The Latter-day Saint tradition teaches to “judge not.”
Yet some can be self-righteous and judgmental. As a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I fear that some of the highly visible attacks on Donald Trump by Latter-day Saint politicians and other members have only reinforced the perception that church members are judgmental.
Mitt Romney’s withering personal attack last March crossed a line in the eyes of Trump’s advisors and supporters that made Romney unacceptable as the nominee for secretary of state unless he could sincerely apologize both privately and publicly. Romney did not apologize, even though Trump was magnanimous and gave him repeated opportunities to do so. As secretary of state, Romney could have been a huge asset to our country, while also bringing honor and recognition to the state of Utah and the LDS community.
When an “Access Hollywood” video was released in October revealing private lewd comments Trump made about women more than 10 years ago, Utah Sen. Mike Lee quickly scrambled to denounce Trump and forcefully insist that he should resign. The Deseret News editorialized that Trump should resign. For others already inclined to be self-righteous and judgmental, the video was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
An editorial in The Wall Street Journal noted that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump and discussed how this could happen in light of his widely acknowledged playboy past. Clearly this 81 percent delivered Trump the presidency with close margins of victory in the critical swing states of Florida and North Carolina and then in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, all of which Hillary Clinton was expected to win. These evangelicals were able to look beyond Trump’s playboy past to see the huge long-range impact they believed his policies and Supreme Court appointments would have in restoring traditional family values, religious freedom and state’s rights, all of which they believed to be under siege by an encroaching federal government.
While a majority of Latter-day Saints voted for Trump, many Mormons were unable to do so.
The low road of finding fault and judging others can get ugly, as it did recently when Jan Chamberlin, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, made national news by publicly resigning to protest the choir singing at Trump’s inauguration ceremony and comparing Trump to Hitler: “I only know I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him.”
It seems ironic that many Mormons who are proud of their church’s strong support for the traditional family cannot find anything good to say about Donald Trump. After all is said and done, he has a wonderful family that puts to shame the families of most of his critics. When we look for the good in others, we will find it. But self-righteous people are quick to see evil in others and slow to apologize or acknowledge that sometimes they are wrong.
Maybe it is time for all of us to take the higher road and the path of charity by focusing on the good in others, and the good in our president-elect. That is what Jesus would do.
Michel L. Call is founder of the Mormon Pioneer Genealogy Library and author of the Royal Ancestry Bible and other publications.