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WARNING: MORMON NIGHT
A few months ago President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency in the LDS church threw out the first pitch in a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game marking a high point in what has been called the “Mormon Moment” as well as a 25 year tradition of having “Mormon Night” at the ball field.  It was a happy moment for LDS families to watch a familiar summer sporting event and at the same time also seeing a beloved leader of the church engage with the crowd and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  As Mormons continue to make their way into mainstream America we can look back and recognize that we have come a long way.  But what would have happened that night if President Uchtdorf and the Mormon families looked up into the sky and saw a plane with a message trailing behind it saying in big bright red letters:  WARNING MORMON NIGHT.  What might have been the reaction?  Would President Uchtdorf’s face have been as jovial?  What would LDS children think as they looked up at the plane and the message?  What would their parents have told them?  Would we as Mormons have objected to it privately or would we have objected to it publically?  Would we believe that those who hired the plane had our best interest at heart?  Would we consider it hateful, ignorant, or just misguided?  Would it have received news coverage and made the headlines?

A few weeks before this Mormon Night at Dodger Stadium my family and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando Florida.  It was a great time for our family and we had so much fun.  We were all surprised to find out that we were there at the same time that it was “Gay Days” at the Orlando parks.  What I saw was probably very similar to what was seen at Dodger Stadium, happy individuals, couples and families having a good time.  Those who were LGBT wore red shirts to be recognized.  When we found out that it was Gay Days I was excited because I had come out as an LGBT ally last November in Salt Lake City while serving as a bishop.  My excitement changed to indignation as I looked up in the sky and saw a plane flying overhead with a clear message in red saying:  WARNING GAY DAYS.  I wondered to myself how things could have become so extreme that some individual or group would hire a plane to send this hateful message.  Was there no sense of decency any longer?  Was there no sense of civility or goodwill?  Though it was the summer, I heard the lament of Henry W. Longfellow in my mind:

  And in despair I bow'd my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Regaining my composure and knowing the remaining lyrics to the song I took courage and smiled at the individuals, couples, and families seeing them and their families as my equals and knowing that I had made the right choice to come out as an ally.  I was practicing the Golden Rule because I knew what it was like to be a minority and to be persecuted and for myths to be created about me and about my family and friends. 
I also remembered the words of Michael Otterson, official spokesperson for the LDS church when he said this in October 2010:

We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.
This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help.  Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs. …Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.

As we made our way through the parks that day, I took comfort from the Spirit knowing all would be well and that love would conquer hate, goodwill would dissolve rancor, and decency would neutralize this poisonous venom.  I knew in my heart that more and more Mormons would stand against this hate and walk away from it as they would a plague.  I felt a peace come over me and as Henry D. Longfellow said “the world revolved from night to day”.  I once again had confidence in the vision and the dream that so many others have had before me of peace on earth and goodwill to all of humanity.

Kevin Kloosterman, LMFT is a mental health professional who has worked in a hospital setting for over 15 years.  He has been an LDS bishop and is an advocate for LGBT individuals in and outside of the LDS church. 

1 comments:

jewelfox said...

IIRC, the song was originally written to lament cruelty, and someone revised it to be completely different. I personally feel the original version may be more athentic.

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