Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Live and Let Live

I have one Mormon cousin named Richard. He lives in Seattle with his family. He's always been one of my favorite cousins. Just before last November's election, I wrote him a very respectful (and uncharacteristically restrained) letter asking about his involvement in the Mormon's multi-million dollar mobilized movement to pass Prop 8.

I asked because I wanted to know if he was a part of it.

I wrote that if a group of my peers ever dredged up enough hate and misunderstanding to vote away the rights of Mormons, I would in no way be involved. I said my hope would be to tell him I spoke out against it.

Richard never wrote back.

So when I received a christmas card from his parents, I wrote back---and made sure to ask them to tell their son to please respond to my letter---that it was an issue important to me---that I would appreciate some kind of reply.

This week, Richard's parents wrote back to me. It was very gracious. They said they called Richard and discovered the nature of my letter. They wrote that they accept me and the way I live. They also wrote they accept their son (they're not Mormon) and that Richard would not be writing me because he can't adequately describe to me in a letter his faith, or why he chose it.

I will not get the small courtesy of a reply. I'm being ignored. And that pisses me off.

Family, it appears, is often just a random assembly of people who share blood and meals and then go behind closed doors to conspire against one another.

Richard's parents ended with a plea for me not to please not "create a division in the family" and to remember the old adage: "Live and let live". Oh, the resulting/insulting irony. Yes, I know the maxim well. Does their son?

This is so ON.

I don't care why he chose his faith. I long ago stopped trying to reason with religion. If he is under the impression that he's going to survive the death of his brain and inherit a planet, well terrific! I have no such plans. This planet is all I've got. I don't care how he came to his faith, I care about actions and what is fair. I care about "Live and let Live".

How can this issue possibly affect my cousin? I wrote to ask. It's amazing to me how religious people can actively, brazenly remove other people's civil rights, and then when the questions and backlash arise, they run and hide behind that sacred veil of "Don't question my faith!" as if they're the ones who've been victimized.

What would you do? I'm not sure where to go from here. They want me to drop it. I'm not dropping it. They don't think it matters, but it matters to me.

And that's enough.

If equality matters to you, keep up the fight. Check out this video below. Then go here to the courage campaign and sign this pledge to repeal prop 8. You don't have to be from California.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.


Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

Signed the Courage Campaign pledge and was glad to do it. I still get steamed about the blatant Constitutional violation (14th Amend.) Prop 8 represents and the harm it does to same-sex couples in committed relationships.

As for your Mormon cousin, the fact that he can't explain himself says everything. I'd be ashamed to reply in the circumstances myself. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

Jesse, the church as an institution has been characterized as the 'opiate of the people' (viz., Nietzsche). According to the German philosopher, the church by its very nature was created to maintain the status quo. It is not God or a belief in a higher being that is wrong, it is man's creation of an ideology concerning his/her will- - - the institutions that create or lead to the mistakes man makes.

We can try to achieve changes in attitudes and perceptions, but these are very difficult to accomplish. I believe that the best avenue to achieve and make strides in achieving these changes is through education - - -with all of its intricacies. So while I can understand your frustration and anger, try not to let it get to you too much. Calm down and continue to try to educate those you love and those around you.

Edina Monsoon said...

He lives in Seattle, which isn't in California. I don't see any evidence in your post that your cousin had any involvement in the defeat of Prop 8, or even that he had the slightest interest in it. You're publicly attacking him for what you infer as his beliefs, rather than for any of his actions.

It seems that the witch-hunt now extends beyond the witches.

Don said...


Very hard to believe but as has been said, if your cousin is not man enough to stand behind what he believes and have that discussion with you - well, that says it all, at least about him. If he can not speak to his family on this issue, and it appears he elects not to, what more can you expect?

One could go on forever about religion. Who cares what religion you believe in - one's actions are the important thing. Some people are so empty they buy into a religion to be a part of something (to give their life meaning) - then, of course, they can not explain any of the what or why questions they may be asked unless it is by citing chapter and verse!! Religion often seems to turn off the ability to think for ones self (by design even?). Here is what you are to believe and do not think - all interpretations will be made for you. - They do not really understand - only recite the doctrines they have been taught and/or may believe.

I am not against all religion by the way, but am concerned about the ways it used, often to hurt others!!

Hate to say give up Jesse but under the circumstances you can not get blood from a stone!

Best, Don

Anonymous said...

that video made me cry. it breaks my heart too. i'm proud to be Canadian sometimes...

Carl said...

Anonymous is right. You did the right thing. He did the wrong thing. If you're cousin's right there is a God, then He will judge. But because we don't know, we all just have to be sure that, if we lose the court battle, that we give more than the Mormons, and come up with better ads, next time.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jesse, I saw the gay couple with the little girl, but when I clicked on to it, I could not get the video to play. Windows Vista can really frustrate me.
I grew up in a heavily Mormon community and have family relations who are Mormon. As we grew up, we subconsciously learned never to talk to LDS (even our best friends) about any of their beliefs or early history. It is useless. Their religious philosophy is ingrained and set in granite. If you allow those two, young, white shirt, black tie (often cute), brainwashed boys into your home, you will be treated to the LDS hardline. Once you have heard the real "truth", if you do not accept and agree to practice it completely, then there is no hope for you. You are lost for eternity. Being gay is the epitome of the worst condemnation. You are damned. Movienut

Jesse Archer said...

Edina, as it was, the mormon reach extended well outside of California. Their high priestess sent out a memo to all their churches, asking every family to give what they could. Over 59,000 families did.
If my cousin doesn't care/had nothing to do with it, he can respond to my diplomatic letter. If I don't get the smallest courtesy of a response...he gets blogged about!

Jeffrey said...

Jesse, my observation about much of Chritianity is that they forgot Christ. He's just pretty stained-glass window-dressing. Although I am not a traditional Christian, I was raised that way and I know that Jesus was about unconditional love, not being judgemental (remember, he was the one who talked about "let he who is without sin cast the first stone")

I have two very good friends who are devoutly Christian but who have supported me for years. I feel pretty sure that they have some concern about homosexuality, but they leave that to God.

Your cousin, at a minimum, should stand up for his beliefs even if they are contrary to yours. And you should sand up for your belief -- that you deserve the simply courtesy of the response. BTW, my planet looks a lot like a giant disco ball.

Don said...

Regardless of the content anyone (even including Jesse) deserves the courtesy of a response - especially after the second attempt at communication through his parents. Have no control over the content of the response but at least there should be one.

How will be ever solve any of our problems without communication. Neither side has to agree with the other but we should at least have enough respect to listen.

Edina/Shane said...

I would request that you at least consider removing your cousin's full name from this post.

It seems unnecessary at best, and vindictive at worst.

I'm not commenting on this anymore.

All the best, J.

Jesse Archer said...


Vindictive? ABSOLUTELY!

The high road has never been my favorite. Nowhere near as scenic.

But I never want to be as unmovable as some of my family have proved to be, so thanks for your suggestion. Done.

Anonymous said...

Jesse, As strange as it seems, I would not be here if it weren't for the Gathering of Zion. "The wolves that dug up the graves and scattered the bones of the Oregonian and Californian gentiles, did not touch the bones of God's chosen people". Thus so we are told. My great grandfather, Alexander Hill arrived in Utah with his five wives
He came with Brigham Young (bring 'em young). They reached far and wide, possibly with the benevolence of the Angel Moroni. One wife from Sweden, one from Canada, two from America and one from France. The French wife was my great grandmother. I have that to thank the LDS for. I am not a Mormon and do not espouse their doctrine. I have "half-relatives" scattered all over the West. Mormons suffered rejection for many decades. Perhaps they believe that now we too should endure deprivation? Movienut

Joe Moore said...

Whether or not he participated in the passing of Prop 8 he should have the decency to respond to you. If you can't stand up for your convictions, then I don't respect you. I don't care if you're Mormon, Catholic, or an Athiest...if you don't have the balls to stand up for what you believe in, then in my eyes you don't believe in it strong enough.

Let his parents know that by trying to keep an open line of communication between two people of the same family who believe differently you're trying to keep that divide from happening. Let them know that their son by choosing not to respond directly is doing more to spread the divide than to heal it. Ignoring someone you love when they're reaching out to you isn't the way to keep family ties.

I'm grateful that even my Republican family members supported me throughout the whole Prop 8 thing. Even my Catholic-raised Grandmother (who has at least 7 siblings who are now Mormon) supported me. Because she knew that it was the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I love your quote,
"Family, it appears, is often just a random assembly of people who share blood and meals and then go behind closed doors to conspire against one another."
I identify with it also - different reasons than your, but excellent quote!!
~Jenny (from Jr. High/High School