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BYU Devotional: Free to Choose

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered Tuesday’s campus Devotional address. He spoke about agency and religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is central to our worship and our work in the Kingdom of God,” Elder Rasband said. “Yet we are seeing the secular world draw boundary lines to set religion and even mortality aside.”

Elder Rasband presented three keys to freedom of religion:

1. The freedom to believe.

“No one should be forced to compromise what they believe because others may think another way,” Elder Rasband said. “Nor should they be required to live according to another’s beliefs. Because of freedom of religion, I can stand here today and tell you what I believe.”

2. The freedom to live our religion, worshipping as we desire.

“We have an honor code at BYU that reflects your freedoms and your accountability,” he said. “Freedom of religion allows you to attend this school, unique in all the world for its balance of secular and spiritual knowledge.”

This freedom also allows us to attend the temple and church services, pray to a loving Heavenly Father and receive personal revelation.

3. The freedom to share our faith in Jesus Christ and our knowledge of his gospel with others.

“We are gathering Israel. President Nelson has called for us to enlist in this great cause,” he said. In quoting President Nelson, Elder Rasband said, “There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more crucial than [gathering Israel]. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.”

There are many opportunities as college students to gather people to the gospel. Begin by being an “example of the believers” to all those you come into contact with. Serve with those with similar goals as you and follow the guidance and counsel of President Russell M. Nelson.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband waves to BYU Devotional attendees


When the gift of religious freedom is present and exercised, we can use our agency, a fundamental piece of the Plan of Salvation.

We chose to come to earth and receive a body. We committed to following God’s commandments so that one day we could return to live with Him in Heaven. Christ’s Atonement allows us to repent and be forgiven when we make mistakes.

The most distinguishing part of God’s plan is the opportunity to choose between good and evil.

“You have the capacity to becomes Gods and Goddesses in a realm that knows no sorrow and no defeat, that feels no pain and no rejection, that promises light and goodness and peace everlasting,” Elder Rasband said. “You are ‘children of light’ and you must never let the darkness of today get in the way of your desire to be with God and become like Him.”

With the power to choose comes the opportunity to feel joy. Christ performed the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane by choice for each of us, using His agency to grant us ours.

“Choose to feel joy in your very existence as a child of God,” Elder Rasband said. “Being a child of God means being connected to the heavens while we journey in mortality… there are expectations for us to make a difference in the Lord’s kingdom—right now.”

By looking farther than today’s troubles, we are reminded of our divine worth as a child of God.

“The opportunity to choose to live the tenets of the restored gospel is the essence of our religious freedom,” Elder Rasband said. “It is not an academic exercise held at arm’s length. It is an every day, every hour, experience.”

Next Forum: Alan Sterm

Alan Stern, leader of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, will deliver the forum address on Tuesday, January 28 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.

His remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.

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