Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Ihre Papiere bitte." - Immigration, baptism and the LDS Church

When I lived in Germany decades ago, I was required to register with the police department. If I moved two blocks down the street, they wanted to know where I was. It always felt to me like a holdover from the days of Hitler - he wanted to know the comings and goings of German residents - papers, Yellow stars, passports, birth certificates, even their geneology. He did not want to take a chance that some "undesirables" would slip through the cracks as he tried to create a "Massen Rasse" - mass race - or "Wirtschafts Wunder."

I still carry papers - Social Security Card, drivers license, green card and passport when I am traveling - even within the United States.

Some years ago, I was part of the group of staffers at the SLC Mayor's office who gathered needed items to take to the families affected by the raid on the airport. You remember - the woman who was breastfeeding her baby comes to mind - more individuals who cleaned the bathrooms, planes and those other jobs that many of us would not want to do (for the record, I have cleaned a few houses for money in my life). As only Rocky could do - with his amazing vision - he held a press conference calling out the proponents of this raid and set about creating "Families to Families."

I drove to a beautiful WVC subdivision - there was a mother, 2 children and a grandmother. On the wall were pictures that are seen in many homes in Utah - the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a picture of the Savior in a red robe, a picture of a Temple - the place where Mormons aspire to go at least once a month to renew their covenants.

I was struck - how could this be? This family was living the American dream and was now risking deportation because of safety concerns at the Airport - granted it was a pre-emptive strike to ensure the safety of the Airport in preparation for the remarkably successful Olympic Winter Games in 2002. Mitt Romney moved heaven and earth to accomodate guests from all over the world - alcohol laws were changed (one could get a drink on the grounds of the City and County Building, for example) - the welcome mat was rolled out - it was like a beautiful Persian rug. Those Olympics were so successful because of Romney's ability to see things from the 10,000 foot view - he has reorganized and restructured companies in America for years - he has made a significant portion of money in so doing.

The LDS church baptises those who wish to be baptised, myself included. I was not asked for "my papers" though my baptism took place in Germany. That is as it should be - this country was founded on freedom of religion.

That's my view.

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