Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mormons can keep a secret.

I'm preparing a talk for a baptism on Saturday. The preparation is going fine but I started to realized that when it comes to discussing the church with new members I tend to self edit my comments. The first time it happened was about two years ago talking with a new member about why people disliked Mormons so much. I started to give some examples and I brought up the pre-civil war Republican party platform that was basically anti-Mormon. "End the twin relics of barbarism" was the slogan I wanted to make the point that I isn't as bad as it used to be. But I stopped short of telling him that one of the relics was polygamy (the other was slavery). I don't know why. In retrospect I missed out on an opportunity to explain it in a way that would not shock him or hurt his faith.

As I write this talk, I wonder if I am doing the same. I know my audience will be one new convert, several ward members, and possibly her non-member friends and relatives. So I don't want to go overboard (like I am known for doing in Gospel Doctrine). I will edit out much of what I wrote in the first draft. But I also don't want to self edit for the wrong reasons.

On a related note, the other day my wife was on a business appointment and noticed my Book of Mormon teaching manual and Teaching of Joseph Smith were in the car where her client would see them. Being in "The South" and not knowing how her client would react, she started to hide them. He business partner, who is Methodist, stopped her. "You have nothing to be be ashamed of", she told her. "You practice your religion and people will respect that even if they don't agree with you." I could only think "You have no idea how wrong you are."

Do Mormons keep quiet about their history? Or at least parts of their history that they think others won't understand? Do we hide our being Mormon if we think it will hurt us? I've said it before. We are paranoid. But is that the right way to react? As I write this talk I can't help but think that I would rather be disliked for what I really believe than for what other think I believe. Has the world changed enough to accept us for who we are? I wonder.

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