I hope with the title of this post I nabbed your attention.
Let me start by saying I know I am not in a hierarchical position, nor do I have authority to say if someone is an apostate in Mormonism or not. I know this--please don't remind me. But by calling white supremacy apostasy I want to clearly and without question condemn any hint of it in Mormonism.
I was born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am Mormon. In recent years, I have been in a tough relationship with Mormonism, something I only like to talk about with a very few people, so it is with great pain and tears I write about it here. But I can't condemn white supremacy in Mormonism without going into it, so here I go.
I am Mormon. I don't always know what that means anymore. I see the pain church doctrine and culture causes other people; I feel the pain myself; I see the exclusion and betrayal and isolation caused by people who call themselves followers of Christ. I love the message of loving your neighbor as yourself and refraining from judgement of others and the peace Christ taught. I love it. But I don't always see that in Mormonism, which conflicts with the idea that Mormonism is the one true church on the earth today.
I see and hear about people attempting or committing suicide because as members of the LGBT community they feel unwelcome, unloved, broken. I feel the looks of pity cast upon myself because I am 28 and unmarried--because marriage is the greatest accomplishment for women in Mormonism and 28 is basically the same age as 99. I see people speak in church and say they feel blessed that "they know better" than the marchers and protesters at January's Women's March, because the Spirit tells them protesting is wrong. I see so much self-righteousness, fear, hate, and distortion.
And no, it isn't all bad. No one comes together in a crisis to serve others like Mormons do. When you get into the nitty gritty of what Mormonism teaches--what Jesus Christ teaches--those lessons are universal, whether you are Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, whatever. Love your neighbor. Judge not. Bless those that curse you. It's beautiful, and in many ways Mormonism as a whole succeeds in following those teachings.
But enough is enough, and that's what brings me to this writing.
I am sobbing. I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about a woman who claims to be Mormon and uses Mormonism to justify her alt-right, white supremacist blogging. It's too much. I have seen too many Mormons use LDS doctrine, mistakes, culture to justify hurting and hating other people. I haven't always known how to cope with the cognitive dissonance that creates, and feel the guilt of inaction in the past haunt me.
But as far as I understand Christ, white supremacy is apostasy. It is utterly despicable. It is never OK. It has no place in society at large, but if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ--who loved all--you can't be a white supremacist. It simply can't follow.
I read the article in the Trib and sat stunned for a few minutes before breaking down in tears. This is not the church I know--but at the same time it kind of is, and that is one of the things that is so distressing. Being raised Mormon I can read crap like that and know it doesn't represent all Mormons. But not everyone can, and that can include current Mormons, ex-Mormons, investigators, people who have never heard of or met Mormons--anybody.
And that's why I can't stay silent about this, despite my reservations about putting my close-to the-heart spiritual life out in the world for anyone to see.
White supremacy has no place in Mormonism.
Homophobia has no place in Mormonism.
Islamophobia has no place in Mormonism.
Xenophobia has no place in Mormonism.
Sexism and misogyny have no place in Mormonism.
Rape culture has no place in Mormonism.
Hate and fear of any kind have no place in Mormonism.
I know as I type this that all the above things and more do exist in Mormonism. If I weren't aware of that it wouldn't be so difficult and painful to contemplate these things and my role in the LDS community. But it is no longer enough--and never has been--to simply say, "Well, they don't represent Mormonism." Because the reality is, they do. The racist, homophobic, misogynists of the world do represent Mormonism if the loving and welcoming Mormons don't say anything about it.
This is a post written in the throes of sorrow and is thus full of stream of consciousness conveyance. I don't have all the answers. I am an ambiguously brown, cisgendered, straight, Christian, American, college-educated, middle-class woman. I have sooo many privileges and can't begin to speak for many of the communities hurt by aspects of Mormonism and culture at large. But I can do my best to speak up for them.
And I will.
Anyone born and raised Mormon knows that wherever you go, even if you stop being a practicing Mormon, you can never really stop being Mormon. It is such an involved religion and community it does so much to shape you--for better or worse. And you can't ignore the good parts, and that stays with you. And so you know the turmoil and pain when you see people raised in the same religion as you causing so much harm to other people. So I say, stand up.
We've been taught to stand for truth and righteousness. Well, my truth is love and acceptance always beat hate and fear. Righteousness to me is compassion, love, understanding, knowledge, and speaking out against hate.
I grieve for my fellow brothers and sisters immersed in pain. I grieve for any pain I have caused in past ignorance. I grieve for the learning and growing I still need to do.
But I rejoice that I can look the world in the eye and know I didn't stand by and do nothing.