Church Leaders Visit Iraq to Discuss Religious Intolerance

Church Leaders Visit Iraq to Discuss Religious Intolerance

Two leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency and Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy, joined more than 200 global religious leaders, politicians and experts in Baghdad, Iraq, November 10–11, 2018, for a conference designed to raise worldwide support to end religious persecution.

The conference was organized by the AMAR Foundation, a charity based in the United Kingdom.

“I am honored to participate in this conference about the Yazidi people and the persecution they have endured for their religious beliefs and practices,” Elder Perkins told the gathering, which included leaders from other faiths, including Chaldeans, Mandaeans, Muslims, Shias, Sunnis, and Yazidis.

The spiritual leaders expressed their determination to work together to help end religious persecution around the world, which includes the recent attacks, kidnapping and torture of Yazidis in northern Iraq.

“I understand, just a little, how emotional these events are for the Yazidi people,” said Elder Perkins, who spoke about the persecution experienced by our faith’s early pioneers in the 1800s.

“[The Yazidis’] recent experience of another genocide attempt with a half million people displaced, several thousand enslaved, and hundreds if not thousands killed exceeds what my Church faced in the United States,” he explained. “I promise that our Church will not forget about the Yazidi as time goes by.”

The Baghdad conference was part of a series of meetings held in England and Salt Lake City over the past two years. Senior Latter-day Saint leaders participated in the meetings in Windsor. The next step was to bring the two-day event to the heart of the Middle East.

LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, partners with AMAR to help restore the spiritual and temporal needs of the Yezidi communities in Lalish and Sinjar, Iraq.

“This work seeks to restore for communities targeted by ISIS and others the music, sacred clothing, places of worship, scriptural texts, temple and church sites, genealogies, and family and neighborhood relationships so crucial to healing,” said Sister Eubank, also the director of LDS Charities.

“There are personal actions each of us can take within our spheres of influence and expertise to help bring these people home and help them heal,” said Sister Eubank, who participated in a panel discussion on the role of religion in combating intolerance. “We do this from our compassion for brothers and sisters and our duty to God.”

“No one of us can do it alone, but there is power if we leave old factions behind and build bridges to work together — government, media, civil society, religious leaders and families,” added Sister Eubank.

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