LDS General Conference: Saturday sessions (Morning) 08

The First Presidency, from left, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, President Russell M. Nelson, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor, sit before the morning session of the 188th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, March 31, 2018, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been featured in media throughout the world on it stance concerning the care and respect of refugees.

On Monday the First Presidency issued a statement on refugees following recent media inquiries, according to a church press release.

“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are deeply committed to living the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor,” the First Presidency statement said. “We feel tremendous joy in helping all of God’s children, no matter where they may live in this world.”

The First Presidency continues, “It is therefore with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of more than 70 million people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, or religious persecution.

“We encourage Church members and friends to respond appropriately and legally, to help create welcoming communities by volunteering their time, talents and friendship to individuals and families who are integrating into our societies.”

On Nov. 2, Utah Governor Gary Herbert asked the White House through a letter to President Donald Trump to send more refugees to Utah.

Herbert said Utah has the resources and space for refugees. In the past, Herbert said Utah has been able to accept 1,000 refugees per year, but the numbers of those settling in the state have decreased.

Herbert sent the letter as the Trump Administration prepares to reduce the number of refugees accepted into the country, while allowing states more say over whether they will accept them.

Monday’s statement is not the first time the church’s First Presidency has issued statements on refugees. The church has been closely monitoring the refugee situation and the First Presidency has been making official statements on the current refugee concerns since 2017 and before.

On Jan. 31, 2017 the LDS Church put out a statement after Trump implemented a ban on refugees traveling to the U.S. from seven predominately Muslim nations in the Middle East, according to the Associated Press. The action — which the president said was necessary to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” — also suspended the United States’ refugee program for 120 days and indefinitely halted refugees from war-torn Syria.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth,” the First Presidency statement stated in 2018, “with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve was a member of the First Presidency when the 2017 refugee statements were released by the church. Uchtdorf, who was a child refugee in Eastern Europe following World War II, has also stated his special concern for their wellbeing of refugees. He has used his Facebook pages to speak to the matter, and has made personal appeals encouraging members to help where they can, using his own childhood experiences as an example of refugees being helped.

The LDS Church has also produced a number of videos on how to help and support refugee families.

Herbert says the compassion to welcome refugees is a part of the culture of Utah, where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found refuge generations ago.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!