When Mormons Go Public….
…and embarrass the rest of us.
At least that’s the overwhelming feeling I had when I came across this Washington Post article about a Mormon Maryland county commissioner, Paul Smith, who goes public with his ideas about mothers’ place being in the home. As he does so, he hands out copies of The Proclamation on the Family.
Now if Paul Smith thinks that this choice has been the right one for his family, more power to him.
But please, Mr. Smith, don’t assume that that’s the right choice for everybody. And please, don’t justify voting to cut 2.3 million dollars to fund Head Start programs for low income families by saying that mothers belong in the home. I’m sure a lot of the women in those low income families would love to be stay at home moms. But that choice is one that’s based on privilege. Only women who have husbands with adequate paychecks (or access to other funds of some sort) can even begin to consider such a choice. Let’s not also forget that a lot of children are better off — emotionally as well as financially — for having mothers who are happily engaged in the community through their work.
Mothers are not a monolithic entity, Mr. Smith, and neither are families. I’m glad the traditional gender role division worked for you and your wife. But I think it’s probably best to keep your mouth zipped about your views on gender roles when you are making decisions in your job as commissioner. If you feel like you must discuss your views on this, please be careful about connecting them with the Mormon Church’s stance on this issue. Yes, the Church does promote the traditional division of labor as the ideal, but even the Proclamation allows for nuance and wiggle room. In fact, the types of situations that most Mormons would agree merit reconsideration of gender roles — financial distress, divorce, etc. — are probably the situations that many of those Head Start families are dealing with.
- How do you feel about Mormons going public about their views on social issues?
- Do you have a different reading of this Paul Smith situation?