Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Help! I'm Being Persecuted!

A recent blog post on a Mormon blog (written by a guy who's the brother of a friend from high school) got me thinking about persecution. More especially, how the people who most often complain that they are being persecuted against are not the people that are the most persecuted.

I remember a friend from Wisconsin saying that one day some racist graffiti aimed at blacks appeared in his school's bathroom. The community outcry was enormous. Eventually, the perpetrator came forward--a black student who wanted to raise awareness of racism. Meanwhile, no one said a word about the persistent racist anti-Hmong graffiti in that same bathroom. No one seemed to care that real persecution was being dealt to the Hmong minority.

I'm not trying to say that racism against blacks doesn't exist. It does. I've seen it. But when our society sees that racism, it usually takes notice and pushes back. Meanwhile, groups that are persecuted more frequently usually endure their persecution in silence.

Another example is seen in the comments of the above-mentioned blog post--repeated graffiti on a Muslim mosque. Persecution? Yes. Complaints of persecution? Not so much. But we can imagine how other religious groups who are not persecuted (or persecuted to a lesser degree) might react--they (or at least many of their members) would be quite angry and complain publicly.

Now I realize that many fellow members of the LDS church are having a hard time with a recent musical. I think the musical is in poor taste. But I'm not going to call it persecution. Persecution, to me, is more than just making fun. Persecution is calling a peaceful religion "dangerous." It's destruction of property. It's denying people jobs or services. Does it happen to the LDS church? Sure. But it's relatively rare, and those who persecute members of the LDS church are generally branded (justly) as bigots. But when Islam is called a "dangerous" religion, as it often is? Fewer people come to its defense.

A little over a year ago I was visiting an EQ meeting in a ward I didn't belong to. The subject of homosexuality came up, and the class members started talking about how much homosexuals were persecuting members of the LDS church. I should add--this ward was in an area that's overwhelmingly LDS. I doubt any of these men were friends with someone who was openly homosexual. And I'm certain that an openly homosexual person living in their neighborhood would face constant harassment (heck, I know for a fact someone in that neighborhood was harassed--graffiti again--for just being English). But, somehow, it was them persecuting us.

Now I realize that a few members of the church have lost their jobs due to their involvement with Proposition 8. I also am confident that there are other isolated incidents of homosexuals persecuting members of the LDS church. But these class members weren't talking about persecution they had experienced, or that someone they knew had experienced. The persecution was pretty far removed from their actual lives. And yet they were still spending the majority of a priesthood meeting complaining about it.

Had this discussion occurred in my ward at the time, a place where people knew me well enough to take me seriously, I would have spoken up. After all, I had classmates and friends who were homosexual, and I sure wasn't being persecuted for being LDS. As I was a stranger, I pretended the baby I was holding was acting up, and I walked out.

Perhaps, as members of the LDS church, we should focus more on making the places we live more welcoming to all peaceful people, and less on complaining about being persecuted.


Katrina said...

Well said, Tim.

Jay said...

Ditto on the "Well said, Tim."

Brandon "Barch" Brooks said...

You should title this post, "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" after the constitutional peasant scene in Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail.

On a more serious note, well put.

Tim said...

I kind of had that quote in mind, actually.