We can respect and build upon the beliefs of others, even people with whom we disagree.
When Ammon asked King Lamoni if he believed in God, the king replied, “I do not know what that meaneth.” Ammon, recognizing that the king was not devoid of belief, asked a follow-up question: “Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?” When the king answered, “Yea,” Ammon replied, “This is God” (Alma 18:24-28).
Phebe Carter, who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1834, wrote an impressive letter to her parents. They were unhappy with her decision to join the members of the church in Ohio, and they did not agree with her new beliefs. She felt a strong conviction that it was what God wanted her to do. Before leaving, she wrote, “Let us realize that we can pray to one God who will hear the sincere prayers of all his creatures and give us that which is best for us.” (Phebe Carter letter to her parents, no date, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; quoted in Come Follow Me, Doctrine and Covenants 2021, April 12–18. Doctrine and Covenants 37–40: “If Ye Are Not One Ye Are Not Mine”) I’m impressed with her deep convictions and with her respect for her parents’ belief in God.
Abraham Lincoln displayed a similar respect for people who believed differently from himself. In his Second Inaugural Address, near the end of the American Civil War, as he sought to heal a wounded and a divided nation, he acknowledged that people on both sides of the war “read the same Bible and pray to the same God.” He acknowledged the irony that people on both sides prayed for God to help them defeat the others, and he added, “The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.” I’m impressed with his respect for the religious beliefs of his enemies.
Today, I will respect the beliefs of the people around me and look for common ground. I will remember that we are all children of God and that He wants to answer our prayers.