com/religion
Finding events and opportunities to stand for religious freedom may require some sifting of these website materials. If you find other productive websites, I would appreciate knowing about them.
Next: Stand Up and Be Counted – Finding Allies
Gary Lawrence, pollster and author, was the California statewide LDS grass roots director for Proposition 8. He welcomes questions at: [email protected]