Speaking at a religious liberty symposium, President Gordon B. Hinckley thanked representatives of many countries for their efforts to establish religious freedom.
"I have been thinking of what a different world this would be if men's hearts all over the world would turn to the principles of true religion and exemplify them in their lives and in their actions," he said, speaking at the conclusion of the 11th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 6.
The symposium, titled "Religion in the Public Sphere: Challenges and Opportunities," was sponsored by many groups including the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Catholic University of America, The Religion and Human Rights Program of the Human Rights Center of Columbia University, and The International Commission for Freedom of Conscience. The international representatives invited to the symposium included legal scholars and government officials from many countries.
President Hinckley said, "Where religion finds its finest expression, there is not conflict, really. And if there is anything this world needs, it is the peace that comes of understanding, of worship of one's God, and of loyalty to principles of religious life."
He noted that in the Salt Lake Valley, settled by the Mormon Pioneers in the mid-1800s, almost every religion of the world is now present and "we get along together."
Congratulating those attending, President Hinckley also wished them "success in your great undertaking in trying to establish freedom of religion in your lands. When we are all together we may have different theological understanding, but we all have a common obligation and privilege, and that is to reach out, to assist those in need wherever they may be or whatever their problem may be."
Referring to the 11th Article of Faith, he said, "We believe in '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.' " Then he said, "It is in that spirit that we carry on here. We do not fear competition in our religion, no. We simply say to people, 'You see what we have. See if we can offer something better than you have. And if we can, then we extend the hand of fellowship to you. But whatever your religion, we will respect you and honor you and try to assist you as you walk the road of life.' "
Again expressing appreciation for those in the audience, he said, "I have been all over this world, and I have not been anywhere that I have not met good people. I mean that. There are good people, good will everywhere. And there are a few bad people, unfortunately, but I hope the good overrule the bad."
Participants at the symposium represented Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and North and South America. Also attending were President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency, President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Seventy.