Natalie Gochnour: All Utahns need to be more accepting of each others' differences

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  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    July 8, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    Speaking of Utahns being accepting --

    I asked my brother yesterday why he had hated Utah culture so much when he visited. The answer was surprisingly relevant to our current gay rights discussions.

    To get the full picture, you need to know that my brother is **6'9"**. He's a mountain of a man, wide as well as tall. He's a lawyer as well as a long-time teacher of Taekwondo. So -- picture a big strong guy of about 30 at that time.

    On that day he happened to be wearing shorts.

    So -- he was shopping in a bookstore in SLC during his visit to me. Another customer, a Utahn, started berating him -- accusing him of being gay because HE WAS WEARING SHORTS.

    This same customer even followed him OUT of the store, still hurling anti-gay insults at him.

    It's no wonder my brother would never visit me again. Hearing of this incident really cracks me up now, and it *was* a long time ago, but....really?? SHORTS?? And if you're going to try to start something with a supposedly gay person, do you REALLY want to choose a guy who's 6'9" to start it with??

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:03 p.m.

    to Mountanman & Contrariusiest

    Perception is reality? No.

    Reality is experiencing life & and how we adapt to it NOT the other way around.

    Re: LDS Liberal 7/5

    Try being someone w/ Libertarian leanings, capable of independent thought, & a penchant for sarcasm?

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 5:01 p.m.

    "People of good will" is the key. Certainly respect for the laws of the land -- immigration law, for example -- is one value which would help define a person of "good will," irrespective of various religious and political beliefs.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    "Mostly, we — Mormons and non-Mormons alike — should seek ways to warmly welcome anyone of good will who wants to make Utah their home."

    "Good will" is the key. This implies that there may be a range of religious, political and other beliefs, yet there is a COMMON commitment among all Utah residents to certain, core values. Obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law -- including immigration law -- certainly is one value that would help define the person of "good will."

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    July 5, 2013 7:18 p.m.

    A someone that moved here from other places the one thing I will never understand about so man Utahns in general is this strange notion they need to make rude comments. You do not need to comment on my dress, my hair, my skin color, my friend that walks with a cane due to MS, no of it. I do not know you, you do not know me leave me be.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 5, 2013 5:48 p.m.


    "As for the Deseret News, what you say may be true but I'm sure a lot of people would say Utah's other major newspaper is going more and more to the left."

    What does Utah's other major newspaper have to do with this discussion? Are you trying to say that part of the DN's journalistic function is to provide balance? If so, then if two more conservative newspapers start up in Utah, are you saying it would be proper for the DN to become liberal leaning?

    The issue here is that the DN is owned by my Church, and I find it unacceptable that it leans to the right (or left) politically.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 5, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    @Twin Lights - I have read a bit of Brodie. She just seems so unbalanced to me and with an axe to grind.

    Good point and apparently her uncle was quite disappointed by her “ax.” Interesting though that her and Bushman both pretty much agree on the facts and many of them are things I doubt get taught in Sunday school (e.g., how BoM was translated, multiple 1st vision accounts, polygamy, polyandry, Emma’s view of things, etc…).

    Personally I had the impression that Bushman “spun” the facts as much as Brodie did, just in an opposite and “church friendly” manner, but I guess this is where faith comes in…

    Despite Brodie’s more “naturalistic” interpretation of events, I did not find her book disparaging in a general sense. I came away thinking Joseph was a pretty unique and amazing and perhaps deserving of more recognition by non-believers (i.e., a religious genius - more like Emerson).

    @Twin Lights – “I just don’t have time to read whole books much anymore.”
    Someday when the kids are all gone.

    Reached comment limit…

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    July 5, 2013 2:04 p.m.


    OOPS! I meant to say my new co-worker did NOT like driving in Utah during this past winter.


    I would agree the divide between Republicans and Democrats is growing wider, but this division is hardly exclusive to Utah or to Mormons.

    As for the Deseret News, what you say may be true but I'm sure a lot of people would say Utah's other major newspaper is going more and more to the left. I have found good reporting in each, as well as reporting that I find blatantly biased and too sensationalized.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 5, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    Cedar Hills, UT

    You won't find another place more accepting than Utah. This article got it completely wrong.
    7:59 a.m. July 5, 2013


    If I were a betting man,
    I'd reckon John has never lived anywhere else.

    BTW --
    I 2nd the comment from
    SLO, CA
    "There's worse than being a non-Mormon in UT--that is being a Mormon DEMOCRAT."

    and wish to add this be expanded to all NON-Republicans,
    since this is truly the defining factor.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 5, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    Glad you have had a good experience with your LDS neighbors.

    I have read a bit of Brodie. She just seems so unbalanced to me and with an axe to grind. I have read a bit of Bushman. Arrington on wider history.

    I would like to say I read a lot of history. I just don’t have time to read whole books much anymore. I do read around a bit on the web but these tend to be shorter articles.

    I have visited Joseph’s birthplace, Palmyra, Kirtland, Nauvoo, Liberty, etc. but I am hardly the expert on Joseph or on history generally. I have no ancestors who crossed the plains.

    I can’t find the quote you mention so I can’t comment. First I have heard of it.

  • Contrariusiest mid-state, TN
    July 5, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    @Mountainman --

    "Perception is reality, we each make our own!"

    For once, I pretty much agree with you.

    I lived in SLC for five years -- way back in 89-94.

    I have lived in the South all my life except for those 5 years, so I'm used to living in conservative communities (even though I'm not conservative myself).

    Although I disagreed with the pervading politics much of the time, I never had any serious trouble with the people themselves. In general, I have a very much "live and let live" sort of attitude in that area.

    In stark contrast, though -- my brother came to visit me in Utah, just once. He was so shocked/offended/astounded by the local culture that he refused to ever come back for another visit.

    I never did understand why he had such a strong reaction. But as you say, "Perception is reality!"

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 5, 2013 1:44 p.m.


    I think since the era of Ezra Taft Benson there has been an tension between Mormon Democrats and Mormon Republicans, but now it seems more overt and ubiquitous within the Church. I believe this is no more evident that the evolution of the Deseret News. What once was a center-right paper is evolving into a decidedly right newspaper. The ugly divisiveness of politics in a more extreme form has become the desired standard for Deseret News as it is more closely aligned with voices outside what was once moderate Republicanism.

    Too often now, Deseret News resorts to articles about controversies for controversy sake, instead of articles simply providing factual information.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    July 5, 2013 1:23 p.m.


    I'm truly sorry if you've been ignored by your LDS neighbors. That should never happen because regardless of our religious differences, we should find positive attributes in all people.

    Your comment got me thinking about a lady (she's not LDS) who I work with who just moved here from Austin, Texas about nine months ago, having never lived anywhere else before except Texas. We chatted the other day and I asked her what she thought of Utah so far.

    She told me she really likes it. She's gone on a few hikes, she made a few friends among her neighbors in the Murray apartment building she lives in, and while she did like driving in our super cold weather this past winter, she has no complaints.

    I asked her if the "Mormon culture" of Utah has been weird at all and she said, no yet.

    Perhaps it just depends where in Utah you live, but I would hope Utah Latter-day Saints are becoming more tolerant, understanding and welcoming.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    July 5, 2013 1:10 p.m.


    You said - "We know from these comment boards one can't be a good Mormon and a Democrat."

    I am a registered-Republican and lifelong Utahn, and maybe I'm in the minority on this, but I feel you can indeed be an active Latter-day Saint and still be a Democrat.

    Anyone who believes otherwise should keep in mind that Larry Echo Hawk, who currently serves in the LDS Church's First Quorum of the Seventy, previously served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, and before that was elected as a Democrat to the Idaho State Legislature and as Idaho Attorney General.

    Also don't forget that many previous LDS general authorities including James E. Faust, Marion G. Romney and F. Melvin Hammond had all been previously elected to office as Democrats before serving as general authorities.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 5, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    @Twin Lights – “I would imagine that the tolerance issue is highly dependent on the persons leading each community.”

    Guess I would go further and say if a religion is teaching people to truly “walk the walk” (i.e., be Christ-like) as opposed to just being sanctimonious pontificators, then I think all people of good will will respond in kind. And Mormons are pretty good in that respect in my experience…

    Regarding Joseph – curious what you have read about him (e.g., Bushman, Brodie, etc…) and how much you know about the facts of his life… I’m guessing more than me.

    But yes, killing them seemed extreme and uncalled for, although supposedly one of the men involved right after the fact said “that’s for defiling my sister” so apparently he had a pretty good reason (assuming it’s true).

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 5, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    We're all people, and so have almost everything in common. Yet the discussion here continues to focus on religion, which divides us like nothing else can.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    July 5, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    No, Chad S, I don't see any big movement to stop celebrating Pioneer Day. It may just evolve to include more diverse pioneers.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 5, 2013 12:02 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    I don’t know. I would imagine that the tolerance issue is highly dependent on the persons leading each community.

    I have never been in a majority LDS area. Kentucky probably qualifies as the most dense LDS population I have lived in. I have heard of members getting negative reactions from the local evangelical folks. I suppose I have here and there but I have chosen to ignore it. The vast majority have proven a bit skeptical at first but very accepting upon further contact. I think highly of many of them that I have had a chance to work with in various community or school venues.

    Reference Joseph in Nauvoo. I think the issues were not about religious tolerance or power corrupting but action and reaction to persecution. Folks who had left the church were bitter and made wide-ranging accusations. I think both sides likely felt persecuted. But whatever else happened it seems clear that there was no reason to kill Joseph and Hyrum.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    July 5, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    I would like to see this piece cross-printed in the Tribune to compare the reader comments.

  • Chad S Derby, KS
    July 5, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    It's just a matter of time until the non-religious in Utah demand that Utahns stop celebrating Pioneer Day, which celebrates the arrival of LDS pioneers to the valley.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 5, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    @Twin Lights and @Mountanman – “Reference the stranger passing through town, that has been my experience.”

    Mine too!

    Regarding LDS - whether that is inherent in the religion or more due to the history of persecution, I don’t know. Were Mormons always this tolerant even back when they were fully in control of an entire state?

    I suspect power corrupts even the best of us as the Joseph I’ve read about in the early days seems very different from the Joseph in Navoo.

    Your thoughts?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 5, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    There's worse than being a non-Mormon in UT--that is being a Mormon DEMOCRAT. We know from these comment boards one can't be a good Mormon and a Democrat.

    I would note that the overall percentage of UTahns that are LDS has remained steady (62.2%) over the last 3 yrs, with some counties slightly increasing their percentage of Mormons (Utah Co.81.2%) and others slightly decreasing (SLC Co. 51.4%).

    Frankly, when I visit UT i feel like i'm in Stepford.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 5, 2013 9:30 a.m.


    Reference the stranger passing through town, that has been my experience.

    Reference Catholic Mass, the following is from a 2010 article in the Deseret News:

    "Brigham Young more than once opened Mormon church buildings to Jewish religious services. In their turn, Catholics first came to Utah in 1862, as members of the California Volunteers. In 1866, when Father Edward Kelly sought a place to celebrate Mass, Mormon leaders permitted him to use the old tabernacle on today's Temple Square, and Brigham Young helped him to obtain clear title to land for the first Catholic church in the city."

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    July 5, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    A man once came into a town that he had never been and asked a person standing on the street what kind of people lived in this town. The resident asked the stranger, "what were the people like in the town you came from." "They were terrible was the stranger's reply; bigoted, selfish and unfriendly" "That's the way the people are here as well, was the resident's response. The stranger moved on thanking the resident for helping him avoid making the mistake of living in this town. Later the same day another stranger came to the same town and met the same resident. "What kind of people live in this town the stranger asked." "What were the people like in the town you came from" asked the resident? "Wonderful the stranger said, helpful, friendly and the best people I ever met." "That's the same kind of people who live in this town", answered the resident". What does this prove? Perception is reality, we each make our own!

    July 5, 2013 8:59 a.m.

    You won't find a more accepting place than Utah until you make it clear that "Yes, you do know the Lord." and "No, you are not interested in knowing more about THE church."

    Ater that, your neighbors will cease to acknowledge your existance.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    July 5, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    Is it true that the first Catholic mass in Utah was held in the Tabernacle at Brigham Young's invitation?

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    July 5, 2013 7:59 a.m.

    You won't find another place more accepting than Utah. This article got it completely wrong.

  • riverofsun St.George, Utah
    July 5, 2013 6:50 a.m.

    There are reasons people come to Utah now that are different than in the past. New residents are looking to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, and somewhat safer environment.
    However, newcomers do not always understand Utah culture, and do not always wish to embrace the LDS religion.
    If those whose ancestors have "been here forever", and wish to keep things "just as they have always been", can learn to accept newcomers who may have a different outlook. Perhaps many could accept the fact that the world is changing.....
    If newcomers can learn to tip toe around the cultural and religious peculiarities.......