Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Poison of Intolerance

I have been blessed as an adult with friends. Something that was nearly impossible for me as a child because of the transient lifestyle of the Army. So when someone I call friend says something hateful and mean spirited, even when it does not concern me directly, I wince a little in pain. When it involves my family, the effect on me is bit more intense.

So recently on Facebook a person I have called friend for some years posted the following:(This is 100% unedited in any way)

So I just learned that Brigham Young, the cellebrated Morman president of the church once said "If a white man mixes his seed with the canaan race, which I guess are black people, it is punnishable by death on the spot and this will always be so"! I have never been found of the Morman faith but I think I will have a closer look see now that one could be the leader of the most powerful nation in history! And I thought forcing 12 year olds to mary geezers with a 10 wives was the worst thing about Mormans...

As many of my friends already know, I am a Non-Denominational Christian Minister. I am not a Mormon. But my father, Major Roy D. Wilson, converted to The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints in the 1980's. Dad was able to find help from the Mormons. They helped to heal the wounds inflicted by the horrors of war. Dad regularly volunteered to work at the Mormon Food Bank in Columbus. When my brother, Randy, passed away, the Mormon Church was there for our family to help with his funeral service. A Mormon Bishop delivered the service. And he consulted with me so that I would be at ease. In short, I have found the Mormons to be faithful, decent people who walk the walk. They are most certainly NOT deserving of the kind of intolerance my friend dished out. I will go one step further and submit that a case could be made that The Mormons have had their 1st Amendment civil rights violated at times. And they have maintained their faith even while capitulating to the unreasonable forces around them.

There are so many religions. There are so many Denominations. Are all Mormons polygamists? No. Are all Catholic Priests pedophiles? No. Are all Evangelical Christians murderers of abortion providing doctors? No. Stereotypes and generalizations are the products of weak and lazy minds. I learned a long time ago that we are all better served by spending time with those of other faiths. We can find the ways that we are more alike than different. We can find ways to tolerate our differences. We can find ways to love each other. The heritage and history of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and all other faiths is truly amazing. As a student I have not even scratched the surface. But I keep reading. What I have discovered is that it is nearly universal that religions are struggling to find the balance between strict scripture and more sophisticated context. Some groups are finding the appropriate balance faster than others. This requires more sensitivity toward others. Learning about others does not challenge the strength of my faith in God. It just enables me to better understand the world around me.

A person's relationship with God is about as personal as it gets. Seeking to convert others is a fool's errand in my opinion. So I don't go down that road. What that requires of me is that I avoid preaching religious doctrine unless I am specifically sought out for that reason. Obviously, I have found times when I have to open my big mouth when I was not asked to. But conversion is not my goal.

I have not yet decided how to speak to my friend about the pain he has brought to my family. Perhaps he will read this and recognize his own hateful words. I believe that he is able to acknowledge the hurtful nature of his words and seek God's forgiveness. He already has mine.