So, yesterday, after I got back from work, I was cleaning up listening to the RNC speeches off and on the radio as I did some busy work around the house. What caught my attention was the speech given by Mitt Romney’s pastor about his pastoral work. It struck me because of how I have experienced the LDS church.
I grew up with the understanding that Mormons were not Christians, they worshiped a different Jesus and all that. However, that is not how I have experienced the LDS Soldiers and families that I have met since coming into the Army. Clearly, they love Christ.
It should be noted that I don’t agree with Romney’s politics or the GOP worldview, but I really enjoyed hearing about his work as a Ward Pastor.
The LDS church has a lay ministry. There is no “clergy class” or even paid clergy. When Romney was the ward pastor, as all ward pastors are (including multiple Army officers and NCOs that I’ve met) called to do that work, they do it in addition to their own jobs. Its a sacrifice. Coming from a tradition that was founded on lay ministers on the frontier, I appreciate the emphasis that ministry is for everyone in the church. All Christians are called to work the work of the Faith.
I appreciate that Mr. Romney highlighted his faith in his quest for the office.
The picture on the banner is of the Abby at Iona – on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland.
I visited there in August of 2012 with my Dad and brothers. Amazing place.
Several years ago, during a deployment to Iraq, I began reading about the Celtic approach to the Christian faith and found much there that resonated with me. There is a community at Iona that still practices that old way. I hope to do a proper spiritual pilgrimage when I am able to in the future. Amazing, amazing place.
Religious Freedom is a term we toss around in this culture freely as though we all knew what it meant.
Being a chaplain in a prison highlights to me both what it means – particularly in a culture where the lack of personal freedom is so evident.
Freedom of religion is:
– The freedom to believe what you want to believe and not suffer discrimination because of it. In other words, if you want to be a pastafarian, that’s cool. No one should be able to deny you work based on that belief. Of course, this is also limited by choosing to work in an area where your beliefs are part and parcel of the work you do – the Bible teacher at a Christian school certainly would not be a pastafarian. However, Walmart cannot deny you work based on that. This has not always been the case in our western-christian heritage but it certainly is now.
– The freedom of religion is also the freedom to practice your faith in a way that makes sense to you – limited, of course, by the law. In other words, questions of zoning are not necessarily questions of religious liberty unless zoning is being used to suppress a particular faith group. Another example is that while it is perfectly legal for a licensed butcher to sacrifice an animal in this country to spread a feast of beef on a table, it gets a bit complicated when you want to do it in your back yard for a worship ritual.
In a prison setting where one’s freedom is limited, the freedom of one person to share their faith with another inmate is limited by the other’s freedom to say “I don’t want to hear it.”