"I’m going out on a limb here, taking a stab at a sensitive subject. The First Amendment to our Constitution clearly states that Congress shall make no law that prohibits the free exercise of practicing a religion. Whether we like it and agree with it or not, there is a large and persistent group of people who call themselves the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints trying to practice what they preach in their religion.The San Angelo Standard-Times, also has the courage to print his column. Dr. Stephen Smith is a San Angelo physician. There is more to his column, please go to the Standard Times site, and read it for yourself.
I have never stated that I agree with their religion. I don’t. But that is not the issue. The issue is: Do I want to defend their right to practice their religion? Yes I do. Because I would hope someone would defend me as I practice my personal religion and relationship with God as I understand God.
There are some hypercritical patriots in San Angelo who insist their God is bigger than my God. There was a German a few years back who thought his God was bigger than other people’s God. He mortified the world by incinerating and killing via other hideous methods millions of Jews because of their religious beliefs. Our country stopped everything it was doing in the 1940s to prevent this man from getting his way.
Now we are doing the same thing to the FLDS living in Schleicher County, only we’re decent enough not to turn them into potash because we call ourselves more civilized. The issue for many is a disgusting and pathetic need to be more concerned with trivial behaviors in our society at large, such as what Tiger Woods is doing with his genitals rather than helping my neighbor who is starving or being beaten by an abusive spouse.
More than one so-called Christian has told me that the FLDS just uses its religion as an excuse to practice pedophilia. Well, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Until you go to the FLDS ranch in Eldorado as I have and see the simple and beautiful world they have created then you are showing how ignorant you can be to make any assumptions.
Again, I do not agree with everything the FLDS believes in. That is not the point. I do agree with their freedom to believe that adolescent girls having babies is one aspect of their religion that gives them favor with God.
I am not the one to persecute them. And no human being can deny that God created humans to be capable of having children in our teenage years. It is a biological fact of nature. Until just a few years ago when our society ruled it inappropriate, adolescent girls having babies has been the norm rather than the exception since the beginning of time.
The world behind the FLDS fences they have built to keep us out (and I don’t blame them) is surreal. It is beautiful. It is soft. Their lifestyle is an attempt to be loving and takes one back to a time when life was pure and innocent.
It is true that some have left the Mormon tradition and written books against such practices, but so have some Christians. Could not our own children write ghastly books about their parents and religious leaders as well? Of course they could.
But standard Christians don’t want to admit that we have a frightfully high teen pregnancy rate. We don’t want to admit that our divorce rate hovers around 50 percent all the time and would likely be more if some couples had the courage to end dysfunctional relationships. We don’t want to see that our prisons are full of drunkards and druggies and hobos because we aren’t willing to care for each other the way Jesus commissioned us to care.
We are the ones who have created a culture where it is not wise for adolescent girls to have babies (and I agree). We are the ones who carry emotional baggage from our pasts that creates pathological views of human sexuality. We are the ones who can’t get past our inhibitions, our fears and our demons that would allow us to treat others with love and compassion.
When asked which of the Ten Commandments was greatest, Jesus said, 'Love your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself' (Matthew 22:36-39). In my way of thinking, the latter command includes any and all neighbors however radically different they might be from ourselves.
Dang, I wish Jesus hadn’t said that because it really is hard to love anybody different from us.
Contrary to what I was quoted as saying in the Standard-Times on Dec. 10, I do not believe that laws should be changed so older men can have sex with younger girls. What I did say was that perhaps we need to pause and rethink how we can legally accommodate and respect the FLDS in their practice of religion.
Now, I’ll just sit quietly and wait for the rocks and hope those without sin will be the ones to cast the first stones."
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