Inauguration 2021: Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect Deidre Henderson discuss the need for civility in modern politics at a “Freedom Fireside”
ST. GEORGE, UTAH (Jan. 3, 2021) — Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect Deidre Henderson participated in a “Freedom Fireside” as part of the Day of Prayer prior to their inauguration ceremony.
“Modern politics has become divisive and partisan,” said Cox. “The words and music presented tonight recognize and reinforce that we are all created equal, and that putting people before politics will unify and heal our nation.”
The “Freedom Fireside” featured remarks from Lt. Gov.-elect Henderson, Rabbi Helene Ainbinder of Beit Chaverim Jewish Community of Greater Zion and president of the St. George Interfaith Council, Elder Evan A. Schmutz, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Shadman Bashir, a representative of the Islamic faith to the St. George Interfaith Council.
“My sincere request for all of us in Utah’s faith community — leaders and practitioners alike — is that in this new year we fully rededicate ourselves to the simple yet somehow radical idea to love our enemies and to defeat feelings of contempt by practicing warm-heartedness,” Lt. Gov.-elect Henderson said.
A conversation between Gov.-elect Cox and former Judge Thomas Griffith of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals highlighted the importance of civility in a functioning democracy and warned against demonizing political opponents.
“Civic charity says you treat other views respectfully,” Griffith said. “The constitution is built for vigorous disagreement, but it cannot withstand contempt. It cannot withstand us viewing a fellow citizen with contempt, and that’s the problem that has seeped into our system right now.”
The program also included musical numbers by Juan Felipe Carbajal, Saint George Catholic Church; Rachel Cox, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dr. Ka-Wai Yu, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church; and Dr. Nancy Allred, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prayers were offered by Rabbi Ainbinder and Bashir.
Hosted by the St. George Interfaith Council, the event was held in the historic St. George Tabernacle, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1876, the building has served as a courthouse, church and venue for public concerts.
Due to COVID restrictions, attendance to the celebration of faith at the tabernacle was limited to the participants, the Cox and Henderson families and a few members of the press and staff. More than 400 faith leaders throughout the state were invited to share a livestream of the event and the public was invited to watch the broadcast posted on Gov.-elect Cox’s official YouTube channel.