Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am a Mormon

I am posting up on this subject today to make a point. The point is that we live in a nation principally built upon the basis of freedom of religion. I converted to the Mormon church in 1963 in Montgomery Alabama. My family lived next door to a family of Mormons. He was a Navy Chief assigned to Gunter Air Force base in Montgomery. I had never heard of the Mormon church. I was religious having attended many churches my entire life. I had been Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witness until I was 16 and joined up with the Mormons. I was granted a bachelor’s degree by Huntingdon College. Huntingdon is a small private college owned by the Methodist church. I never heard anything in that four year curriculum to convince me that I was practicing my faith in a cult. The formal name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have had many people tell me that I was not a Christian. How can that be if my church carries His name?

Now I will have to admit that over the almost 50 years that I have been a member of this church in the south, I have felt the sting of bias, bigotry and intolerance. At one time, if you were a Mormon, and lived in Missouri there was a standing gubernatorial extermination order issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs in the 1840’s. That extermination order was only recently rescinded by the legislature of Missouri. In my lifetime of membership in this church I have seen it grow from 1 million members when I joined to a number rapidly approaching 15 million members worldwide. It is the fourth largest congregation in America. It follows Catholicism, the Southern Baptists and the Methodists.

I married a girl who was born into the church. She was as all American as any girl could ever be. Her Mother raised her in the church. She was immensely popular in her school. She was a cheerleader, a beauty queen, a beta club member and always set an example of living her life to a very high standard and does that to this day. She attended and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1970. Mitt Romney was her classmate.

She and I have raised 3 children in this church. Our son is a college graduate and is a law enforcement officer for one of the biggest agencies in Florida. He played baseball in High School and some in college. He served a two year mission in Argentina. He speaks fluent Spanish. He married a Mormon girl who is cut from the same bolt of cloth as his Mother. She is superlative in any way you want to analyze her. She is beautiful, hard-working, a faithful wife and Mother and a college graduate. They are raising their little daughter in the church.

Our oldest daughter has always been a top performer in anything you would like to measure her in. She graduated from a high school of more than 2,000 students. She was top 50 in her class. She played softball, was all Big Bend. She was a member of the National Honor Society. She was elected prom queen and was a member of the homecoming court. She went on to graduate from Florida State University, cum laude. She married a young man who served a two year church mission in France. He speaks french fluently. He graduated magna cum laude from Florida State and from their medical school. He and my daughter completed a medical residency in Pensacola where he was chief resident. He is a practicing Obstetrician/Gynecologist. They have three wonderful, bright and popular little girls that they are raising in the church.

Our youngest daughter is immensely talented and is a graduate of the University of Florida. She attended the University of Florida on an academic scholarship. She has always worked hard and made fabulous decisions. She played tennis in high school . She is beautiful and has an immense cadre of friends. She married a young man who served a mission in Venezuela. He speaks fluent Spanish. He holds a BA from U of F and an MA from Florida State University. He worked as a software consultant for a worldwide company. He traveled internationally and performed well for them. He currently works for the Florida State University helping to administer their People Soft program. They are raising their three children in this church.

I worked for a Fortune 400 company for thirty years and advanced to work at an executive level . I currently run my own company as a sole proprietor. I have volunteered as a little league president, boy scout leader, been a Kiwanis club member, volunteer at the local homeless shelter, etc.

All of this information is in order to communicate to the reader that my Mormon faith has contributed to making my family MAINSTREAM American. At the same time we are in the midst of a presidential race and a frontrunner to the nomination is a Mormon. Most of the talking heads characterize him as unelectable. They soft shoe around the reason why. It is not that he is too moderate, too rich, too much of a flip flopper, too this and too that. The basic reason that most people proclaim him to be unelectable is that he is too Mormon.

Bias, prejudice and intolerance reigns supreme in the hearts of way too many Americans. We are a better country than that.