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Dallin H. Oaks
Works at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Attended Brigham Young University
Lives in Salt Lake City, UT
3,191 followers|356,665 views
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since May 1984.

He is a native of Provo, Utah (born on August 12, 1932). He and his late wife, June Dixon Oaks, are the parents of six children. She died July 21, 1998. On August 25, 2000, he married Kristen M. McMain in the Salt Lake Temple.

Elder Oaks is a graduate of Brigham Young University (1954) and of the University of Chicago Law School (1957). He practiced law and taught law in Chicago. He was president of Brigham Young University from 1971 to 1980 and a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1980 until his resignation in 1984 to accept his calling to the apostleship.

He has been an officer or member of the board of many business, educational, and charitable organizations. He is the author or co-author of many books and articles on religious and legal subjects. In May, 2013, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty awarded him the Canterbury Medal for “courage in the defense of religious liberty.”

  • Brigham Young University
  • University of Chicago Law School
Basic Information
August 12, 1932
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 1984 - present
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Salt Lake City, UT


Dallin H. Oaks

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In my life, I’ve done a lot of reading—books, newspapers, professional magazines, and scriptures. For a long time, I read them all the same. But when I was about 50, I learned a lesson that has shaped my life.

My mother taught me not to eat without asking a blessing on my food. One day I said to myself, “I pray before physical nourishment. Shouldn’t I pray before taking the spiritual nourishment I seek when I read the scriptures?” Since then, I have learned to never read the scriptures without praying first.

I ask the Lord to illuminate my mind and my heart. I ask Him to teach me what He wants me to know to guide me. I believe there is great wisdom in the principle of reading the scriptures and seeking revelation. 

Dallin H. Oaks

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Religious freedom is a lifelong interest of mine. My first publication as a young law professor at the University of Chicago 53 years ago was an edited book on the relationship between church and state in the United States.

Today, much more than then, none of us can ignore the importance of religion globally—in politics, conflict resolution, economic development, humanitarian relief, and more. Eighty-four percent of the world’s population identifies with a particular religion, yet 77 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religious freedom. Understanding religion and its relationship to global concerns and to governments is essential to seeking to improve the world in which we live.

This month, I met with members of the UK Parliament and advisers and also spoke on religious freedom at Oxford University. That audience included many who are not members of the Church. However, we agree that religious teachings and the religiously motivated actions of believers are essential to a free and prosperous society and continue to deserve special legal protections.

May we each do our part to understand and protect our right to religious freedom.

Dallin H. Oaks

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I am one of many Church leaders who have often spoken in support of religious freedom. Recently I spoke at Claremont Graduate University (California) on “Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Society.” The text is posted on

Here are a few things I said there:
• Religious freedom is not just the concern of religious persons. Others have a strong interest in religious freedom because it is necessary for peace and stability in our pluralistic world.

• Religious teachings and the religiously motivated actions of believers are valuable to society and are deserving of special legal protection.

• Those who advocate nondiscrimination frequently call religious objectors “bigots.” This name-calling assumes that a bigot is anyone whose religious views are in opposition to the name-callers. Ironically, the traditional dictionary definition of a bigot is “a person who is utterly intolerant of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from his own.” Religious expression should not be shouted down as bigotry by those who fit that definition themselves.

• In the United States, we have a history of tolerant diversity, not perfect but mostly effective at allowing persons with competing visions to live together in peace. We all want effective ways to resolve differences without anger and with mutual understanding and accommodation. We all lose when an atmosphere of hostility or contention prevails.

• We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. As followers of Christ, we should be examples of civility.

Dallin H. Oaks

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Recently I was asked about how I prepare myself to receive answers to my prayers for guidance. We receive personal revelation in different ways, but we should each live so that the Spirit is always with us.

I start my day very early—not because I am ambitious, but because I am old (after a while, you just can’t sleep anymore). I first bow my head and pray that the Spirit will teach me. This is a simple prayer, like one offered before a meal because that is what I am doing. I ask for nourishment from what I am about to partake. Then I study the scriptures.

Throughout my day, impressions come at various times and in various ways. I am blessed by the guidance of the Spirit. It is a precious blessing to “always have His Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77).

Dallin H. Oaks

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In my #LDSconf address last week, I discussed how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be applied to our personal infirmities, sins, and circumstances. It is my hope that we will each ponder about how the Savior’s Atonement applies to our circumstances and challenges.

Whether you face sickness, heartache, addiction, depression, rejection, unemployment, singleness, or other challenges, I invite you to come to Jesus Christ. Having descended beneath it all, He is perfectly positioned to lift us and give us the strength we need to endure our afflictions. We have only to ask. 

Because of Their all-encompassing love, our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, hear and suitably answer the prayers of all who seek them in faith.  

Dallin H. Oaks

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In August Kristen and I participated, along with President Russell M. Nelson and others, in the BYU commencement exercise. In my remarks I included these thoughts:

We live in challenging times: wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and the prospects of financial disasters. More important, values and standards honored for thousands of years are now being denied or cast aside. Selfishness is replacing service. The fundamental freedoms of speech and religion are being questioned.  Evil is being called good, and good is being called evil.

Though men’s hearts are failing them, you should take heart. There have always been challenging times. All generations have survived daunting challenges, and so will you. The answer to all of these challenges is the same as it has always been. 

We have a Savior, and He has taught us what we should do. At the conclusion of His earthly ministry He declared:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As His witness I testify that His teachings are true and that the way He has marked out is the way to peace in this world and everlasting life in the world to come.

Dallin H. Oaks

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I received a letter from a woman studying at Harvard University. I was impressed with its content.

She said, “I am only 26 and I have felt the trial of singleness overtake me.”

After sharing more in her letter, she concluded: “I was walking home from work one afternoon one year ago, pouring my heart out to God, telling Him my deepest desire was to be a wife and mother. I was stopped in my tracks as a powerful thought and feeling came into my heart and mind. The thought was that I was wrong. The deepest desire of my heart should be discipleship of Jesus Christ and then the second can be to be a wife and mother. My outlook on life has changed since then. I had them switched around. I know all the blessings promised will be mine, but this will happen in the Lord’s time and not mine.” What a powerful thought!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done.’” We may say, “Thy will be done,” but when your heart is aching—perhaps you’re not yet married and you desire to be—it would be wise to also say, “Thy timing be done.” Ask the Lord for continued revelation to guide your life.

The Lord has His own timetable for His children. In life’s experiences, including marriage, parenthood, and many other things, each timetable will be different. We must have faith and trust in the Lord to know that He is there and that He loves us. All promised blessings will one day be yours.

Dallin H. Oaks

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In April I visited Mexico City and met with the Aragon and Vergel Stakes, the Mexico City East Mission, the Mexico City East YSAs, and the Mexico City Temple workers. I felt impressed that the Saints in Mexico are a chosen people and that the Lord loves them and expects great things of them.

One message I shared was that the level of our faith is not flat like the top of a table. It is like a wave—it has its ups and downs. When you’re in the downs, remember the ups and know that things will get better if you stay steady in your course.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.”

Dallin H. Oaks

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I am thankful for the opportunity I had to speak in #LDSconf. As I mentioned in my address, all of us experience oppositions that test us. Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt.

Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become. Through all mortal opposition we have God’s assurance that He will “consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). We have also been taught to understand our mortal experiences and His commandments in the context of His great plan of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives us the assurance of a Savior.

I testify our Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father, whose atoning sacrifice—whose suffering—pays the price for our sins if we will repent of them.

Dallin H. Oaks

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A few years ago, I analyzed the Christmas cards I received at my office and home. There were many, so this was not a small sample. Significantly, my sample was biased toward religious images and words by the fact that most of the cards were sent by fellow leaders or members of my faith.

I sorted the cards I received into three groups. In the first group I put the traditional cards—those with an overt mention of Christ and/or pictures evocative of the birth of the Savior. Only 24 percent of the cards I received were of this traditional character.

In the second group were those cards whose pictures and visuals were not at all religious, but they did have the words “Merry Christmas” to identify the religious origin of the holiday. This was the largest group—47 percent. 

In the third group—comprising 29 percent of the cards I received—there was no mention of Christ or Christmas and no religious visuals at all. These cards had words like “Season’s Greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” “Peace in the New Year,” or “Peace and Beauty of the Season.” A few were so daring as to refer to “Peace on Earth” or “Faith, Hope, and Love,” but none had any pictures suggestive of religion.

For Latter-day Saints, Christmas should be a time to celebrate the birth of the Son of God and also to remember His teachings. In reality, His life has had greater impact on every part of this world and its history than any life ever lived. His gifts to us are the greatest gifts ever given—the assurance of immortality and the opportunity for eternal life. Those are the gifts we should celebrate at this and every Christmas.

Dallin H. Oaks

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Recently I had the opportunity to speak to distinguished religious leaders, judges, and lawyers at the Second Annual Sacramento Court/Clergy Conference.

My thesis was that we all want to live together in happiness, harmony, and peace. To achieve that common goal, and for all contending parties to achieve their most important personal goals, we must learn and practice mutual respect for others whose beliefs, values, and behaviors differ from our own. In addition to that, I made other important points including the following:

The First Amendment provides unique protections for the free exercise of religion by believers and religious institutions. It also assures religion an honorable place in our public life.

All government officers should exercise their civil authority according to the principles and within the limits of civil government. When acting as public officials they are not free to apply personal convictions or preferences—religious or other—in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices.

Dallin H. Oaks

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We have lots of Eagle Scouts in our family. Here is the latest, a grandson who is also named Dallin. Congratulations to all our youth who excel in any worthy activity.