In October 2007, Elder Quentin L. Cook was ordained as apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his first talk as apostle (“Live By Faith and Not By Fear”, November 2007 Ensign, pp. 70-73), he gave an amazing talk. I say it was amazing because it was very powerful and, like all good talks, cuts through to sting and challenge us. (Nephi says in 1 Nephi 16:2, “And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.”)
At one point, the point that struck me the hardest, he said (“Live By Faith and Not By Fear”, November 2007 Ensign, p. 72, emphasis added):
Some mission presidents informed us that many wonderful members are in camouflage to their neighbors and co-workers. They do not let people know who they are and what they believe. We need much more member involvement in sharing the message of the Restoration.
Yes, he was talking about me. I hide my membership. There are two reasons why: one is that I did not want family and relatives to know that I am still a Latter-day Saint. The second reason is because I do not want to engage in the inevitable disparagement and opposing comments that will come when someone finds out I’m a Latter-day Saint.
So far, the latter has turned out to be somewhat true. I have told three classmates I am a Latter-day Saint. One, a Christian from India with Evangelical leanings, said that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. He had theological disagreements with Latter-day Saints. But the relationship between him and me improved as he realized that, like Latter-day Saints, I honor Jesus Christ and am positively disposed towards Christians. Another, a Catholic, made a few jokes about Salt Lake City but was respectful and did not make any comments, really, about the Church or its members. (Which is strange because of the three, he has the most exposure to Latter-day Saints: he worked for Bonneville Communications, which is owned by the Church, and his son lived in Salt Lake City.)
The third, a Wiccan woman, began to mock and disparage not only the Church’s beliefs but also its history and its members. She painted us all with a broad brush as intolerant misogynist stupid silly weirdos. She made some errors on what we believe and do. For some reason, she was adamant that Latter-day Saints hate and disparage and put down women. (She got much of her information from a book, and I am aware that book has been proven to be full of inaccuracies.)
(To be fair, she also began to rip the Catholic Church, also accusing it of hating women among other things.)
Sobek and I have commented over at Innocent Bystanders that while various IBers may have significant theological disagreements with us, and while strong theological debates may go on, everyone is very kind to us. They do not mock our faith nor do they attempt to bring or tear us down. They simply want to demonstrate how we are wrong, as they understand Christianity. I am always amused when Ace talks about us. He doesn’t agree with us, nor does he get our beliefs and practices always right. But he speaks up for us.
I find is amusing that a Wiccan would rip into us but the Catholic did not and the Indian had a tepid theological disagreement.
I am so much more grateful for people who are kind to and about us, even if they disagree with us.