The sexual violence and persecution of refugees is a crisis deserving more global outrage, said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles while he was attending a conference at the famous Windsor Castle in England in 2016.

“The world needs to be more outraged than it is,” he said, “when we read of the persecution, the violence, the sexual violence, the murder, the rape, the destruction of families and any social structure that these people have had — almost entire cultures being destroyed.”

Elder Holland participated in a five-day conference titled “Religious Persecution: The Driver for Forced Migration” at Windsor Castle, home of British royalty for 900 years and an official residence of the Queen of England.

He pointed to religious freedom, belief, and activity as keys to improving the plight of refugees. He shared research showing that high levels of religious freedom correlate with fewer incidents of armed conflict, high levels of health and earned income and better educational opportunities for women.

“We need to realize,” he said, “that reducing restrictions on religion, particularly when these restrictions are targeted against minorities, is one additional component in the solution to forced migrations.”

Elder Holland decided to attend at the invitation of Baroness Emma Nicholson, who is the chair and founder of the AMAR Foundation and a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords.

“We need that powerful and unique female force for good,” Elder Holland said. “Emma Nicholson is a magnificent example of the very empowerment of which we speak. She has done a herculean work in advancing this cause, and we are all indebted to her.”

620elder holland shares the mormon refugee experience at windso 9

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Baroness Emma Nicholson, who invited him to participate in a conference on religious persecution, stand outside Windsor Castle. Photo by Simon D. Jones.

Elder Holland also said religious belief helps individuals deal with crises.

“I do believe that religious rights are human rights,” he said. “The value of religion is that we have something to anchor to, we have something to believe in, we have hope, we have faith. Those are religious words. People can face a crisis, a difficulty and a challenge in their life better with religious faith than without.”

Read more about the Deseret News coverage of the conference.



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