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October 30, 2020 October 30, 2020

Understanding in commonality of persecution

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Taber Times

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. As a Canadian, an Albertan and as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it does pain me to see that an anonymous individual has chosen to start a change.org petition in your town that seeks to end the raising of the Pride flag during your Pride festival a short time from now.

I understand the reasoning behind why this person feels it is important to do so and goes to an extent to justify their actions, but I think it is important to recognize that the two greatest commandments Christianity have been given is to “love God with all thy heart, mind and strength” and the second is to “love thy neighbor”. Latter-day Saints sing the hymn, “Love One Another” as an affirmation to this principle. I cannot speak to the religious affiliation of the author of the petition, but I certainly can speak to mine.

Last year, I wrote a letter to the Town of Cardston that was published in the Lethbridge Herald that encouraged members of the community to go and be part of the festivities. I wrote that going would do much to help bridge relations, start a much-needed dialogue and be able to recognize that much like our faith was persecuted for much of the nineteenth century, the LGBTQ2S+ community is being persecuted now. I would say the same thing again and say it with more urgency. From the ambiguous stance Premier Jason Kenney has taken in saying he won’t out students who join GSAs while at the same time, proclaiming the Education Act that does not maintain the provisions of Bill 24 that protect students who join GSAs, to the gleeful attitude of groups such as the Wilberforce Project who have stated that they believe they have the government’s ear and will move the dial on social issues that have been dealt with or even families who disown or disavow their own because they are LGBTQ2S+, these actions are anything but Christian. Jesus spoke with the woman at Jacob’s well, He dined and sat amongst sinners and he condemned the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of those who spoke the law but whose hearts were far from it. Furthermore, He also fulfilled Mosaic Law, instead, He gave the people a higher one, which emphasized the two great commandments spoken of earlier.

Again, I cannot speak to all Christian sects on this, but I can make one final appeal to mine. We were chased from Ohio, from Missouri, and from Illinois. We had an extermination order on our heads in Missouri until the late 1970s. In the late 1880s, Saints escaped to Mexico and Alberta to live our faith in peace. We were the persecuted when all we wanted was to be treated fairly. Put yourselves in the shoes of our LGBTQ2S+ family and friends. Their request is the same: they want to be treated fairly and live their lives in peace. And if we believe that we are all one human family, then frankly, this should be simple. Loving someone is easy. Telling someone that you can support them even if they love differently than you do is simple. It’s a choice. I would exhort my community to choose love over fear, acceptance over hate.

JEREMY WOOLWARD
Calgary

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