One in 4 Million: LDS Latina

I've been having a hard time putting together the words for a post about how my religion and my heritage intertwine. I have been questioned many times why I believe what I believe. More than once I've been asked to write about it. I'll admit I'm a little scared of intentions and afraid of opening up to critique things which are precious and sacred to me. Today I decided to take a chance.

Being a Christian I never really thought about being Christian or not, I just assumed life was this way, and I just did what came naturally. I am a Latter-Day Saint (LDS)* Christian. I am an American Latina born of Colombian and Mexican parents. I've always been very aware of my ethnicity and have been very grateful for the heritage I was born into. I love being a Latina woman.

I appreciate the culture of my ancestors who my parents have taught me about. I am completely bilingual. I've had the privilege of having a mother who has nurtured my brain and my natural desire to seek truth. My father has been a wonderful example of a responsible loving father. I am daddy's girl, his first little girl. We have a large family because my parents always longed to have one. They both come from big families too.

I've had immense love from my family and those around me and even though our life hasn't been perfect, the good times, greatly outnumber the bad. These are things my heritage and culture hold dearly, and they are also things that my religion places in high regard. Not more than the other, and when I think about it, they kind of naturally intertwine.

Recently, I was at a barbecue with some of my husband's friends. Most of them were very anti- LDS. I actually don't have a problem at all hanging out with people outside my religion. I even engage in educated conversation about it a lot. But this night, I got a couple of comments making light of my religion and pointing out I was not like them. Tiny "micro-aggressions" that I'm used to and therefore took lightly. Kinda laughed them off and kept talking. As guests called it a night and just a couple of us were left, it gave room for more personal questions.

I'll flashback for just a second, I need to explain something real quick. My husband is a "convert" which in LDS lingo means he was not born into the church. He converted and was baptized when he was older than 8. Which is the age most LDS children are baptized in the church. He came from a background of numerous religions, he identified as Muslim, Jehova's Witness, Pentecost and Baptist at different times throughout his childhood and young adult life. He is also very involved in social justice education and activism.

Most of the friends at the barbecue were very socially conscious, activists, and progressive minded people in general. So when the question, "did you make Isaac become LDS before you married him?" came. I was kinda shocked. I was asked, "what?" and then he laughed and said, "Just wondering. And by the way, how can you believe in such a racist and patriarchal doctrine." I didn't know what to say.

First of all, because I personally haven't experienced these things from being LDS. I have experienced these issues with society as a whole. And secondly, in my mind I had never associated this with my religion. I always thought these were mistakes of men who happened to also be LDS. Kinda how, Catholic priests molested children but that didn't mean the church taught them to do that. Or Muslims who chose to be terrorist but their religion didn't instruct them to do so. In fact, their church doctrine is very contrary to these actions.

They were bad choices made by men who happened to also be religious. I've always understood that these issues of racism and patriarchy are embedded in our society and have been bred by men. They have been viciously intertwined into things that are good to enable them to gain credibility.

Church has always been my escape. The place I go to regroup. So when I heard this comment I was taken a back. The man telling me this was white, he said because he was white he could critique the white man's church. Later, he told me the place he grew up was a majority mormon community with people who treated him very badly for not being mormon. He told me that could be the root of his prejudice. Not in those words, because he never admitted he had a prejudice, but he kept saying he knew because he grew up around a bunch of mormons that were hypocrites and jerks all the way down to the kids.

I didn't argue, I knew he had this idea about me and nothing I said would sway him. All I could do was show him I was not going to make fun of what I believed and I also was not going to treat him the way he was treating me.

Reflecting on this experience what I realized was that I do not need to defend my LDS Christian identity because just like my Latina identity it is something I was born into and I have grown to love and appreciate.

I've struggled with some things with other members and even left the church for a while because of it. My mother's side of the family were "Mormon Pioneers" in Colombia. One of the first families to be baptized, my grandfather one of the first patriarchs in the country. I still meet people who were given blessings by him years and years ago.

There are many things I find contradictory about the members of the church but I have never been able to find that contradiction in the doctrine of the church.

I have never been able to deny that what I learned in my youth was to seek truth. It's something embedded in my heart with feelings tender and sweet that can't be denied or constructed by any other force.

I decided to come back because I could not live without the feelings of peace I feel when I am following the counsel of righteous leaders. I am very conscious of what the Spirit of Truth feels like. I know that not every one is perfect. Just because someone has a calling doesn't mean everything that will come out of their mouth is church doctrine. I understand not every one of their actions will be without sin. What I do know is that when I hear something at church I have the power to discern, I have learned to use that.

I know I am a daughter of God and that is why I choose to fight for my rights, for my family's happiness, for my divinity as a woman and for my space to worship Him how I please.

*Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sometimes referred to as Mormons.

Interesting Opinion Peace from the Washington Post: "The Book of Mormon and the Thinking Man's Prejudice"


being recently converted and being a leftist i've heard the contradictions argument all the time. I love the part where u say "There are many things I find contradictory about the members of the
church but I have never been able to find that contradiction in the
doctrine of the church." its right on. Your analysis of the mistakes of men not being blamed on all church members is something that needs to be brought up alot. So many progressive critique the idea of making sterotypes and blanket statements but when its at their own convenience they will do it themselves.

I know the LDS chuch is true. with all my heart and soul. I was converted because the doctrine makes sense and is sound. thanks so much for this post. i feel the Spirit when i read it.
Dithefilizola said…
Flor: although I disagree as to veracity of the LDS Church, your post was so well written that I was able to feel the sincerity of your heart. Thanks for sharing your feelings and experiences in such an intelligent (but yet simple) manner.
Di Filizola-Abalos
Gisselle said…
Inlove . I love love love it!! It took me a while to understand that the mistakes were made by men , and not by the actual church, and Im glad I got to see the difference.  I totally get when you say you need that sense of peace, and isnt it wonderful? its like an escape, a secure spot where you are protected . Whats even more wonderful is that HF is always there for us , no matter what. He is a cool Father lol   I like what Isaac said too! .. such a cool post. Thanks so much. It makes me stronger and fills up my glass .
Jodi Lopez said…
Thanks for this post Flor... you know why :)
Flor Olivo said…
im glad to hear that I was very hesitant abt posting this for a long time. 
Gisselle said…
You shouldnt. Its your blog...and you should blog about it if you want to lol. Who ever doesnt like it.. they can come back and read something else.
Solisaurora16 said…
Flor you are smart, deep and great at writing with passion and courage.
You made me curious about your beliefs and Mormonism.
Shahny said…
Love the post Flop. It was very well written and I def got goosebumps!!
Anonymous said…
2 thumps up! :)

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