“This is a wake-up call for the rest of the world. America is foreign. They may talk like us and look like us, but it’s foreign.”
Except if you are New Zealand Mormon where America is present everywhere. From our services to our dress, to our leadership, to our curriculum, to our religious training, to our books of scripture, everything about who we are as a religious community screams America, America, America. But not progressive America. Conservative Utah America. Conservative Utah America with all of its star-spangled conservative self-righteous bally-hoo. Utah, the bastion of the worst iteration of American Mormonism. Conservative Utah, that reeks of misogyny and racism, neoliberalism, surveillance, control, militarism, authoritarianism, homophobia, a rigidity of thinking, colonialism and cultural superiority. All of this stinking quagmire of moral perfidy is stewed and brewed under the steeples and statues of Moroni that tower over the sweep of the valley and is sent out to the rest of the Mormon world like God blessed it.
So when I go the following message today I was livid:
“Father in law sent me a strangely gloating txt late last night “haha, we won!”
“Is he American?” I asked.
“No, he’s a Kiwi.”
But I’m not surprised. Many New Zealand Mormons are infuriatingly attached to the political stench that comes out of Republican Utah. It’s like it comes from Jesus. But it’s immature and grossly politically illiterate to swallow a religious hegemony and then to think that, that makes you subject to the cultural, social and economic ideologies that stick like faeces to its underside.
I don’t blame my fellow Kiwis. I blame a religious organisation that has failed spectacularly to practice some social hygiene. It embarrasses me to see New Zealand Mormons imitate conservative Utah Mormonism to get noticed and favoured by the visiting authorities. It embarrasses me when they fawn and fall all over themselves to assure church leaders that they are politically conservative enough to be trusted with the management of the church in my country.
And I’m appalled that any self-respecting Mormon New Zealander would imagine for a second that this vile man, Donald Trump, who gathered up a majority support from the citizens of that place they call Zion, is anything other than the grim expression of some Godless derangement that has long housed itself in the cultural tucks and folds of this now failing empire.
I’m not trying to rub salt into the wound of my progressive friends who might feel that I hate America. To be honest, there is not another place in the world other than Christchurch where I feel more at home than Salt Lake City. It is home to many, many close friends and people I consider family. Today I mourn that they have to wake up to the gloom of knowing that they have to live with the awfulness that their nation chose a man whose road to the Whitehouse was paved with the callous, cruel, unfeeling dismissal, mockery and denial of the dignity of almost every vulnerable group in the United States.
But to New Zealand Mormons, I tell you now – Don’t you dare betray this nation and laud this unconscionable treacherous scourge, Donald Trump, as the next best thing because you feel it’s your religious duty to side with conservative Utah in doing so.
It doesn’t make you a good Mormon; it makes you a moral failure and an embarrassment to this country.
What happened in the United States has no place here, and as a New Zealand Mormon my only comfort is reassuring myself is that America is foreign. It’s a foreign country.
Please God, let it stay foreign.