Monday, October 10, 2011

Real, Pure, Genuine Americans?

Two weeks ago President Obama, while campaigning and pushing his jobs bill said that, “This is a contest of values. This is a choice about who we are and what we stand for. And whoever wins this next election is going to set the template for this country for a long time to come.”

Well, I agree, 100%. This is a contest of values, and recently Mitt Romney’s values have been brought into question simply because a few people, who still don’t understand “Mormonism,” have, yet again, said Mitt Romney doesn’t have Christian values, because he isn’t a Christian, because Mormons aren’t Christian.

I can’t help but feel that when people say Mormons aren’t Christians it is just expressing their own ignorance. “Mormons” is just a nick-name. The actual name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and if the name doesn’t give it away, all one has to do is look up or on line, or better yet, ask a church member what they believe, to find out.

Ideally, the members’ belief and devotion to Jesus Christ is demonstrated in the way they live. Whether through the countless volunteer hours of Mormon Helping Hands service projects cleaning up neighborhood parks or building shelters and new homes after natural disasters, or through simple acts of kindness like making a meal for a sick neighbor or canning fruits and vegetables for the hungry and needy, these people strive to be Christ’s hands here on earth.

Along with donating 10% of their income for tithing, “Mormons” give a fast offering monthly to help those in financial need; they believe in the sanctity of marriage and family and practice sexual abstinence until after marriage; they don’t drink or smoke; they read scriptures daily and have an evening set aside every week for Family Night. “Mormons” attend church each Sunday, and as part of that they partake in the sacrament, renewing their covenant to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ—that means they always remember Him and try to do the things He would do if He were here.

Now, having said all that in an small attempt to clarify whether or not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Mormons,” are Christian, I think about many of my neighbors and friends who are not Christians, but rather Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. Many of these people are also very kind and generous. They give service whenever they can. They pray. They do things to strengthen their homes and families and the neighborhood. I don’t think it’s news to anyone that “Mormons” do not have a monopoly on “goodness.” Christians are not the only people with good, moral values.

So can we say that feeding the hungry is only worthwhile if a Christian is handing out the bread? Will a drink only quench thirst if offered by a Christian? Is clothing the naked only useful if a Christian gives the clothes? Would it be true that caring for the sick, the stranger, those imprisoned only counts if done by a Christian?

Goodness benefits everyone in society, no matter who offers it or who receives. Christ himself was no respecter of persons, meaning he loved all, no matter their religion, their culture, their spiritual status. Can we not do the same?

Christianity aside, I am reminded of what Al Smith said in his presidential run against Hoover clear back in 1928: “Let me make myself perfectly clear, I do not want any Catholic to vote for me because I am a Catholic. But, on the other hand, I have the right to say that any citizen of this country that believes I am capable of steering the ship of state safely through the next four years and votes against me because of my religion is not a real, pure, genuine American.”

What values will we base our votes on? Are we real, pure, genuine Americans? Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, British, Japanese, Italian, African—this great melting pot of culture and ideas is what makes us America. Our common value and love of freedom and peace and goodness is what makes us Americans—real, pure, genuine Americans.

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