Over the past few days, I have read some Facebook notes that, I feel, have attacked my church and my belief system. These notes are just a small drop in a large bucket of accusations that we have faced over the past several years.
I'm not trying to convince anyone of my political views. I just want people to understand that just because I think a certain way or believe a certain thing does not mean that I am a hateful person. So I wrote my own Facebook note addressing accusations against me and my church.
Here's what I wrote:
Don't Tell Me Who I Hate
Is anyone else sick of having other people tell you who you hate?
People who think like I do and believe what I do have always struggled with other people not understanding us. We have been given many different labels. The one that I'm seeing most often nowadays is "hater."
Do you think I hate people?
Let me just make this clear right now. I have never - ever - been taught by my parents, my church, my scriptures, my God, or my own conscience, to hate anyone. ANY one. Because my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is so often the brunt of the accusations, I will tell you that in almost 15 years of being a baptized member of this church, I have never been taught or told to hate, persecute, revile, undermine, or mistreat anyone. I have been taught, however, to love everyone, with a Christlike love, regardless of their religion, political stance, sexual orientation, race, or appearance.
Now, I may not be as good at this as I could be. I may not do enough service, donate enough to charity, or volunteer at shelters or hospitals. But I can tell you this: I do not hate.
Do you really think I hate people that are just trying to find happiness by being able to marry someone they love? Do you really think I hate people that do whatever they can to leave their own country and find jobs in ours, just to try to make a better life for their families?
Yes, I am against gay marriage and illegal immigration. But I do not hate gays or illegal immigrants. I do not. And for anyone to tell me that I do is wrong. It is putting words in my mouth and feelings in my heart. It makes me think that I do not have a right to my own opinion, that I am not allowed to say what I want to say because I might get called a hater.
Why is it fair for people like me to be silenced in this way? Why is every point we make faced with accusations of hatred and ignorance? Why can't I say what I think without it being hateful?
Is it because you think I couldn't possibly understand you? Because I am a Christian, middle-class woman with a husband and a baby and a house in suburbs with a Toyota in the garage? Is that why I'm not allowed to think the way I think? Because I've obviously never felt hurt, betrayed, angry, alone, lost, confused, or sad? Because I've never been called names? Well, guess what - I have felt these things. All of them. And you call me names all the time. Selfish. Arrogant. Ignorant. Bigot. Hateful.
Obviously, you don't understand me.
You tell me I'm trying to keep you from your right to the pursuit of happiness. Let me tell you what is really the case: we have different definitions of happiness. My happiness does not include a world where homosexuals are allowed to marry and raise children. Yours does. And you know what? One of the great things about our country is that we are both able to pursue this happiness without name-calling, accusations, or hatred.
All I'm doing is standing up for what I believe. You are more than welcome to do the same, on one condition: don't tell me who I hate. I don't hate you. I can't make you believe that, or anything else, but it's true. I want you to be happy. Why wouldn't I?
If there are some issues that we have to agree to disagree about, then so be it. But don't tell me that I'm a hateful, ignorant person because of what I believe. You know how that makes me feel? It makes me feel like you hate me.