“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?”
Jaxon Washburn, interfaith activist and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Perhaps in my coming from a faith tradition that is generally associated with the more conservative side of Christianity, it may come as a surprise when I speak about my tradition’s teachings and values as those that inspire me, as a Mormon, to engage with and appreciate the interfaith movement and religions other than my own. I can honestly say that I am an interfaith advocate because of my Mormonism, not despite it. Within my own tradition, I find a plethora of examples and sources which serve to illustrate this.
Historically speaking, the early Latter-day Saints endured intense religious persecution within the milieu of 19th-century Jacksonian America. Members of my faith look to the early pioneers and martyrs in that time with an attitude of reverence and gratitude for the sacrifices they made; and as such, Latter-day Saints are often especially sensitive towards individuals of other faiths suffering similar injustices on account of their own beliefs. As Latter-day Saints, it is our faith and history that compels us to stand up for and value religious freedom and interfaith values. This can be seen to the extent of being included within the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the closest thing that Mormonism has to a formal creed, with the 11th article reading: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Intrinsic then within the Mormon faith is a sense of religious freedom for all, regardless of what they may believe.
Within the modern establishment of the LDS Church, examples and admonitions of good will can likewise be heard being taught from the pulpit, an example being with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency in his 2008 General Conference address, where he said “We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God…We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. … He hears the prayers of the humble and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments.”
As Latter-day Saints, we see all individuals regardless of faith backgrounds as equal and sincere pursuers of truth, equally loved by our same Heavenly Father. Being all His children, there is no room for bigotry, prejudice, pride, or uncharitable actions within the Latter-day Saint tradition.
In my own life, I can recall participating in food and clothing drives for refugees, organized by my own local Mormon congregation. I can look to the Church with gratitude in its hosting of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City. I can hear interfaith values and teachings being shared by Church leaders, as they remind us to love one another as Christ has loved us, and to always abide by the Golden Rule. As a Latter-day Saint, I believe that I am called to a particular work by God, one that I qualify for by carrying the attributes of “faith, hope, charity, and love” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:4) with me wherever I go.
In this regard, I look forward to continuing my journey as a Mormon and in the future, as a missionary, where I will be able to embark on one of the greatest interfaith adventures of a lifetime. It is by taking part in and seeing firsthand my own faith tradition being an advocate for interfaith values, where I find inspiration and tangible hope in my life. Such is integral to my identity as a Mormon. With this in mind, it is my prayer and wish that we may we all live the Golden Rule, and remember where and what we stand for in a world desperately in need of much more #tangiblehope.
Jaxon Washburn is an 18-year old faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After being raised in an interfaith household for part of his life he felt compelled to create the World Religion and Tolerance Society, a high school interreligious student group built around the values of respect, openness, cooperation, and understanding among individuals of various religious and nonreligious backgrounds. This has allowed him to speak at venues such as the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, UT; the United Nations in New York City; and many others on the topic of youth involvement in the interfaith. Jaxon will be attending the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University to major in Religious Studies in fall 2017, prior to serving his 2-year Mormon Mission. He has a clear passion for the interfaith movement and religious studies: You can follow his journey and writings from on his personal blog at The Apotheosis Narrative.