On Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order/action to ban immigrants (many of them refugees) from seven countries with large Muslim populations. On Saturday, the world practically stood still while men, women, children, and families found themselves detained at an airport or barred from boarding a flight to the US. Some of these people were simply returning home, to their home, in the US, where they have jobs, homes, cars still parked at the airport, etc. Fortunately, hosts of compassionate people did not rest, refused to stand still unless standing in protest at one of the many US airports detaining some of these people. I could write so many stories about the hell-scape Trump has already created in the US, but nothing compares to injustice (so far), the nadir in a week-long attack on basic human rights.
However, intertwined with my rage has been hope, a certain pride in watching so many Americans refuse to let this happen without a fight. Men and women of integrity spoke up and condemned the actions of Trump and his administration: celebrities, politicians, journalists, leaders of countries and churches. But when I looked for a statement from the leaders of my own faith, silence. Despite the numerous times leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spoken about embracing immigrants, making a place for the refugee, and the need to open our arms to every man, woman, and child in need, and religious freedom, they suddenly had nothing to say in the face of blatant religious discrimination. Surely, they were well aware of this crisis? So many Mormons kept waiting while others spoke out, “Faith groups across the country condemn Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries.” After Pope Francis’s blistering statement against such hypocrisy, surely it wouldn’t be long for Mormon leaders to speak out. Some Mormons, like Benjamin E. Park, grew tired of waiting: “The modern Mormon community must be as quick and vociferous to denounce similar infringements on others’ religious beliefs. Anything less would prove our commitment to religious liberty shallow.” Finally, after all the speculation, late Saturday night (after I had already gone to bed), after the damage had already been done and many, many others had long since swiftly spoken out and acted, the Mormon Newsroom posted this:“In response to recent media inquiries, the following statement has been released: ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.’” In other words, “Do whatever the hell you want, as long as it doesn’t affect us.” Yes, that’s a loose and slightly skewed interpretation, but what the hell?
Where are the teeth? Where’s the righteous indignation that Jesus himself would no doubt display. WWJD? The man who flipped tables of the money changers in the temple would Bust. Some. ASS! However, as one man on social media proclaimed, the church that professes to have Jesus at its helm through direct revelation “wants desperately to cling to mainstream conservatism, but what happens when conservatism is hijacked by a dangerous demagogue? Unfortunately, it looks like Mormonism will simply buckle to the politics of the American right. … [I]n 2008 this church organized and fought marriage equality to the point where it divided the religion. We will see no such organization in favor of refugees or Muslims, despite the bland platitudes expressed in this weak ass press release.”