As graduation approaches once again at Columbia, I find myself thinking about the lessons I have learned through following the controversy about Cheney speaking at BYU. More specifically, I find myself asking what value the principle of neutrality serves within the church.
Like many others, I initially responded with concern to the news that BYU invited the Vice President to speak at graduation. As a New Yorker who must constantly disabuse my non-LDS friends of their perception that the LDS church aligns itself with the political right, I certainly did not feel that the invitation helped support my point.
But although I joined those who petitioned for the church to ensure that its future actions appeared more neutral, I now find myself deeply skeptical that the language of neutrality will be enough to actually allow the church to become an organization that embraces people of many political backgrounds. In an organization in which voices to the right have far more sway than voices on the left, to assert neutrality is to ensure a status quo that at times seems to marginalize current and potential members.
While the church should continue not to endorse or promote political agendas, to continually assert neutrality without addressing the real inequity that more liberal and international members feel might not be so neutral after all. Perhaps we must more actively welcome members from a variety of parties both in the US and abroad in order to ensure that people everywhere can better welcome the messages we have to offer.