Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Congregation of One, part 4

“Landon. I’m not trying to give you a hard time.” Jessica was one of the sweetest people in the world, but she was standing here looking me in the eye and pleasantly telling me that the Christian Medical Association was deliberately discriminating. “We love you and want you to be included. But we can’t show the video.”

My neck itched. The sun glared and I couldn’t see a damn thing. “So, it’s not because of what’s in the video, it’s because of where it’s from.”

“Yes.”

“So, it is discrimination then.”

“Yes… if you insist on thinking of it that way.”

I couldn’t imagine thinking of it any other way. A classmate had offered to bring a completely innocuous Easter video portraying Christ’s life to the Christian Medical Society’s lunch meeting and was flatly denied because he was a Mormon. It had nothing to do with the content of the video and everything to do with who he was.

My mind was numb. I remembered how Mormons weren’t allowed to vote in the 1800s just for believing in a church that opposed anti-polygamy laws—not for what they did, but who they were. And this codified religious bigotry was upheld repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court. I remembered that Governor Lilburn Boggs signed an “Extermination Order” making it legal to murder Mormons as a political necessity in Missouri. “...The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace….” After hundreds of lives were lost, the Mormons affably chose to leave the state. The law was on the books into my own lifetime. Where were the Mormon memorials along with the holocaust and native American memorials, I wondered? The only time I had ever heard an acknowledgement of such atrocities was from Mormons themselves, never acknowledged by society at large. I remembered hearing from a hospital secretary that Dean Katz had off-handedly quipped, “It’s no wonder Mormons are persecuted when they keep their temples so exclusionary and secretive.” Did anyone in the whole damn college practice the cultural competence they preached in class?

And here was Jessica, smiling placidly. Golden curls backlit with sunshine. A Christian angel.

I sneezed.

Index for A Congregation of One
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5
part 6
part 7
part 8

1 comment:

AttemptingThePath said...

i love these segments! they're amazing