"Individual members think and speak for themselves..."

The LDS Newsroom has just posted commentary on the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in regards to its position on "The Mormon Ethic of Civility".

Recently, as a member of the Church, I've noticed an increased amount of counsel coming from our leaders on this very topic. In just less than two years, we have been invited and encouraged to publicly stand up and be counted for, on that which is good in the world -- in opposition to those things that would destroy the very fabric of our society. (I refer specifically to the use of the Internet) The use of Social Media has become a strong catalyst for having our voices heard on many controversial issues. In this commentary on the "Ethics of Civility", I felt a strong emphasis on the fact that "individual members think and speak for themselves".

Each person in this country, has an equal right to personal opinions, which ultimately become their voice. My VOTE in this country, is my VOICE. My personal beliefs on those issues that affect my "politics" - are just as valid and important as any other persons -- regardless of its origin. With that understanding, there should also follow a deep respect for that same right of others. Hence, we are counseled to be civil in all our communal exchanges. As Christians, we are expected to practice the simple teachings of "The Golden Rule". Unfortunately, in our dealings with "some" others - our views and positions on moral issues, are being demonized -- as heartless, judgemental and even as not having a place in public discourse, due to a faith-based foundation.

I particularly appreciated Elder Dallin H. Oak's thoughts on this very topic, in a another recent address to the students of BYU on the "Threat of Our "Religious Freedom".

An excerpt from "The Mormon Ethic of Civility":

The political world is astir. Economies are faltering. Public trust is waning. Individuals feel vulnerable. And social cohesion wears thin. Meanwhile, stories of rage and agitation fill our airwaves, streets and town halls. Where are the voices of balance and moderation in these extreme times? During a recent address given in an interfaith setting, Church President Thomas S. Monson declared: "When a spirit of goodwill prompts our thinking and when united effort goes to work on a common problem, the results can be most gratifying." Further, former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley once said that living “together in communities with respect and concern one for another” is “the hallmark of civilization.” That hallmark is under increasing threat.


You can read the entire commentary, here:
The Mormon Ethic of Civility

What I have learned through personal experience, is that we do NOT need to defend the Church. We do however, need to clarify misunderstandings that others might have about our beliefs, history, doctrines, etc... There is a huge difference. In all positive conversations that we have with others, where some amount of understanding is achieved - it only comes through the respectful exchange of education, by both parties.

We should never feel that our moral positions on controversial issues are less valid or credible, because they are faith-based. Our "beliefs" or thoughts have equal strength in a democratic society. I feel that there is no need to ever allow ourselves to become offended or aggressive, because others oppose our ideas. The better we understand those doctrines that support our moral beliefs, the more confident in them, we will STAND.

A word of caution... On issues where the Church takes no "official" position (which are most)members will often have differing interpretations and ideas. We might even believe that we are absolutely right-on! Thus the absolute necessity - that we own our understandings, as our own. I think we all find it offensive, when someone says that they "know" something, that we do not believe, understand - or agree with. Civility amongst the Saints, could very well become even more critical in the days ahead...

tDMg

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7 comments:

  1. The example that immediately comes to mind? Glenn Beck. He is the epitome of crazy hostility the world doesn't need. I cringe every time somebody mentions he is a Mormon.

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  2. Hi Anon -

    Personally, I have no problem with Glenn Beck. He speaks for himself and takes full accountability for what he says politically. Who knows... he may have been one of the very reasons that this commentary has been issued. We all need to remember that not one of us speak "officially" for the Church. Helping others to understand this principle -- that although we are unified in our doctrines, etc... we each speak publically our own mind. I for one, am tired of particularly our opposition thinking that we are all a bunch of blind sheep. Nothing could be further than the truth. And you're right - Glenn Beck is an excellent example of this. Thanks for pointing it out.

    tDMg

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  3. Your comments are always 'in tune.' Thanks!

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  4. Thanks Molly. And thanks for taking the time to say so:)

    tDMg

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  5. A very well thought out post.

    I notice that there is a lot of LDS who believe that they're positions are the only correct ones, and a lot of non-LDS who think that all Mormons are the same.

    There's been some nasty backlash against Mormons lately, some who claim that Mormons have no place in the public sector.

    It's sad. But I guess we've been warned of it. Perhaps we've become too comfortable.

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  6. Hi, not really sure how I got to your blog... but I just wanted to say that Mormons speaking out on the internet is great. You are doing it through this blog. I think more people should discuss their personal beliefs through channels like this. But in my opinion it's better to do it in general moral terms not in specific political terms (unless a general moral idea is drawn from your specific political belief). Why? Because more Mormons live outside of America than inside. I am an American, but I live in France and sometimes I can't identify with things written on policy issues. I understand the importance of being an active member of the community where you live, but it would be nice to read things by Mormons and feel like they were aware of the rest of the Mormons outside of America. Maybe this is analogous to how US Mormons feel when they don't live in Utah.

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  7. Excellent thoughts, Willim. As an LDS blogger, I find that my passion to write often comes from current issues on a local level -- meaning U.S. But I totally get what you are saying and I will, in the future, take this into account.

    Also of note, is that the majority of my readership is U.S. based -- both members and non-members. So, for the majority what I blog about is relevant.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    tDMg,
    Kathryn

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