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Although he’s been misquoted, George Santayana (1863-1952)  said,

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Those repeat episodes obviously don’t come as exact replicas of past experiences, but they appear and reappear to other people who are too smug and too certain to notice.

I’m thinking of women and gays today and any other future minority group that will have to one day recognize its second class status and then struggle to overcome it.

Two seemingly unrelated issues recently caught my attention. For some reason they both struck the same vein in me and I couldn’t initially figure out why.

mormon womenThe first was the recent news that the LDS faith will finally be selecting women to pray publicly in their big semi-annual General Conference in April.

Among the sharing of the good news on Facebook and Twitter came the comments by those in favor and those perplexed by the progress…. I guess I should never be surprised, but the smug self-righteous replies by LDS women left me chuckling a little inside.

LDS women say,

This being a problem would have never occurred to me in 1 million years. Most women I know in the Church have held leadership positions.

or,

Ya know I never even noticed that women never prayed in General Conference, I guess I was to busy trying to listen to the messages

The lack of LDS women ever noticing is evidence of the problem, not evidence of the lack of a problem.

Have you ever noticed or has it ever occurred to you LDS women that many of the hallmarks of Mormonism came about because someone other than the prophet did notice, and it did occur to someone that there was room for improvement? The Word of Wisdom, The Relief Society, The welfare program…all the results of suggestions, petitions or influence from outside the 12 or first presidency and in some cases from a woman. There’s no shame in noticing…and there’s no inspiration without information.

In other words, if it weren’t for a woman once noticing and asking, you wouldn’t be able to now claim that you get enough leadership for women in the church as it is and don’t need an ounce more.

Kind of ironic.

Way to forget the past.

Way to broadcast your ingratitude.

Stewardship or prayers only over kids or other women isn’t the same as a female adult among or over men. That is what I’m glad my daughters will finally get to witness.

The second display of forgetting the past came by way of this YouTube video and a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Pearce in a blog post titled, Where Are the Mormons that Promised to Hate Me?

gay mormon video

danoahWithout a doubt I disagree with just about everything the first dude says. It’s just propaganda and totally void of any recognition of the past (Let it be said that I also highly suspect that this and other similar blog posts are a result of a covert marketing campaign. I believe there’s more to the story than just this dude deciding to make this video).

One point that Dan and I can agree upon is that the Mormon response to homosexuality is often mislabeled as “hate” or “homophobia.” I express that point of view HERE. So from the get-go he’s asking the wrong question.

The rest of Dan’s post leaves me a little sick to my stomach because it completely disregards the past and shows zero gratitude for those gays who have been terribly misaligned by Mormons both institutionally and individually.

Dan admits,

It’s no secret that the Mormon church is adamantly against homosexuality. They have pumped millions of dollars into protecting what they consider to be the proper and correct family structure, fighting legislation that would grant equal rights to “other” types of families.

And having once been a Mormon myself, I can tell you that anti-gay doctrine was preached to me my whole life. We’ve already talked about that. It was thrown in my face around every corner I turned. There was fear surrounding it. There was anger. There was never-ending strong words being flung in all directions.

But then, he follows the traditional line of thinking that he grew up with that,

not a single Mormon has been anything but loving and supportive to me. At least to my face. Not a single Mormon has attacked me or criticized me or preached hellfire and damnation to me. At least not to my face.

I’d remind Dan that the millions pumped into Prop 8 was by individuals, not the church.

Mormons are nothing if not polite and cheerful. It’s one of the themes running through the parody, The Book of Mormon Musical on Broadway (And on-stage near you!)  I’ve never been the object of overt expressions of hatred by any Mormon either. But I DO remember the words and attitudes of my youth…and, frankly, of not too long ago.

I remember hearing that it would be better to be dead than be gay.

I remember hearing a supposed apostle talk admiringly about a missionary beating up his companion for being gay.

I remember being told homosexuality was a choice, a sign of selfishness and the ruin of society. But I couldn’t figure out when I chose it, or how I was any more selfish than my straight brothers.

I remember the “tsk tsk’s” and stifled chuckles in Ward Council, PEC and Bishopric Meetings when anything “gay” was even hinted at. They hurt terribly during all those silent years.

I can’t forget being told by my Bishop, Grant Von Harrison, to NEVER  think about it or mention it again especially not to my future wife. Worst. Advice. Ever. And yes, that was the church procedure at the time.

I can’t forget the many talks and admonitions to never even use the word “gay” or the unapologetic and wholly unfounded claims to “know” what their God thinks on the matter.

I can’t forget my former missionary companion and countless others who committed suicide because they actually did take the organization’s word for it. They believed what they saw and what they heard.

Am I to do cartwheels because now Mormons are catching on that they don’t have to be the assholes that the church has always taught them to be? Well, yeah that is pretty cool! I guess part of me is jealous that coming out even 7 years ago was too early to experience that change.

We’ll get over these current women and gay issues I’m pretty confident.Things are progressing rapidly.

When I was at BYU in the 80’s I couldn’t fathom there being a gay support group like there is now. Or something like No More Strangers?! Things are moving much more quickly in society, and even in the Mormon church, than I ever imagined. Equal opportunity in society, churches and government still have a ways to go and if we forget the mistakes or even the victories of the past then it won’t be long until it’s some other poor sap minority having to start from scratch so they can marry, lead, pray publicly and be taken seriously as equals.

I’m glad people like Dan Pearce have never felt anything other than love and acceptance to his face when he came out.

But there’s still progress to be made and we shouldn’t kid ourselves that it has always been this way.That line of thinking doesn’t do anyone any favors.

The current problems don’t stem from hate, or from homophobia or from misogyny, in my opinion. Those are symptoms and they will fall to the wayside once the breeding grounds of tradition and obedience to prophets are set aside in favor of critical thinking skills and the fight against injustice anywhere.

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