Dear Sister Hilton,
I read with some dismay your recent column for Meridian Magazine, which has since (understandably) been taken down. I realize that you feel very strongly about the topic upon which you were writing and, as is often the case with those of us possessing a sharp wit and an excess of passion, you words probably got away from you. However, as a self-described “liberal” in the faith and in the spirit of brotherly correction, I would like to respond to your rather hasty condemnation of a considerable segment of your brothers and sisters in the faith, whom you do not know, and have rather harshly misjudged.
In your piece you state:
“Liberal Mormons are more slippery. They often attend church, but they’re the ones who dodge Gospel Doctrine class because the teacher is “so by-the-book.” This criticism is meant to imply that he’s a dolt who never questions anything, so why should I attend a class taught by someone so narrow-minded?
They disagree with several points in the Proclamation to the World, say no to callings that insult their intelligence, and create their own spin on how God will ultimately judge us (very leniently, usually). They think bikinis are fine, iced tea is a tasty drink, and R-rated movies are often artistic and worth seeing.
Invariably liberal Mormons do not read their scriptures every day. They do not attend the temple, they do not show up to help someone move, and they do not Home Teach or Visit Teach with regularity…”
In honesty sister, I find the name-calling here to be both atrocious and rather insulting. First off, I am many things, boring, tiresome, obnoxious and probably insensitive but “slippery”? Hardly. Eels, fish and salamanders are slippery madam, we liberals are merely pedantic and occasionally annoying. Now, having cleared that up, let us take your other arguments point by point, shall we?
“They often attend church, but they’re the ones who dodge Gospel Doctrine class because the teacher is “so by-the-book”…
Well, when you put things that way, I suppose I’m guilty as charged, after all I do indeed “often attend church,” and I must admit that I haven’t been seen much in Gospel Doctrine class in the past two years or so, though, in my own defense, this is due to my teaching the Gospel Principles class, so I don’t think you can fault me for being absent on ideological grounds.
“They disagree with several points in the Proclamation to the World”
Which points are you referring to Sister Hilton? I can’t think of any off of the top of my head…
“…[They] say no to callings that insult their intelligence, and create their own spin on how God will ultimately judge us (very leniently, usually).”
I’m impressed that you’ve somehow been privy to all of the interviews I’ve had with my Bishop since the age of 12, however did you manage that? If of course you had been, you would have realized that I have never yet turned down a calling that was issued to me, that includes the two years I served as an Elders’ Quorum President, while going to Grad School full-time and holding down a full-time job. As to God’s methods of judgment, I claim no special knowledge or interpretation of what he has revealed to us in scripture: that those who will not live a Celestial law shall not inherit a Celestial glory, and that the same is true for the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms. If this view holds an insufficient amount of fire and brimstone for your tastes, take it up with the Prophet Joseph, he’s the one who revealed these truths into the Doctrine and Covenants.
“They think bikinis are fine, iced tea is a tasty drink, and R-rated movies are often artistic and worth seeing.“
Ok, as a male, I think I can safely say that I have never been tempted to try on a bikini (they don’t flatter my figure). Never tried iced tea, so your guess is as good as mine regarding it’s tastiness. (That said I do drink Coca-cola, so I suppose I’m as good as damned in your book on that note.) As to R-rated movies, I will admit to seeing them, and actually finding some of them to be excellent pieces of work. However, I have also found that generally speaking, the merit of R-rated films is all too often drowned out by violence, vulgarity or quasi-pornographic materials and have not seen one in some time, nor do I have any intention of seeing one in the near future.
“Invariably liberal Mormons do not read their scriptures every day. They do not attend the temple, they do not show up to help someone move, and they do not Home Teach or Visit Teach with regularity.“
Where to start? Ok, guilty as charged on scripture-reading, I miss a day or two and I definitely feel the lack of spiritual strength from the failure. However, this seems to be a widespread problem in the church regardless of ideological position, judging from the frequency that admonitions to read one’s scriptures arise in General Conference. Temple attendance? I’ll be honest, not as often as I’d like. Arranging child care to get my wife and I to the Temple has not been as high a priority as it ought to have been, but we do go, and we hold sacred our experiences there. As to showing up to help someone move, I take that personally. I served for the better part of 6 years in four different Elders’ Quorum Presidencies, in which I helped so many families in my ward move I’ve lost count. My service in this regard has left me with permanent damage in my upper back and the daily gift of chronic pain. Would that I had been the neglectful “liberal” Mormon you described in your post, Sister Hilton, the cold nights might be easier to bear today. Finally, regarding Home Teaching, you may ask my current Elders’ Quorum President as to my performance of this sacred duty. I will freely admit that there is more I can do in this department, but I do go out every month and I know my families and their needs.
Frankly, Sister Hilton, I think you owe me, and the rest of your many “liberal” brothers and sisters in the faith an apology. I have no doubt that you have encountered more than your fair share of hypocrites in the faith, who seek to use the term “liberal Mormon” or “cultural Mormon” to cover their personal failings. But to tar us all with the brush of hypocrisy because many of us do not hold to your rigid, strident, and frankly rather self-righteous opinions and interpretations of the Gospel is both cruel and frankly un-Christlike. While questions of modesty, adherence to the Word of Wisdom and righteous media intake are all valid grounds for discussion and occasional loving criticism, a myopic focus on these issues to the neglect of other, “weightier matters” such as kindness, benevolence, patience and forgiveness, is to replicate the sins of the Pharisees of old and come under the same condemnation. A modest, Word of Wisdom observing, member of the Church, who wastes their time in condemnation of their neighbors is a credit to neither themselves, nor to the Lord’s Kingdom on this earth.