Oct 25, 2008

Election Fatigue

I've heard a lot of people say how happy they'll be once the US election is over with. As a political junkie, a part of me doesn't want to see it end. It's entertainment at its best! But I think that even though I'm thousands of kilometres away from America, I can sense that things are getting ugly and, at times, even scary.

The past couple weeks, it seems that we've seen an increase in racial tensions. Whether it was the lady from the McCain rally referring to Obama as an "Arab" (which, sadly, is automatically understood as being something negative), or Rush Limbaugh's assessment of Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama as being "all about race," sometimes it's hard to believe that things really are getting better in this world. Today on CNN there was a report from a small town in Pennsylvania where even some life-long Democrats admit that they will not vote for Obama because "black people leave a bad taste in (their) mouths." Even the neighbour lady of my parents back home in Canada -- who hates Bush -- commented that "If Obama wins, it will be a dark day for America." No need to wonder what she meant by that.

My husband and I just watched the movie The Pianist this evening, which is the true story of a Jewish pianist who survived the horrors of the Warsaw ghetto. Every time I watch a movie like this, I'm reminded about just how much I hate racism. I am reminded that racism, even in its smallest, most subtle forms, is a deadly cancer that can mestastasize to something as big as the Holocaust -- or something as seemingly insignificant as denying fellow Mormons certain privileges and ordinances.

Racism's faithful companion is bigotry and if we think we are immune to it even in our own church, we are wrong. While I was reading this article about the Church and Prop 8, I was deeply saddened to read about the tension and divisiveness this issue is causing in the very place where we should be most unified -- at church. Morris Thurston, an LDS attorney in Orange County, CA, says, "The general church authorities I have spoken to have been understanding and compassionate. They counsel respect and civility toward those who may disagree with the church's position." However, the backlash that some members who disagree with the Church's position are experiencing from fellow brothers and sisters seems to indicate that they are not heeding that counsel. Sadly, I think that we're going to see a lot of good, strong members with strong testimonies end up leaving the Church when the pressure of having their faith and loyalty to the prophet constantly questioned becomes too much for them to deal with, or when they get tired of having to defend their position or loved ones who happen to be gay.

I've expressed my doubts and questions about many things on this blog. There is, however, one thing that I have no doubt about: racism and bigotry are two things that have no place in any society or religious organization -- and certainly not in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The sooner we can stop rationalizing and justifying these things, the sooner we'll realize that eggs are eggs -- whether they're white or brown.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am currently suffering from election fatigue. I become offended that race is mentioned so often. In fact, if McCain wins, so many people will blame it on race even though that may only be a small part. The rest will be because of ignorance or stupidity right?

I thought this was a great post, but I would ask that you please not assume that the negative backlash is only toward members of the church who oppose proposition 8. That would indicate you are very selective in the information you read. The signs on our street are constantly stolen. There are people protesting and picketing at the Oakland temple. In fact, there is a website dedicated to specifying which donors to the pro-prop 8 campaign are members of the church. But I imagine all those things are ok because they are on the "wrong" side of the issue. Kind of like how democrats don't smear republican candidates but there is that whole republican smear machine. Ah spinning at its best.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Oh, I know that it goes both ways. I guess the negative backlash I was referring to was not what's going on out on the streets, but only within the Church. I've also read stories about the protesters shouting outside of the temples, the people stealing the YES on 8 signs, members of the Church who have "bigot" spray-painted on their homes, etc. I think it's all horrible and I think that there are more effective and mature ways to get your point across.

However, on the inside of the Church, at least from all the news, forums, discussions, and blogs that I've read, it seems to me that most of the criticisms among members themselves seem to be towards those who don't support Prop 8. I still consider myself to be sitting on the fence of this issue, but even that is enough to have my faith and loyalties called into question by certain members. I've seen very few members, who are against Prop 8, accuse their fellow members who support it of outright bigotry. Most uphold the Church's teachings on homosexuality, but object to its political involvement. If Thurston's quote from the First Presidency is true, it would be nice if it was read in a letter from the pulpit. I think a lot of members need to hear it from the horse's mouth that if some of their fellow members are having trouble with this issue, that there is a need for "civility toward those who may disagree with the church's position." I'm guessing that the "civility" applies to Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Lisa said...

anonymous - whatever is occuring on or to the yes side is occurring on and to the no side.

We can complain all we want, but I imagine this is an equal opportunity martyrdom, here.

The problem, I think Faithful is trying to address here is the inner-church issues. As one who is planning to vote no, I can attest that I am feeling the cold shoulders myself. I haven't been extremely open in my views at home, but a few who read my blog belong to my stake and they're very much aware. I also have no problem correcting people when they insist on perpetuating lies and prejudices that even the Church itself seems to want to pass along.

The Church and its leaders, both general and local, either haven't heeded or ensured to the best of their ability the membership are being respectful to one another.

This is an extremely divisive issue, and that much the First Presidency has acknowledged. It's a humongous issue. It's a real issue. It's not a faithful versus apostate issue.

Ugh! Someone needs to tell every LDS member on either side of the fence to cut the crap. Read that from the pulpit. It's just gotten ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I can appreciate what opponents of prop 8 are going through in church. Our bishop has preached respect for opposing viewpoints ever since we got the letter to get involved. I've been very careful throughout the campaign to express empathy to people on both sides of the issue.

I'm not sure that the issues the pro side are propogating are lies (since you mentioned it Lisa). I think they are more possible outcomes that are presented as actual outcomes (I would agree that it is somewhat of a scare tactic). I think that some of the concerns have merit. The whole education issue comes to mind. While schools aren't required to teach about same-sex relationships (emphasis on required. that superintendent guy on the commercial is technically correct, but not telling the whole truth there), the recent field trip in San Francisco and an upcoming "coming out" week at a school in the Hayward area are proof positive to me that the education concern is more valid than it is false.

I was actually on the fence and leaning toward no prior to the whole field trip "teaching moment" episode. That kind of pushed me into the yes camp. You've born the brunt of how vicious I've been on the issue. So I apologize if I've upset you.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Does anyone know whether those who oppose Prop 8 can get a temple recommend? I wonder how that's working in CA since it seems that a fair number of upstanding members of the Church oppose it.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard of any cases where prop 8 opponents have been denied recommends. The bishops in our stake are more concerned about people walking out on their mortgages when they have the wherewithal to continue paying them. Does that constitute dishonesty? I realize that doesn't address your question, but it was a good example of how the prop 8 issue hasn't been huge in the temple recommend questions.

Pallas Athena said...

I just had my temple recommend interview a few nights ago and the stake president did not ask me anything about Prop 8

Gay LDS Actor said...

In this Salt Lake Tribune article (http://www.sltrib.com/ci_10797630?IADID=Search-www.sltrib.com-www.sltrib.com) it says, "Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the issue without facing any sanction, said L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy. 'We love them and bear them no ill will.'". I assume that if members who disagree with the church's position won't face any sanctions, they wouldn't be denied a temple recommend for disagreeing, either.

djinn said...

No one spraypainted Bigot on the side of a Mormon house, a Van with the word Bigot on it was parked next to someone's home who had donated, I believe, 50K to Yes on 8.

As to the wedding education thing, it was arranged by parents, though supported by the school, and children got to opt out. The school was also a chartered arts school. What is so scary about that? You are afraid that your children will learn that gay people exist? You are afraid that gay teachers exist? This outing did occur prior to the vote so I fail to see how voting either way on 8 will change matters.

The Faithful Dissident said...

It's been a while since I've had a temple recommend interview, but one of the questions is about whether you have any sympathies or are involved with any groups that are contrary to Church teachings. Would they not deny you a recommend if for example you were involved in the NO on 8 campaign? What if you signed a petition?

The Faithful Dissident said...

A couple of more stories about how ugly this election is getting, here is a pretty frightening video from a Palin rally (make sure you watch it a couple of times in order to catch everything that is said -- particularly the guy ranting about Arabs), and then here is a story from another McCain rally in Miami.

I think I may have mentioned before about how my dad is convinced that some nutcase is going to assassinate Obama. I always told him to stop being so pessimistic (which he is). But now I'm just holding my breath.

I don't think I've ever prayed for a political matter or any politician. I would feel strange doing so. But now I'm starting to think that Obama needs people's prayers if he's going to live to see his inauguration day (if he even wins) and actually make it through his presidency alive.

The ironic part is that at 72 years old, McCain's odds of living through a presidency are looking better than Obama's.

Pallas Athena said...

Do you think it would be a nutcase working on his own, or do you think it would be an organized effort by the GOP? Your comment could be taken either way.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Of course I don't mean the GOP. I've never accused McCain or Palin of being racists. I'm talking about the kind of white supremacist nutcase that was arrested the other day for planning to behead a bunch of black people at a school and then top it all off with Obama. I don't think they would have gotten that far, but someone else might. Some of these people at the rallies look like they have rabies! I'll be fair and say that it's not just Republicans -- I'm sure it's not just them. But when you hear stuff like "Arabs are dirty scum bags," and you see the hate in their eyes, you can wonder how far they are willing to take it. How hard is it to conceal a weapon and pull something off at a rally, despite all the Secret Service being there?

Toronto real estate agent said...

I think religion and politics have been always bounded and always will be. You can't divide it. Church is connecting people who share some common ideas - not 100% the same, but similar. And usually, one of the ideas is the politic opinion. So, if some members vote for the "minor" party (I mean the one which is not preferred by the church), their image in the eyes of the majority of members will be...changed. And no matter if there are some official "sanctions" or directives from the church's authorities...

Take care
Elli

Anonymous said...

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