Thursday, June 30, 2011

Second-Class Citizens.....????

There's an article on American Thinker website today that caused me a bit of concern.  The article's author, Bob Weir, asks "Are Mormons Second-Class Citizens?"  To answer this rather provocative question, Mr Weir discusses the results of a recent Gallup poll that found that "22% of Americans would not be willing to vote for a Mormon for president."  Somehow I don't find that very surprising, and it's painful that I don't. 

I served in the Air Force for 23 years.  Granted I served as a staff officer, an attorney, a Judge Advocate; but I served.  Maybe it was my "professional" status, but not once in my 23-year career did I feel that I was not taken seriously solely because I was a woman.  I worked for good Staff Judge Advocates and for great Commanders.  I enjoyed the men and women I served with.  Although I also worked for some not-so-good Commanders and one absolutely terrible Staff Judge Advocate, I never believed that anyone was biased against me because of my gender. 

Having said that, there was one time that I know I was not given a national-level award because of my religion.  I am a Mormon, and the award package contained information about community service I performed as a part of my religion.  One of the members who sat on the awards board talked to me after the award had been given to another (very deserving) person.  The board member told me to make sure my boss submitted me for the award the following year; but to leave out any mention that I was Mormon.  He told me that some of the other awards board members believed that Mormons should not get national-level awards.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I couldn't believe it....that members of a highly professional organization like the Air Force would be so overtly discriminatory. 

So I find it interesting that 22% of the people responding to the Gallup poll would not vote for a Mormon, solely because of religion.  It seems like our society hasn't really progressed as far as we'd like it to.  People have misconceptions about Mormons and Mormonism, and are unwilling to have an open mind about the religion or those who practice it.  Fortunately, we've progressed from the days where a state Governor can issue an order to expel Mormons from the state, or exterminate Mormons if they don't leave.  But I wonder who far we've really progressed.....

I agree with Martin Luther King that "men (and women) should be judge on the content of their character."  We should evaluate people, and political candidates, based on who they are, who they surround themselves with, and the actions they take.  That a person has religious values, and applies those values in his life, is more important than what his religion is.  A person's religion is a matter of personal belief (or lack of belief).  What matters is that the person's actions are driving by the person's values....and the person is not a hypocrite. 

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