A few weeks ago I gave a friend a copy of a book I consider to be very sacred, and that is very dear to my heart and to my faith - a Book of Mormon. (We believe this book to be a second witness, in companionship with the Bible, of the divinity of Jesus Christ).
Well, this past weekend, a group of people were talking about the Book of Mormon. One person told the group that their pastor informed them that if they ever received a copy, they should burn it. To this, my friend replied that they were going to rip out the pages I had written notes on, and would burn the rest of the book. I wasn't present, but later heard about the conversation from a friend who had been there.
I don't wish to take it personally, since obviously their words were concerning the Book of Mormon, not me. I think the course I'll take is letting that individual know how precious that text is to me, and that if needed I will write on every single page so they don't destroy that book!
But the main principle this brought to my mind was respect. Every person has their own free will, and chooses to believe and act as they may. I am so incredibly grateful that I have that freedom!
With that freedom, I believe it is critically important that we treat others with kindness, respect, and dignity. Although we may have different beliefs and opinions, we should remain respectful and treat each other with kindness.
One part of this responsibility is being respectful of things other people consider to be sacred. If, say, a Jewish friend gave me a copy of the Torah (or another religious text they study) I would never treat that with disrespect. Although I don't consider that book to be part of my scriptures, I would recognize how important that book is to them. I would also - and do recognize - that there is probably actually a lot of good in that book, and some things that we would probably agree on!
One of our beliefs is that we should study and gain knowledge -
"Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass, things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms"
"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning, even by study and also by faith"
To me, I don't see why this wouldn't include a knowledge of other religions and other opinions. Even if you don't believe that it is true, surely there is something of value to have that knowledge. One great thing of value I can see would be being able to understand others, and knowing how to serve them.
There is one more thing, and that is the burning of books in general. Throughout history, every example I can think of where some group burned books is when that group was trying to suppress a dissenting view that threatened their ideology. This suppression of dissenting views is contrary to freedom - including religious freedom.
Why would someone want to burn a sacred text of another faith? Wouldn't that individual be able to distinguish whether the text were true or false, good or evil, in their own personal study? Wouldn't they have a right to make that judgment in their own pursuit for truth?
I'll be the first to admit that I am such a flawed person. I am not perfect. However, I do try my best to live these principles - respecting other's opinions and beliefs, and standing for freedom so that both myself and others can have the opinions and beliefs that they choose to abide by. I just hope that other's will do the same!