Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right, allowing all to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe. But around the world, and in the United States and in our own communities, this freedom is eroding according to Governor Michael O. Leavitt. It is this topic that he will be speaking on Sunday, November 17 at 6 p.m. in the Centrum Arena at Southern Utah University.
Churches, religious organizations and individuals are invited to come and learn from Governor Leavitt in his speech titled “Religious Freedom and Practice Thereof,” which will inform all about the increasing restrictions for everyone as they participate in the public square, expressing their beliefs or serving in society.
Hosted by the Cedar City Interfaith Alliance and SUU Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service, this event is open to all according to Eric Kirby, executive director of the Leavitt Center, which was named in Governor Leavitt’s honor.
He added, “No matter your religion affiliation, or lack there of, this does affect you. We are starting to see an erosion of religious freedoms in our nation and people need to be aware of what’s going on and how it will affect them. By attending Governor Leavitt’s speech you’ll understand what you can do and how your freedoms will be impacted by the current religious decline.”
To this end, Jerry Van Iwaarden, pastor of the Westview Christian Center and part of the Interfaith Alliance, gives further clarification and stated that this community symposium will educate citizens in ways that a news article or TV program couldn’t.
He stated, “To retain the values that this nation and community was founded on, we need our citizens to be informed. Every person, no matter their belief system, needs to be educated and aware of what is happening at all levels of government.”
Governor Leavitt’s speech is for all, no matter faith, belief, affiliation, or lack of, “it is a topic that all need to be educated on,” said Kirby, adding “There are some big shifts occurring with religious freedoms and people need to be aware of it or they will wake up one day and realize that their rights have been stripped.”
Governor Michael O. Leavitt graduated from SUU in 1978 and went on to found The Leavitt Group, the second largest, privately held insurance brokerage in the nation. He also served as three-time elected governor of Utah (1993-2003), and then served in the Cabinet of President George W. Bush, administrator of Environmental Protection Agency (2003-2005) and secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2009).