My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the category “Politics”

Politics and Religion: Hand in Hand for the Faithful

There are two things I am deeply passionate about in life. The first is my religious faith. And the second is politics.

Obviously I don’t make for polite dinner conversations.

For many Christian faithful politics and religion, and religion and politics go hand in hand. They’re like peas and carrots; you just can’t split them up.

Earlier today a dear lady from my church congregation shared this status on Facebook, and I instantly reached for the “Like” button to show my support.

A Facebook status shared by a member of my church congregation today.

I wrote a few months ago about how I personally supported Jon Hunstman in the primaries. Those days are long gone though, and instead my morally conservative leading front man is Mitt “The Wild Mittens” Romney.

Last week I had a conversation with Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for the Associated Press. She had discovered me through my blog, and we discussed my blog,  life as a Mormon in the South, and other things. She asked me about how I’ve seen Mitt Romney’s effect on how Mormons are now viewed. We discussed the mainstream notoriety the Church has recently received and the “Mormon Moment” that the media has created. At the end of our conversation I was asked who I would be voting for. I enthusiastically said, “Mitt Romney,” but then followed up with an even stronger, “but not because he’s a Mormon!”

Mormons are just as prone to mistakes as any other people. We’re imperfect. We mess up. We hurt others. We lie. We cheat. And if we’re lucky, we recognize what a terrible sinner we are and we mend our ways.

My support for Mitt Romney can best be summed up by something I read recently by Cary Schmidt on Twitter. Cary, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington, Connecticut, said this,

“If you can’t vote FOR someone, at least vote AGAINST someone.”

Next Tuesday I am voting as a Christian, as a Latter-day Saint, and as someone who supports traditional social values. I am voting not so much for Mitt Romney, but for the values I know he embraces. And I am voting against the values I see being embraced by our current President, and sadly, many of my fellow Americans.

In the Good Book it says,

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

- Proverbs 29:2

And also,

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

- Psalm 33:12

My political ideology as an Independent voter is largely shaped by deep religious convictions.

Years ago when Facebook first provided me that empty box on my profile in which to summarize my political beliefs I came up with this concise statement:

I’m a financially and socially conservative American who believes in small federal government, a strong military, and a balanced budget. However, I also understand the need for government programs and assistance and feel that we need more that are properly ran, but not at the risk of embracing socialistic ideals and creating bureaucracy. – I vote for the person and their platform, not for their party or that party’s national agendas. – I honor the offices of my elected officials even if I do not agree with those elected because I feel our democracy was Divinely Inspired. – I feel a broad & open political knowledge is among the greatest attributes a person can attain to, but fear that too few bother to educate themselves before casting a ballot. – I honor our Constitution and believe it is a living document. However, I disagree with those in our judicial branch who bend it to say what it never was intended to say. – Most would call me an Independent. I prefer the term Die Hard American.

My two passions in life have never came as close to one another as they have this election season, and it has been my daily prayer that I could keep them separate despite the fact that Mitt and I have many things in common. – Our families are both from Michigan; we both have awesome hair, we’re both uptight sticks in the mud; we’re both Mormon. – But perhaps my passions have also dualistically never been farther apart. Although we share religious faith, I am not voting for Mitt because of his faith. I am voting for him because of his values.

Any good man or woman who defends principles of righteousness as dictated scripture could be someone I would vote for. I could readily vote for a Bible thumping Baptist who thought all Mormons were going to Hell just as long as they shared my moral and political ideology. Doctrinal differences don’t matter in the big picture politically speaking. That’s why I love so very much this Article of Faith in the Church:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

- Article of Faith 11

I wrote that because of my two life passions I don’t make for polite dinner conversation. However, I said it in jest. Because in reality, the 11th Article of Faith is my motto in all things political and religious. In essence my mantra is this:

I can respect you and honor you despite our differences, no matter what they might be. I value you as a person, and realize that our different beliefs and convictions does not make either of us more or less than the other person.

I respect you and honor your right to confess whatever you want, politically or spiritually.

I’m a “let’s shake hands” at the end of the conversation kind of guy rather than a “punch you in the face” after our debate kind of guy. – I wish more people shared this philosophy with me in deed rather than just word.

Yes, I’m a “Diehard American”. Yes I believe in my right to own a gun, my right to confess my love for Christ, my right to promote traditional marriage, and my right to worship as I please. But as a disciple of Jesus Christ I also honor anyone who believes differently. Do I honor opposing beliefs? No. But I can honor another’s rights to their own ideas. As a Christian it is my duty to walk the hard-to-navigate-line of loving a sinner but hating a sin while at the same time not judging someone as a sinner. (Say that sentence five times fast!)

For me politics and religion go hand in hand. But honor and respect for others also goes hand in hand with religion and politics.

In the last few days before the election we’ll all see opposing views paraded in front of us. Many Facebook statuses will be shared promoting this candidate or another. Many Tweets will be Tweeted calling the opposing side evil and wicked and terrible. And the political ads may seem never ending. But as for me and my house, I know where I stand politically, and I sincerely hope and pray that everyone, whether Christian, Atheist, Muslim, or Jew, will remember to show civility and respect to others.

My vote will reflect my personal beliefs, and I hope that you know yourself well enough to vote so that your ballot reflects your’s.

And if someone irks you with some off the wall comment, just smile and remember that in the end we’re all still neighbors.

Stan Way

If you’ve stumbled upon this site and you’re not a Mormon please click here to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what we believe.

The National Debt and Federal Budget Deficit Deconstructed by Tony Robbins

Regardless of your political point of view, I hope you’ll invest the next 20 minutes of your life to to empower yourself with some knowledge about our national debt.

As a Latter-day Saint I believe firmly that it is impossible to separate the temporal things of life with the spiritual. All things are spiritual to the Lord. (See D&C 29:29-35)

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, Baptist, Pagan or Cajun, it is your responsibility to be a wise citizen and contribute to the betterment of society. – That’s why I personally enjoy what Tony Robbins does to assist others in his life. – But I hope that by sharing this video, and by your watching it, you’ll be more empowered to make wiser decisions in your life as an individual, a citizen, and a voter.

I love the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Said he,

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

- Articles of Faith

I honor and respect all people.

Honestly, I don’t care what your political affiliation is or what your personal preference of faith is. But I sincerely hope you do believe in using your life to assist in the betterment of our society. I believe fully in being a wise steward of the things we’ve been blessed with in our lives.

So go ahead and watch the video above. Be informed. Ponder it.

The national debt and the federal budget deficit are problems that no one person, no one candidate, and no one party can fix alone. As a nation and a people we are going to have to work together on this. But I hope that you’ll support those who wish to fix this problem, and I hope that in your personal life you’ll learn from the bad example of our federal government the damaging and damning problems of debt in your life.

Let us all be wise stewards.

Your pal,

Stan

If you would like to know more about Anthony Robbins go ahead a click here.

If you’ve stumbled upon this site and you’re not a Mormon, but you want to learn more, please click here to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what we believe.

The Winds of Religious Influence Are Shifting: The Rise of the Non-Religious in America

As a Latter-day Saint and a Christian, today was a historic day.

For centuries America’s largest religious group has been “Protestant”, but according to findings published today, that is no more.

Earlier today the Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life released their latest analytic study titled, Nones on the Rise, now showing that one in five Americans (19.6%) claim no religious identity.

This group, called “Nones,” is now the nation’s second-largest category of faith, behind only the Catholics, and outnumbing the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. This shift will have, and is already showing, significant cultural, religious, and even political changes in our society at large.

Last year, the president of the largest atheist organization in the United States spoke to a group of students organized for the 2011 Secular Student Alliance leadership conference. A focal point of his talk on the future of atheism was the idea of a “sleeping giant,” or what he called the “30 percent under 30″, the nonreligious Americans who would shape the future of our national discourse on religion.

Even though that figure was slightly off – under the most recent survey figures available last year, 25 percent of Americans under 30 were religiously unaffiliated, and only about 7 percent of them identified as atheist or agnostic - the statement was oddly prescient. Indeed, those who identify as religiously unaffiliated is growing rapidly, particularly among people born in the 1980′s and 1990′s.

The nonreligious do indeed seem poised to assist in shaping the future of religious discourse, but who are these “Nones” and what exactly do they really believe?

According to Pew,

“In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).”

- “Nones” on the Rise

About 37 percent of the religiously unaffiliated say they’re spiritual but not religious. Many even pray, believe in God, and have regular spiritual routines according to the report. From 2007-2012, the so-called “Nones” have risen from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. That is staggering growth, the likes of which not even us Mormons can keep up with as the nation’s faster growing religion.

But as society changes, and secularism and succinct socialistic ideologies squirm their way into the footholds of society, I believe we’ll see even larger shift and growth of the “Nones” in coming years.

In the 1960′s two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group – both evangelical and mainline – has slid from 53% of the population of the U.S.  in 2007, to 48% just five years later.

According to a Washington Post article written earlier today about the survey’s findings,

[The "Nones"] can be found in all educational and income groups, but they skew heavily in one direction politically: 68 percent lean toward the Democratic Party. That makes the “nones,” at 24 percent, the largest Democratic faith constituency, with black Protestants at 16 percent and white mainline Protestants at 14 percent.

By comparison, white evangelicals make up 34 percent of the Republican base.

- One in five Americans reports no religious affiliation, study says; Michelle Boorstein; The Washington Post, 9 October 2012

The Post article goes on to say that “the study presents a stark map of how political and religious polarization have merged in recent decades. Congregations used to be a blend of political affiliations, but that’s generally not the case anymore. Sociologists have shown that Americans are more likely to pick their place of worship by their politics, not vice versa.”

In a society where people choose their religious doctrines according to their political beliefs, instead of the other way around, it is easy to see why Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke directly to the members of the Church who “allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ” this past weekend.

The winds of religious influence are changing. The world and society are changing. The currents of popular opinion are shifting our nation like never before.

As Latter-day Saints we make up just 2% of the general populace of the United States. However, though prophetic mandate the Lord is likewise working in the winds and currents of society, and is now calling younger missionaries than ever before to serve as His ambassadors to the world.

As the youth of the world follow less and less the faith of their forefathers, the youth of Zion are being called upon to shoulder a challenging charge.

Graphic Courtesy Pew Research Center

Today as the Pew Research Center released their report I felt like standing up and singing happily We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet, because surely the Lord knew what was coming, and what is yet to come in the world in which we live. It is of little wonder that we’ve been counseled so vigorously to more fully convert convert ourselves, strengthen our families, and stand in holy places as the world changes around us.

As a tiny 2% we cannot change society as a whole. Yes, we must stand up and let our voices be heard. Yes, we must defend sacred doctrines, family structure, and our beliefs to the world. But in the end the real question will be, “What did I do to secure my family in Zion?”

I pray that might be a question we will all be able to answer happily when the day comes for an accounting.

Your pal,

Stan

To download the complete Nones on the Rise findings to your computer in PDF Format click this link and select “Save as”:  Download the Full Report (1.37MB, 80 pages)

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog and website and want to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you can do so by clicking here. You’ll be glad you did.

Political Neutrality: The Official Stance of Mormonism

A week ago the LDS Newsroom released this video explaining the Church’s official stance when it comes to politics. I think it is highly beneficial for any Latter-day Saint to watch considering the added attention the Church is getting right now due to Mitt Romney’s candidacy.

From my own branch’s pulpit I have often heard political references made to certain parties and individuals in the past. In Sunday School Classes and Priesthood Quorums I have heard repeated comments concerning party politics. And frankly, it has saddened me that when it comes to politics many Latter-day Saints cannot keep themselves from teaching their opinions as if they were doctrine in the Church.

Granted, I’m a loudmouth, but I have a blog on which to spew my rants, raves, and highly honored opinions. A Gospel Doctrine Lesson is not the place to discuss healthcare reform or what you think about the current President of the United States. So with that being said, I just hope that all of us remember how we are supposed to act when it comes to politics at church.

If you can’t behave yourself, you have my greatest love and empathy because I relate to you as a loudmouth, but perhaps you should just skip attending meetings until this whole Mitt Romney thing blows over. – Let’s be honest though, that’s not going to happen anytime soon… – So maybe you should just keep your mouth shut.

Feel free to come and sit with me in a Gospel Doctrine Lesson. I’ll be the one sitting on my hands and red in the face trying not to tell others to zip it.

Your pal,

Stan Way

My Personal Views on Same-Sex Marriage

The ABC News Exclusive that rocked the world today.

Today was a regular day. I was visiting with my mother when the television screen showed that an Exclusive ABC News special report was coming on. “What’s this?” I thought to myself. “It must be important to broadcast in the middle of the day and interrupt the soap operas.”

This is what I saw.

Diane Sawyer, who was anchoring the live breaking broadcast, was entirely correct when she said, “This is an historic political and cultural moment in this country.”

Today, for the first time in the history of our nation, a sitting President declared his support for same-sex marriage.

As I watched the breaking news I was greatly saddened.

I could go into great depth and detail of why I believe what I do, but as a Christian and a Latter-day Saint, I feel there isn’t great need for an exhortation of doctrine. But I will share the basics.

I believe that marriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman. It is a religious ceremony, and sacrament, and has been since the beginning of time. I am entirely opposed to same-sex marriage. This does not make me a bigot. It simply means that I sustain what the Holy Bible teaches regarding marriage.

I declare emphatically that those in the LGBT should have every legal right that the rest of us have. There should be zero discrimination. They should have equal rights under the laws of the land because our Constitution says so, and because it is morally right to treat others with respect. And I believe we should allow civil unions to guarantee that there are benefits for the partners in a LGBT relationship.

However, marriage is a religious institution. It is the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, in which they become husband and wife. And I do not believe we can redefine marriage just because a segment of society wishes it to be. Calling a carrot a pear does not make the carrot a pear, it only means we have confused future generations of knowing what a carrot or a pear really are. A carrot is a carrot and a pear is a pear, and holding votes to change the names of the two does not change what they really are.

I’ve shared before my great love for many people who are part of the LGBT community. And I count some of my dearest and closest friends as members of that community. Do I want them to have legal rights and enjoy their lives together? Yes. But I cannot let my voice be silent on the subject of same-sex marriage.

I realize my personal opinions and beliefs may not be popular to many in society. And I am aware that stating so publicly where I stand on such a hotbed issue may cost me personally with some of my closest associates. However, I believe this is a defining moment in the history of our nation, and I cannot stand idly by as the “good news” of  the announcement of today spreads across the airwaves. Frankly, I was saddened to see many media outlets this afternoon convey messages of support for the President’s new-found stance. An unbiased media has always strengthened our nation. A biased media may help lead to its destruction.

For those who believe as I do, it is a time to stand up and declare simply where you stand. It is not a time to be shy and meek in your personal beliefs. Nor is it a time to be bigoted or hateful to others. In saying why he changed his mind on this issue, President Obama cited his Christian faith and the Golden Rule. And because of my same respect and honor for such the Golden Rule, I fear that in this moral and political debate many words of unkindness will be shared by those with differing opinions.

Today was a historic day. And this debate and battle are nowhere near to being over. In fact, I am sure we shall hear it for days, weeks, and years to come. Luckily we live in a democracy, and The People will eventually be the ones who makes the choices regarding same-sex marriage. – I personally pray that The People stick with traditional marriage. But only time will tell.

- Stan Way

If you would like to read more about what I believe about the divine institution of marriage, you can do so by clicking here.

Lawrence O’Donnell, Martin Bashir, MSNBC’s Bigotry, and Lots of False Facts about Mormonism

A couple of weeks ago MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell made some statements that troubled me regarding my religious faith. I wrote a long, heavily cited, and not very friendly blog post addressing Mr. O’Donnell’s complete bigotry and lack of facts. However, in good judgement, and having vented it all out by typing it, I decided not to post it. “Not just yet,” I said to myself. “We’ll see where this goes,” I thought.

There was eventually an apology, of sorts, on Mr. O’Donnell’s part and I thought that the idiocy of the press had passed by (for the most part). Surely they could only make so much out of Mitt Romney’s religious faith, right?

But oh no. I was wrong. Because now MSNBC’s Martin Bashir has joined in on the religious bigotry. So let’s consider both public rants by both of these MSNBC commentators, and then I’ll share my thoughts on the matter.

Go ahead and watch Mr. O’Donnel’s statements first.

The above clip was aired April 3rd, in the middle of a piece about Mitt Romney’s claim that President Barack Obama was trying to “establish a religion in America known as secularism.” O’Donnell brought up the Church’s origins to make the point that Romney, while attacking the beliefs of Obama, was vulnerable on the same score. “Religiously, Mitt Romney lives in the glass house of American politics,” he said. O’Donnell then continued with the following:

Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it. Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it, which Mitt Romney says he believes.”

Any serious student of history, Latter-day Saint or not, could blow a hole through the middle of such a ludicrous statement. That the Church was organized in upstate New York in 1830 by Joseph Smith is perhaps the only correct statement in the entire sentence. The fact that Joseph Smith and his wife Emma didn’t even have their own home at the time, let alone a maid, had little cause for the Church’s organization. And it is a well established fact that Joseph Smith did not even begin practicing plural marriage until years after the Church was organized.

The very next day Fox News’ Bill O’Reill responded by calling O’Donnell’s screed a “smear,” and made the point that if O’Donnell had similarly blasted Islam, he would have been fired instantly. But oh no, that was not the case with Lawrence O’Donnell and MSNBC. Instead, he continued on with his show without even the slightest of comments from MSNBC. Only after an uproar on the internet (by those who were obviously not as conservative in their blogging and Tweeting as me) did Lawrence O’Donnell issue an apology on April 11th. He said in part,

I am truly sorry if I said something inaccurate about Joseph Smith, and I am happy to provide time on this show to a Church of Latter Day Saints spokesman to correct any inaccuracy. I just wish I could take those words back.”

The main thing O’Donnell was sorry about, however, was that “my word choice ripped some people’s attention away from my point, and that is that we should not tolerate religious intolerance in voting.”

“My preaching on the politics of religion has always been that religious intolerance is wrong,” O’Donnell said. “Refusing to vote for a Mormon candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Catholic candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Jewish candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Muslim candidate is wrong. And yes, refusing to vote for a non-believer is wrong.”

That the Church didn’t send a spokesperson like Scott Trotter to then go on the defense I believe is admirable. Just because one national news media outlet allowed one of their highest paid hosts to publicly defame Joseph Smith doesn’t even meet our standards for an acknowledgement.

But then this past week MSNBC’s Martin Bashir had this to say on this program. Go ahead and watch.

Given what the Book of Mormon is clearly saying, Mr. Romney has but two choices. He can either keep lying and potentially win the White House, but bring eternal damnation upon himself or he can start telling the truth. The question for him, I guess, is which is more important.”

Fool me once MSNBC, shame on you. Fool me twice into thinking that you and your hosts are still reputable? Shame on me.

I won’t even make reference to the fact that he says “Nephi” wrong, or that their graphics guy in the back thinks that The Doctrine & Covenants is part of The Book of Mormon, but what I will confront is his blatant use of Mitt Romney’s faith - my faith - against him. It is nothing less that completely and totally disgusting. And luckily, we Latter-day Saints aren’t the only people who have thought so.

It seems as if countless conservative blogs are condemning Martin Bashir for his choice of words, including the Right Scoop, which called Bashir one of many “jackholes” who cannot be taken seriously in the media. Said they,

It just doesn’t get more absurd than this…[T]his is why people don’t take jackholes like Martin Bashir seriously, because they themselves are the most egregious of liars and are simply trying to cover for Obama’s bankrupting policies.”

Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters accused Bashir himself of having “flat out lied,” noting that the MSNBC host’s claim that the president never promised to keep unemployment rate below 8 percent is a “total falsehood”.

Saying that Bashir has a “tendency to predict such a destination [Hell] for people he doesn’t agree with,” Sheppard continued, “Exactly how is MSNBC allowed to broadcast such falsehoods with total impunity while calling itself a news network?”

Billy Hallowell at The Blaze also blasted Martin Bashir for unleashing an “excoriating rant” and “religious lecture”, while Allahpundit at HotAir gave the journalist a piece of his mind in a post titled, “Martin Bashir to Romney: The Book of Mormon forbids lying, you know.” The post at Hotair continues:

I’m … pretty sure the Bible does too [condemn lying], yet rarely do you see chapter and verse cited on cable news when a Democrat or Republican lies.”

As a Latter-day Saint I welcome the extra attention the Church is now getting. It allows me, and my family of 14 Million+ to address your questions and concerns. However, when networks such as MSNBC continually allow their hosts to throw up such ludicrous straw man debates it takes away the focus both of Mitt Romney’s campaign, and what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really teaches.

Mitt Romney has always referred all doctrinal questions about our faith to the Church itself. Recently at a political rally in Wisconsin, Romney was faced with a voter quoting from The Book of Mormon, and suggested dark skin was a divine punishment. “Do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?” the person asked. “No. Next question,” Romney responded, obviously wanting to avoid a major political gaffe. However, a few moments later he turned back to the subject of his faith. He told the audience of his time spent as a bishop and then stake president in Massachusetts that allowed him to work hands-on with regular folks who needed help. Then he continued:

I’ve had an unusual experience. This gentleman wanted to talk about the doctrines of my religion. I’ll talk about the practices of my faith. I had the occasion in my church to be asked to be the pastor, if you will, of a congregation. I’ve served in that kind of role for about 10 years. And that gave me the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis that were dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids.

Most Americans, by the way, are carrying a burden of some kind. We don’t see it, we see someone on the street, they smile and say ‘Hello,’ but behind them they are carrying a bag of rocks. It may be their own health difficulties. It may be concern about a job, it may be inability to pay for the home or the college they were hoping to pay for for a child. But people have burdens in this country, and when you get a chance to know people on a very personal basis, whether you’re serving as a pastor or as a counselor or in other kinds of roles, you understand that every kind of person you see is facing some challenges. And one of the reasons I’m running for president of the United States is I want to help people; I want to lighten those burdens.

If Lawrence O’Donnell and Martin Bashir, and MSNBC as a whole, want to discuss Mitt Romney and his faith, that’s what they should be talking about. They never consider what being a Latter-day Saint makes Mitt Romney as a person. They simply engage in the same Anti-Mormon tomfoolery that has been around since the Church began. Would they ever dare question Rep. Keith Ellison, a faithful Muslim, or Senator Joseph Lieberman, a devout Jew, about the doctrines of their faiths? Would a national news commentator ever quote the Holy Koran to a Muslim and ask why he’s not slaughtering the infidels?

I don’t think so. The mere thought of it is ridiculous.

I believe Mitt Romney put it rather well himself during the Presidential Election Season of 2008 when he said in his now famous speech:

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

So dear MSNBC, please get a hold of your hosts. Such religious bigotry has no place in our nation. If you want to discuss the politics of Mitt Romney, go ahead. Rip him to shreds. I don’t care. If you don’t like his health care plan in Massachusetts, go ahead and rant and rave all you want. If you think he’s an out of touch millionaire, go ahead and talk about his fancy new house plans in California. But if you want to attack his faith – my faith – pervert the scriptures, and continue with your religious prejudice, all I can say is shame on you.

During an election year when there are so many important issues on the table for both sides, I think it’s time for people like O’Donnell and Bashir to grow up and start focusing on the issues. I don’t care if Barack Obama ate dog once when he was younger, or that Mitt Romney once carried a dog on the roof of his car. What I, and the rest of America cares about are the issues.

And as for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my church, I have no doubt that this will be a long few months as my faith is scrutinized like never before. And we welcome that. But idiocy, bigotry, false statements, and downright lies we won’t accept. Perhaps Bashir should have been quoting the verse from 2 Nephi to his good friend Lawrence O’Donnell?…But then again, that wouldn’t have been very nice, would it?

But that’s just the way I see it.

- Stan Way

If you’re not a Mormon and would like to learn what we really believe, not what MSNBC is polluting the airwaves with, please go ahead and click here.

If you’re a Latter-day Saint, please remember to keep calm and respectful in your comments to others during this tumultuous time. Whether online or offline, every word we say will effect others.

And if you’re someone from MSNBC, please just know that you have lost a viewer for good. And not just me, but everyone else I can convince that you’re biased and unreliable. It won’t be such a hard argument for me to prove.

Why I’m Voting for Jon Huntsman

Okay; so I’m not voting for Jon Huntsman.

But earlier today when I saw him on my Alabama Primary Ballot, I REALLY wanted to.

Here’s why:

  • I’m not a nutjob. Most folks are. No offense or anything, but almost everyone I know is either so far Right Wing or so far Left Wing that I often feel rather lonely standing in the middle. Jon Huntsman is a popular former Republican governor who served as a United States Ambassador to China for a Democratic president. – He served his nation and did his best by reaching across the aisle. He appeals to the countless masses of us who don’t want to witness the endless Donkey vs. Elephant Battles, but actually want to focus on the real, urgent, and obvious economic problems in our nation.
  • He had an actual economic plan. I won’t go into great detail here, but by gum he actually had a plan! Right now the only GOP candidate with a comprehensive “plan” of any sorts is Newt Gingrich (and I’d much rather chew on tinfoil and lick toilet seats than have him serve as my president).
  • Not only is Huntsman a former GOP governor from the State of Utah that won the 2004 election with 78% of the popular vote (78%!!!), but as a Republican he isn’t afraid to go against the Grand Old Party’s grain and say crazy things like, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” – And boy oh boy do the rest of his GOP friends call him crazy for it.
  • Huntsman brands himself as a “genuine, consistent conservative,” which he is, in the wonky George Will / Wall Street Journal class of conservative. But his record as governor of Utah is impressive to both conservatives and liberals, an attribute that would give him a serious advantage in a general election. Huntsman supported gay rights, advocated Obama’s stimulus program, and as mentioned earlier, sincerely much believes in climate change (he instituted cap-and-trade plans in Utah).
  • Huntsman claims he brought Utah to fiscal prosperity by running the state like a business, something half of all GOP candidates that have ever run for higher office have boasted. But Huntsman wasn’t lying about it (unlike most of his rivals): during his tenure, Utah was the number one job creator in the country. Most voters probably laugh at that claim, but the uber-skeptical PolitiFact actually verifies it with statistics. Numbers don’t lie.
  • On top of claiming it, he is a social conservative, BUT he doesn’t rub it in your face. – I really, really like that. – I’m a social conservative, but I’m not Santorum-Christian-Sharia-Law-Socially-Conservative! I believe marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. As a Christian I believe God said so. Big deal. If the LGBT community want to get hitched in some manner, let them. Treat them equally. Treat them fairly. Respect their rights. I have no problem with that. Do I want to call their civil unions “marriage” per se? No. Honestly, I don’t. But I want them to be treated with the dignity they deserve as my fellow Americans. And Jon Huntsman represents my particular beliefs and non-confrontational approach to these things in the same way I would. And the same goes for abortion. While I’m not for handing out Morning-After pills in the school nurse’s office or anything, I also don’t want to abolish ALL abortions like Rick Santorum does. Rape victims should be able to choose whether or not they want to keep a baby. In my opinion, abortion should be allowed some times.
  • And he could have beat Obama. Period. It was possible, but he was never given a chance by the good ol’ GOP because he was a moderate.

I supported Jon Huntsman early on. Heck, I even bought a sweatshirt that said “Huntsman 2012″ from CafePress (which is for sale now if you’re interested). He did fairly well in the debates, and I was optimistic for the guy.

After miserable defeats early in the primary season though, Jon Hunstman dropped out of the presidential race on Monday, 16 January, and I was left without a candidate who represented my political thoughts.

What was I to do?

Gingrich, too corrupt, too egotistical, and his name is Newt (I couldn’t vote for a guy named after a species of toads). Ron Paul? Although a complete a crowd pleaser when it comes to bringing troops home and taking care of our own, he’d be happy to let Iran blow Israel off the map and make it the 8th Wonder of the World. – “Look kids! That’s a picture of the crater that was once Israel. It’ll be radioactive for the next 10,000 years, but it was once where Jesus lived.” I don’t want to have to have that lesson with my kids. – And Bachmann? I’ve had granola bars less nutty than that lady.

So after lots of reading (six books worth and countless political fact websites), some prayer, and a change of heart (because I once completely despised the guy), I decided to vote for Mitt Romney. He is, after all, the most moderate of all presidential choices, and I am personally a moderate who believes our nation needs a lot of moderation.

According to Alabama Votes I was supposed to cast my primary ballot at Farmstead Elementary earlier today. I had checked this last week because last year Farmstead Elementary was closed by the Walker County School System due to budget cuts and student density. I thought that perhaps my polling place would be moved, but not according to their website. I was going to be walking into that familiar old school gym, finding a corner on some creaking old bleachers, and filling in the bubbles on my ballot.

So imagine my surprise when I pulled up to Farmstead Elementary to find an empty parking lot and this:

“No big deal,” I thought to myself. “Honest mistake,” said Subconcious Stan. “All websites make mistakes.”

I got back on the road and drove the three thousand feet or so up the road to Farmstead Baptist Church. – It was a real pain to have to go out of my way like that. – And I laughed at the irony that I was about to step into a Baptist Church to vote for a Mormon in the presidential primaries.

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Now, at this point, let me go back to a conversation I had with a friend just a few months ago. We were discussing politics (which is not unusual for me; I had the presidents memorized in order by the time I was 6 years old), and the upcoming election season came up.

“I know you’re voting for Romney,” said my friend. “It’s more than obvious why.”

“Oh really?” I asked almost tauntingly. I knew the assumption my friend had already made in their mind. “Why do you say that?”

“Because he’s a Mormon.”

I laughed, then said matter of factly, “No. I’m voting for Jon Huntsman.” At which point we both laughed heartily because Huntsman is an actively practicing Latter-day Saint also.

The fact that Hunstman, whom I loved, and Romney, whom I’ve settled upon, are both Mormons has had little bearing upon my electoral decisions. There’s actually tons of reasons why, but at the end of the day it comes down to this:

Mitt Romney running for president brings unwanted scrutiny and a plethora of false theories about my faith into the limelight.

I’ve heard so many crazy ideas about my own faith, things I’ve never even heard before, that just the other day the Church published a new website just to help set people straight.

Anyone who knows me knows I love talking about my faith, sharing my faith, and testifying of God’s love and great sacrifice in sending His Son to die for our sins. But frankly, I don’t like being called a polygamy practicing cult member almost every time immigration policies comes up. – It’s just not fun.

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So as I walked into Farmstead Baptist’s large gym to vote today my ears were acutely attuned and ready to hear certain words. After showing my driver’s license, signing in, and receiving my ballot I walked over to a small folding table to fill in my ballot. There were perhaps 40 or so people in the gym. Maybe 20 were voting, while the rest appeared to just be hanging out, shooting the breeze, and eating cookies from the adjoining church kitchen. I had no sooner sat down and began reading the instructions than the word “Mormon” caught my attention. It came from a man, and as I turned my head to the right to see what man had said the word, I was caught by an elderly lady on my left saying “he’s not a real Christian”.

I confirmed visually the group of men on my right, all middle-aged and wearing work clothes, then jerked my head around to hear the original lady’s friend say, “You’re right Judith. You’re entirely right. Those Mormons are sick people.”

Then from somewhere across the gym I caught another “Mormon” in the air just in time to hear the middle-aged men start talking about Rick Santorum as the only conservative choice.

I gritted my teeth and ran through the options in my mind.

Should I say something?

Would saying something really do any good?

What if I just listened before saying something?

I could tell Judith and her geriatric sister I was one of those sicko Mormons. Yeah! The look on their faces would be priceless! Then the group of men might engage me in a real political conversation.

Would a fist fight ensue though?

I have only two passions in life. Religion and politics (lucky me eh?). And there in the gym they were crossing hairs like never before. I felt my face turning red.

“Focus,” came Subconcious Stan’s voice in my head. “Just fill in the ballot and don’t cause a scene.”

Since Subconcious Stan is usually pretty smart, and I didn’t feel like bringing anymore unwanted attention to my faith, I just started singing songs in my head (“I’ve Got You Babe” to be specific), and I filled in my ballot. It took all of two minutes to fill out since I’d read up on all those who were running.

As I stood up and walked from my folding table to the ballot reading machine in the corner of the gym I caught two more “Mormons” flying through the air and one more “Santorum is a real Christian” remarks before reaching my destination. I lined up my ballot face up and fed it into the machine. I was vote 566 in my precinct.

And then I power walked to the door because I didn’t want to hear anything else about Mitt Romney, Mormons, or “real Christians”.

I was sick to my stomach and sad because the election to that small group of people in the gym was obviously more about religion than about political platform.

When I got home and read the exit polls it was no surprise to see how the good folks of Alabama were voting and how important religion was to them. Even Mitt Romney and most others had predicted his own demise in my home state and Mississippi today, but until I heard the religious ignorance and bigotry for myself in a church gym, I never would have believed that people could make such remarks.

Then again, these are the same people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim even though he took his oath of office on a Holy Bible.

I wish Jon Huntsman would have still been in the game today. By this point I’m sure he would have been more open about it and said, “Look, I’m a Mormon and a Christian. Get over it.” After all, he had no problem addressing the elephant in the room of Donald Trump earlier in the election. But what does Mitt do? He refers all “Mormon Questions” to “the Church”, keeps wearing his tacky blue jeans, and giving semi-robotic speeches. What did Mitt Romney do to warm up to the Evangelical Christians of the South? He said he likes “cheesy grits”. – Good heavens Mitt! EVEN I DON’T LIKE CHEESY GRITS! – The people in the Bible Belt wanted to hear you talk about their concerns with you, namely your awkwardness, inability to relate to us, and your Mormon faith. Me and everyone else I know down here want a Commander in Chief we can relate to, not a food critic.

In closing, some people in the South didn’t vote for Mitt Romney today because they just don’t think he’ll make a good president. And that’s more than fine by me.

But a lot of people in the South didn’t vote for Mitt Romney today because he is a Mormon. And that’s just plain bigotry.

Jon Huntsman, wherever you are tonight, I miss you buddy.

Mitt Romney, wherever you are tonight, I really hope you pull this together, or Santorum is going to tear you apart before Obama even has to try.

And as for Judith and her like-minded friends in the gym today, I sincerely hope you voted for your candidates today due to real political concerns, and not just because you are afraid of the Mormon. If not, then this nation is a lot worse off than I even thought…

-Stan Way

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