Let's talk about church terminology for a minute. Earlier during Christmas break, my father asked me if I was inactive now. I fumbled my way through the question, heavily implying that I was inactive only because I was poor and needed to work weekends, leaving the implication open that I would go to church if I could.

So... yeah. I felt disgusting the entire time. And what's more, my hackles rose the instant the term "inactive" was applied to me. I didn't think too much on it at the time, but now that it has stewed a bit in the back of my mind, I think I can articulate better why it makes me feel the way it does.The church has a way with labels. Everyone has one or two that are applied to them, willingly or no. Return missionary. Bishop's daughter. Spiritual giant. Intellectual. Feminist. And so on. Anybody who has not been to church becomes less active, and then after a longer period of time, becomes inactive.

Less-actives and inactives become a special pet project, something to feign interest in until they've been shepherded back in the fold. Likewise, because they have fallen away from the path, they are given a special sort of status within the system. Simultaneously looked down upon and held in a special place. Kind of the way a child will act out for attention, inactives are held as inferior. It rankles, I'll be honest.

It is a handy little way to label, belittle, pity, and show how righteous you are all at once. When you talk about inactives, you are by necessity gossiping, but it is in the name of bringing them back to the fold, so the Lord won't mind. You tsk tsk and talk about how they must not want to live the covenant, all the while sitting smugly (often subconsciously) knowing that you are living the convenant, you are strong enough, choice enough, elect enough to live the law God has set forth, but this poor inactive soul has fallen down.

I never realized how condescending and how Us vs. Them the whole "inactive" label is until I had it applied to me. Now I know.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the things about Mormon culture that both fascinates and disturbs me, this whole subculture with its own vocabulary and other idiosyncrasies. These labels only serve to further differentiate "faithful" Mormons from everyone else, a "circle the wagons" strategy.