ethel’s words

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BRIDGES AND THE MORMON CHASM

When religion has obstructed not only the evolution towards equality under law, but also fulfillment of self-governance, it is time to confront it, and to declare our several governments’ freedom from it.

Before trying to bridge the Mormon/Gentile gaps, maybe it would have helped to make a distinction between “gaps” and “chasms”, and we should have, perhaps, included “walls”. Walls are built to isolate, exclude, and hide. One can see across gaps or chasms--even wave, or maybe yell a greeting. One cannot yell greetings through walls or through locked ecclesiastical doors to secret chambers. I have not tried recently; I did try for sixty years.

I may have to stand alone; nevertheless I presume to use the royal “we”. The day has come that we who have been named “Gentiles” (we did not name ourselves) should build bridges of communication and organization among ourselves. We can do this with our common humanity: not needing God, Allah, Zeus, or even Tlaloc. I suggest that we should organize residents of Salt Lake City who delight in this mountain-blessed community and its stunning blue skies (when not sullied by poisons) and who cherish the freedom to live joyfully.

Who are we? Some of us do not like to disappear under the title “Gentile” or “non-Mormon”. I would as soon use Gentile, but I would go along on what others would prefer.

As Gentiles, we would be clearly a majority in Salt Lake City. Some Mormons might want to join us--we have some admirable, courageous Mormons, and who cares what anyone believes? I think we care what persons contribute to our community: persons who are kind to children; who understand fair play; believe in accuracy in secular matters. Above all, there should be rejection of violence. The major religions provide approval for almost any kind of pain-showering brutality, but inasmuch as few persons even try to follow their religion they should be able to reject religious promotion of violence.

I would hope that someone more able than I would do a study of what I think I perceive by undisciplined observation: There has to have been in-Church organizational effort for the Mormon minority in this City to be able to elect an all-Mormon Salt Lake City Council.

The utter crassness of Mormon in-power behavior eludes them. For example, during the Legacy Highway conflict, the apology proffered by Salt Lake City Council members to Davis County commuters “on behalf of Mayor Rocky Anderson” was so arrogant, rude, vulgar--so uncouth--it seemed to defy response.

What could more fully demonstrate that, to save Salt Lake City, we need a caucus of Gentiles? We need an organization based on honesty, openness, fairness, with a genuine platform AND a means of welcoming all persons but preventing a Mormon take-over. I fear that hostility would be necessary; how sad.

A Native American once related to me how their meetings were driven out of a public building because the Mormons would attend and completely take over their agenda. I have seen it for decades. Sometimes, it seems, we need a chasm or a moat. I am not happy about that.

A question for the ending. How organize? Multi-methods would be necessary. Using the NET, e-mail, and neighborhood meetings--and someone smarter and more up-to-date than I, probably can offer better ideas.

Of course, the existing Democratic Party comes to mind. (Sometimes it seems that is the only place where persons of differing beliefs can mingle.) But two problems: (1) There needs to be a “platform”; (2) there must not be the usual Mormon takeover. I remember well when John Birchers posed as Democrats--in the days when Democrats could serve in the legislature as equals.

And how well I remember a recent time when I voted for a Mormon Democrat--who, upon losing, immediately became a Republican. And I had thought I was not naive. Maybe lingering hope does that.

Ethel C. Hale