I’m A Mormon And I Don’t Watch Fox News

I’m less likely to discuss my beliefs about religion today than I was ten or twenty years ago. That sounds odd because, as I’ve written before, I served in Germany as a missionary for two years where I spent twelve hours a day attempting to convert Germans to my religion.

Looking back on those two years, it’s clear that I gained a lot more than I gave to the German people. I learned to speak up for my beliefs and my country. I learned to read a map, enjoy new foods and speak a foreign language that would later help me through college.

It also helped me realize that beliefs are uniquely personal, and I don’t believe I could return and speak to them in that arrogant tone only a 20 year old with two quarters of college could pull off.

This comes at a time when the media is taking a close look at Mitt Romney’s membership in the LDS church as well as a national “I’m a Mormon” campaign that’s made its way onto TV.

What makes me feel uncomfortable and less likely to discuss my beliefs are the words I read on Facebook and Twitter from members whom I’m unable to relate to. Many use Facebook to not only disagree with President Obama but to craft lengthy rants about why he’s the anti-Christ.

My parents taught me to respect the President of the United States even if I didn’t agree with all his polices. I was taught that the office of the President should be respected, and I still believe that today. But when I hear such vitriolic nonsense about President Obama while attending church it makes me step back and rethink my involvement with these people.

I want to be clear that the leaders of my church do not condone this behavior. In fact, around election time, they remind the members that they do no endorse a political party. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll find far more members who consider themselves Republican than Democrat. During the 2008 presidential election, a friend wanted the LDS church to officially back John McCain. I’m sure he wasn’t alone.

So much for the separation of church and state.

I don’t mind that my political beliefs don’t sync up with most of my fellow Mormons. But I’m having a more difficult time listening and reading about how many of them despise our current President and any policy or positions he’s taken. Many spout off their hatred for any socialist program such as health care reform that will result in health coverage for more Americans.

What many of my fellow Mormons forget is that our church has an impressive welfare program to help its members through difficult times. Members also donate “fast offerings” that go to help those in need at the local level. Many of our lessons teach us about the benefits of giving service in our community, and to search out and assist those in need. But these teachings stand in stark contrast to the “everyone man for himself” philosophy portrayed by some of my fellow members.

It’s all beginning to feel like a zero sum game: if we’re right then you’re wrong in not only your religious but also your political affiliations. Is there room for those of us with more moderate political views in a sea full of strong conservative members?

I guess what it comes down to is that I no longer want to be lumped in with these people because we happen to belong to the same church. I don’t share their hate for the President nor do I believe President Obama is evil, or that women need me to make choices for them, or that those on unemployment or welfare are lazy bums feeding off the system.

Not all Mormons will automatically be voting for Romney come November, nor do all of us worship Glenn Beck or base our political views by what we hear on Fox News.

But what I really hope is that all the hate fades away.

Comments

  1. I’m sharing this. I love that you articulated EXACTLY what I feel. I’m working through the process right now of how I can hold liberal views in a church, a congregation, that is largely Republican. Being Christlike and leaning left are most harmonious in my view. I’m saving this post. Thanks!

  2. Thank you Brett! You put into words exactly how I feel.

  3. Brilliant!

  4. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/09/the-constitution-a-glorious-standard?lang=eng&query=constitution

    This is the basis of many members of the Church and their views and is the basis of my beliefs. If Pres Benson is wrong then I am wrong. Rex

  5. Brett, I tend to feel the same way. I stopped watching Fox News about 2-3 years ago. I know you’d be surprised by that but it’s true. It’s all nonsense to me. There is hatred on both sides. I also don’t understand how members of our church preach love your neighbor and are completely against any policy that would help them. I do have to disagree with you on the missionary blip you said. I think we can come across with a compassionate approach if we genuinely care for those we want to share something with that means so much to us…the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  6. Steve Bryson says:

    Brett,

    I agree with a lot of what you have shared. Mormons who vote for Mitt just because we share the same faith are dumb ( & there are PLENTY of them). It’s like they need Mitt to win to validate them somehow. They frustrate me as much as Evangelicals that won’t vote for Romney BECAUSE he is LDS.

    I am not an Obama supporter, and in fact think he has surrounded himself with people that are vehemently opposed to everything religious types claim to believe.

    My biggest disagreement with your post is that I don’t believe healthcare, long-term welfare or increased taxes should be heaped upon the backs of taxpayers in an endless safety net for the poor. The poorest among us should be served by religious organizations and their members, not by mandate from the Federal government, riddled with inefficiencies on both sides of the aisle.

    Manditory giving can hardly be called charity. I think the current administration is outright disrespectful to those of faith, and refuse to allow religious organizations to do what they do best. They’d rather have people dependent on the government & pay for things with our tax dollars that our personal consciences cannot condone.

    I don’t see it as GOP good, DNC bad. In fact, I’m equally sickened by both. I make no bones for my commitment to vote Obama out of office, but the difference is I don’t care who it is that beats him. Mitt? Fine. Ron Paul? Better, but not likely.

    The only thing I can do is try & raise my family to love, respect & serve others. The rest is really out of my hands. I respect your opinions & wish more dialogue could be carried out in this type of manner, regardless of what Fox News & MSNBC want.

  7. I feel exactly the same way as you do. The angst I feel has made it so I’m not longer comfortable in church. It amazes me how many members don’t even realize they are spouting their own political agenda when they compare Book of Mormon themes to current trends with the government, gay marriage, and so forth. And of course the most troublesome view is President Obama as the anti-Christ. It’s caused a lot of pain for me and I’m sure I’m not alone. Reading your post makes me want to cheer. Thanks.

  8. Thank you for understanding that many viewpoints exist. I stand with you in hoping for a future without hate.

  9. Thank you for your post. I have felt the same way for some time now. It is not easy to have different political views. I try to understand how they rationalize their views, but I just don’t get it. Thanks for helping us to not feel alone in this.

  10. Thank you. Political climate in this country (within and without the church) drives me crazy. I was raised to respect the office of president, as well. While I’m not a fan of President Obama, he deserves the respect I would give any other president. We have become the laughing stock of the world because we no longer unite as a country.

    While I’m a conservative republican, I’m not a Romney fan (and would never vote for ANY candidate just because he/she was a member of the church). To be honest, I had hoped that a dark horse candidate would pop out of the woodwork at some point — but it’s too late for that now.

    Living in California, I’ve had stake presidents and bishops who were liberal democrats, so you are not alone.

    I’m not a fan of Obama’s healthcare plan because I believe it is unconstitutional, but honestly believe that Obama was trying to resolve a monumental problem in this country. Before I retired, I worked for a non-profit organization who has worked very hard to put an end to Obama’s healthcare plan. I don’t know whether it will be stopped, or not, but either way, we have major problems to resolve in this country.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. We need to get a grip on the fact that as a nation we have huge problems to solve, and it will take ALL of us to solve them–left, right, and middle ground.

  11. Thank you for saying what I have been feeling for a while! I am tired of attending Sunday school and hearing ridiculous political nonsense that conflicts with my own beliefs, spiritual, religious, and political. A few Sundays ago, our teacher tried to say that Santorum’s recent use of “Satan” in his campaign and the subsequent backlash was a fulfillment of scripture and proof of our nation’s decline. I felt so uncomfortable and just unsure if I am reading the same scriptures as other members. I am glad to know that I am not alone in these feelings, because sometimes I feel alone.

  12. It is interesting that members quote Pres. Benson’s views but not the views of the First Presidency and the Council of Apostles all signing a proclamation in 1875 that in part said:

    “The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice. Under such a system, carefully maintained there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few; especially so while the laws, forbidding the taking of usury or interest for money or property loaned, continued in force.

    One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is likely to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin. ”

    Food for thought.

  13. Grandpa Henke…you Rock.

    Also, to whomever pointed out the Benson thing…

    in this last General Conference, one of the 12 Apostles pointed out that, at times, prophets of God speak as the men that they are, and not necessarily as prophets.

    Please re-read the article and note that President Benson specifically puts in a qualifying statement which says, “…in my opinion…”

    He didn’t say this was an edict from God, he made it clear that this was coming from him, as a human being. So NO, don’t try and teach this to me as Gospel Doctrine, because even President Benson didn’t claim that it was.

  14. You know, to me, it’s not about the government giving welfare. It’s HOW they give welfare. I fully support the welfare program of the church. It is motivated by love for the person in need. The welfare program of the government is done with a corporate giving mentality. It seems like it is used as a lever for many to say they want to help the poor (and thus get campaign contributions.) I’m not saying there aren’t people in the welfare program that don’t love those they give money to, but I will say it’s rare. People tell the government they don’t have money and the government cuts them a monthly check. Where’s the love? Now contrast that to the methodology employed by the church: a person in need contacts a bishop, who talks over the problems with them at length. The bishop seeks to help them live the gospel more fully and often offers them ways to “work” for the assistance they receive while actively helping them to get a meaningful job. This may be a simplistic rendering of both sides, but it pretty much says why I am completely willing to give fast offerings but despise hearing about government welfare programs.

    I don’t think it’s “every man for himself.” But I do think every man is where it starts. It should be “every family for itself.” “Every community for itself.” “Every city for itself.” “Every nation for itself,” in ascendance up a ladder. In other words, if a man can’t take care of himself, his family should. If his family can’t, his community should. If his community can’t, the city should, etc. etc. We have a failing welfare system because people no longer fall back on the immediate help. People go right to the big dog with “unlimited” funding coming from A: the American people, and B: Chinese super-mega loans. The ladder is upside down. That’s the problem.

Leave a Reply