The world’s foremost proponent of religious freedom and peace, and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, is scheduled to be in Salt Lake this week. Are LDS top leaders planning to meet with him? According to Peggy Fletcher Stack in sltrib.com:
The three members of the LDS Church’s governing First Presidency have no plans to do so, says spokesman Eric Hawkins.
“The Dalai Lama met with them on a previous visit [in 2001] to Salt Lake,” Hawkins says. “As a courtesy, a member of the Twelve [apostles] will have a brief, informal visit.”
Even Pope Francis — the dynamic, barrier-busting leader of the largest Christian religion — has declined to meet the charismatic Tibetan.
The reason for all this obfuscating? The long arm of China casts a shadow over the ever-popular globe-trotting monk.
Gee, the governing leadership met with the Dalai Lama 15 years ago. So it’s not necessary to meet with him this time around. But as a courtesy there will be a “brief, informal visit” with a member of the Q12. This is a really poor excuse for not meeting with the Dalai Lama and not a well thought-out decision; and Hawkins’ statement is just plain inane.
I do agree, however, with a comment made by Utah ex-governor and former ambassador to China John Huntsman Jr. to the sltrib.com:
[All Utah officials — whether from state government, a business or a religion] will have to weigh the pros and cons of meeting with him and face whether they can take the repercussions. There could be a cost.
He goes on to warn that there could be a heavy cost to pay if LDS Church and state officials decline to meet the Dalai Lama.
If we don’t express our values as leaders of a state or religion, we are diminished in the eyes of the people here and abroad.
Well said. You have to stand for something.
Recently Elder Dallin H. Oaks advocated for religious freedom in England:
Understanding religion and its relationship to global concerns and to governments is essential to seeking to improve the world in which we live.
Clearly, the LDS Church has chosen to ignore one of the worlds greatest religious leaders, and an strong proponent of religious freedom, to kowtow to the Chinese government. Apparently, we are only interested in religious freedom when it suits our purposes. The LDS Church has abandoned the high moral ground here.