I’ve written in the past about the importance of taking a measured response to challenges in life. One essay I wrote about the importance of avoiding digging in too deep around certain arguments (particularly religious ones) still resonates today with me. (Though perhaps I wouldn’t say I’d like to backhand certain people these days . . .) I’ve also written about the danger of conspiracy theories. So I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised and disappointed me when I read about both those issues coming together the past few days in my own religion.
The inciting incident seemed (to me) to be fairly tame: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a message Monday congratulating Joe Biden on his win and thanking Donald Trump for his service. This is pretty boilerplate in terms of language, and they released similar messages in 2016 and 2012 (and another in 2009 right when Obama was sworn in.) Probably in recognition of how divisive this election has been, they waited to release that message until the Electoral College had voted, rather than doing it soon after the election’s end.
No big deal, right?
Except Donald Trump has continued to bang the “This election was rigged!” drum as hard as he can since the morning after the election. He has constantly claimed he had incontrovertible proof about it, and that he would ultimately prevail. However, in practice, that proof has failed to pass muster in practically every single courtroom it’s been heard. Let’s just say that for an election that’s supposedly so blatantly “rigged,” there’s a shocking absence of real evidence of that rigging. (Setting aside the absurdity of the Democrats going to the trouble of rigging an election and then failing to wrest full control of the government, though I suppose you can feed that into the conspiracy theory to say that’s what they’d do to make sure they didn’t get caught. There’s no reasoning with conspiracy theorists. Period.)
And I know people have claimed Trump should have his day in court, and that he was entitled to protest as long as there was some question about the result, but the fallout from the Church’s statement illustrates the sort of harm Trump continues to wreck on this country. You had church members on the Church’s Facebook page posting pictures of their ripped up temple recommends in protest. Things got so bad the Church disabled comments for the post completely, removing all of them. People accusing the leaders of being part of the conspiracy and saying they were done with any church that would support Biden in any way.
Basically, you’ve got people who, when asked to choose whether to believe their church leaders whom they’ve followed for decades or Donald Trump, chose to go with Trump. Although note that they weren’t really asked to follow their church leaders. It was just the low bar of “moving on with post-election life and conceding defeat”.
I do hope that after some time has gone by, cooler heads will prevail, and these dramatic stands and online diatribes will quietly be deleted and backed away from. Certainly there’s something to be said to waiting to make ultimatums until you’ve had a while to process whatever you’re wanting to ultimate about, if you know what I mean. Though I’m also fairly certain Trump will be conceding nothing and will continue to be an active force in politics for the near future. He was already into conspiracies with the birther movement, and that was before he’d had four years of being president.
So perhaps these church members really will decide to leave the church for good. I hope that isn’t the case. I’ve already had some people unfriend me on Facebook, I assume due to the stances I took over Trump and the election. (It was one of those “I thought we were friends” situation where I didn’t find out they’d unfriended me until I went to search for them and discovered that was the case.) I’m sorry to see them go. I may disagree with people around many issues, but it’s very rare that I’m ready to terminate a friendship due to a disagreement. (That only has happened when the disagreement has morphed into nastiness and name calling and continued sniping, which I don’t have time for.)
Time will tell, I suppose.
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