I was born into a mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints) family. Just so you know where I’m coming from I should probably let you know that I also believe in the doctrine. Much of it I believe is literal (like Christ being the Son of God), much of it I believe is symbolic (like the world being created in 7 days), and I believe in all of it in one way or another. Some would call me “dyed in the wool”.
Mind you, I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else by virtue of my religion. Neither do I think all non-mormons go to hell nor do I think all mormons go to heaven. On the contrary, the LDS (short for “member of the Church of Jesus Christ of (L)atter (D)ay (S)aints”) doctrine teaches that most all people will go to a heaven-like place that is very similar to the heaven that most other Christian churches believe in – but that’s another often misunderstood topic which I didn’t intend on blogging about today.
One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect”. A person is either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is.
Today’s blog is a pre-emptive response to all the negative attention the LDS church will be getting as it becomes more and more evident that Capitol Hill needs people with the morals and integrity that mormons like Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have.
You might hear innuendos and lies like “Mitt Romney belongs to a cult”, or “Mitt Romney believes in baptizing dead people”, or “Mitt Romney considers his mormon underwear is sacred”, or lies involving partial truths that will make you think “Gee, that doesn’t sound like that mormon I knew”. That’s politics, and I’m just fine with political jabs. The church and it’s people whom I have grown to love has suffered far worse attacks.
What I am not fine with is when these attackers dishonestly claim to be friendly, supporting, or respectful of others when they know that they can be less offesive in their approach. I can discuss almost any topic with anyone in a disarmingly respectful manner without loosing the power of my arguments. If I have to rely on an offensive approach to win an argument then that speaks poorly of my abilities. If I chose to take the offensive approach and then I claim I’m respectful of the person I’m knowingly offending – then I’m just a liar.
Let me give an example … I recently read a blog by Andrew Sullivan, a Time Magazine writer, who is displaying a photograph that most mormons I know would find obscene and the displaying of it as quite offensive, and then he claims to continues to continue doing it without “disrespect”, even after 100’s, possibly 1000’s of LDS people told him how offended they were. That’s without “disrespect”?
One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect.” People are either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is. Jesus Christ put it this way: “By thier fruits shall ye know them”. Someone else said “Actions speak louder than words.”
Don’t confuse dishonest respect with honest ignorance. If someone is honestly ignorant that they were offensive then they are offered forgiveness, but forgiveness doesn’t endow them with a wholesale license to perpetuate the offensiveness withouot being considered rude and disrespectful. It is at that point when they add the label “disrespectful toward certain persons” along with “offender of certain persons”.
… which reveals this Time Magazine writer as grossly dishonest, as are all others who knowingly and needlessly offend those to whom they claim they’re respecting. One cannot claim being respectful of a group of people while intentionally doing something that they know is offensive and obscene to them.
I’ve personally known a lot of Anti-Mormons, and there are many kinds: ex-mormons, fundamental christians, someone who had a bad experience with a mormon, the wanabe-mainstream types, the bash-mormons-for-fun hobbyists, and even the I’m-spending-all-my-$-to-publish-evil-tidings variety. Among them there are a few that I respect … and even some that I like, and might gladly spend time with sharing an enlightening discussion with some of them.
Those are the anti-mormons who are honest, but it seems to me that they’re the exception to the rule. It seems there are few anti-mormons that will either admit that thier approach is disrespectful, or few that will show respect by being considerate of the sensitivities that mormons have for things we hold so sacred that we don’t even discuss them outside our temples.
Although the Muslim-Extremist’s response was shameful, the shameful cartoons were extremely disrespectful of all Muslims – a fact that is completely disregarded by most non-Muslims who thought Muslims were being overly sensitive. Respect, however, means respecting another’s sensitivities with no expectation of receiving a rationale for those sensitivites. It means admitting that sensitivities are justifiably unique to the individuals who must have them for good reason.
Although I’ve used anti-mormons as an obvious example because I see this “dishonest respect” hypocrisy so regularly with so many of them, it’s also become so commonplace everywhere that the phrase “not to be disrespectful” has lost it’s meaning. Remember the horrible backlash when those scandinavian cartoonists portrayed Allah with bombs in his hat? It seemed everyone came to the rescue of the cartoonists without considering how disrespectful it was. Although the extremist muslim response was shameful, the cartoons were extremely disrespectful and shameful as well.
I’m not saying let’s not discuss potentially offensive topics. I’m saying lets be respectful in our approach. Society can use some more honest respect. When that isn’t possible, let’s at least see some honest disrespect (where the disrespectful person at least admits their disrespectfulness instead of hiding behind fake”fact-finding” missions), but dishonest respect (where the disrespectful person dishonestly claims to be respectful) is unworthy of anyone’s respect.