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Saturday, June 19, 2010

"May The Force Be With You!"

Here in this beautiful beehive state, “the force” is most definitely the Mormon church. If “the force” is with you, life here is easier and more comfortable. Many people in the state find it necessary to know who is on the side of “the force”. Sadly, some of these same people will judge outsiders as being on “the dark side”. The current controversy over an anti-Bob Bennett mailer is a perfect reflection of this strange division in Utah society. The flier showed republican candidate Mike Lee’s photo above the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple and Bob Bennett’s photo over the United States Capitol building with the caption “Which candidate really has Utah values?” The mailer did not come directly from Mike Lee’s campaign, but in my opinion that is irrelevant. Here are the facts: although people were apparently offended by the flier, it worked! Bob Bennett will not be on the ballot this fall. You see, Utah values are Mormon values and separation of church and state is non-existent in my current home.

Rules and laws in other states do not apply here. LDS seminary is part of the public school day. My husband gets calls from job recruiters on a regular basis and many ask him if he has a “temple recommend”. For you outsiders, this translates, “Are you a Mormon in good standing with the Church?” Now, close your mouths, I know you think that is illegal, but not here in Utah. All things in Utah, lead to “the force”! If you have “the force” behind you, you are “in” – with your neighbors, your companies, your schools, etc. If, however, “the force” is not with you it is harder to find your way in just about every aspect of society.

Recently, “the force” decided to give a nod to the Salt Lake City Council and allow it to make it illegal to discriminate against the gay community in housing and employment. If “the force” had not given their approval the city would still be in the dark ages as far as that basic civil right. I am grateful to the Mormon Church for finally taking that position and hope the “the force” remains on the moral and just side of all Utah citizens.

My family navigates through life without the powers of “the force”. We are happy and appreciate the positive aspects of our life in Utah. Along the way, we may even have convinced a few people that we are not on “the dark side”. As Utah adjusts to more diversity, the long standing battle may subside. We have to accept that one side is not more important than the other, nor more right than the other. People are just different and that should really be OK as long as no one is getting hurt on either side of the issue.

I hold out hope that Utah will not always judge people by their religion. However, until that time,
“May the force be with you!”