Brian’s Reflection: Monday, August 8, 2011
1. Don't try to tear down other people's religion
about their ears. Build up your own perfect
structure of truth, and invite your listeners
to enter in and enjoy it's glories.
2. Honest hearts produce honest actions.
3. We should never permit ourselves to do anything
that we are not willing to see our children do.
Brigham Young. He was chosen to lead the Mormons
on this date, 1844, after Joseph Smith was killed
I am “using” Brigham Young today to reflect on the differences between what “founders” say and what their followers do. To reflect on how difficult it is to remain true to what those Founders taught and lived in their lives. And to reflect on how difficult it is to interpret what the Founders meant. As an example, John and Charles Wesley did not intend to found another Christian church; they remained Anglican clergy. But their followers had other ideas. It is my own opinion that Jesus did not intend to found a religion beyond a Judaism He wished to reform; but his followers had other ideas.
Re. 1: Eventually every religion comes to the point of thinking that it alone has the “truth”, and it begins to denigrate and vilify all others. (Hinduism may be an exception.) More to the point: almost every religion eventually demands of its followers that it conform to the established doctrine, and begins to suspect and to expel those who do not agree with the church’s doctrine/dogma. An almost fascist conformity to purism develops. Then a suspicion of disagreement. Finally a pathology and a fear of disagreement – and before you know it, the wisdom of the Founders is rejected. In my view, almost everything that Jesus taught about Love and Compassion and Justice and Sisterhood has been denied at times by the churches that profess to follow His Gospel. We forget that the best witness and evangelism is, as Young says, living your path faithfully and offering it to others by the example of your life.
Re. 2: It was with dishonest hearts that the Mormon Church spent millions of dollars to fight and defeat Proposition 8 in California. As well (along with many others) deny rights to women and Blacks. Even one of their own Elders eventually publically said so and apologized – deceitfully so after their money and prejudices had denied equal rights to their fellow American citizens. They may have been promoting what they believed. But they were denying the validity of other religious groups in the country who supported Prop 8, and sought by money to impose their will. They were not “inviting”; they were imposing.
Re. 3: I would hope that Mormon parents today would not want their children to deprive fellow Americans of their legal and constitutional rights. More to the point, would not want others’ children to deprive THEM of their legal and constitutional rights, or subject them to mistreatment and hate that they themselves would not wish to experience, as Joseph Smith did.
There are many (not all, thank Goodness) religions in America today, including particularly Christian (including the largest Christian denomination) and Mormon and some Islamic, and the peculiar brand of Christianity called “Evangelical” (what a travesty of the blessed Compassion of the Gospel proclamation of the four Scriptural Evangelists!) which are seeking to deny the religious freedom of their fellow citizens by imposing their political will through the vast amounts of money thy control. They buy and threaten politicians.
Most religions today run on fear and on a will to power, contrary in most cases to the vision of their Founders. It is time it stopped.