SALT-LAKE CITY ON MAY 3, 2017, I found myself in an unusual position : standing before the office of the Department of Homeland Security here, bullhorn in hand, leading a prayer vigil for a young mother.

She was a Dreamer, brought to the United States when she was seven. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had arrested her just days before outside a craft store where she had taken her 8-year-old daughter to buy supplies for a birthday party.

A crowd of supporters, carrying signs that read ''Keep Families Together,'' ''Deport Drug Dealers, Not Dreamers'' and ''I Want My Mom Back,'' surrounded me. What had brought me - a mild-mannered Mormon grandmother and a children's book writer - to this place?

I grew up in a small Mormon farming community in northeastern Utah during the 1960s. When I was about nine, my widowed mother [my father died in a mining accident four years earlier], my grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors joined the John Birch Society - the far-right, conspiracy theory - driven organization founded by Robert W. Welch in 1958.

The society was vehemently against big government and viewed all leftists, Communists and globalists as the great enemies of freedom. Birchers were convinced that Communists were plotting to control the world and that their agents had infiltrated the highest echelons of  American government.

They even believed that there was a large scale effort to control the minds of American citizens through water fluoridation.

The organization was fueled by fear, and it preyed upon the fearful. Over the coming months, a wild fire of panic swept across our struggling alfalfa fields, through our barren feed lots and into our homes.

When I went to sleep at night, I didn't fear monsters beneath my bed; I feared Communists.

But one Sunday my mother emerged from her bedroom, her well-worn Bible in her hands, and announced that she was leaving the society. How long had she been contemplating this move? I didn't know. But we children were shocked. ''Why?'' we asked.

''Because I've realized it's based on fear,'' she told us. Then she quoted from the second book of Timothy : ''God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.''

Those words changed my life. My mother did leave the John Birch Society, and though she remained mostly committed to classical conservative ideals for the rest of her life, her views were always filtered through the lens of the Christian compassion .

''If you can't find the love, it's not of God,'' she would say. ''Love saves; fear destroys.''

In the years, following my mother's momentous decision, that scripture in Timothy has become the standard by which I judge almost everything. Is this organization, philosophy, behavior, position or policy based in fear - or love?

The honor and serving of  great writings and history, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Sharlee Mullins Glenn.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!