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Thursday, April 19, 2012

By Dividing Us They Conquer: Stand United

I'm sure you've all noticed that the liberal media loves to create or amplify divisions within our country. Class warfare, racism, the 'war on women,' religions vs. atheism, political partisanship, SAHMs versus working moms, have versus have-nots of any kind. There's a new one in the works: liberal Mormons versus conservative Mormons. This isn't going to be the fault of the Mormons, but the media who use them. We Mormons will have to tread very, very carefully. Liberal media, the largest entities for news and editorials out there, are going to take the words of any Mormon who will talk to them and skew them to the point of division within the Church. If they can - if we let them.

The LDS Church is politically neutral, and while 85% of the Church membership within the United States is Republican, the other 15% are independent or Democrat. There is nothing wrong with this. What is wrong is trying to pit Mormons against each other. We must stand united, Christlike examples to the world of love, forgiveness, service, and faith. We have been warned by more than one authority that we need to have 'thick skins' through this time of intent focus upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether for good or ill.

To this end, I would like to share what all Mormons believe - liberal or conservative. We strive to live up to the example that Jesus Christ set, by forgiving each other and others, tolerance, love, patience, and doing good to all men. There will be plenty of opportunities to take offense, I'm afraid, either as a Mormon when we are misrepresented in the media or as any other Christian when learning something that makes them uncomfortable about the Mormons (whether true or not). The answer? Tolerance. We Mormons have just been warned in General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
Then, further down in the same article, The Merciful Obtain Mercy:
My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:
Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
Do you secretly envy another?
Do you wish to cause harm to someone?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!
In a world of accusations and unfriendliness, it is easy to gather and cast stones. But before we do so, let us remember the words of the One who is our Master and model: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”12
Brothers and sisters, let us put down our stones.
Let us be kind.
Let us forgive.
Let us talk peacefully with each other.
Let the love of God fill our hearts.
“Let us do good unto all men.”13
For those of you who are not very familiar with the Mormons, I again invite you to find out more from the best sources. Lds.org, mormon.org, and mormonnewsroom.org are great resources for fact-checking media articles or for your own enlightenment. There is another thing that you should know, as you see LDS prophets quoted in the media right and left. From The Doctrine Of Christ given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the same recent General Conference:
At the same time it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”5 President Clark, quoted earlier, observed:
“To this point runs a simple story my father told me as a boy, I do not know on what authority, but it illustrates the point. His story was that during the excitement incident to the coming of [Johnston’s] Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk. …
The Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed the Savior’s central role in our doctrine in one definitive sentence: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”7 Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus is that He lives, “for [he] saw him, even on the right hand of God; and [he] heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:23; see also verse 22). I appeal to all who hear or read this message to seek through prayer and study of the scriptures that same witness of the divine character, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Accept His doctrine by repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life following the laws and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What Elder Christofferson is talking about at the beginning, there, is that prophets are not always speaking as the prophet. For you to assume that the words quoted are doctrinal and from God in the ears of the Mormons, the quotation should come from a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or be addressed to the general membership of the Church. Even then, be careful of context. There are many quotations I've seen that remove the context and then place a strict interpretation of the doctrine which is not necessarily (even rarely) true of the Mormons. As the last paragraph quoted above indicates, the very fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ relate to Jesus Christ Himself. Not the obscure things that any Mormon or even any prophet has ever said.

There. If we remember that, we can handle the onslaught of media attacks against the Mormons. We being the Mormons ourselves as well as anyone else who may be swayed by these attacks against Mormons. So remember: don't believe everything you read though I give you my solemn promise that anything I publish will be reflective of my best understanding of my LDS faith.

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