03 February 2007

The Constitution

I was looking at the Church's newsroom site, which like their web site, is now out of beta form. One of the sections on the site is currently set aside to analyze how the public is receiving a Mormon candidate for President. It mentions two articles; one from CBSnews and one from The Boston Globe. Both articles raised viewpoints that are worth reading; however, I'm at a loss for which one offended me more.

The CBSnews article addresses the situation best with its connection to the Constitution:

"The U.S. Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." It also says that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

I think the country as a whole has failed miserably at delivering the promises in the Bill of Rights. I look at these promises as literal guarantees of what the Founding Fathers wanted to promise every citizen of the United States. They wanted religion to be a private affair, and for Congress to never involve itself in faith-based politics... and look at what we've done with their promises! We forced a Catholic (John F. Kennedy) to take an oath that he would maintain a separation between church and state because the country could not handle having a religious minority as a President. That, to me, is a religious test. But Kennedy set the precursor by complying to such a demand. Should we be grateful for that?

I look at the wording of the Constitution, and a particular phrase jumps out at me: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." What is public trust? The trust of the public? The trust of the people that label us, the minority, as "absurd and irrational"? Or as a "cult"? Or any of the other ways they look at us and say "Your faith isn't good enough because it doesn't look/act/pray/think/preach/practice like ours." The Framers tried to promise that we would never have to pass a test of religion to hold office, or to have the public trust. And they promised something that, to this day, the American people cannot deliver.

Our beliefs are not irrational, and are certainly not absurd. While The Boston Globe questions our beliefs and labels them as such, did they ever stop to think that the religions to whom they compare us are even more irrational? People question why we believe we will achieve godhood based on the principles in the Ten Commandments. Yet a Catholic can pray to the Virgin Mary and the Saints, yet claim the Ten Commandments as scripture, and nobody says anything? An evangelical Christian can believe that the earth is only 6000 years old, and nobody says anything? But we are compared to Scientologists by these same two groups.... OK. Whatever. (I don't condemn either one for their doctrine; however, I ask for fairness for mine, and I expect to receive it. That is not a crime.)

Our expectations for the afterlife create within us the same reverence, the same awe for our Creator, the same love for Christ that characterizes the faithful Christian. The Christ-like charity and service you find in ANY branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unlike that found in any other church I've ever seen. We function as an institution that emphasizes HEAVILY on public service. We are the ones that step up time and time again for the same people that judge us, because that is who we are and what we stand for. If we must be hated and persecuted to be who we are, then I say, "Let them judge!"

The Savior would not do so, stating in John that he came not to judge the world, but to save it. Perhaps these judges need to re-read their scriptures and take a long, hard look at the gospel example they set... Look at the tenants of "being saved" in any Christian denomination. They all follow the same basic outline: accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, repent of your sins, and be baptized in His name. What do people think we do at our baptisms?! Basket weaving?! As far as they need to be concerned, we've fulfilled their tenants, and we don't need them to save us; and certainly not to judge us. We are perfectly capable of saving ourselves by coming to the Savior as he commanded of us.

But we were talking about politics...

There's no difference. And the reason for my contention is located in every moment I've ever been accused of being a polygamist, in every label people have given me personally because of my faith, and every time I've proclaimed to be Mormon, then braced myself for the reaction that it inspires from my audience. My contention comes from people that demand an explanation from Romney for his faith when people get away with faith-based politics EVERY DAY. Yet we're supposed to be demonized in this endeavor because we're Mormon? Get outta here!

I believe Romney said it well when he stated he was running for President, not a representative of his church. I admire his ability to be a faithful member, a figure in the public eye, and to put himself in a position to be questioned and cross-examined on issues that are sensitive to other saints; all for the sake of improving the lives of everyone else, not just the people who agree with him.

His example, I think, is truly Christ-like.

And people's problem with Romney as President was.... what now?

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