It’s bad enough that as a society, we seem to take a step back for every step forward. But when these backward steps are promoted under the guise of God and religion, it’s unforgiveable.
I was reminded of this reading a post on a Mormon-related Facebook page a few days back about homosexuality. The man, a devout Mormon, was advocating the idea that “if gay kids don’t want to be bullied at school, they shouldn’t `act gay’.” He argued that it was natural for religious groups and society as a whole to “drive out and shun” the unnatural. To back up his hate talk, he used quotes from a past Mormon prophet about the “unholy transgression” of living a gay lifestyle and the need to repent and seek forgiveness from God.
Let’s call it for what it is. The Mormon religion is preaching hatred and discrimination in the name of God – the kind that fuels such severe bullying and abuse that gay children are resorting to suicide in record numbers. It brings to mind another hate policy that was once advocated by the Mormon Church: Racism.
The fall of my third grade year, my intensely devout Mormon mother moved our family from northern Utah to a small Mississippi border town so we could live closer to where my dad was working at that time. It was 1975 and up until then, I’d never met a black person. Suddenly, my sister and I found ourselves attending a school where the majority of the kids were black. Mom had taught us to be kind to everyone. But she had also taught us what the Church had taught her: that black people were cursed by God because they had sided with Satan in the spirit world—which of course meant they had to be punished and couldn’t have the same rights as other Mormons. So that we could tell them apart and know they had been cursed, God had even made their skin black.
I reacted by doing the only thing that my eight-year-old mind could grasp at the time— avoided my black classmates at all costs. I didn’t talk to them, I didn’t go near them, I didn’t even look at them. I pretended they didn’t exist. I mean if God thought they were so evil that he cursed them for life, shouldn’t I steer clear?
My mom, who by all accounts is a kind, generous person, so blindly followed the Church doctrine that she’d been spoon fed she couldn’t see that her religious practices were nothing more than ugly racism. She might as well have put on a white sheet and paraded around with our local KKK group. My family only lasted in Mississippi a few months before scurrying back to the security of our white Mormon town in Northern Utah. Three years later, when Church officials abruptly reversed the racist policy calling it a revelation from God, it was suddenly fine in our household to welcome black people with open arms – though it was easy to do so since we rarely even encountered a black person in our town.
Maybe one day, when it hits close to home and one of their own loved ones ends up dead as a result of the horrific discrimination and hatred they are peddling, Mormon officials will began to understand the devastating consequences of promoting hatred toward the gay and lesbian community. Maybe then we’ll get lucky and another “revelation” will be announced. And just maybe, those devout Mormon followers who currently can’t see the reality behind their current actions will be able to focus their energies on making the world a better, kinder place.