Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The First Mormon U.S. President...Almost.

Forgive me if my faith and trust in politicians and the law hasn't always been very strong. 

I was born in 1978.  Just two years before I was born, there was a law in force in the state of Missouri that made it legal to kill any Mormon on the spot. Just because.  It was an extermination order put in place by the State’s Governor in 1838. In 1976, the law was rescinded.  In 1976, the law was rescinded.

Governor Boggs had a personal disdain for Mormons. (This was nothing new...they had already been kicked out of Palmyra, New York and Kirtland, Ohio.)  But the Governor felt threatened by their growing communities and industry.  My people were killed simply because of what they believe. And it was legal.  The law allowed it.

So they left Missouri and found a home in Nauvoo, Illinois.  It didn’t take long for persecution to find them there either.  Again, the State’s Governor was not fond of them; particularly, Joseph Smith, the Mormon President.  Ultimately, Smith was arrested for treason (because he formed his own militia in order to defend the city of Nauvoo against others trying to harm his people--the law did not protect them.)  Joseph Smith was killed by a mob while in Carthage Jail in 1844.  An innocent prisoner, a loving father and devoted husband, an extraordinary man who lived his life according to good principles, and he was unprotected by the law of the land and was killed, because of his beliefs.  My great-great-grandfather was with him, John Taylor.  He received gun shot wounds yet survived and following Brigham Young, he later became the 3rd President of our Church after the Mormons landed in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Governor Ford confessed that it was good for Mormons to have been driven out of the state and that their beliefs and actions were too different to have survived in Illinois.  He said “that some people expect more protection from the laws than the laws are able to furnish in the face of popular excitement.”  Five men were tried for the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum.  They were all found not guilty.  The man who led the defense team later became a U.S. Senator.

On so many levels, there is a silent outcry of injustice in our Mormon history as a people.  Yet, it remains silent.  Lives have been lost in this great country because of religion.  And it is often overlooked, forgotten. 

So try to imagine, if you will, the idea of the possibility of a Mormon being elected President of this great country, to Mormons.  Not to the general public. But to one who belongs to this history which I have shared.  Imagine, the feelings we felt.  And it was so close. So close.

So for me, I have not lost all hope in America.  But I feel a great sense of loss for a victory that would have meant more to me than to one who does not share my beliefs, my history.

You see, I have read friends’ blogs.  I have seen their comments.  I have witnessed how there is still animosity, misinformation and tolerable persecution toward my people because of what they believe.  Yet, when it comes to sexuality, women’s choices, or legalizing harmful drugs, how dare I judge others because of what they believe. And I am a bigot.

As Mormons, we hold our heads high. We honor those whose lives were lost because of their faith.  We strive for that same kind of faith.  Stalwart faith.  Nothing wavering.  We will have faith in our religion and in our country and we will stand taller because of it. I couldn't be more proud of my Faith and my Heritage.  We have not sought revenge or retribution. My ancestors fought for a freedom of religion even when it was not honored, and then they turned around and served the very country in which their freedoms were taken. 

Because I am a Mormon, I will obey, honor and sustain the law.  I will support my country’s President.  I will fight for freedom.  I will teach my children civility.  And I will continue to teach them their history; that in spite of the injustices of this world, we move forward in faith with an eye single to the glory of our God.

Because that is what we, as a people, do.