Does anybody know what percentage of the US population is religious? 86%
Isn’t that wonderful? 86% of Americans believe in a higher power. 75% of Americans believe in Jesus Christ. What a magnificent place to live. Can there be any doubt this is the promised land?
I want you to think about your daily life, the daily interactions you have with people. Do you talk about religion? When you’re with friends or at work, how often does the subject of your personal religious beliefs, or anybody else’s for that matter, come up? I’m going to guess that it doesn’t get discussed very often.
When you’re at home, do you pray over your food? What about at a restaurant? If there’s a difference, why is that?
When you discuss political issues, how often do you open the scriptures? Why do you think that is?
Last week I posted about Proposition 8. I made the point that Proposition 8 is a missionary opportunity that not many people seem to be taking advantage of, at least people in the newspapers and videos that were going around.
All the arguments being used were about the constitution and rights and schools and things like that. Some of these arguments were valid, some weren’t.
But what I didn’t see much of was people talking about the Plan of Salvation and how an eternal marriage between man and wife, sealed by Priesthood authority, is essential to our progress and becoming like God. There wasn’t much discussion of temples or atonement or any of the other fundamental and key principles that define our position on the family.
There was some discussion about wanting to protect the family but not much discussion about the real reasons why.
There was certainly precious little discussion of prophets.
I don’t think anybody ever talked about the other things we do to protect the family, day-by-day, like reading the scriptures as a family, praying as a family, eating together as a family and having Family Home Evening. Instead of looking like we were just picking this one issue to make a stand on, we would have established some credibility.
Why is that?
I think the answer is because we’ve been backed into a corner by a tiny, yet vocal, minority of the population. You see, religion has been removed as a valid reason for action in this country. Religion has become a quirky coat that must be removed when entering the arena of public discourse. It just doesn’t fit in. It stands out.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a prophet like I mentioned above, addressed this issue to an audience of students at BYU. He said:
“Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted…This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened…
In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments.”
I’d say that’s a pretty accurate assessment of our day. We, as religious people, have allowed ourselves to have the one arrow in our quiver that’s indestructible taken away from us.
Elder Maxwell goes on:
“There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations, in an ironic irreligious test for office.”
Does that sound at all like the coverage of Mitt Romney’s campaign? I won’t bother to mention the irony of the religious test coming from fellow Christians.
What’s amazing about these quotes is they were given in 1978. Exactly 30 years ago. Friends, if you’ve ever wondered if there are prophets on the Earth, I’m here to tell you there are. I would encourage you to read the rest of the talk. It’s amazing.
So, what do we do now?
We push our way out of the corner. The time has never been more ripe for people of religious conviction to refuse to be told how we can and cannot think about issues. We are guaranteed the freedom of speech and we have the right to vote. We can choose to continue tieing our right arm behind our back while the opposition mounts every weapon it can find or we can choose to use the one weapon guaranteed to win every time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The next time you’re asked why you support Proposition 8, talk about the Family Proclamation, the Plan of Salvation and what the scriptures and the prophets say about homosexuality. Don’t talk about constitutions or gay rights. It’s not about rights and the constitution says nothing on the issue. We support Proposition 8 because we believe homosexuality is wrong and we don’t want to live in a country that condones that kind of destructive behavior. That is a legitimate reason.
The next time you’re asked why you oppose abortion, talk about the importance of life, the doctrine of agency and why it’s not “free agency” and consequences. Talk about the 10 commandments and Christ’s love for little children. It has nothing to do with women’s rights or state’s rights. It’s about murder and consequences of breaking commandments. We do not want to live in a country where the solution to breaking one of God’s most important commandments is to break the only commandment that’s more important.
The next time somebody asks you why you’re so down on the welfare system, talk about the doctrine of work and idle hands. The Lord has made it very clear that “he that is idle shall not eat the bread…of the laborer“.
Why don’t we tell people that when we talk about these issues?
Again I say the time has come to choose how we’re going to frame issues that are important to us. Didn’t Paul say “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ“? Neither are we. God has placed us on this Earth and given us the privilege of helping to accomplish His work. If we don’t proclaim the gospel at every opportunity, especially these opportunities that matter the most, can we truly look Him in the eye when we see Him again and say we gave everything?