Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Democrat in the LDS Church

When I first moved to Oshkosh, I was asked to help plan the Stake Women's Conference.  I knew my name was given as a way for me to meet new people and make friends.  I was grateful for the opportunity.

As many Relief Society women tend to do, we got a little off topic while planning our lunch menu. Somehow we were polling to see who uses facebook.  Four of us (myself included) admitted to having accounts.  One sister kind of drug her feet, "I suppose I should get one, but I'm not sure I want that kind of access to people's personal lives."

It's important to note, this was during the height of the Wisconsin public union battle (now you sense where I'm going).

The leader amongst us endorsed her concern, "I've been avoiding facebook the past few weeks, and will continue to do so until things settle down.  Those are things I don't want to know about Church members."

Her implication was well received.  I started to get very uncomfortable.  The non-facebook using Sister responded, in a mix of horror and shock "Really? People in our ward are posting about that stuff?  Who?" as if knowing political affiliations was hot gossip.

"Oh, I don't want to get into that here," the other sister shrugged. "Besides, I don't know what each of your affiliations are." There was a quiet pause as she turned and looked at me. Almost as if she were giving me a chance to jump in.

"If there were a Democrat here, we'd all know it by now. They can't keep it to themselves," proclaimed the boisterous sister across from me.  Then she continued, "And you're right the Church doesn't tell us which party to belong to, but we all know what party we're suppose to belong to." The last part was said with a proud nod and light chuckle.

Then the whole table broke into slight laughter, even I admit to faking a smile and a few low rumbles, only in attempt to cover up my own discomfort.  I was not going to be confrontational, and I was not going to discuss politics in the Lord's House. Which is why I'm so thankful for the sweet sister from my ward, who politely chimed in "Oh, come on you guys. You can be a good member of the Church in either party."

The leader amongst us once again tried to neutralize things with an "I suppose" statement.  But more fits of laughter came as the other woman could not restrain herself from one more jab "Sure, that's what they say, but we all know you can't be."

As I forced more laughter I could only make eye contact with Kathy, and even that was hard to do. How could these women so kindly attack the very person I am. I'm not just an LDS Democrat.  I'm an LDS Democrat who is passionate about politics. Understanding current affairs has always been an educational hobby of mine. This wasn't just a matter of my political beliefs, this was truly about who I was as an individual.

I'm grateful for the kind Heart Heavenly Father lent me that night.  I can honestly say that as the meeting continued I held no ill feelings.  If I were to run in to that insulting sister again I wouldn't even recognize her, so no grudge can be held.  Still, I do remember feeling no shame in knowing they likely all saw my anti-FoxNews bumper sticker as we drove into the night.  I'd hoped they could somehow figure out I was a Democrat.  And that I sat by, politely laughing at their jokes as they ridiculed me.  Not that I needed to be heroic, or that they needed to be apologetic.  I just hoped that somehow they would find out I was a Democrat and that I hadn't been pushy or pouty, and that in the future they would avoid such conversations in case another Democrat was silently sitting amongst them.

Because I'm certain that if you were to randomly select a group of five Later-day Saints, at least one would be a Democrat. I'm certain we've all been given the misleading impression that most who share my religion are also members of the GOP. As I've grown, and become more engaged in both politics and the Gospel, I've met hundreds of Later-day Saint Democrats.  In fact, I know more self proclaimed Democrats here in our Oshkosh ward than I do Republicans.  Sure, I don't know the political affiliation of most the members, but I assure you the ones who have worn their party on their sleeve the most are the Republicans. 


Polly Blevins said...

ha ha ha. I didn't know you had to be a certain affiliation, but it is true, you are only a true LDS if you are republican (wink, wink). That is such a funny story. Especially when we all know Jesus showed more democratic attributes than republican attributes. Nonetheless, you should be republican to be LDS. Thanks for sharing that story because conversations like that are so funny to me for some reason.

Kelli said...

Liz, I always enjoy reading your posts. Here is a request for a future post: how did you, a white Mormon girl from rural Utah, become a passionate Democrat?

Anonymous said...

Sure wish I lived in Oshkosh or DC where there are actually LDS Democrats. It was recently reported in the Utah press that the ratio is one Democrat in a crowd of ten members. That is pathetic!! Truly pathetic!! I do recall a time when the numbers were far less disproportionate and times were better.

I appreciate the "politically neutral statement" the brethren publish at election time. I believe they honestly believe the tenants of that published statement; however, like all of us, I do not believe they always practice what it is they preach. Unfortunately...

Your ever controversial father...

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