The current president of the mormon church, Russell M Nelson, shared a thought in the October 2020 General Conference. After the world has dealt with the pandemic of Covid-19 and the US is in the throes of a heated election cycle, and much of the world is facing a racial reckoning and awakening, the self-proclaimed prophet of the one true living church of God had the podium to talk to the world.
He allegedly is a believer, so he may have some claim to what it’s life is like as a believer, but not claiming that everyone who believes has a life filled with peace. But he’s certainly not in a place to claim what life is filled with for those who are not believers, or who live a life without God. He could explain perhaps that, for him, he believes because he is scared not to. But he can’t make that claim for all of humanity. Is this what God reveals to him in the night? That people who don’t believe are living a life filled with fear?
Tactics of fear-mongering reinforce the idea that members need to grip their foundations tighter out of fear, rather than examining them rationally. His view is that the alternative to a life with God, must be filled with fear, because he is filled with fear when considering it. Avoiding the scary God-less life is his motivation. He finds the security and belonging in his culture of belief, and that’s ok. But, he mistakenly (at best) feels that since his own life without God would be a scary place, that the same is true for everyone else. So he is paradoxically, fearing the fear he projects on others who don’t share his views, and reassures himself that this is the definition of being filled with peace. So who is living this life filled with fear? It seems he is afraid of the fear he projects on others, which helps him to stay in the boat, and also encourages others (by way of scaring them) to stay in the boat too. This does little to invite the unbelievers, it does not make for a welcoming “big tent” or hospital-style church. It makes a social club where diversity is frowned upon and obedience is paramount.
These are the places unbelievers and skeptics are marginalized! Believing faithful members literally don’t have the space in their faith to allow for any other point of view, no diversity of ideas, and sometimes a lack of critical thinking or logic. In a world of God-like authority and obedience, there is no room for anything but the latest and current ideas of the “Brethren”. In the end these ideas are very fear-based, controlling and even nonsensical. They hold people in check with fear and the promise of blessings in heaven. They claim to know how to best understand and deal with doubt or with the false narrative, be scared of it, deny it, don’t talk about it – maybe it will go away on its own. Maybe the solution will come to us via the yellow notepad and cute light up pen.