I am a Christian ... and a Mormon

Suzann Darnall

I have been awaiting the attack on Mitt Romney's religion. So, it came as no surprise to me when Pastor Robert Jeffress came out with his anti-Mormon comments, including his opinion that Mormons aren't Christians. Excuse me???

Does Pastor Jeffress even know the name of our church? We are not "The Mormon Church." We are "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Mormon is not the name we take upon ourselves in baptism. We take on the name of Christ. He is the head of our church. It is through Him that we are saved.

Mormon is not our God. We do not worship Moroni, Moses, John the Baptist, Joseph Smith, Jr., Thomas S. Monson, or any of the other prophets. We pray to our Heavenly Father, also known as God the Father. We pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son. And, we seek comfort through the Holy Spirit, known as the Holy Ghost, among other names.

We are known as Saints, LDS, Latter-Day Saints, Christians, AND Mormons. Sort of like me being known as Suzann, Suzie, Mom, MawMaw and a variety of other nicknames and titles.

Being called "MawMaw" does not negate my identity as a mother, wife, daughter, quilter, animal-lover, or any other facet of who I am. It is merely an affectionate name used by my grandchildren. It identifies me to them. I feel the same way about the term "Mormon." It easily identifies me to non-LDS folks.

If I am asked about my religion or church, I generally reply, "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Also known as the Mormons". I say the first sentence because that IS my church. I say the second sentence because that easily identifies my church to others.

I do not object to Pastor Jeffress wanting a Christian in the White House. I consider religion an important part of politics. I want moral and ethical leaders for my country. I want leaders who share my values. Which are essentially Judeo-Christian values. The values brought down from the mount by Moses. The values taught by Jesus Christ. Values that are reaffirmed in the Book of Mormon and modern LDS revelations.

However, I do object to Pastor Jeffress getting it wrong about Mitt Romney being a Christian! Because, in so saying, he strips all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from the most important name we have taken upon ourselves in the waters of baptism. The name of Christ. Our Lord and savior!

I am also disappointed that Rick Perry, governor of my state, did not denounce Pastor Jeffress' prejudicial comments. I expected better of him. Guess I can move him a little further down my list of GOP preferences.

I know some folks will wonder why I am writing about religion in a political forum. Simple: I cannot separate the two. Many of my political views come from my religious beliefs. I am a user of so-called litmus tests in picking candidates. I object to abortion, so that drives my GOP status above all.

I firmly believe in freedom of religion. Not freedom from religion. I also ask that other American citizens offer me that same opportunity. I respect their religious freedom and expect the same. So long as your religion does not infringe upon my rights, go for it.

I hate that both race and religion prejudices are rearing their ugly heads in this election cycle. What is odd is that the racism being expressed is blacks complaining about Herman Cain not being black enough, while the religious bigotry being expressed is Christians complaining about Mitt Romney not being Christian enough. Again, excuse me???

We are supposed to be a country based on many freedoms and rights. Among them are equality and freedom from religious persecution. We need to take guidance from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. We need to create a nation where people "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We need to build a land where "all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands."

When the Reverend King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, I think he truly wanted us to be a country united, not a country divided. I cannot believe that a man with so much apparent wisdom and love would want the racial or religious divisiveness we see today.

It is my hope and prayer that we can join together and elect people to move us into a time of prosperity and unity. Then, we can look to the future with leaders who will bring about both change and renewal. Changes to that in our system which is broken, as well as a renewal of those values and standards which made us a great nation.

Let us carefully weigh each candidate and discard those found wanting. But, let us make sure we are measuring them appropriately. Judge them on their records, their ideas, and their values. Don't let superficialities sidetrack us into making unwise choices. Remember the goal: make Obama a one term president! With that in mind, who can best lead the GOP to victory? This is the decision we need to make in the coming months. Let's do it right!

© Suzann C. Darnall, OCTOBER 2011

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