Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stop The Attack!

I don't remember what cued this memory, but the other day I remembered something that happened to me once in high school.

I was, as you know, Mormon, and I was trying desperately to believe in it, since my parents did (and I seriously thought there was something wrong with me for not believing, like I was a bad person or something), and I wanted to please my parents so badly. I went to early morning seminary every school day for five years. For those of you who aren't in the know, seminary is a church class for teenagers. We studied the scriptures in depth for an hour every day before school. Yes, I woke up at 5 a.m. all through high school. I knew all the facts; it was just believing in it all that was the problem. I figured that if I studied it enough it would click and God would bless me with understanding and belief. So I studied and learned and drilled it into my brain.

I went over to a friend's house once, and somehow in conversation it came out that I was Mormon, and my friend's father started trying to pick a fight about what I believed. He would ask questions and I would answer with the answers that I had been given when I was studying, and he would argue and attack everything I said. This was not in the spirit of healthy debate, either. He was sitting there, smugly trying to tear apart everything my young life had been built around. Here was this man, 50 years old, bullying a 16 year old who was still trying to figure out who she was and what she believed.

I don't know why I remembered this suddenly the other day, but it made me angry. At the time I kinda took it as a challenge, and when people opposed us we had been taught that it was Satan working through other people to push against God and His plan, etc. But now that I'm grown and have things more or less figured out, even though my beliefs are completely different now than they were then, I'm still angry about it. What kind of insecure, petty person picks on a teenager and rips apart everything she stands for? I can't believe this guy treated me like this.

The interesting thing is, if I had been Catholic, or Baptist, or Muslim, or anything, really, I don't think there would have been an issue. For some reason, when Mormonism comes up, it makes people lose their senses and all of a sudden people decide that it's their life's mission to convince the person that this particular dogma is wrong and they're wasting their time and devotion.

Now, for me, right now, Mormonism isn't the right fit. No organized religion is, really. I worship on my own. But one of the most important things to me is freedom of religion, and respect for the religious choices all people make. I will never argue with a Mormon (or anyone) because I think it's important that everyone be allowed to believe what they want to believe. If so-and-so down the street is Baptist, who cares? It's not hurting me. In fact, the diversity we have from all the different systems of belief in this world is an amazing and beautiful thing.

Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't make sense to me.

(But I respect his/her right to think what he/she wants.)

1 comment:

magnolia said...

yeah, i never understood that attitude either. it's why i'm a non-militant atheist. it's just as bad to me to be militant about a lack of faith as it is to be militant about a deeply-held one.

and people can just be jerks sometimes. that's the worst of it.