Religion is not outward show and pretense, and being religious does not altogether consist in compliance with outward forms, even when these are the ordinances of the gospel. Neither is it an unfailing sign that a person is conscientious who takes an active part in organizations of the Church. Evil men may use these for selfish and wicked purposes. I have known men who joined our organizations for such ends, and men who have been baptized who never repented.
Then what is religion? James declares: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This may be interpreted as meaning that a person who is religious is thoughtful to the unfortunate, and has an inner spirit that prompts to deeds of kindness and to the leading of a blameless life; who is just, truthful; who does not, as Paul says, think more highly on himself than he ought to think; who is affectionate, patient in tribulation, diligent, cheerful, fervent in spirit, hospitable, merciful; and who abhors evil and cleaves to that which is good. The possession of such a spirit and feeling is a true sign that a person is naturally religious. — President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 120-21
Religion is not a thing apart from life. It is not principles and ordinances or missionary work or leadership as an end in themselves. It is manifested by the kind of people we are, by our relationship with our Heavenly Father and his Son and all of the commandments, by the measure in which we qualify for the approval of our own Spirit-guided conscience, and by the way we treat other people. — Elder Marion D. Hanks, Ensign, November 1988, p. 62
I want to tell you that the religion of Christ is not a Sunday religion; it is not a momentary religion; it is a religion that never ends; and it requires duties of its devotees on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and all of the days of the week just as sincerely, just as strongly, as it does on the Sabbath day. And I would not give the ashes of a rye straw, for a Sunday religion, or for a religion that is manufactured by men, whether by priests or laymen. — President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 394-95
Few things are more needed in this tense and confused world than Christian conviction, Christian compassion, and Christian understanding. Joseph Smith observed in 1843, less than a year before his death: “If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. Do you believe in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation which He revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst; and they will do it before the millennium can be ushered in and Christ takes possession of His kingdom.” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 5:499) — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Standing Together for the Cause of Christ,” Ensign, August 2012, p. 49
To those who are devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, I say there has never been a greater need for us to profess our faith, privately and publicly. When the gospel was first restored, the pulpits of this land were aflame with the testimony of Jesus, the divine Son of God and Savior of the world. True, the fulness of his doctrine and the power of his priesthood had been lost from the earth, but there were many good and honorable men and women who were valiant in their own testimonies of Jesus. Our earliest missionaries concentrated their message on the Restoration – the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoring of priesthood authority – since they could assume that most of those they taught had a fundamental belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Today, our missionaries cannot make that assumption. There are still many God-fearing people who testify to the divinity of Jesus Christ. But there are many more – even in the formal ranks of Christianity – who doubt his existence or deny his divinity. As I see the deterioration in religious faith that has happened in my own lifetime, I am convinced that we who are members of his Church need to be increasingly valiant in our testimony of Jesus. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference October 1990