Questioning intelligence


“But you’re so intelligent …”

Over the last few months, this one unfinished statement has rung in my mind. It is based on a very brief conversation I had with a dear friend regarding the issue of gay marriage. I don’t support the practice of it, whereas my friend does. There are very clear religious and sociological reasons why I refuse to support this cause célèbre, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular blog post. What I want to explore is the bias the “intelligence community” has against those with Latter-day Saint religious convictions.

I believe there is a God. He is my Heavenly Father. He loves me, as he loves all of His children, which entails the entire human race. Because God is a loving father, he desires that His children live with Him after this life. In order for that to occur, His children must be perfect like He is (Matthew 5:48). This requirement of His is impossible to achieve. Because our Father knows this is an insurmountable feat, he provided for us a Savior to redeem the children of men and atone for their sins.

This testimony that I hold so dear is questionable to many within the communities in which I interact — work, school, and neighborhood. For them, the fact that I am respectful, eloquent, and well-educated should prevent me from having what they have deemed peculiar beliefs. What they don’t realize is how equitable and loving the precepts of my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (AKA the Mormons), actually are.

In an effort to dispel what it means to be LDS, I’d like to share two documents with you. The first is the Articles of Faith for my spiritual beliefs. These were written by Joseph Smith in 1842 in response to a Chicago newspaper reporter desiring to know what Mormons really believe. Within this document, there is no statement regarding my religion requiring me to bear 8 children, serve a mission, pay tithing or be anti-gay; however, the eleventh article does state that, “[w]e claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

In modern American society, it is clear that fewer people are worshiping God, and are instead following the desires of their own hearts. Because of that, there has been an increase in intolerance towards religious individuals. (I find it quite ironic that a country founded on a desire for religious tolerance can no longer tolerate those who are religious.) These individuals who lack religious tolerance benefit in every aspect of their lives from their forefathers’ struggle to establish a better life and stronger country, and I would venture to guess that their ancestors had religious beliefs that guided them through this process. But that is lost now, in an effort to make everyone happy and to feel welcome.

However, God is not interested in making everyone feel happy by letting them do whatever they want. He wants them to follow His commandments, which were first given to Adam and most notably to Moses, so God’s children can achieve eternal joy and return to be with Him again. The ten commandments (Exodus 20:2–17) given to the Israelites seemed pretty clear, and yet we live in a society where we worship false idols, break the Sabbath day, commit adultery, and fail to honor our parents. If we continue to fail to keep these basic commandments, then how will we ever be able to receive more understanding of who God is and what He desires for us?

This battle between the religious and sectarians is not new, as discussed by Elder Russell M. Nelson, an LDS apostle, at the World Parliament of Religions back in 1993. This document helps those who have a variety of religious beliefs understand that they are not alone in the concerns they have about the spread of this laical pandemic. Given that this speech was made sixteen years ago, I would venture to guess that there is a higher degree of secularness in the world, particulary in the U.S., and that those of us with strong religious beliefs will have to fight more often for our right to worship “Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience” because the majority of our society have chosen to worship irreligion.

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