According to the Salt Lake Tribune, University of Utah President Michael Young said Mormons ought to be "among the most passionate civil libertarians in the world" to preserve religious freedoms.
"We all ought to be members of the ACLU," Young said Monday in a question-and-answer session after addressing the LDS International Society at Brigham Young University during a conference on the erosion of religious liberties.
The U. president, a special adviser to leaders of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on religious-liberty issues, served from 1998 to 2005 on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, including two stints as chairman.
In his keynote address, Young, a Latter-day Saint and a descendant of Utah colonizer Brigham Young, detailed what he sees as attacks on religious freedoms and called for individual LDS Church members to pay attention. Often, he noted, it’s zoning boards or city councils that make decisions that impinge on religious liberties.
"Our capacity to stem the tide, to raise the alarm and do what we need to do for our church, but also for people everywhere, is important," Young told a crowd of about 200 conference-goers.
Karen McCreary, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was surprised and delighted by Young’s comments that Mormons should join the ACLU.
"I really welcome it," said McCreary, who noted that the Utah chapter was founded by Latter-day Saints. "It’s wonderful to see that the health of my liberties are connected to the health of yours, whether you are LDS, or Jew or Muslim or nothing in this state. It’s great to have a conversation."