This has been on my mind for some time, but I have no idea how to start it or exactly where I want to go with it.
It's about Mormons.
|Art by Amanda Rogers|
(For the record, I know that Mormons self-identify as Christians. For the sake of this post, I have separated the two, using the term "Christian" to represent mainstream Christianity to differentiate between the two.)
I became really interested in what the LDS Church believes back in college when a couple of Mormon missionaries came to our house. My best friend/roommate and I were happy to invite them in and have a good 'debate'. They had been 'sent' to us from another friend of ours they had visited who didn't know much about religion in general and suggested we might be interested in talking to them. So we did.
We spoke to them for weeks. We really liked them. They were lovely girls and really kind, but we were determined they weren't going to sway our friend. I began reading books about Mormon beliefs, reading up on the internet about them and of course, talking to the missionaries themselves about what I'd learned. At the end of the day, neither we as Christians nor they as Mormons were ever going to come to an agreement, but it was an interesting few weeks. The conversations were friendly and frank on both sides, but we still believed they were wrong and they believed we were.
Then our mutual friend decided she was going to be baptised into the LDS Church.
This is where I feel deep regret. I didn't go. She invited us, but I didn't go. I don't remember if I had other plans that day or if I simply didn't want to support her 'wrong' decision. Either way, I should have been there. Not to agree with her decision, but to support her. The Person. Our friend. Our friend who was looking for answers and found them in LDS.
This is the point I want to reflect on right now. Not the rightness or wrongness of Mormon vs Christian beliefs, not the rightness or wrongness of evangelism, but the rightness of supporting actual people.
Mormons and Christians have a joint history of antagonism. From my point of view, Christians seem to be the worse of the two (though I'm not in the inner-Mormon circles, so I don't know exactly what is said or thought of Christians by Mormons). We (and I'm using 'we' as a social group not what a true Christian ought to be), at worst, persecute and abuse Mormons for their beliefs, and at best, ridicule them for them. During the elections, I saw a Facebook photo getting shared that said 'I'll take the Mormon over the Moron'. What exactly is that saying?! That being a Mormon is only slightly better than being a moron? Is that really what we want to say to our Mormon friends, co-workers and neighbours? We as Christians are deeply offended when we are persecuted, abused or ridiculed, but we seem to think it's perfectly okay to publicly ridicule others.
As people of faith, we should be supporting each other. We are all real people behind our beliefs, real people with feelings, hearts, and things we hold sacred. That doesn't mean we have to agree with one another or that we stop having the conversations that both groups believe are essential for eternal salvation, but we need to support one another in love as fellow humans trying to find the truth.
We live in a post-religious society where having a faith is seen as unintelligent and foolish. We have enough people in the atheist circles giving us hell; do we really need to be giving each other hell too?
I recently learned that some of the LDS Temple rituals had been secretly filmed and put on YouTube. Interested as always in Mormonism, I watched a few. Yes, I was surprised. Yes, I had my own personal opinions about what was going on. Yes, I have trouble understanding how some of these things can be believed. But what I didn't expect to feel was indignation on behalf of people who's genuine and sincere faith and sacred secrets were being broadcast to the world and ridiculed. There's the argument that if you have nothing to hide then why hide it (which is one of the intentions of the person who made the videos), and perhaps there is merit to that, but the bigger picture is this: People are being genuinely hurt by this.
Just reading the comments section shows there is no respect for people who believe differently than we do. Comments from atheists ridiculed all people who believe in any kind of God, and Christians declared all hell and fiery damnation to the Mormons. Is this the kind of image of Christianity we want to broadcast to the world? Do we want the world to think Christ is anything like mainstream Christians? I don't. It's for this reason I'm not even sure what I believe anymore. I certainly don't believe that the way most Christians behave is anything like what I want to be associated with. I certainly don't think Christ meant for us to act like that, sending people to hell via the internet.
Both Christians and Mormons believe their way is the only way. I also believe that if there is a God, then there is a Truth. Maybe the truth is that God says 'whatever' and accepts everyone, but maybe he has only one way to get to him. If it's the latter, then of course we are going to try to find that truth and spread it around. I am not anti-evangelism. But I am also pro-respect and pro-love. We must first learn to love and respect each other if we want any kind of meaningful conversations to pass between us.
If I could go back, I'd go back to my friend's baptism. I'd show her that I cared about her as a person and supported her search for answers, and regardless of her coming to a different conclusion than we hoped for her, we would still be friends.
Have something to say about this post? Leave your comments below. (Instead of on Facebook!)