Category Archives: politics

My Mormon-for-Obama bumper sticker is drawing serious fire. Help?

 I recognize that many people in our faith do not align with me politically. I do, however, have a great support system of “Mormon Liberals,” so that I have become more comfortable talking about my political values everyday. I have taken this new courage and began posting some of my views on the internet.  So in order to be a little funny, a little scandalous and mostly to express my support of Obama AND my religion, I posted a picture of my bumper sticker that says, ” I am voting for Obama AND I am a Mormon,” on Facebook. While I recognize that I was asking for a reaction from my mostly Mormon internet circle, I never imagined the amount of extremely hateful and dark responses I received. I got multiple messages telling me that I was so clueless because Obama was directly connected with Satan. Messages and posts about how Obama is Satan, and I personally ushered him into this righteous world. While I was entertained by these messages at first, the escalation of anger and personal attacks was completely unnerving and disappointing. It also makes me very, very cautious about being able to be myself online ever again. I wish these posts didn’t affect me but it hurts to see Mormons attack people this way and I can’t seem to shake it off. I mean it’s not every day a girl gets multiple “King Of Darkness” emails…

Any advice on wanting to be free and open to post and explore my political ideas on the social media sphere without being dragged into a dark place by the same people I share so much respect and love for?

Signed,

Still flabbergasted.

Dear flabbergasted:

Oh, dear.  I’m sorry.

Look, our Mormon Republican brothers and sisters are really anxious right now.  They love Mitt Romney, and they believe in him fiercely.  They believe he can fix the Great Recession by cutting taxes and deregulating industries.  They truly worry that the US has lost its place as global superpower, with devastating consequences for democracy. And he reminds them of their most effective Stake President ever.  It truly sucks to see him not only losing, but getting piled on by the media as well.

And yes, sometimes a few of our brothers and sisters get so stressed out they turn to their religious vocabulary to express their frustration, and so out come the “Gadianton Robbers” and the “secret combinations” and “Satan’s plan” and “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”

Yikes.

They’re not the only yikes-worthy ones.  Political talk in this country has gotten extremely polarized and hurtful.  Right now, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of the internet, there are places where people are saying deeply cruel things about Mitt Romney and directing rhetorical flamethrowers at anyone who would even consider casting a vote for him.  There are Facebook pages aflame with anti-Romney fervor, where you’d be roasted alive just for saying that you were LDS.

How did we learn to talk to one another this way?

Lots of reasons.  A twenty-four hour media cycle that rewards bad behavior.  Feelings of powerlessness.  Global political and economic realities that defy easy understanding and easy answers.  Internet sites that allow people to make cruel comments behind the protection of anonymity.  And a bifurcated political culture that leaves us too often talking only to people who think like us.

But none of this makes it okay.

You owe it to yourself and to every Mormon who cares about the grassroots health of our community to kindly but firmly respond to the folks who sent you messages of doom and damnation just because you’re voting differently.  I’ve seen too many Mormons who faced with this kind of fire draw back into their shells or abandon ship altogether, which is unfortunate because it allows people to escape accountability for the fact that such talk is indecent and intolerable.

If you don’t stand up, who will?  You’ve got to tell them. Send a polite but firm message letting the most aggravated Obama-is-Satan-and-so-are-you messagers know that they crossed the line.  Tell them that you appreciate the depth of their concern, and that you support their right to vote for Romney.  Tell them that you understand things sometimes get heated on Facebook.  And then, tell them that however strongly they feel about the presidential elections it is not okay to bully you or other fellow Mormons on Facebook.  That is not how friends and fellow Saints should speak to one another.

You may not change them.  They may continue to rage.  But you, you will become stronger.

And next time, yes, avoid posting something just to be “scandalous” or anticipating a “reaction.”  Start looking for content that will bridge the gap between you and your more conservative Facebook friends as a starting place for dialogue.  Perhaps try something by every liberal’s favorite conservative commentator, New York Times columnist David Brooks. (But wait until after the election.  Even Brooks has been giving Brother Romney a heck of a time.)

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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Ask Mormon Girl: Did LDS Church leaders caution against political rancor?

Even as good Easter feelings flow from Salt Lake City after this weekend’s General Conference, regions of the bloggernacle are steaming with ongoing partisan rancor, the latest being the reported cancellation of a Nevada fireside featuring Democratic Senator Harry Reid (scheduled to relate his conversion story and bear his testimony) due to threats of protests and violence. This week’s Ask Mormon Girl inquiry seeks a little perspective:

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

I remember hearing a talk by the LDS Presidency in the past 7 years cautioning the members about listening and viewing radio and TV political shows that stir up fear and contention, but I can’t seem to find it.  Do you know of the talk that I refer to?

SD in WA
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Glenn Beck is acting up again; is Mormonism to blame?

Unless you’ve managed to craft a mass-media-free universe for yourself, you’ve probably heard that conservative media heavyweight Glenn Beck (who is Mormon) recently urged his listeners to “run” from any church that preached “social justice” or “economic justice.”  In response, some church groups have pushed back against Beck, calling for public dialogues, apologies, and even boycotts.

Last week, the following email arrived in the Ask Mormon Girl inbox from a fellow religion writer.

I’ve been following the latest Glenn Beck “social justice” controversy.  Is there a Mormon angle here?

JD

Well, JD, Several Mormons have stepped up in the national media to say that Beck’s comments on social justice are not in keeping with the spirit of Mormon belief and practice.  Yesterday, Mormon author Jana Riess published an especially powerful rejoinder to Brother Beck, recalling from the Book of Mormon the beautiful words of that social justice crusader King Benjamin in Mosiah 4 (see especially verses 16 – 26).

I’ve even seen it reported that LDS Church leaders called progressive evangelical leader the Rev. Jim Wallis to apologize for Beck’s comments.

Which makes me sad.

Sad to think that the brethren felt even a twinge of responsibility for the former morning zoo radio shock jock who once made a living cavorting with Zippy the Chimp and who now makes a living by comparing do-gooder churches to the likes of Stalin and Hitler.

The fact is that while Mormons may not use the exact words “social justice” (the phrase has Catholic origins), humanitarian service and social welfare programs, including, yes, experiments in wealth redistribution, have a profound place in Mormon history, life, and values.

And although we are the most conservative religion in America, 49% of Mormons polled by the Pew Foundation recently said the government should do more for the needy; 42% disagreed.

If there is a Mormon angle to this story, it is the way that the flaws and missteps of public figures known to be Mormon sometimes get connected back to our much misunderstood Church.

Mormons take credit for lots and lots of things, like the invention of television and the women’s one-piece bathing suit. Heck, last Friday when I took the kids to the new Mormon Battalion Visitors Center here in San Diego, I learned that we even take credit for the Gadsden Purchase.  But should we take responsibility for Glenn Beck?

I have argued elsewhere that after his 1999 conversion Glenn Beck borrowed some ideological and rhetorical elements from Mormon culture for his on-air repertoire.  But Mormonism is not the source of Glenn Beck’s latest antics. (And while we’re at it:  a special note to Bill Maher, Joseph F. Smith is not the reason Mitt Romney got into a dust-up with a fourth-rate rapper on Air Canada.)

The source of Glenn Beck’s latest antics is Glenn Beck’s genius for generating controversy.  After all, Beck didn’t get where he is because he chose a life dedicated to service.  Nope.  Beck is all about building market share and has been since his beginnings back at the morning zoo.

So, readers, what shall we do the next time Glenn Beck acts up?  Apologize?  Hold him accountable?  Ignore him altogether?  Or, perhaps, circulate this little You Tube gem, featuring Glenn and his buddy Zippy the Chimp?

What do you think?

Send your queries to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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Mormon and liberal? Really???

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

My wife and I recently heard you on the radio, and we thrilled when you used the words “Mormon” and “liberal” in the same sentence to describe yourself.  We sometimes feel like we are the only liberal Mormons in the Church.  Can you direct us to other podcasts, writings, etc.?

Sincerely,

T & M in Tooele County

Dear T& M:

You’re not alone!  Every time I encounter another Mormon liberal, I feel the way I felt that night when I ran out onto the field of the Rose Bowl for the great LDS Southern California Dance Festival of 1985:  Stoked!  Proud! And finally, truly, among my people!

Unless you live in an urban or university ward, chances are you’re one of just a handful of liberals sitting in your Sacrament Meeting. A recent Gallup poll found that Mormons are the most conservative and most Republican of any major religious group in the United States.
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