A Mormon(‘s) Response

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring THIS ARTICLE that came out today.  It posits, among other things, that (all quotes):

  • It is an open secret in Washington, D.C. that the Mormon church supports open borders and lax enforcement of immigration laws.
  • Under Sharia law enforced by orthodox Muslims wherever they have the power to do so, religious liberty is defined as giving Christians and Jews and other “infidels” a choice: either convert to Islam, pay the “Jizya” tax, or die. That is religious liberty under Islam, and it bears no resemblance to the religious liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution.
  • A clear-eyed look at the current presidential campaign suggests to me that the extent of Mormon opposition to Donald Trump is being exaggerated by the hostile media and some “Never Trump” opponents.
  • Nonetheless, the statements of some Mormon leaders raising the specter of religious persecution if immigration of radical Muslims is banned, is poisonous to intelligent debate over immigration policy.
  • The clear implication in the Governor’s message is that Trump’s plan to bar Islamist jihadists from entering our country is somehow akin to proposals 150 years ago to bar Mormon immigration.
  • The clear implication in the Governor’s message is that Trump’s plan to bar Islamist jihadists from entering our country is somehow akin to proposals 150 years ago to bar Mormon immigration.

In response, the Deseret News, published THIS RESPONSE, which includes the following statements (all quotes):

  • Tancredo has clearly not read the stated immigration policy of the LDS Church… [and] would offer that the real “moral incoherence” lies not with church leaders but with hardline advocates who call for immediate action on immigration but seem unwilling to do the hard work of engaging stakeholders to achieve meaningful reform.
  • The reality is that most Americans disagree with this approach. A majority of Republicans now reject mass deportation of undocumented individuals with fully 66 percent preferring a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status. Meanwhile, some 84 percent of Democrats hold a similar view.
  • … the church’s actual statements regarding immigration tell a far different story.  “Most Americans agree,” the church’s immigration statement reads, “that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants.”  The statement continues: “Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.”  This language is hardly a call for “open borders.”
  • The (church’s) statement also notes that, as a matter of policy, the church discourages “members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”
  • What is important, the church emphasizes, “is how we treat each other as children of God.”
  • LDS leaders have also called for special sensitivity with regard to families, recognizing the harm caused when young people are caught in the shadowy world of no documentation while unmoored from their loved ones and left without a practical way to square themselves with the law.

I am a Mormon.

I believe that God still uses prophets just as there have always been prophets to guide communities of faith since the beginning of time.

But I also believe – and believe that my faith declares – that my own agency, or ability to choose, is paramount.  Everything hinges on this, actually.

And that is one reason Mormons so fiercely – individually and collectively – argue for freedom of religion.  We want the freedom to worship and the freedom for others to worship “according to the dictates of their own conscience” (a quote from our Articles of Faith).  But also within agency is the freedom we each have to make everyday choices as well: the way we operate as families, the way we function in the workplace, the access all people have to the services they need.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the very long and formal name of our church, though we are often just referenced as “the Mormons”.  While we maybe let it go and don’t mind so much, and may even call ourselves that now in reference to more cultural aspects of ourselves as a people, even that – being called “Mormons” comes from our history of being persecuted and chased out of state after state for our beliefs.  This has happened over and over again in history, when a group of people that is peculiar – set apart, different, unique, a peculiar people – gets stereotyped and labeled and derogatory words are used as slander… but the people themselves find the honor in it, because it confirms integrity and declares that yes, this is who we are, and no, we will not be moved from our holy places.

Maybe that’s why we are called on to connect with Muslims, not because of some fear-based reaction declaring we want terrorists invading our country, but because we know what it means to be hated, what it means to be refugees, what it means to be blamed for violence that comes from other people’s hate.

Maybe we are called on to help refugees because people matter, because lives matter, because God said so and we believe Him.

Maybe because anyone who calls themselves a Christian but spreads vile hate and lies about others does not really know God, and certainly is not following the pattern of the Savior “who went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.”

The church is The Church of Jesus Christ, and it is His church.

The Mormons are the people, who are very real and very mortal and often mistaken.  We are navigating waters in a world where we do not belong, waiting for our eternal home to be restored.  That makes us refugees, historically and culturally, though not all of us have endured such hardship in a temporal, real, physical way.  But many of our people have, and do, and currently are, and we will seek to rescue them – and their friends and neighbors, whom we also love, just for that reason: they are our friends and neighbors.

That leaves us all living on the same planet together, like it or not, much like my children sharing a hotel room while we moved last weekend.

We can get along and have a pleasant adventure, or not.

Some Mormons are republican, and some Mormons are democrat.  Most of these, like other Republicans and other Democrats, feel very strongly about why they have chosen this party or that one.  Some, like me, struggle more because they have grown up in a generation that is more loyal to the issue rather than the organized party, and so look to see how their elected leaders support or fight against one issue or another.

Our votes for either issue or either party come from spiritual insights we gain through study and spiritual intuition and common sense, not from someone else telling us how to vote.

We, like any other group of people, must be wise and careful in how we organize ourselves in support of one issue or against another, thinking clearly and pondering carefully about the choices we make.

There are few political issues that intrude upon us as a people of faith, but freedom to worship is one of them.

But we cannot responsibly fight for freedom to worship without also supporting the freedom of others to worship differently than us.

We are not fighting for freedom to worship like Mormons.

We are fighting for people to have the freedom to worship as they choose.

That includes many groups of faith with whom we share common truths despite so many differences, and the Muslims are one of those groups.  They believe in covenants, and we believe in covenants.  They believe in families, and we believe in families.  They have religious garb, religious holidays, and religious health codes, just like we do.  It makes sense that Muslims would be one group we would share lots in common with, especially as some of them flee for their lives for safety from their own governments.

Yes, some terrorists claim to be Muslim.

Just like some idiots claim to be Christian, or Mormon, or any other faith group, and do really stupid or mean or terrible things.

Not to say extremists or terrorists are okay.  Of course it isn’t.  I don’t mean to minimize that at all.  I just mean that it isn’t fair to lump together an entire people because of the bad behavior of some, or because of false claimants who turn “religion” into something it is not at all.

And nothing, nothing, nothing ever justifies being cruel to or neglectful of others.

When people need help, we will help them, with healthy boundaries and good plans to ensure their safety and success as much as our own.

No one in Mormon history has ever said we should let a bunch of crazy people in whatever border you are referring to, and then just stand there and take it while they kill us.  Ever.

Mormons have always, as a collective group, fought hard to defend their property and peace and pursuit of happiness, including their right to worship.  Or their right to live.

Individually, we are called upon to care well for our families and care well for our neighbors, whether that means giving tithes and offerings so people I have never met can get an education and go to temples and receive food in floods and refugee camps, or whether that means taking bread to my neighbor and having the children sing a song to cheer up their day, or whether that means adopting six children with special needs, or whether that means learning to braid the hair of my brown daughters, or whether that means helping the world to fall in love with my little sick baby from Pakistan.

Anything else is not of God.

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?”

~ Malachi 2:10

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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