Mormonism, Politics and Why I’m Saying Bye to Social Media

Guys, I’m so tired. I feel physically tired, mostly because this afternoon while out I was suddenly hit with an enormous wave of depression that has left me alternately sad and apathetic and filled with physical pain.

And also the title is probably overly dramatic, because I’m really only peacing out to Facebook for now because people tend to be less dickhead-ish on Instagram. I have some friends with very adorable children whose lives I need to follow somehow and a makeup business to maintain, after all, so I can’t just go off the grid entirely (although writing that makes me think, “But maybe I could.”).

I’m going to say this once, and then I’m never saying it again on a public forum (and I assure you, I am filled with a lot of trepidation over even mentioning it in a not-very-publicized or even read blog, fear that I will be attacked by racists and/or misogynists or, even worse, friends who claim they love and respect me): I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve been planning on it since 2012 and haven’t read anything that’s changed my position or made me think I’m making the wrong decision for myself. For a much better, more detailed explanation than I could ever give about the root of Hillary’s problems is that she is, unfortunately, a woman, check out this amazing article here (you’re not going to read it, are you? You’re going to skip it and have already thought up horrible things to say to me. Go ahead. I won’t read it for awhile anyhow.). Plenty of men, plenty of politicians, plenty of Republicans have done many of the same “egregious” and “unforgivable” things with little to no consequence, but America can’t seem to give her a pass. Do I love her? Not really. But I certainly don’t despise her, and I think she’d make a very fine president. Anyhow, I didn’t want to say it, but it’s important that you know my stance before I get into the rest of my post.

I am faced with two pretty glaring problems, however: 1. I am a liberal living in a predominately VERY conservative state and 2. social media has turned us all into argumentative, vicious monsters who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. We speak loudly and carry multiple big sticks (or assault rifles, you know. Whatever.), and we believe it is our God given right to tell everyone how wrong they are. I abstain from this behavior because my anxiety can’t take it, I respect my friends, and I think by now it’s been VERY effectively proven that arguing online neither changes minds nor strengthens bonds. It’s a whole new world of us vs. them, but we’re sacrificing families and long-lasting friendships in the name of being champion. If that isn’t America’s tragedy, I’m not sure what is.

Growing up Mormon, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning certain aspects of the religion, periods of disbelief, and moments of quiet contemplation, but I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about Mormonism. So most of what I’m about to say is kind of the Gospel According to Mary, and you may take it as you will.

Election years always bring to mind Article of Faith #12, which states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law (emphasis added).” So basically what it’s saying is we will uphold the law (except when it comes to driving down I-15 apparently) and we will honor and sustain our lawmakers, which includes but is not limited to our president, and that’s the rub, isn’t it? We claim to believe we will honor (which can mean respect, not attack or cyber-bully, or spread lies and rumors) the President of the United States of America, but in a religion that is somehow very Republican (and for those of you not particularly familiar with the Church, we are not told to vote one way or another — this is just how the cookie has crumbled, politically, within the Church’s culture for decades, and damned if I understand it), that’s pretty hard when the president is a Democrat. And I’ll say this goes the other way as well, of course, although the last time we had a Republican in office, social media certainly hadn’t taken off in the way it has today, but Democrats are not exempt from this particular Article of Faith. We don’t have to agree or like it, but we have to be respectful.

Newsflash: most aren’t. #religiouspeopleamirite

This year’s election, which simply cannot come to an end faster for me, has also brought to mind Article of Faith #13, which states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … (emphasis added).” So this says very plainly that Mormons believe in not spreading lies, gossip, rumors, or falsehoods, and that we will bestow upon all others benevolence (which is defined as offering charity and goodwill) and virtue (which is defined as moral uprightness). I mean, basically we claim to believe in being literally the best versions of ourselves, kind, tender, forgiving, and honest. So I find myself utterly confused when I see dozens of Mormons all around me (and this is just within my circle of friends and acquaintances — I have no doubt in my mind that there are thousands, if not millions, of Mormons capable of this as well) posting anti-Hillary sentiments on a daily basis. It’s easy to repost a meme or a picture or an article or something that’s awful (even if it may be true). And apparently (and I’m speculating here, but I feel pretty confident in my assumption) Mormons believe in being benevolent to and honest about anyone except for Hillary Clinton because somehow she doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “all men” (I could say something again about misogyny but I don’t want to beat a dead horse). So that’s weird to me. And I feel like there’s some sort of discord and disconnect.

I’ve been heartbroken this year, particularly, to see individuals whom I held in very high esteem be, quite frankly, terrible humans online. It’s shaken my faith, it’s made me question why I belong to the Church still, in spite of everything, and I imagine Joseph Smith, who was martyred in the name of this religion, coming down from the proverbial mount with the 13 Articles of Faith, a modern-day Moses who just received the Ten Commandments, weeping because we’ve built a golden calf and do nothing but idolize it all day long.