attorney for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints predicts
secularism will be one of the most significant obstacles facing the LDS
Church over the coming decade.
F. Atkin, associate general counsel for the LDS Church, made the
prognostication Saturday during an address at the 2010 J. Reuben Clark
Law Society Conference on the University of Utah campus.
governments become neutral towards religion, we see less and less
protection of religion and religious activities," he said. "Secularism
in the world is neutral at best towards religions and hostile at worst.
We're seeing more and more that it is hostile, not just neutral,
In the United States, secularism could result in changing how the tax code treats nonprofit religious organizations.
think there's going to be a tightening now of what kind of entities get
tax-exempt status," Atkin said. "Maybe churches are no longer going to
be viewed as such a positive influence in society — therefore (maybe)
they're not going to be granted tax-exempt status."
secularism is manifesting itself in a wave of anti-discrimination
measures in Europe that could, for example, prevent the LDS Church from
requiring its employees to adhere to a basic level of personal
worthiness and moral conduct.
seeing more and more, particularly in Western Europe, the countries who
are very secular are pushing anti-discrimination and not permitting any
religious exclusions," he said.
to Atkin, additional "trends that are here and coming in the next 5-10
years that have the possibility of impacting the church adversely"
include an increase in audits of church financial records as
governments searching for more revenue during a global economic
downturn and immigration restrictions that stand to severely limit the
number of visas available to the church for full-time missionaries.
also provided some context for the wide range of issues the LDS
Church's Office of General Counsel routinely confronts. "The Office of
General Counsel takes care of the legal affairs of the church. We want
the church to be legal wherever we are so that the enemies of the
kingdom cannot attack us because we've done something incorrectly."