Monday, January 9, 2012

The Mormon Moment

Thomas Jefferson, Signer of the Constitution, President of the United States, Forefather of a Country, and Deist.

Constitution of the United States of America, adopted September 17, 1787

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article VI- religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Amendment I-
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And yet the Mormons were driven out of Missouri with an Extermination Order in 1838. It was not repealed until 1976.
And yet,in 2012, there are headlines in every major newspaper across the United States asking if voters will consider voting for a Mormon.

Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

As a Mormon, or Latter-day Saint as I prefer to be called, I can speak to the Mormon Moment in a different manner. I grew up outside of Washington, DC, and attended an elementary school where the only other LDS student was my sister. My friends didn't know what a Mormon was. They just knew I couldn't play on Sundays, and I wore a lot of BYU shirts. In high school I was fortunate enough to have several LDS friends around me. Having close friends who didn't mock my beliefs openly was comforting to me. It seemed to happen all too often that when I did tell someone I was LDS, they either didn't know what that meant, or they asked how many wives my father had.
To be able to look at the men running for the GOP nomination right now and see two starkly different LDS candidates means a lot to me. It means a lot to me as well to see the head Senate Democrat is LDS. (There's nothing I'd love to see more than an LDS Democrat Senator working with an LDS Republican President, just for the juxtaposition of it all.) My faith is no longer unheard of, confused, and mistaken. I remember a boyfriend I had in college who told me his stepfather's family was Mormon. I got excited thinking he would understand my values. It turned out he knew so little about religion that he didn't know the difference between Mormon and Methodist. If there is one thing to be grateful for coming out of this GOP race, is that no one will ever make that mistake again.
As far as the LDS faith has come in being understood and recognized, it is still very apparent that the last justifiably form of bigotry is to openly hate or mock Mormons. In the 2008 elections the idea that maybe President Obama was Muslim kept coming back to the surface. Considering Islamic terrorists had attacked our country, understanding his sympathies and connections to the religion were important to many. But it was considered inappropriate from day one to ask "would you vote for a Muslim?" Not even hypothetically. We didn't see headlines and polls asking the question because it was so incredibly politically incorrect.
But apparently it still okay to doubt and question Mormons.

Article VI- religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The Mormon Moment isn't political. It is personal. It isn't just questioning the authority or qualifications of two candidates. It is questioning the sensibilities of your neighbors, business leaders, business partners, vendors, customers, friends, and fellow patriots.  The Mormon Moment is the true test of a people who were driven out of the country, and then forced to change their religious practices to be allowed back in. And yet, 116 years later, are not just contributing members of society, but have 2 men running for president. They didn't give in when persecuted. They created a new land and society. They flourished and prospered. They give back to their communities locally and around the world. They take care of their own when outsiders point fingers and shun them for mistaken beliefs.
The Mormon moment won't defined by the success or failure of political candidates in the eyes of the media. The real Mormon Moment happens every day and night in homes around the world when a family kneels in prayer, often asking the Lord to bless the leaders of the nation with wisdom and strength. The Mormon Moment happens each times scriptures are read, a testimony is shared, and prayers are offered. The Mormon Moment will be defined by the people that are discussed, and not by the people discussing them.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts here Erin...and I do hope/believe you are right. We will define the Mormon Moment by how we conduct our lives as private citizens! :) As resilient a group as any this country has ever seen...that's for sure.


Your comments are always welcome here!