Comments about ‘Author shares how it feels to live among Mormons in Utah’

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Published: Monday, Feb. 25 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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Plano, TX

Doesn't matter if you're LDS or not-LDS - when you're dealing with others, mutual respect goes the distance, not just a long ways. You have to choose to take offense at the actions of others. That includes those ridiculing your beliefs, proselytizing you or rejecting you in any social way. Love one another, and learn how to accept enough about their cultural mores to associate gracefully. I'm LDS and lived in a Jewish neighborhood in Dayton, OH and my neighbors made a point to invite me to their many events and explain traditions etc. It was wonderful, and many of them asked me about LDS and "christian" topics all the time, knowing I'd accepted knowing what they were about. I am for the first time in my adult life living in UT after 30 years in OH, AL and TX. How I approached it worked for me, them and I have many friends and colleagues who seek me out to know about LDS stances and beliefs in return because they know I care about their own too. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. It works. Shalom !

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

"I believe that in Utah it is just so easy to surround one self with no one but other LDS who validate and embolden beliefs and stereotypes." You have a point, but consider the opposite: When being nice ends with accusations of trying to convert and leaving others alone results in accusations of being snobbish - it is pretty easy to throw in the towel (not healthy - but easy), and simply retreat to the familiar; particularly when you can have a completely full and busy life in your own bubble. The fact that it may be easier for Mormons to retreat into the group in Utah does not mean that such a character trait is exclusively or even predominantly Mormon. I know many non-LDS people in Utah who retreat to their own cliques. Everywhere I have lived there has always been a predominant something (who was usually oblivious to the quirks of their dominance).
Being non-LDS in Provo is less difficult than being a conservative religious person in SFO. Critics seldom consider that it works both ways because it is always more obvious when you are on the receiving, rather than giving, end of things.

Saint George, UT

I grew up outside of the LDS environment and I can tell you that non-lds ask what religion you belong to just as much. I was invited many times to attend the predominate religion's services and activities. Sometimes I went, sometimes I didn't and I was never offended.
Asking questions is all about getting to know someone. Their religion or non-religion is part of who they are, just like what they do for work or where they went to school. Asking questions and getting to know them is how you make friends and develop relationships.

American Fork, UT

I'll always be on the wrong side of the tracks but I'm good with that.

Far East USA, SC

"When being nice ends with accusations of trying to convert and leaving others alone results in accusations of being snobbish "

Huge area in the middle of those two options.

If "being nice" is genuine and has absolutely nothing to do with their religion situation, then I see no issue, even for LDS.

To invite someone to a church BBQ is one thing. Eying them as potential converts changes everything. And it's pretty easy to spot.

Religion and politics is not something to be discussed with new neighbors. Once a relationship has been established, it is easy to determine if those are appropriate topics of discussion.

I would never discuss religion with a stranger, even if they lived next door.

And I would never knock on someones door to discuss religion. Never.

Obviously, I would not make a good Latter Day Saint.

Spanish Fork, UT

Lived all over the world. In Virginia we didn't have to worry about what it was like to live next to Baptists because as soon as they discovered we were LDS, they just talk to us, let alone invite us to their social church functions -- we would have been happy to attend.

Living in Iver, Bucks. England, we had a BBQ the first month we were there and invited all of the neighbors. They were startled someone was having such a fete and came... and we introduced them to their other neighbors.

When we moved to Orem we had one family next to us and another two doors down that were not LDS. We invited everyone to everything. One family had their bristles up and refused to be tainted and was the typical grumpy non-LDS oversensitive person just waiting to be offended. The other neighbor couldn't wait to come to everything and anything (including Relief Society luncheons). They loved the neighborhood and we loved them. When they moved back to Ohio (job transfer) we had a going away party and it was a tearful goodbye. The other family wouldn't attend.

Life is what you make it.

Syracuse, UT

Having lived in Oklahoma for many years I can tell you that one of the first questions asked of us was where we go to Church. In this town you were either Baptist or Methodist. After telling them that we were LDS, we were shunned and talked about by all the neighbors. I guess it just depends on where you live. After 15 years we moved, having made many friends, but they still thought we were of the devil. Nice people, salt of the earth type, but so closed minded that we just had to get out of there.

Austin Coug
Pflugerville, TX

I live in Texas. Religion comes up all the time in conversation with neighbors and others who are not LDS. This was suprising after coming from Utah where it seemed people were offended to hear the mere mention of religion.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Thank you.

I see both as an invite. As to the church’s mission focus, I think that you would find most of the missionary effort ends up being to the unchurched rather than those who are strong and active in their own church.

Yes, there is the "our church is better than your church" issue. That is inherent in the concept of the primitive church restored. However, the concept of truthfulness is held by other religions as well. I think the issue is how it is presented – as you say, an invitation rather than a push.

I am sorry if that has been a problem to you or yours.

JD Tractor,

Brave Sir Robin is right. When the temple here was being built there were protesters. When I took my family to the Hill Cumorah Pageant they had to pass through a gauntlet of folks yelling and saying all kinds of things.


Rlsintx is right. When dealing with others, mutual respect goes the distance”. It is the only way to go.

Chad S
Derby, KS

And remember, there is a significant contingent of Mormons who simply don't care about converting you or anyone else. They, like you, just want to be left alone.

utah/florida, UT

It goes both ways. I live outside of Utah as a Mormon and have people in my neighborhood who've made fun of my faith to me, to others about me who then shared it with me.. and then ones who yelled at my children for having stickers on their cars for Mitt during the election. I find it interesting that the ones moving to Utah Valley are afraid of pressure to convert...while I am afraid of offensive behavior or worse. Which do you prefer?

Lindon, UT

@Brave: I believe J D was referring to religions outside of Utah. Note where J D lives. He was comparing the churches where he lives (no one bashes any of them) to the LDS conference center in Utah, where representatives from other religions bash the Mormons as they arrive to attend general conference.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

To me America may not be perfect but it's better than any other country, Living in Utah may not be perfect but it's better than any other state around. Living in my town may not me perfect but it'
s better than any place around. I don't get out much.

Bakersfield, CA

Enjoyed the article, will get the book.

There are no better people to live around! There are sometimes better LDS examples, but that goes for all imperfect humans. There will always be the upside and the downside to every situation on planet earth. Just love people, care about them and share your testimony/witness when asked.

I've lived in Utah, Idaho and California. Attended Ricks, BYU, CSUN, and several community colleges. I was active LDS for 35 years, and have been a sold-out born-again follower of Jesus for the past 26. I attend Jewish synagogues with my Christain Hebrew class (I'm the teacher), and many other Protestant and Catholic special programs. My home church happens to be Southern Baptist, but it is the same doctrinally to any historical, Biblical church.

I enjoy teaching religion and Bible classes in my community and I can tell you that while Mormons are socially friendly and charitable, they are the only group who lose their smile if it comes out that I am former-LDS. If we can get past that, the friendships are the best!

Salt Lake City, UT

I've always been one who believed that you get out of something what you put into it. And reading this article you have someone who made an effort to understand and not criticize everything so she got the positive, many go the other way. You get back in life what you put into it, you reap what you sew in other words.
I'm a member of the church and I'm sometimes frustrated with how we act and approach others, and some teachers or leaders have good intentions in mind but get a different result. They may set a goal of 5 baptisms in the ward for the year, but I think a better goal would be to help 5 people really understand what we believe, that way it's more towards helping and it stops members from being pushy and offending others. It's all how you go about it. Personally I don't ask the religion question, only if the a conversation brings it up, but I'd rather make a friend and help that way. More people come into the church because of examples and watching then from someone pushing an agenda.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

You responded to my comment: "When being nice ends with accusations of trying to convert and leaving others alone results in accusations of being snobbish ", with "Huge area in the middle of those two options."

Yes; logic would say so.

However, if you have been in the majority all your life and all of a sudden you are not - paranoia can see darkness in that gray, when in reality they may be behaving absolutely no different than you did when you were in the majority. Also if one already has a judgment, such as condescension towards people who proselytize, it is easy to ascertain even the smallest gaff as an excuse to rationalize that predisposition.

People can easily be "genuinely nice" and still be misunderstood through the lens of other peoples experience: The fact that everyone is human inherently makes the water muddy, aka gray, which is a problem when most humans tend to categorize in starker shades.
Not saying you are absolutely wrong; just that a view from another angle gives a different picture. AKA two blind men describing an elephant.

Point remains: It takes two to get along; one side cannot do it alone.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

JoeBlow wrote:

"To invite someone to a church BBQ is one thing. Eying (sic) them as potential converts changes everything. And it's pretty easy to spot."

You must beware of counterfeit intelligence passed off as good ideas.

Inviting non-members to Church activities seems "nice", but it is not. The problem is that the Church dominates the lives and time of members to such an extent that they don't have any time or interest left over to join the "heathen" in THEIR activities!

Friendships that are one-way, where the Mormon is inviting the non-Mormon to Mormon activities, but the Mormon never goes golfing with the non-Mormon (on Sunday), or goes with the non-Mormon on a weekend get-away (because the Mormon has a "calling" and won't miss a Sunday for fear of being labeled "less active") -- all these are a few of the many manifestations of how the LDS Church so dominates the lives of its members as to thwart meaningful relationships with non-members.

We don't want to be proselytized, but we also don't want your Church setting the agenda of our friendship or the larger community of activities.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

A Scientist,

We never join the “heathen” in their activities? First, I hardly consider my friends and neighbors heathens. Second, what about my turns at coaching, supervising a community sports program, volunteering for the PTA/PTO, and the TAG programs? Do none of those qualify?

As to golf. I don’t but I have LDS friends who do and they certainly golf with non-member (but no, not on Sunday).

Most folks I know miss church now and then for a variety of reasons and do not get labeled less active (like folks in my bishopric - one of whom was gone for 5 weeks straight). It depends on the what and why.

Two of my best friends are non-members (and I don’t live close to either one anymore). Here in Kentucky I have good friends who are active in other churches (they even threw us an anniversary party using another church’s activity room).

Yes, many of our activities are family oriented. And it is certainly true that the church holds an important place in our lives. But we have wider lives in the community and we are encouraged to do so.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

@A Scientist
"all these are a few of the many manifestations of how the LDS Church so dominates the lives of its members as to thwart meaningful relationships with non-members."

I am not LDS and get along just fine with Mormons (because I am not constantly looking for rationalizations NOT to) - so please dont lump me in with YOUR problems and bitterness (You would think a scientist would be a little more open)

But thanks for proving my previous point anyhow

Pendleton, OR

I ask people about their religion so that I CAN get to know them. It(religiosity) speaks volumes about someone regardless of membership or interest. In fact, and in principle, being religious and displaying comfort in discussing it says something different than being religious and displaying discomfort; it is also different than being non-religious/comfortable or non-religious/not comfortable.

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