On Tuesday, March 21, the Iowa Senate held a debate over lifting the state's firework ban. During the debate, things took a personal turn when State Senator Matt McCoy decided to bring up State Senator Jake Chapman's Mormon faith.
"Let’s dumb this down for me, because I don’t know what a class one is, and I don’t have the Book of Mormon over there like you’ve got to read from,” McCoy says.
Groans and verbal complaints filled the room after McCoy's comment as the room was called to order.
The following video was originally found on caffeinatedthoughts.com.
While this exchange may be disappointing to see in a political setting, it's by no means new or original to Mormons. As a president candidate, Mitt Romney experienced backlash for his religious beliefs, but so did John F. Kennedy, a Catholic.
However, over the last few years the divisiveness between religious or political groups has persisted if not intensified. While a natural reaction to this kind of behavior may be to retaliate, the Church has set the perfect example of how we can best react in such situations—build interfaith relationships, reach out in love, try to calm fears, and defend religious freedom for all people, especially those who are vulnerable.
One aspect of the exchange that many ignored, however, was when other state senators defended Jake Chapman and his choice of faith. Though negativity and divisiveness still persist, we should focus on the relationships we can build and those who will stand with us to protect religious freedom.
As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "The religious community must unite to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence . . . There should be room for all good-faith views in the public square, be they secular, religious, or a mixture of the two. When expressed sincerely and without sanctimoniousness, the religious voice adds much to the text and tenor of public debate.”