He pointed specifically to the threat posed by the controversial HHS mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraption, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
The greatest threat to religious freedom, he explained, center on the ongoing debate about "religion's place in society."
"We see now that religion is often treated with derision and ridicule, treated mockingly and sparingly," he said.
Legislation to protect religious freedom is particularly important, he said, because "the law is a teacher" and hostile regulations create hostility, which then lead to more restrictive laws against religious freedom.
Elder Lance Wickman, emeritus general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stressed that "there need not be a conflict between differing conceptions of human dignity, but unfortunately, that is a conflict that is rearing its head."
While historically, religious belief has been valued within society, he said, religious freedom has been portrayed in secular world lately "as something akin to a hobby" that is "less intrinsic to who we are" than other identities.
Instead, religious faith is portrayed "as a mere lifestyle choice," and "a new closet is being constructed for traditional religious beliefs" within the public square, particularly on contentious public topics such as sexuality.
He warned that "every loss for religious freedom risks emboldening the state" and increasing its restrictions upon religion.
"The right to the freedom of religion requires more than the absence of totalitarian restrictions on the freedom of expression," Elder Wickman said, emphasizing that people must be able to live their faith freely in society.