Yesterday, I found this in my inbox. It’s from a parent of a kid in my Writing Workshop class, and she’s one of those parents. My coworkers warned me about her, but I seem to have gotten in good with her, so I wasn’t overly worried when I saw this:
Hi Chili, Carl was telling me that you said that the Mormon church organized and opposed civil unions and alternative marriages in California. He gets things mixed up so I am unsure if you said that. However, I let him know that a lot of Mormons and fundamental Christians, on their own, joined together and fought the marriage law there, as well as in other states but no church officially mandated such a fight or supported it. He was angry at Christians so it was a good opportunity to share with him how the media may paint distorted pictures and how we also may not hear facts correctly.
No need to reply. I am not even sure you discussed this at all…it is just something the turned havoc in Carl’s mind.
I thought about this for a while – I remembered the conversation and remembered what I’d said (because I remember being very careful about what I was saying) – and I composed this response:
That conversation was brought up in relation to a minor plot point in the novel we’re reading. I DID, in fact, say that the Mormon church was very participatory in support of Proposition 8, the California bill that would – and did – overturn that state’s civil marriage law because they were. The LDS as an organization was forthright and public in their opposition to gay marriage, and they took a fair bit of heat for it following the passage of the proposal. Here are a couple of links from their own website, in fact: here and here.
One thing that Carl should understand about me by now is that I don’t EVER lump people together in groups. I don’t say “all liberals” or “all blacks” or “all Christians” or all ANYBODY, for that matter. I made a point of saying that the Mormon CHURCH was active in the campaign against gay marriage in California, but I was very careful not to characterize individuals in the organization and ESPECIALLY careful about not characterizing Christians as a group (I know how much trouble THAT can cause). The truth is that I personally heard from at least two Mormons who were angered by the official stance of their church during that election cycle, and who were terribly conflicted by what they felt was a conflict between what they thought was right and their loyalty to the representatives of their faith, and I heard several news reports where people spoke of similar conflicts in their own churches. It’s a tough question all the way around.
I’m pleased that this whole thing got Carl thinking, though. While my job as an English teacher is certainly to teach my students reading and writing skills, I see my primary responsibility as teaching them how to be strong critical thinkers and then how to communicate that thinking. Knowing that’s something you value as well, and that he’s got a strong support in you when he brings home the hard stuff, is terribly gratifying for me. Thank you.
I’m delighted this kid is still thinking about this conversation, though I wish he’d have brought up some of his questions to me. Luckily, I’ve got an ally in this parent, so I’m confident that this is as far as this will go.
*Edited to include* I love how the Universe just drops stuff in my lap. I was on the Apple movie trailer site this morning and found this. I’m going to keep a lookout for it; if it comes to my neighborhood, I’ll go to see it.