Thursday, September 13 was an inspiring night. Thanks to the joint efforts from the Front Range and Columbine stakes and the Colorado Catholic Conference, 400+ attendees gathered for a Religious Freedom Forum in Columbine. With a full line-up of speakers, Colorado Mormon Chorale’s powerful patriotic numbers, and a timely message – the combined result was one to remember. Attendees learned the importance of standing for religious freedom, and increasing the ability to do so. Presenters tied together both examples of early leaders who created a framework to protect our freedoms, and the efforts that continue to maintain said freedoms. Elder Thomas Priday, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the evening, sharing gratitude for the opportunity for multiple faiths “to come together in unity.”

Rebecca Jenson, Public Affairs Director, North America Central Area, stands at attention during “The Star Spangled Banner”

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we are reminded regularly of our civic duties. Elder Bednar said recently, “There is a paradox in religious freedom — if I want my religious freedom to be protected, then I must protect the religious freedom of those who believe in a basically different way from my own. This is our task. And it will be our ongoing challenge. Religious freedom is more than a right; it is a duty.” (more…)


On Thursday evening congregations and believers from various faiths gathered together at Holy Family High School in Broomfield Colorado to learn more about Religious Freedom.

An estimated 515 total people were in attendance made up of members of Sikh, Latter Day Saint (Mormon), Catholic, Muslim, and other faiths that were invited to attend.

The purpose of the event was to help attendees to better understand what religious freedom is and what threatens it while equipping individuals with specific ideas and insights as to how to promote and defend religious freedom.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder at this event with our friends of other faith—in considering how we can each effectively promote and defend religious liberty with conviction and civility.  As the tide of evil rises all around us, so must our confident voices fill the air so those within our circle of influence (including those in the minority who may be especially vulnerable to baseless attacks against their personal expressions of religious conscience) know they are not alone in this great cause. -Jonathan Toronto, Attorney, Global Membership Chair of J Reuben Clark Law Society, and Director of Public Affairs, LDS Church, Denver

The event included a panel of three presenters who also took audience questions. Those panelists included

  • Steven Collis – Chair, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Denver Chapter, and Chair of Holland & Hart’s National Religious Institutions and First Amendment Practice
    Group
  • Montse Alvarado – VP and Executive Director of the Becket Fund
  • Deacon Geoffrey Bennett – VP, Parish and Community Relations, Catholic Charities (Archdiocese of Denver)

Standing for the religious freedom of people of all belief systems is becoming one of the most important causes of our time, not just in the United States but globally. An event like this—with Catholics, Muslims, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, Sikhs, and so many others—shows that we can all stand together to protect this very important freedom. I was grateful to see such an outstanding turnout. -Steven Collis

Participants learned from the presenters the history of religious freedom in this country, examples of current and ongoing threats to religious freedom, and specific actions steps that can be taken daily and in response to specific issues today.

Elder Priday, Area Seventy, was in attendance and kicked off the event with a discussion about how all believers need to come together to protect our right to worship in part by showing tolerance and understanding for all people.

As believers in God, we have a responsibility and duty to stand for truth, but in a way that is never disrespectful or resentful toward others.  The Lord Jesus Christ invites His followers to show love and to seek peace.  We all lose in an atmosphere of hostility or contention. -Elder Thomas T. Priday

Stay connected with ColoradoMormons.com and our Facebook page for future events like this throughout the state!


Most Americans are very familiar with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which, among other protections, allows individuals to engage in free religious exercise according to individual conscience.  Throughout America’s short history on the world stage, these constitutional rights have been a beacon to all who love freedom and who would respect individual agency in matters of faith.

Today more than ever religious freedom is being threatened by a number of different sources.  With this in mind, and in an effort to educate our community, various faiths and civic institutions are joining together to present an evening program designed to enable attendees to better understand, promote and defend religious liberty.

This “Standing for Religious Freedom in Our Community” program—hosted by the Colorado Catholic Conference and J. Reuben Clark Law Society, in partnership with the Becket Fund, local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Masjid Ikhlas (Metropolitan Denver North Islamic Center), among other participants—will be held on Thursday August 16th, at Holy Family High School in Broomfield, Colorado, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

In addition to legal experts Steven Collis (Chair, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Denver Chapter, and Chair of Holland & Hart’s National Religious Institutions and First Amendment Practice Group), Jenny Kraska (Executive Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference) and Montse Alvarado (VP and Executive Director of the Becket Fund), keynote remarks will be offered by Bishop Jorge Rodriguez (Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver) and Elder Thomas Priday (of the Seventy, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

At the close of the keynote and expert panel remarks, audience members will have an opportunity to raise questions in a town hall style program format, after which Imam ShemSadeen Ben-Masaud (Masjid Ikhlas) will offer a closing prayer.  Light refreshments will be provided following the event, and audience members will have an opportunity to mingle with program presenters.

“Religious freedom is a matter of profound importance to members of all religious faiths,” noted Jonathan Toronto, Global Membership Chair of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and a public affairs representative for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  “We truly look forward to joining with our friends in this unique interfaith event—which is sure to strengthen all attendees in their approach to preserving and defending religious liberty.”

Holy Family High School is located at 5195 W 144th Ave, Broomfield, Colorado.  No registration is required to attend this event. If you would like to RSVP or share the event with friends you can do so via the Facebook event by clicking here.

Event planners will offer voter registration stations prior to and following the program for those who wish to ensure they are currently registered to vote.


Recently the Islamic Center of Boulder hosted an Interfaith event in partnership with the Boulder Mormon church. The Daily Camera, a local news publication covering Boulder Colorado, published a great piece about the event and its connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit currently on display at the Museum of Nature and Science.

Before the event the Boulder Atonement Lutheran Church hosted an interfaith dinner which was attended by a number of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders.

Below is an image of the piece on the Daily Camera website. Click on the image or click here to view the full write up.

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On Thursday, June 21, hundreds of people gathered at Temple Emanuel for an evening of education and insight. The arrival of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) has seen popular attendance. It has also meant an influx of peripheral activities as people seek avenues to learn even more. Thursday’s event, brought about through the combined efforts of Colorado Council of Churches, JEWISHcolorado, Temple Emanuel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highlighted three experts, both local and out of state. Dr. Donald Parry, BYU professor of Hebrew Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Samuel Boyd, CU professor of Judaic Studies, and Dr. Rick Hess, professor and Old Testament scholar at Denver Seminary were the evening’s panelists.

While Dr. Hess gave an overview of the origins and discovery of the scrolls, he also taught about the caves, the Qumran community, and the translations as they tie into our current codex. Dr. Boyd shared his passion for the Bible and how the scrolls influence our understanding of it. Of the thousands of scrolls and fragments found and translated, a portion of them are Biblical text, another portion are commentary on the text, while a third portion are writings related to the day. Between all of these sources, Dr. Boyd taught that what we understand about the Bible still leaves a lot of room for learning. (more…)


On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) attended a beautiful Iftar dinner hosted by Multicultural Mosaic Foundation (“Mosaic”), and its President, Ismail Akbulut.  The purpose of the event was to deepen friendships while increasing mutual understanding, among local Latter-day Saints and Muslims.

Elder Thomas T. Priday and Dr. Ismail Demirkan

In the tradition of Islam, an Iftar is the evening meal in which Muslims complete their daily fast as part of their holy month of Ramadan.  Throughout this special month, Muslims strive to more fully observe the principles of virtuous and generous living that are central to their beliefs.  For example, in his highly informative opening presentation (following a welcome given by Brother Akbulut), Mosaic’s Interfaith Director, Dr. Ismail Demirkan, explained that for devout Muslims the Ramadan fast is about abstaining from more than just from food and water, but from other more worldly activities and sin–indicating that one’s words, thoughts, and treatment of others receive greater attention during Ramadan. (more…)


Dr. Dana Pike lectures a full crowd on the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls

 

Thursday, May 3 marked the beginning of what will be a continuing series of forums about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Local interest in the scrolls has grown with the arrival of several scrolls from Israel, as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science hosts the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. Drs. Rick Hess, Dana Pike, and Craig Blomberg taught a standing room only crowd in the chapel on Denver Seminary campus in Littleton. Dr. Dana Pike, Department Chair of Ancient Scripture in the College of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University gave an overview and background of the scrolls. Dr. Rick Hess, distinguished professor at Denver Seminary, followed with a lesson on the significance of the scrolls with regard to the Old Testament. Dr. Craig Blomberg, also a distinguished professor at Denver Seminary, rounded out the instruction with insight into how the scrolls tie in with the New Testament.

All three professors are members of the Society of Biblical Literature and interact regularly on topics of mutual interest. The three pointed out similarities between the oldest known Hebrew biblical texts created in 1008 AD and our present day Old Testament. With the exception of the book of Esther, all books of the Old Testament are represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  We learn more about specific importance as we see that multiple copies of select books of the Old Testament were found.  The top three most commonly found texts belong to Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah.  Interestingly, these three Old Testament books are also the most frequently referenced books of the Old Testament as one reads through the New Testament.

The presentations were followed with panel members asking one another questions, generating further discussion. The Q&A portion of the evening was conducted by Craig McIlroy, Director of Public Affairs for the Denver South Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to the friendly banter and questions among panelists, audience members were able to pose questions of their own, and the evening concluded on a positive note.

from left to right: Rev. Annie Arnoldy, Tom Reiners, Dr. Craig Blomberg, Dr. Dana Pike, Dr. Rick Hess and Craig McIlroy

The next day, presenters were hosted by Reverend Annie Arnoldy of St. Andrew United Methodist church of Highlands Ranch. They were joined by Tom Reiners, a lifelong member of the Methodist church. A retired rocket scientist and Dead Sea Scrolls enthusiast, Mr. Reiners serves as a docent at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and takes tours of the exhibition. He added color commentary relevant to the exhibit. The four panelists gave the 450+ attendees a full evening of information and insight. In addition to Mr. Reiners’ contribution, Dr. Pike added further to his presentation, sharing a bit of his experience in Jerusalem.  His unique history includes being on the team of 70 plus translators who were invited by Israeli scholar Emmanuel Tov to help translate and publish the scrolls. He shared personal account of the 11 caves in which the 950 fragments were found, and the close connection he experienced with history.

More seminars similar to the two that took place last week are scheduled in the near future. Forums are scheduled for June 21 at Temple Emmanuel, June 22 in Parker, June 23 in our Arvada, and June 24 in Boulder.  Check back for details forthcoming.


In a planned “Day at the Capitol,” clergy and faith leaders met on Thursday, April 26, 2018. With a goal of uniting faith communities to engage and act in the political sphere, Catholic Charities organized a gathering of local pastors and clergy. In attendance were Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, among many others. Deacon Geoff Bennett, Vice President of Parish and Community Relations for Catholic Charities spearheaded the event and began the morning with the vision for the group. He invited all to set aside doctrinal differences, “…agree on foundational issues, and tell our legislators that these things are important to us.” Stake presidents, priests, and other attendees shared thoughts on how to carry out this ecumenical vision. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila spoke next, further driving home the point about Christians’ needs to be active, informed constituents that help enact change. Quoting de Tocqueville, Archbishop Aquila taught, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” The meeting concluded with a presentation from Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, and president of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors (NASCCD). She helped educate the group about legislative advocacy, what it looks like, and how it’s carried out. The group concluded with a walk to the capitol, where they hoped to meet with local legislators. However, as Kraska taught, with politics you learn to be patient and flexible. Large crowds of teachers protesting salaries also chose Thursday to walk on the capitol; they arrived in such large numbers that religious leaders’ agenda took a back seat. Despite the change of plans, participants shared enthusiasm and gratitude for the meeting.

Elder Priday and Archbishop Aquila