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Seekers of Peace

Leave my people alone.

I want to scream these words loud enough to be heard. When I read of the recent attention paid to members of the Church who are suspected and found guilty of the sin of doubting, I wanted to climb to the highest peak and plead… Let my people be.

My people seek to find peace, seek a way to reconcile doubts and questions with the lives they lead in the Church.

Learning of various members being summoned to meetings with leadership gave me that knee-jerk, doubled-over pain in my stomach. If they are come after one, they are capable of coming after everyone.

I could be wrong. I really hope that I am wrong. I want to be wrong.

But, I am worried.


“No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” The Prophet Joseph Smith penned this line in the infamous Wentworth letter. This has become the catchphrase the Church uses as a rallying cry to bear up the Saints in times of persecution. Carry forth the banner. Lead on the fight.

Persecution has been heaped upon the Church in spades in days gone by. Black days filled with hatred and evil, days that scarred the collective psyche of the membership and imprinted fear on the leadership.

The Church has a right to fear persecution. Mormons have been on the receiving end of it far too many times. We know this; we have felt those stings and jabs, too. We understand the pain of being bullied for who you are and what you believe. We, too, have worn the name “Latter-day Saint” across our chests.

But this is not our fight.

Do not brand us with a scarlet letter for questions we cannot answer and doubts we cannot quench.

We are not out to destroy the work; we do not come armed with hot tar and chicken feathers looking to exact revenge.

We are trying to live, to survive straddling the worlds of belief and doubt, membership and moving on, peace and upheaval.

We are simply trying to make it all make sense. We are trying desperately to hang on to our families, our friendships, our lives.

We are not the enemy.

We are the plow horses; we have toiled and tarried in the fields, serving in callings from Sunbeams to Stake Presidencies. We have done everything that was asked of us. We have carried the load, played the part.

And we have experienced doubt.

If you look, if you really look with open minds, you will see that we exist out here on the fringes not to destroy from within, but to reach one another, and uplift, to help those who feel like outsiders. We are not Satan’s henchmen.


“Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness. Do not spread disease germs.”

I have a problem with Boyd. K. Packer’s words.

Diseased germs. Bitter apostate. Absence of light.

Because let me tell you, mister, this is not where any of us ever set out to be.

But it is where we are. And when you use words like this to describe people like us? Well, those words grow wings. And they fly across the globe like migrating geese. Where does that flight lead them?

To the hearts and minds of those who still believe, creating an invisible barrier that keeps us from them. These words…these words change everything.

And then there is this:


“Defectors became a kind of bogey to haunt all inhabitants of the Mormon Kingdom. Without vigilance and strength of character they [other members], like the defectors, could become overwhelmed by the baseness of their character and, thus, open to Satan’s enticements. In this way blame was shifted from the Kingdom to the individual defector. More importantly, dissent was portrayed as the outward sign of personal weakness and sin. Dissent, therefore, could no more be tolerated than sin itself. This attitude within the Kingdom militated against any legitimate expression of doubt. There was no loyal opposition within the Kingdom of God. As no dissent from orthodox opinion was allowed, either the inhabitant accepted it or he was compelled to withdraw.”Gordon D. Pollock

Defectors and dissenters. Bogeymen that haunt the inhabitants of the kingdom? No wonder there is such a stigma attached to the doubter, to the questioner.

It has happened before. In fact, there is even a name for the phenomenon. Back in the days of leper colonies, those stricken with the disease were infected twice over. Once with the painful and debilitating illness; the second time with the social stigma that accompanied their disease. Leprosy stigma. Entire civilizations banished the lepers.

The infected, the impure, cut off from their loved ones, from their homelands, from their tribe.

Church leaders perpetuate the same dangerous contempt for the souls who doubt, who question, who seek to understand the disconnect between fervent belief and painful doubt.

Apostate stigma.

There is no movement. There is no conspiracy to usurp the work of the Church from the inside out. There is a community. We are support, shoulders to lean on, acceptance, understanding. Friends to the disenfranchised.

We find ourselves where we never thought we would be; where we never wanted to be.

Please leave us alone. Love us. Support us. Do not demonize us. Leave us to find our way, to find peace.

That is all we are looking for.

Peace.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, as usual. Thanks for this and all you do.
Smokey

James Allred said...

I can understand an organization wanting to protect itself. But when was compassion for a fellow traveler in this world a sin? Isolation is a dangerous concept that should be brought under the full light of day whenever it happens. Thank you for your beautiful words. And thank you for letting a little light shine on a disterbing issue.

Anonymous said...

<3

lifelongguy said...

Wonderfully done. Thank you.

Just Zena said...

"We find ourselves where we never thought we would be; where we never wanted to be.

Please leave us alone. Love us. Support us. Do not demonize us. Leave us to find our way, to find peace."

Perfectly said. Thank you.

Guy said...

I love the leper comparison.
Exactly how I feel sometimes!

hmsgofita said...

So poignant and succinct. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the New Testament teaches us to "Prove all things"! It also teaches, "Know the truth and the truth will make you free"! Free from what? Free from false beliefs, false traditions and free to make our own decisions, free to follow our own consciouses. Has it been so long since the Mountain Meadow Massacre that we have forgotten what the fruits are of unquestioning faith and obedience.
I would like to think that if I would have been present at the Mountain Meadow Massacre that I would have been one that said, "What?'

Ingrid said...

This is so powerful. I've been away from the Mormon religion for a long time. The idea that people are being officially harassed because they dare question or doubt is extremely disturbing. Can you share more about this? I think this would make a powerful story for the mainstream press.

Thank you for this post.

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who we are

Welcome to The Peacewriter.

We all want to belong somewhere, to someone. It is a basic human need.

If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

Lose your testimony, and you stand to lose everything that matters.

There are those who exist on the fringes of the Church, who feel disenfranchised, even unwanted. If you are single, gay or lesbian, feminist, atheist, or uncorrelated, it can be tough to feel like a part of the community. You may feel that you do not belong.

You belong here.

If you have ever loved someone who endured a faith crisis, you know that there are a lot of gray areas. Uncertainty is the dominant force; black and white become moot points.

Those who have walked the same path share a common bond, understood by few who have not traveled the same road.

This is the place to share common experiences, to find a voice, to be heard. This is the place to seek after peace, and to find it in the common ties we share.

This is The Peacewriter.


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