No Liberals Here! (Adventures in Sunday School)

Okay, it might be an exaggeration to call anything that happens at church an adventure. We will stick with the series title "Adventures in Sunday School" nonetheless. This is the start of series about the experiences of a theological and political liberal in a conservative church.

On Sunday, my son (13) was told in Sunday School that he and his classmates were lucky that they did not grow up around liberals.

These are the type of things my son loves sharing with mom and dad on the way home from church, because he knows it will lead to some eye-rolling.

Eye-rolling really does best describe our reaction. Right-wingism at church does not make us upset much anymore. We just expect it. Laughing at it has been much more healthy for me from a social and spiritual perspective.

Apparently the lesson was on the last days and somehow global warming (as part of the end of the world) came up during the lessons. Yeah, still not sure why global warming or liberals were relevant to a Sunday School lesson for 13 year old kids.

Todd has experienced a lot of this since living in Wyoming. His Sunday School teacher in our previous ward (LDS term for congregation) spewed Glenn Beck and Cleon Skousen as though she had right-wing-conspiracy-theory-Tourette’s. One might conclude that the evils of socialism were a major theme of the 11 year olds curriculum. It isn’t. But said teacher was feared.

We understood a little better why she was so feared, when we found out from my campaign treasurer (a member of the same congregation) that she was telling people I was a good person…who had been deceived…by the devil…into being a Democrat. We are no longer in that congregation, though (thankfully) this lady is no longer teaching.

For Todd, he knows that his dad is pretty comfortable calling himself a liberal and/or socialist. As a Rawlsian, I am a clearly a liberal and I am pretty comfortable calling myself a democratic socialist.

In Wyoming, he might not be growing up around a lot of liberals…but his dad is one. He can laugh about the evils of socialism…because they are talking about his dad. He loves me. I love him. We are enjoying this ride together. While it might sometimes be a rocky ride, I am glad that my family is there for me.

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Categories: Religion

19 replies »

  1. I think that we can match you incident-by-incident in terms of hyper-conservative insertions into the weekly Sunday experience. In the past year, I have heard talks against evolution, global climate change, poor people who “rob from the rich,” and at least three talks advocating 2nd Amendment rights. Regardless of my own political affiliations, I know that Jesus did not intend for worship experiences to be Right-wing political rallies. Hang in there, brother, I feel your pain. I would say that this conservative-liberal theological divide presents both sides with untapped opportunities for developing Christlike love and aiming for a true Zion community, in that both sides should be able to set aside their self-perceived rightness of cause for a greater good. I struggle to set aside my own arrogance in the interests of seeing people’s good intentions and character. I hope you can, too.

    • I used to live in Burton (still own a house there). Trust me, I know what you mean….:)

      For the most part, I get a kick out of it more than anything else. A sense of humor goes a long ways.

  2. History and current events tell us that the way to justice and human rights is not through religion.

    • Maybe not *through* religion exactly, but you are wrong about history, at least in the 19th and 20th century. In that period many justice movements in the US and other places such as South Africa were sustained by religious people, and fuled in part by a religious passion to bring God’s justice to the here and now. Don’t overlook the huge role that religious people have played in justice movement around the world because of “current events” or a too narrow reading of history.

  3. Its great that you can take a light hearted approach to the topic. I admit that I struggle a bit. As we all know, in the Mormon context we have this powerful idea that we don’t want to be about mixing the “philosophies (ideologies) of men” with the gospel. I think that is a great caution and it should encourage us to be critically engaged with the teaching of the church as well as with what happens on Sunday, and in our own thinking and beliefs. In my experience that critical engagement is almost totally absent. There is this misplaced confidence that if something is said at conference, found in a manual, or taught on Sunday, then it couldn’t possibly be a philosophy or ideology of men (sic) otherwise it would not have shown up in that context in the first palce. That’s not exactly a high standard, and I’ve seen how its used to squelch discussion among other things. And its not just that I am opposed to overt coupling of conservative politics with the gospel, I sure don’t think that the answer is an overt appeal to liberal politics. What I would love to see happen is that rather using our theology to bustress our various ideologies, if we were brave enough to ask, how and why the teaching of scripture are challenges to ideologies and political systems, then we would be going to a spiritual place that simply cannot be reached by those who directly link politics and religion.

  4. Chris, you complain about LDS people preaching by their political persuasion, yet you seem pretty vociferous about your own quirks. I see a lot of cognitive dissonance, in the Church and out, but I recognize that the world is full of all different types. We see much trouble in the world today because of extreme polarization of perspectives. Why not be forgiving and accepting, and enjoy them all?

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