In the last several months I’ve been to three (maybe four?) meetings of my local chapter of Feminist Mormon Housewives. I think these events are technically called Bloggersnackers, but I don’t like using that word because it makes me feel silly. It’s the same reason I don’t order the Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity breakfast at IHOP. I don’t have a lot of dignity left these days, but what little there is I intend to keep for as long as I can. Anyway. I’ve gone to these meetings because I’m interested in meeting other Mormon feminists. Or feminist Mormons. Whatever we are. I confess it feels kind of weird to say “we,” since I haven’t used the F-word to describe myself for several years. No offense to it. I just find it simpler to be what I am and let other people call it what they want than to try to justify my own label to people who may have very different ideas (than I) about what feminism (necessarily) entails. But that’s another story. I guess if you belong to a Facebook group called Feminist Mormon Housewives, you have started calling yourself a feminist again. So “we” it is.
Every time we introduce ourselves and often give our feminist histories. Were you always a feminist? Did you have a feminist awakening? That sort of thing. I don’t have a good story, except that my mother was calling me a women’s libber when I was seven years old, so I guess that should establish my bona fides. Other people have more interesting stories, but one common thread is the point where one realizes that one is a Democrat, or when one “comes out” as a Democrat. I understand that this is a big deal. I was a Mormon Democrat before the Bloggernacle was invented, so I know how lonely it can be. I know how crazy-making it is to sit in sacrament meeting and hear people bear their testimonies of how the last days are surely upon us because a Democrat is in the White House. Believe me, I’ve been there. And I lived through it without a support group while going to college in the south, so I might deserve some kind of certificate. Or at least a cookie.
Of course, I stopped being a Democrat a little over thirteen years ago. And now, in a room full of Mormon feminists or feminist Mormons, I am guaranteed to be the only Republican. I’m not complaining. I enjoy the attention. Or at least I enjoy when someone’s in the middle of telling how much they dislike Mitt Romney and/or Paul Ryan and turn to me and say, “No offense.” Well, none taken. As it happens, I like both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but it doesn’t offend me if you don’t. I was a Mormon Democrat in the south. And now I blog at the ultra-liberal BCC! Trust me, I can handle myself.
It is interesting, though, how people tend to connect their political liberalism to their religious liberalism/feminism. Well, I guess it seems natural enough. Perhaps I should find it more interesting that I feel no disconnect between my political conservatism and my religious liberalism/feminism. Maybe other people should find me more interesting. I was born and raised in the church, but I was not particularly religious until after I’d finished college. Becoming more religious did not coincide with becoming a Republican. I was still a very committed Democrat when I became a very committed Mormon. Before this time, I had a great deal of angst over belonging to such a conservative faith community, but once I had a strong testimony, I felt no angst at all. I believed everything could be reconciled even if I couldn’t reconcile it all right now. What mattered was having faith in Christ and serving others. Politics was politics and church was church. I still feel that way.
Becoming a Republican had nothing to do with religion. It’s not like I became convinced that God was on the other side or anything weird like that. I don’t think God is particularly invested in elections; I’m sure He has bigger fish to fry. I care very much about elections, of course. Unlike God, I have to live here. But I don’t connect my religious beliefs to my political beliefs. I don’t think my core values have especially changed over time. My understanding of how the world works has changed considerably, but I’m not less committed to liberty and justice and all that stuff. I just have a different perspective on government than I used to.
Mormon Democrats often say that they’re Democrats because they’re Mormon, or, you know, that their Mormon faith makes them naturally inclined to be Democrats—which makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Really, all Democrats should be Mormons. What other institution sanctifies bureaucracy to the extent we do? It’s we limited-government conservatives who should feel out of place here. And I suppose, if I’m going to be honest, that as I’ve gotten more squeamish about the government micro-managing my life, I’ve gotten more uncomfortable with the church micro-managing my life, too. Coincidence? Probably. But maybe not. Who knows? To be sure, if my life must be micro-managed, I prefer the church do it. At least my membership here is voluntary. Also, I trust the church more than I trust the government. But I trust it while maintaining a healthy skepticism of it. At least I think it’s healthy. It’s helped me stay sane while I navigated the crises of my faith. When I gave myself permission to believe that the church could be both seriously good and seriously flawed, I found Mormonism much less burdensome and much more rewarding.
But that’s just me.
As much as I’d like fewer people to be Democrats in general, I would prefer more Democrats in the church so people will stop assuming that everyone feels the same way about political issues and start appreciating how rude it is to politicize a testimony, sacrament meeting talk or Sunday School lesson. Then Mormon Democrats would feel less alienated in their church communities and they wouldn’t feel the need to exercise unrighteous dominion over the Bloggernacle. (I’m teasing you all. Lighten up.) On a more serious note, I wish that we could make our churches politics-free zones (much more useful than gun-free zones), because as much as we care–and ought to care–about how the government is run, the church is not for the building up of good government but for the building up of the Kingdom of God, which knows no politics or national boundaries. When Jesus comes back, there’s not going to be an election. His reign will be perfectly just and unlike any government the earth has known. I mean, I hope so. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much to look forward to.
In the meantime, we live in a fallen world; we do the best we can to be responsible citizens, but when we meet together as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should practice transcending citizenship. And please note that whether you’re a rabid Glenn Beck fan or one of those pansy NPR types, I don’t mean any offense.