Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I was born and raised Mormon

I was taught the doctrine of the church from my childhood and at the age of 19 I did what every young Mormon man should do. I went on a mission. I know Church history. I know about polygamy. I know how the Mormons of the early 1800's were persecuted and murdered and how the migrated to Utah. I've been through Temple Ceremonies that Mormons hold sacred. And even though I have been inactive for many years, I do not speak of those sacred things. It's just a respect I have of those things. I know of many people who attend church regularly but do not live as they should. I have heard countless stories from non-member friends of Mormons who do not live as they should. I hear criticism of what I do from people at times who then tell me, "and you're a Mormon". My reply to them is that if they are to hold me to some perceived standard, that standard must also apply to them in order for their criticism to be valid.

Now, in what some may consider irony, I live in Utah. Mormon ground zero. Here, the Church makes headlines on a daily basis. Mormons outside of Utah rarely hear all of what makes the news about the Church here. Sometimes I find it quite entertaining. Sometimes it just plain baffles me.

If you are a devout Mormon, Dallin H. Oaks is an Apostle on the same level as Christ's original Apostles. If you are not Mormon, he is one of the hierarchy of the Mormon Church. You would consider him just as Mormons would consider a Cardinal in The Vatican. Dallin H. Oaks is one of The Twelve Apostles. He is also the former Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court.

The Mormon Church made national headlines when is supported the repeal of gay marriage in California. The Church was heavily criticized for it's actions even though many now believe it was a poor organizational effort on the part of gay marriage proponents that led to the repeal of gay marriage.

Dallin H. Oaks, in a speech at the Rexburg, Idaho campus of BYU, likened the backlash against Mormons after the Prop 8 battle in California to the persecution of Blacks during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's.

I have a big problem with that.

I was 10 years-old when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. I saw the marches. I saw police dogs attacking black marchers. I saw fire hoses turned on black marchers. I remember when four black girls were killed by a firebomb thrown by a ku klux klansman. Blacks were lynched by mobs. Blacks were beaten by the police. Blacks were denied voting rights.

None of that has happened to any Mormons since the Prop 8 battle.

Dallin H. Oaks spoke to Mormons in Rexburg and most take his words as being inspired by God and Christ. When you're on the inside, you only see the inside. But when you are on the outside like I am now, you see what non-members see. The Mormon Church sends missionaries out to all the world to preach the Gospel. They seek converts. I am on the outside and I wish Mormon Leaders would consider that view when they speak. Mormons need to remember that non-members see the Mormons just as they see Catholics, or Jews, or Muslims, or Baptists. Many beliefs of other religions baffle Mormons as much as Mormon beliefs baffle members of other religions.

Dallin H. Oaks has backed down a bit on his comparison statement but it will always baffle me that a man of his education, experience, and position in the church would fail to consider how his words effect non-members. The members are already on board. It's those who don't believe that an Apostle should be seeking to reach out to. You don't need to convert the converted

Thanks for writing this.
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