*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.”
- “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.”
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?
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.