*Disclaimer: this post is really not about politics, so if you feel the need to start a fight about it, please go do so somewhere else.
Six years ago, I was a high school student who had a lot to say about President Obama, all of it bad. I would hear conversations about him on the school bus and jump into them, putting in my two cents about how I heard he was a socialist, communist Muslim who hates the United States. I bought into Glenn Beck, Fox News, and any sensationalized yellow journalism touting that our new president was a deceitful, racist, patriotism-aphobe who was going to bring on the apocalypse and the second coming. That stuff was both interesting, outraging, and validating to me, so I bought into it, ate it up, and spat it out, not really knowing what I was saying most of the time, but man, did I hate Obama.
Six years later, I still disagree with the president on a variety of subjects. I still think that decisions have been made from the Oval Office that are both ridiculous and irresponsible. Some have been good, but others have been reckless. I still think that our country can do better and deserves better than the current administration has given them.
But do I still hate that, as some of my very conservative friends would say, "socialist, communist, anti-white, anti-American, anti-gun, anti-peace, anti-free world, anti-Christ, anti-good school lunches, anti-anti-ISIS, anti-Utah, anti-Mormon, anti-religion, anti-children and puppies and unicorns (Did I cover all of your antis?), good-for-nothing terrorist, traitor man sitting in the White House"? No. I do not.
Because I've had to learn that hating someone and making invalid assumptions about their worth as a human being based on their choices is entirely inconsistent with my religious beliefs.
Sure, I've made my fair share of Obama jokes in life, but I've had to take a step back. It's a humbling lesson that's been too hard for me to learn, and sadly, some of my fellow Latter-day Saints haven't learned it, either. We're kind of struggling, in fact, to live what we preach when it comes to this topic, and people are noticing.
As the president is currently in my home state, I've had the chance to see lots and lots and lots of discussions online about him. I've also felt my jaw drop several times at some of the comments I see coming from Utahans and members of Jesus Christ's church. Here's a sample:
- "He just wants to screw up conference."
- "Send him back to Kenya."
- "Tell him to get on his plane and leave. He's not welcome."
- "Wow, five amazing state parks so many places to hid[e] his body for the good of the world somebody bury that fool."
- "If you honestly listened to the Temple recommend questions and understood them than you would not be able to receive a recommend for supporting this man and his agenda."
- "Doesn't deserve one ounce of respect."
On the president visiting with church leadership:
- "They are wonderful, he is evil."
- "When I look at this picture...I see dark and light meaning good and evil."
- "Obama is a complete waste of time and space. He's a complete waste of human life."
- "I'm a Mormon and I want him out of here."
Imagine with me, for a moment, that these comments are directed toward a regular person. Just a normal Joe. Bury his body, one of you says. He's a complete waste of life, another of you says. He's not welcome, another one of you says, disregarding the obvious truth that, if you believe in a premortal existence and Heavenly Father like I do, this man accepted the Lord's plan and is one of his children. President Obama, just like each one of us, is a child of Heavenly Father. Do we honestly get that and believe that? All politics and bad decisions aside, this man has a God who loves him.
Who are we to claim that God's all-encompassing love does not extend to the president of the United States? Who are we to judge the value of his life and suggest that it is nothing because he happens to make political decisions we disagree with? How can we call ourselves disciples of Christ and in the same instance cyber-bully someone who quite obviously does not have the truths we have instead of loving him and extending to him the emotional comfort those truths give us, that he is loved, that the Savior cares for him, that he's Heavenly Father's child, our brother, and his worth is priceless? If he can't find that from the Latter-day Saints, where the crap is he supposed to find it?
How we can have the truth and still hate others so much, I don't quite know.
Many have used the justification that we should stand up against laws and principalities that would destroy the family and obstruct our religious freedoms. That's good, but laws and principalities are not people. Who is the real enemy here? President Obama? Or the tide of immorality that extends from Congress to our very homes? President Obama? Or the "evil one" as spoken of in the Book of Mormon and Bible who lulls us into a false sense of security and glorifies the carnal, the awful, the anti-body and anti-family? The guy who we know is the source of all deception in the world and is particularly convincing in the absence of truth? He wants us to blame and attack other people, yes, even Obama. Why? Because Satan needs scapegoats to be effective. When we blame the evils of the world on the president or other people, we forget that Satan is even there and that he's the one doing everything possible to destroy each one of us. In that way, we allow him to creep in through the back wall and destroy us. You think Obama is the anti-American one? Try the guy who was tearing apart freedom and democracy before it was even a form of government on this earth.
All of the above anti-Obama comments are, to me, at different degrees of terrible. I didn't even mention the ones saying, "How could church leaders even associate with this wretch?" Pretty sure I don't need to tell you why that thought is so frustrating to me. But the one I want to focus on for right now is the last one: "I'm a Mormon and I want him out of here."
When we use "I'm a Mormon" to preface a thought that isn't positive, what are we doing? Are we suggesting that President Obama is so worthless that, yes, even Mormons, even individuals who should know and act better are justified in treating him terribly?
The truth is that when we all get on these public forums, it's fairly easy for others to find out if we are members of the church. Our religion should and does preface everything we do, and because it does, people look at us and wonder, "Huh. Is that what those Mormons believe? Do I want any part of that in my life?" What example are we setting to our brothers and sisters when we hold back love, when we subsist on vitriol and contention, or when we preach of Christ but don't really try to treat others like he would?
I get it: President Obama has done a lot of things that really bother you. You can hate his politics all you want. You can disagree with him all you want. But if you consider yourself to be a disciple and a representative of Christ, I'd appreciate it if you stopped calling him terrible names and threatening him, because that is not discipleship.
Everyone is a child of God and deserves kindness. Everyone.
Harry Reid, Sarah Palin, President Obama, Orrin Hatch, Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Beck, and every person in Congress included. If you think their decisions are terrible, fight the issues and express it with your vote. But please
don't spew hatred while still claiming that you're fighting for religion and Christ.
Fighting for Christ is more often than not extending his love when others wouldn't do the same. If you really want to fight for him, the first step is to be more like him. And being more like him does not
consist of telling other people how much you hate them.