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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!”

14 comments:

Jill Footey said...

I've been reading your blog for a while. Just wanted to post how I've noticed there are some generational differences as well. I'm in my early 30s. Some but not all LDS folks closer to my parents age tend to be much more judgmental than those that are my age. My age group & younger tend to be a more tolerant generation altogether, with religion as well as values and lifestyles so I think you will see changes but they'll be slow. Some changes will be for the better but some won't be, too. The best thing we can do is encourage people to have an open mind and be accepting and loving to all.

jill said...

Thanks for your comments Jill. I am happy you continue to read my blog and I appreciate your comments. I agree that the younger generations are more tolerant in general. However, much of the intolerance and mean behavior my family has experienced has come from students at school. It is a constant challenge for my children who are a minority at school and I do hope that will change and young people can judge each person as an individual rather than by the ethic or religious group they belong to.

Rachel said...

Hi, Jill. I'm happy to have found someone of like mind. I have started a Utah County version of your blog: utahstranger.blogspot.com

I tried to put your site on my blog roll, but I think Google Blogger is having some problems. It keeps locking up. Anyway, I would appreciate you checking out my site and giving me your opinion. I'll keep working on the blog roll problem. :)
Rachel

Rachel said...

Jill, you're on my blog roll. Yay! Finally, getting this blogging thing figured out. :)

BTW, do you know of any Jewish resources/congregations, etc. in Utah County? I'm trying to put together a list of places of worship, book stores, and so on.
Thanks,
Rachel

jill said...

Hi Rachel. I will see what I can find out about any Jewish resources in Utah County, but honestly I laughed out loud just putting those two items in the same sentence. Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I know you show up on my profile as blogs I read, but I must figure out how to get you on the actual blog. I did it once and cannot remember quite how, so don't feel bad - my blog is always a work in progress! Welcome to the blogging world.

ebailey1218 said...

Hi Jill!
I stumbled onto you blog as I was doing some research for a paper I am writing for Dixie State College.
I currenly live in the southern part of Utah in St. George. My husband and I moved our three kids here two years ago from Vegas (culture shock!!!) We have encountered some of the same situations that you have. Thanks for putting your blog in the universe and know that some of your words are going to be cited in a scholarly paper!

jill said...

I am glad you found my blog and that you found it useful. I would love to read what you wrote so let me know how your research goes. Keep reading and please share your experiences!!! Thanks!

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Lisa said...

Jill, even I had an open mouth at your husband being asked if he had a temple recommend for a job! I worked for Deseret First Credit Union...their field of membership is basically LDS memebers and 3 of my coworkers were not LDS. The fact that places that are not known as an LDS place are asking that seems completely illegal to me! Wow! Your husband is incredible and would be an asset to any company! (This is basketball Lisa P.S.)

Hallie said...

Hi, Jill. I'm 20 years old and I moved from MICHIGAN to Sandy, Utah about a half year ago because of the amazing employment opportunities. I don't really have a religion, I just hold on to my spirituality for dear life. I was also warned by all of my friends and family that I wouldn't be here for too long. What helps me are blogs like this, reading words from a strong woman like you! I knew there had to be a little compassion in this valley somewhere...

jill said...

Hi Hallie. So glad you found my blog and that you found it helpful. I have a 20 year old daughter and she constantly struggles to find her place. She loves the Sugar House area downtown - have you gone down that way yet? I have not written on this blog for so long, but your comment has inspired me to get back into it. Thank you and look for more soon!!!

The Kelton Hansens said...

PLEASE keep up the blog!! there are so many plu's on the web! you brighten up my day!!! xoxo, www.thedukesofhansen.blogspot.com