If you haven't heard it yet, there is a new event on facebook that is gathering some steam. It's the radical idea that people should ask the church leadership why women can't pray in general conference and/or to ask that this change. The event can be found here.
Now some of you might be surprised to realize that a woman has never said a prayer at General Conference. Some of you might think that it is bad to contact church leaders about changes to policy/practice. Well, whatever your reaction, you're certainly not alone. There are already comments pouring in. Thus far some of the vitriolic comments towards anyone who would dare to write a church leader about changing a policy looks like it might be on track to match the vitriol from the Wear Pants to Church event. I wanted to try to hit some of the primary complaints I've seen from people against this idea.Read more
The Priesthood/Relief Society lesson manual (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith) contains a rather instructive quotation.
"Let us pray for the great men and women of the world who need the Lord but do not understand his interest in them. Pray for … our governors, our mayors of cities, the men who have influence in politics in our various communities, that they may do the things that will be better for all of us and make us happier, and please our Heavenly Father. That is our privilege. I say to you that the power of prayer is something that cannot be measured, " (Lesson 9.)
We read this during our joint Elder's Quorum/High Priest Group meeting yesterday, and our instructor asked an interesting question: "Is our nation so partisan that we fail to pray for the great leaders, those who have the fate of nation's in their hands?" I've been thinking about this for the past 30 hours or so, and I've pondered the fact that even though I am a supporter of our president, I do not often remember to pray for him; this extends also to local leaders in my state and city. Thus, this lesson has inspired a course-correction on my part. Additionally, I am realizing that I should take this counsel into consideration regardless of who wins the election in 2012.
So I'm finding myself pausing to consider what this means for me and for each of us, whether we support President Obama or not. I think many of us in America are too busy filling our mouths with words of divisiveness and accusation to find time for prayer, much less a prayer that petitions the Lord in behalf of the man we have just maligned.
I received an "anti-Obama" email recently - one of those that have been forwarded around and around (and clearly it had made its way around Mormon circles,) and it was so ugly and partisan that I felt myself getting angry. (And I am not implying that emails that unfairly demean Mitt Romney aren't out there as well - I think both sides need to calm this mess down.) But this particular email was so out there that I felt particularly frustrated with the Christian right for not acting too Christian.
Clearly this idea of praying for our leaders is not conducive to the ugly partisanship that exists in our nation: the name-calling, the declarations that the only goal is to see President Obama "fail," the racist remarks... none of this is invites an attitude of prayer.
However, I acknowledge that we have real political differences that need to be discussed and debated, but often it goes too far - and I am far from perfect with this myself. But I am surprised by anyone who would claim that either Obama or Romney are out to destroy our freedom, tear down this nation, or stomp on the constitution. We started this website with the statement, "we don’t hate Mitt Romney, and we don’t want to character-assassinate him here," and we continue to maintain that position. Additionally, I would hope that we could collectively (as Mormons, Christians, or Americans,) calm the waters that are swirling around during this election cycle.
I believe taking the time to remember our national leaders in prayer just might do the job, and ultimately, this may be as much for our benefit as it is for theirs.