Paul Bishop, a police office in Los Angeles, shares his experiences and perspectives around the Proposition 8 backlash in a Meridian Magazine story, “In the Face of Hatred.” (That’s Part 1. Don’t miss Part 2.) This article is essential reading. In addition to thoughtful discussion of the controversy and some great photos, it reports some aspects not known to many, including the beating of some apparently non-LDS girls who tried to remove hateful signs from the Temple walls (quickly stopped by police, fortunately – God bless those courageous women). To the angry folks who refuse to understand the difference, removing unwanted offensive messages from private property, messages that deface sacred religious grounds, is hardly the same as stripping away legally carried signs from the hands of law-abiding protesters. I am shocked that one commenter dares to equate the mob’s hateful actions against a Christian woman with the brave service rendered by those girls trying to remove offensive litter defacing the Temple walls.
Paul is LDS and speaks to LDS members wondering how to respond. He begins by quoting one of our Apostles, Elder Robert D. Hales, and then offers simple, inspired advice:
“To respond in a Christlike way cannot be scripted or based on a formula. The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).”
We have often been instructed to love our enemies, and despite the current horror of our trials, this is no time to do differently.
The temptation to push back and get aggressive may be strong, but we must remember Whom we follow. I would suggest that we not try to argue with inflamed mobs, that we do not provoke or invite hostility, that we avoid getting in the face of those who are angry, but always seek to have charity informing our actions.
Our example must be one of peaceful endurance, of courage but kindness in the face of hate, of seeking to bless rather than to curse. Remember, many of the outraged souls mocking your beliefs or even harming property believe they are victims of outrageous crimes against their most basic rights. They may be misguided, but they are our brothers and sisters who may yet be touched by the Spirit and see things differently. There are also many on the fence, not sure what to think, who may be touched by a Christlike response in this time of contention and hate. Pray for our enemies, pray for their welfare, and pray for guidance in how to deal with them when conflict becomes unavoidable. (Hint: I’m not sure Mormon ninjas are the answer.)