Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Time and a Place

Sorry in advance for two kind of heavy posts in a row.  I'm sure my kids will do or say something hilarious any day now, and we'll be back to the light, fluffy fun that is normally this blog!

Being Obama supporters, we stand out a little bit in our church. Not too many Mormons are up there with us, but we don’t mind too much. At church, it’s the Gospel we have in common that matters, after all, not the politics. Some Sundays we joke about parking our Obama bumper-stickered car next to the car with the Mitt Romney bumper stickers, but chances are no one would even notice. We wouldn’t be making any sweeping statements, anyway; it just makes us giggle. By now we’re used to being different and we like being that way.

This morning Chris and I spent a wonderful three hours in the temple, a place of quiet reflection, learning, and worship for worthy members of the Church. We were joining some friends who were attending for their first time and being joined eternally as a family. A husband, wife, and their two sons together forever – what a beautiful thing. We were honored to be invited to share such an intimate and joyful occasion with them, and we’re so happy for them. It was a great morning, full of love and friendship and the Spirit.

We left the temple feeling refreshed and renewed and walked across the beautiful grounds to our car, where we were immediately brought crashing back to earth.

Someone had left a small card stuck in the driver’s side window with a hand-written statement saying something to the effect that if we were just doing our homework we’d learn how much Obama was working against the Church.


I’m guessing whoever left us that note saw our bumper sticker and was horrified. They probably decided that the best thing they could do, as a patriotic American, was to share their “knowledge” with people they clearly felt were less-enlightened than they. The note was obviously scrawled in a hurry; they probably thought they were doing us a favor. In all honesty, what came across was just plain old self-righteousness. We’re secure enough in our faith and our convictions that, while the rudeness bothered us, we’re not deeply affected by this petty attempt at persuasion. However, I can’t help thinking about what might have happened if our situation had been different.

Suppose we’d come to the temple this morning seeking guidance or reassurance for troubled hearts?

Suppose we were just returning to the temple after years of inactivity?

Suppose we were, like our friends, attending the temple for the very first time?

Suppose we weren’t even Mormon, but just visiting the grounds out of curiosity?

The temple is supposed to be a place of peace, love, and Godliness. Only members of the Church who have shown a willingness to make very specific and sacred covenants with God are allowed inside. Those who attend often leave filled with the Spirit and renewed in their convictions to lead a Christlike life. Church members spend a good amount of conversation with non-members explaining why not just anyone is permitted inside.

What does such a passive-aggressive attempt at political persuasion outside the building say to an outside observer about the hearts of the people inside?

It took one crazy preacher with a match and an agenda to inflame the whole of the Muslim world; it could take just one person with a pen and an opinion to change someone’s views about Mormons and the temple.

Fortunately, I do know that our note-writer is a rare soul; most people who attend the temple would never even think about doing something so crass. We know many people at church who strongly disagree with us politically, but we still see them as wonderful, Christlike people. I’d like to believe that our anonymous note-writer is also a good person who just thought they were righting a wrong.

So here’s the lesson I’ve chosen to take from this experience: think before you speak out.

Not everything needs to be said. You may not like President Obama; well, I don’t like Glenn Beck. But we don’t have to agree politically in order to agree about anything else. We really don’t. Religion and politics do not mix well, but they don’t need to. Jesus spent time with Pharisees and sinners alike, and the wonderful thing about His plan is that we are allowed the agency to make our own choices. If you don’t agree with my choices, and you feel it necessary to speak up, speak up directly to me. Leaving anonymous notes definitely won’t do anything positive for your cause. Trust me.

So if you get nothing else out of this post, please, please remember this: there’s a time and a place for everything. It’s a wonderful thing to have so much diversity in the world. Differences of opinion are what make life interesting. But there’s a time and a place for bringing up those differences.

And the House of the Lord is not it.


  1. I was so happy when I started reading this post and them jut felt total sadness when I got to the note part. There are so many things I could say right now that I am feeling but i won't. I have a few friends (really good friends in my opinion) that are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me and I DON'T CARE!! They are great people! I am so sorry you were a target of such cowardice, and that you are a strong enough member to handle it the right way.

  2. What I love about members of the church with polar opposite political opinions is that it shows how Mormons really AREN'T mindless sheep that just follow each other and don't know how to think for themselves.

    I am not an Obama supporter, but I am not an Obama hater, either. There is room in this church for all of us. I hate that some people are of the opinion that "it's against church doctrine to be a Democrat." REALLY?? Sad. Many church members conveniently forget that the majority of members don't even live in this country and DON'T CARE AT ALL FOR AMERICAN POLITICS.

    Overall, you are completely right in that the Temple is NOT the place to try to "correct" and "misguided" members of their political views. I'm sure the note writer is just completely adamant in their own views and want to help. They probably would have talked to you if they had met you face to face. I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here. But it's kinda hard.

    Okay, I'm just scratching the surface of what my thoughts on all this really are. It's late. I am sleepy. Maybe I'll come back and comment some more.

  3. If only everyone would adopt my personal philosophy and just vote for whoever is hottest..I think it would end a lot of this negative discourse:) Seriously though, that makes me so angry. Did they really think that you would pick up their note and be like "wow..I guess we have been fooled for so long. Good thing this note set us straight". Psychos.

  4. You're right, I shouldn't have left that note, and I apologize forever.

  5. I agree with MotherBeck--leaving anonymous notes like that is pathetic, cowardly behavior! What a day-dampener. Like you said, I'm glad you're confident in your convictions.

  6. What a way to put a black mark on what was such a wonderful day. :(
    Good for you for having a good attitude about it. Nobody's perfect and I guess some people make that more obvious than others...

  7. It is interesting to see Mitt Romney and Harry Reid, polar opposites politically, but both living the gospel as best as they can - and the Church does not make a statement about either.

    One of my spirituality gauges is monitoring how much time I spend researching politics. I believe in being well informed, etc., but if I am up past midnight researching or feeling constantly argumentative, I know I need to restore some balance. Hopefully your note writers can take a step back and get their feelings under control for their sakes.

    I have lots of democratic friends in the church. I pray for them every day. JUST KIDDING!!! It usually doesn't even occur to most of my friends and I to discuss our political differences until the husbands are around. Funny how that goes...

  8. I hope that Anonymous was sincere but it that comment made me laugh - sorry.

    As far as such a cowardly expression of political views. I am so sorry. But I hope it gives you hope to know that in my class tonight (first one of the semester) we had the most engaging and open discussion about pluralism and political views. I can't tell you how excited I am to teach this bunch of kids. They really get it.

    On another note, the church published http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-mormon-ethic-of-civility

    last year. I have found it the absolute best for helping to explain to church members the what/how/why of the churches role, view etc. in politics.

    (Sorry I don't know how to do links in comments.)

  9. I was interested to read this Alison...A few months ago I ventured to ask a friend in Utah why almost all LDS are against Obama (we English LDS this side of the pond just don't get it!) I don't pretend to be an expert in American politics and was genuinely interested in being enlightened! However, when I dared to offer one positve comment about him I was subjected to an almost vitriolic attack that left me stunned! As is usually the case when people act this way, it did nothing to persuade me to her cause, but did leave me wondering about my choice 'friends'! She has not spoken to me since. Shame.

  10. Oh, geez - what an idiot...wait, that wasn't very Christ-like...um, what an unfortunate reaction to a simple bumper sticker. I think this is what we keep hearing about from the church when it comes to being 'judgemental'. Too many people are trying to remove other's political motes instead of being critical of their own point of view.


Will blog for comments

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