A Letter to Mormons

Dear Mormon Neighbors,

Having lived in Gilbert for most of my life, we have been visited by many young, passionate, Mormon missionaries throughout the years. Recently they have been offering their help with anything we may need assistance with. These exchanges always include the typical pleasantries where I thank them for their generous offer, and add that, “no, we don’t need help with anything at this time.” After their last visit however, as the young men pedaled away, I realized that I do have a request. A request that has been bubbling beneath the surface, unspoken for quite some time now. A desire that began formulating in my grade school years and has been refined since having children of my own. The next time a Mormon missionary asks if there’s anything they can do for me, I’m going to humbly and vulnerably reply as follows:

  • Please teach your children to be inclusive of my non-mormon children and please guide them to carry that inclusion past grade school, into middle school, and throughout high school.
  • Please encourage your children to sit with mine in the lunchroom.
  • Please permit your kids to invite my kids to their slumber parties, birthday parties, and weekend get togethers even AFTER my child has made it clear that he or she is not interested in attending fireside, seminary, or church with your family.
  • Please allow your teen to go with mine to school dances, athletic events, and group dinners trusting that just like you, my husband and I have done the best we know how to raise a teenager who knows right from wrong.
  • Please welcome my children into your homes and permit your children to visit ours.
  • Please ask your kids to consider how isolating it must be on “Seminary (extra credit) Days” for those kids who do NOT come to school dressed for church.
  • Please reflect on the fact that adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours comparing themselves to their peers, so when they recognize that it would never be “acceptable” to date your son or daughter or be your son or daughter’s best friend, it is, at best, damaging to their delicate self-esteem.
  • Please call to mind your younger years when your primary objective was to be loved and accepted for who you were without having to pretend you were someone else.
  • Please understand that my families faith also emphasizes the importance of loving others, giving of ourselves, forgiving those who have wronged us and seeking forgiveness when we wrong others, doing what is right and turning from evil, seeking a relationship with God, spending time in prayer, and living a life inspired by Jesus.
  • Please support your children in having open, vulnerable, honest, transparent, loving, kind, accepting conversations with my children about what they believe and why. In fact, while our kids are having that “grown-up” conversation, I also hope to enter into this depth of sharing with you…the Mormon parent.
  • Please know that I hold your child in the same regard as any other child who shares my family’s faith or who prescribes to no religion at all. Your child is special, and beautiful, and worthy of my love and caring regardless of doctrine or theology.
  • Please believe that I see our differences as an opportunity for us to grow together in loving-acceptance. God did not call us to tolerate our neighbors. I love and welcome you, your family, and your faith because we are all children of God made in His image. Your faith is a sizable component of who you are, and you are God’s creation with gifts and beauty and a soul that has the ability to positively transform my life with each encounter.

As these hopes for my children spill out, I realize that these are the same yearnings I had when I was too young to express them and they remain yearnings for me now. I would like to know my Mormon neighbors. I would like for us to share our celebrations and mourn our losses together. I would like to enter into deep relationships with you that allow us to celebrate our differences and lift each other up versus silently judging one another from across the street or the backyard fence. I would like us to hug and share dinners, and text jokes, and go to movies, and have pool parties, and discuss politics, and cry and laugh, and live life together. These desires have never been expressed because I never felt important enough to express them, but now that I have children there is nothing more vital than ensuring they have a deep sense of belonging to this village we chose to raise them in.

For decades now I have felt an invisible yet palpable partition between my family and our mormon neighbors…a silent criterion that has said, “we can’t be that close…we can’t walk this life together too often, we can’t be intimate friends unless we share the same faith.” I want to tear down this barricade and abolish this silent destroyer of fellowship. I fear we are forfeiting valuable friendships and life-changing communion with one another as we allow religion to segregate our lives.

We are not that different. Our children are not that different. We are all living in a beautiful yet broken world doing the best we can with what we have. With inclusion and acceptance we can lighten each other’s burdens and love each other through the brokenness. We are all damaged humans, so let’s be damaged together. As our fractured pieces are assembled together, we will transform into a magnificent and vast tapestry of vibrant hues and unity…we can weave our hearts into a community of “us”…dynamic threads of surviving souls stretching out to reach each other, love each other, understand each other….staying true to ourselves while supporting one another. Loved and loving! Fully belonging!

Sincerely,

Renee’ (your hopeful neighbor)

P.S. I am not proposing that Mormons are the only religious group that could receive a request comparable to this one, or that this applies to every Mormon. I’m also not assuming that I wouldn’t, myself, benefit from reading the same words and applying them to my life with regards to another group or an “other,” an “outsider.” I believe every religion and every denomination could benefit from being more inclusive, but I write this letter in relation to my own experiences and memories and the concerns I have for my children. My Jewish/Agnostic husband could write an identical letter, based on his history, and just change the greeting to Dear Christians or Dear Italian Catholics. We can all admit that it feels good to belong to a group, but too often it’s at the expense of living a life void of those who are different from us, and I believe this is a tragedy. It is exhausting to correctly locate and consistently remain in the good graces of the right “club” these days. Race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, political affiliation, socio-economic status, neighborhood, state, coast, country, profession, and the list of ways we etch the invisible line goes on and on. I find that when I try too hard to belong to a particular group I lose sight of God’s vision for my life, which starts with loving “others” the way He loves me. We are created for community, and I believe our lives will always be richer if we truly follow God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. I pray that God will give us the courage to knock down walls, the strength to build bridges, and the grace to love with out qualifiers. I pray that my children will grow up loved and loving! Fully belonging!

548 thoughts on “A Letter to Mormons

  1. I used to live in Utah as a Mormon and then moved to Montana. Not until then did I see the “rejection ” of non-Mormons. I honestly felt then and now that for some of the time at least it is pure unawareness on our part. We live by Mormons, we go to church with those same Mormons, and activities are with those same Mormons. In our case it was stupidity on our part. We moved back to Utah a few years later and I vowed to be different that time. We lived next door to a non-Mormon and made very good friends with that family. When we moved again the mother came over and cried because she was going to miss us, saying we were the only ones who ever paid attention to their family. I was so happy to have done what we should have done in the first place.

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  2. So beautifully written! I feel the same way. I’m Mormon but I grew up on the East Coast. Life is much different there. Also my parents both converted to our faith in high school and I think that made a big difference in how we were raised. I love you and I love your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing ❤

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  3. Every religious group, throughout history has believed that their God is the only true deity. Of the over 6,000 different faiths, it is reassuring to know that YOU have found the one, true religious path to eternal salvation. On a side note; what would you think of me, if I told you that you MUST love me, or else I will make you will burn in eternal torment for ever! Remember that I am always kind, loving, and forgiving.

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  4. I would like to be your neighbour. 🙂 Ever thought of living in the colder climate of Canada? 🙂

    Thank you for speaking your heart. It was heard.

    Warmly,
    A Canadian LDS mom who will try to be more conscious of how she rolls….

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  5. THANK YOU, we live in a small community (Mormon Community) I didnt know it when we moved here, there are a few small churches of other faiths, but 7 mormon ones. I thought it was me, then as my oldest has moved thru school, now entering high school I want to scream cry and beat something and some mothers and school admins on a daily basis. I am Christian, I am not an avid churchee, I do believe and practice good morals and ethics and pass them to my kids I allow my kids to go to the church of their choice or with friends or family. I did 4 years in Catholic HS and 4 years of world Religions. I have never been made to feel so horrid and to watch what this does to my kids as the “others” treat them the same. My daughter in Kindergarten had a girl walk up to her in front of the other mom and the teacher and state “you’re not in my ward I will never be your friend” and walked away I was appalled turned to the mom she was smiling so proud of her child and the teacher smiled and walked away! This is mild compared to some of the discrimination we have been thru and much to the cost of my faith in everything!

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    • I do not understand this. I am appalled by their behavior. I’ve been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life. This is not how we are taught to treat each other, nor is exclusion of others who are not of our faith part of who we are as followers of Christ.
      Your experience goes against how Christ would have us treat our neighbors. I don’t know what church those people belong to, but it’s not mine. I am ashamed for them and wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror and feel comfortable about how they are living their lives.
      This is becoming an epidemic, if it isn’t already, in locations with a large population of LDS members. My husband and I raised our family in the Heartland where there are people of many faiths and we are a small minority. We revel in the diversity of thought and opinion.
      I don’t know what can be done to change your circumstances currently, but please know as a Church we do not condone or encourage their behavior. It is completely at odds with our teachings. I truly regret the emotional impact on you and your family.

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      • Thank you for your kind message Linnea. The conversation we’re all having now is breaking down walls and building bridges and God is at work. He is so good! God bless!

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    • I have a problem believing any mother or teacher, Mormon or otherwise, would allow a 5 yr old to get away with saying something like that without correcting her, let alone both “smiling so proudly and walking away”. Sounds like fake news trying to jump on the bandwagon !!

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      • I am 77 years old and have lived in 6 States, and I don’t know how many Wards. I have never seen that happen anywhere.

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      • I went to a high school with a large Mormon population and spent a lot of time going to dances at the Mormon church with my friends. Boys would frequently approach me to dance and show an interest in talking to me. The first question out of their mouths was almost always “I haven’t seen you before, what ward are you in?” When I told them I wasn’t in one because I wasn’t Mormon I got VERY used to being promptly abandoned. So yes, it happens.

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      • Bob, as a lifelong member of the LDS church who was raised outside Utah in countless wards (literally, I have no idea how many – I went to 14 schools before graduating high school thanks to the military) and now having spent 6 years of my adult life in Utah, I can tell you that while it shouldn’t happen, it does. (Sorry to all the grammar police for that run-on sentence.) Unfortunately I can see something like that happening in Utah. I’ve had parents of other religions tell me that they’re grateful I allowed my children to play with theirs. How sad is that that they needed to tell me that?! And why wouldn’t I let my kids play with them?! My kids (and myself) wouldn’t have had friends outside of Utah if we only had LDS friends!

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    • I’m sorry you are going through this. Please know it is NOT what we are taught to do in our church. Unfortunately some people are bullies and love to exclude. I suggest you actually make an appointment with the Stake President or Area Representative and inform them of this. They need to instruct all
      the people in the area that they are not living the standards of the church, have damaged the church standing. and could lose their recommends for not treating others well. It is a question gone over during interview for temple.
      That should shake them up enough to be ashamed of their behavior.

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  6. Thank you so much for this beautifully written piece. As a Mormon that grew up in Utah I still have a lot of the same feelings, which is a big reason I don’t want to go back there. It still drives me nuts when I hear about people refusing friendships based on religion, especially when it is amongst children.

    Why must we create exclusionary beliefs in those so young? I personally feel that a child’s inherent desire to love and care for and become friends with everyone they meet is at the heart of Christ’s admonition to become as little children.

    My wife and I work hard to make sure our kids know that friends come from everywhere, and that if we restrict them to only people of a certain religion, or any other “grouping”, we are missing out on some of the greatest people in the world.

    I also really appreciated your note at the end. As a Mormon who has now lived away from Utah/Arizona/Idaho for most of my adult life, I too often felt left out because I don’t drink or participate in those activities. What I think a lot of people don’t realize is I still want to come and hang out and be friends, and we can do that together, even though I don’t drink.

    We all need to look for ways to include people and try to understand who they are as people. While we are all defined by things like religion in our lives, we are all also unique individuals with valuable assets that we need to share with each other.

    Thank you again for the amazing piece.

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  7. I love this! I am LDS, born and raised in Utah and grew seeing much of the culture you describe. My husband and half of my children don’t claim any religion. Not all of the Mormons know what to do with our dynamic and not all of those outside of the church know what to do with us, lol. Children who are not LDS have been banned from our house because I have chosen this as my religion and children who are LDS have been banned because of the ones who don’t claim a religion. It’s been a really weird experience! Luckily, we have been blessed all along the way with true gems, from either side of the “fence”, who don’t give a flip what religion we choose :). I like those people, a lot! I used to be terrified to leave Utah because I hear how much dislike the members outside of Utah have for the “Utah Mormons”. I’m not so afraid anymore and one day hope to see what it’s like outside of Utah with our family dynamic. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Thank you for sharing Julie! You have such a unique and beautifully diverse family! God bless you as you navigate the challenges that can come with family dynamics. Sending you love!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your heart. I was a child, a teenager that grew up feeling this way and attended the LDS church because I wanted to be loved by the community surrounding me so bad. In my teens I realized that my relationship was Jesus was all the mattered. I eventually found a beautiful church home and little did I know how much faith and love I was missing out on. God bless you and your family.

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  9. I am not LDS, (Mormon)..I have lived amon them, grew up with them, around them, worked with them, hired them ect. Never have I been made to feel anything other than human. They have came to my aide when it was needed wirhout asking, and never ever ask for anything in return. I have lived in three different , cities or towns…always the same..great wonderful people. Both of my ex wife’s are mormon. Wonderful ,wonderful people. I must conclude that at least part of this story must be hype and hysteria…just haven’t ever seen, or experienced anything less than total respect and warm kindness from all the LDS friends. Two of my friends have been bishops for a number of years…I have never ever seen anything such as reported herein. Three different cities, 45 us years. Wonderful people.

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  10. I would agree that giving the letter to a missionary would be a bit overwhelming and confusing to the young missionary, when your actual intent is directed to your Mormon neighbors. I have been a Mormon all my life but grew up in various areas. First in Utah, then in Arizona. I found a difference in the way the members of the Mormon church act in those areas. My opinion is that a lot of good people give a bad impression by being hypocrites and need to re-learn Christian attitude and basic beliefs. I served as a missionary in Texas and found the majority of the non-mormon people to be more like the ones described in the letter, shunning the Mormon people as you say the Mormons shun you. In reality, the church teaches acceptance and tolerance of our neighbors regardless of belief. People, however, choose to do what they will, and sometime do a poor job of representing the church as a whole. I would invite you to try sharing the information with your neighbor directly. You may be surprised.

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  11. I have always invited the neighbors over for barbecues, Christmas parties etc. but it all comes down to alcohol and the fact that I do not serve any in my home or allow anyone to bring it in. For the Christmas Parties my house is the first stop so they can start drinking later. Barbecues are not well attended. My book group would prefer that I not volunteer to have it in my home because they like to enjoy their wine while discussing the book. This puts a barrier between us.

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    • Betsy thank you for sharing. Anytime we put something (i.e. Alcohol) above building relationships with others we’ve certainly lost sight of our priorities. Sending you love!

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  12. I’d definitely share these thoughts and feelings with your Mormon neighbors. The missionaries might not know what to do with it. They all end up going somewhere where they live for two years and then they go back to wherever home is. iI grew up Mormon in a place where there weren’t a lot of Mormons and I was on the receiving end of what you just described. Not allowed in people’s homes because I was Mormon, couldn’t be friends with some of my classmates. That was the worst of it and those moments were, fortunately, infrequent. It breaks my heart to know that anyone feels treated that way. The good news is that those experience taught me that I didn’t want to be that way to someone else. However, you’re right. We could all do better. Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. That letter is written toward a specific population of LDS. I live in the Midwest…where my kids and spouse and i mingle, date, play, chat, work, and share with those of all Faiths. Move away to another area and you will see how the majority of LDS interact with their neighbors of various faiths. That letter makes you sound as closed minded as your neighbors.

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  14. This is spot on. Great article and one that could apply to every person or religious group at one point or another. I’ve been “Mormon” all of my life. I was one of those exuberant “Mormon Missionaries” in the late 80’s. I also have a vast array of friends who aren’t Mormon and who have different religious beliefs. All believe in God. All are good people who would give the shirt off their back if they knew it would help someone. I also live in Utah and I am around some of those people that you have described in your article and I have to say, it’s frustrating. One of my all time least favorite sayings in the Mormon church is “we belong to the ONLY true church on the face of the earth”. I think most Mormons believe that but there are only a few that really throw that out there to, in my opinion, “float their boat”. I love the people I work with and have worked with. Most of these people have non Mormons. I personally look to many of them as examples and try to emulate them and their success. So take it from a Mormon, we don’t all feel that way and ai would hope that most don’t act that way.

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  15. Pingback: Another letter to Mormons, from one. | Typically Tylers

  16. Thank you for your beautiful letter to Mormons. I’m a Mormon and I wish I could be your neighbor! I would love to talk over the fence, share hugs and tears over adversities and joys! I’m so sad you and your children have felt a wall between you and your Mormon neighbors! Some of my best friends have been other religions or no religion at all, and I feel blessed for having them. I pray your letter touches the people in Chandler and you and your family feel the love that Mormons are capable of giving……Kathy

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  17. well written. what you are describing here is something that i believe has been gaining traction for a little while now among more inclusionary minded members. taking the early history of the church in mind, and how they had to live in a very exclusionary way for simple protection, it may have become more ingrained in mormon culture than we care to admit. not that its an excuse, because it hasnt been dangerous to be a member for a long time. that being said, i know there are some members who take exclusion to another level, and it has always always always bothered me because it runs contrary to what we believe. im glad this is getting traction. my only wish is that your p.s. wasn’t a p.s., but rather your first paragraph. because like you said, this isnt a unique issue to mormons, and that important distinction was left to the end. this is as much of a people issue as it is a religious/political/racial/whatever issue.

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    • Thank you for sharing! I struggled for days on where to put my postscript paragraph and landed on sticking with the letter format which I suppose was the writer in me being technical. 😉 Thank you for reading my post. God bless!

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  18. I live in southeast Arizona and where I live the jehova’s Witness are a bigger nuisance than Mormon’s in fact you rarely see the missionaries around any more , By the way your are welcome for the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion that I served my country so that you may have those freedoms

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  19. Hi. I am probably from a different generation than most of you that are commenting. I have been a member of the Mormon Church all my life, but the situation for me was always the reverse of what you talked about. Almost all of my friends were not LDS. We were allowed to hang out together, date and I was often invited to attend one thing or another at the different churches. The difference was when they were invited to my church activities or to something at my home they were not allowed to attend. I could never figure out why for the longest time. I don’t remember how it happened, but I learned that the other churches were teaching that Mormons aren’t Christians. I asked my friends if that was true and every one said Yes. These friends attend different faiths, not just one. So I understand what you are saying but I hope other churches will stop spreading that false information. I have a Sister in Law and a Brother in Law that are each of a different faith from each other and they both are told that to this day. I hope some day soon people will stop teaching children what has been done in the past.

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    • Thank you for sharing your story Toni! I completely agree that people of all faiths and denominations need to find ways to love each other better and that includes me! God bless!

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  20. Why would you care? Nothing worse than someone lost, that is sure they know where they are going. That is a mormon. Be happy outside that mess.

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    • Chris I believe we are all lost and everyone I know (regardless of faith) lives a life of “I’m right.” All religions are messy because they’re made up of people and people are broken.

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  21. I’m LDS, we have lived in a few different places, but I was raised in California and currently live in NC. We have made lifelong friends with our literal neighbors here, laughed and cried with them. We are not the most traditional family, and for some reason have been (or feel we have been) excluded from the main group of active Mormons around us. I am so blessed just to have a few good friends here in NC (what one would call non-member friends… although I don’t call them that, they are just my friends) that have kept me going, that have been my rock when I needed someone. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been experiencing all your life. My family relocated to AZ, and I can easily see that happening and I’m so sorry. I’ll be your friend! My family is probably moving back in a few months, to right on the border of QC and gilbert (power ranch and cortina). I’m gonna need a fellow tall awesome chic to help me out!
    I really respect this post. Thank you so much. I hope you soften the hearts of many!

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    • Leisa thank you so much for your comment! I’m ready to have you and your family over for dinner when you move back!! I’m not kidding!!! Sending you love and hugs!!

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  22. Oh goodness…this is why I don’t live in Utah. I grew up in the very liberal Seattle area and still live here. There were about a dozen Mormon kids in my high school, a school of about 2000. If I only had Mormon friends it would have been a very small group indeed.

    My kids have Mormon and non-Mormon friends alike. I don’t really know my neighbors at all (yes, the Seattle Freeze is a real thing). My husband and I have Mormon and non-Mormon friends. And…wait for it…neither of us voted for Trump. So there’s that.

    But reading the comments here has been very interesting. Definitely more than one side to the issue. But this is why I choose to raise my children outside of “the bubble” (that’s a new term for me). Just not my cup of tea. Oops…juice.

    Anne

    P.S. I have never heard of Seminary Days at school. Is that really a thing???

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    • Anne I love your sense of humor and your heart! When I was in school, Seminary Day was a thing. I’m honestly not sure if it still is. If you’re ever in AZ lets get some juice together! Sending you hugs!

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  23. Let’s not divide amoung ourselves.
    We are christstians. Followers of Jesus Christ.
    Already we are Divided around 10k.
    Believing the same God.
    Only we will Adore Him.
    Praise him thousand times.
    Thank him. All our lives.
    Love him. Through out our lives.
    Trust him. We have to.
    Believe him. He is God.

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  24. Through the generations ….. it is the slights and unkindness that make indelible scars. I am an older woman, and my family descended from the Mormon pioneers who first came to Utah. My life, and my children/grandchildren’s lives, would have been much easier if we were Mormon, however, my Grandmother was an “apostate” who was shunned by her family and Mormon friends after she left the LDS church. It may seem unbelievable to some, but she truly lived her life in fear of retribution. I have a large Mormon extended family who chooses not to know me, because I am not in their church. Following are a few of small slights which have happened and could form a child’s perceptions of themselves: When I was a young child, my Mother was told that I was no longer welcome in my little Mormon friends homes, because “one of them might grow up to fall in love with me, and I could never marry a Mormon.” Both of my children were ostracized in the small Mormon town we lived in. One had no friends show up at birthday parties, so we quit having them. Another was told to leave a Mormon child’s party because “He is not Mormon, he has no business here.” Any high school mischief was blamed on my children without reason, although their Mormon friends were never accused. A few of their LDS friends remained through high school, but most later when on “missions”. When they returned, they had lost any independent spirit they had, and were never again the same. One of my sons married a Mormon girl, and the marriage was torn apart by her parents when he refused to join their religion. I could go on … but these are just a few examples of the types of actions that turn people away from the Mormon church. I chose not to try to befriend them long ago, although there was always an “invisible barrier” to becoming close friends, anyway.

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    • Anna I want to give you a huge hug right now! I’m so sorry you and your family have felt this pain. I continue to pray for healing and restoration and that we will all do better love each other! Sending you love!!

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  25. I never really had experiences with mormons until high school, when I started dating my boyfriend. There is an LDS church in our area, and a temple up the way, so our small city has a good population. However most send their children to the same schools (those closest in distance to the church,) I just didn’t interact with many until high school.
    They truly are wonderfully nice people, with a deep passion for their religion, an honest love for Christ as well as their families. Many of the Mormon families I met were incredibly thoughtful, and quick to cook dinner for late night play practices, or invite me over for a snack after school, knowing their mothers would accept me kindly (even if they were a boy and I was a girl, no assumptions were ever made.)
    But I also met my fair share of harsh and judgemental mormons, most of them Mormon parents.
    My boyfriend had been friends with his best friend for years. They shared many memories. But his mother tried to keep him away from my boyfriend for years, because she was afraid even though he was Christian, that his morals were corrupt.
    She once accused my boyfriend’s mother of letting her son listen to bad music and see bad pictures in their game room, even though the boys (which were a mixed group of mormons and non mormons) were just playing sonic the hedgehog and super smash brothers.
    She kept him involved with church activities, Boy Scouts, and for a short time baseball, to keep him away from non Mormon friends. Because of this harsh parenting style and my boyfriend’s friend not feeling accepted in the church (he’s gay, and can’t come out to his parents as they would disown him,) that he chose to leave the church entirely
    Long story short, we let our adult hang ups and fears get in the way of our children’s lives a lot. When we remember how inclusive we were and how happy we were and how loved we felt as children, we can become close to those around us again. Because nothing is really getting in the way of a new friendship except our own thoughts.

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  26. Oh my gosh, I so love this. Thank you for posting. I especially love the spirit and intention behind your letter. Having been a former Mormon, lived both in heavily populated areas of Mormons as an adult and growing up as a minority Mormon, I have seen and heard the hurt that happens to those who don’t “belong” to the majority culture. This hurts everyone as it keeps of from the true connection and love that is available to us. I can’t help but be saddened by the way that I used to label someone, even innocently as a mormon or non-mormon, not deciding whether I would be friends with them or not, but just where to categorize them. I think the term non-mormon which i even see in many of the replying comments is not intended to be, but in reality, at its core is very devisive. Language is very powerful.Yes, Mormons have a past of being persecuted harshly, and therefore may have spiritual DNA of keeping together for strength and safety, and may be why they have many times been called “clique-ish”. However, i can’t help but continue to feel sad when I see that so many of the LDS faith are so busy with callings and meetings and events and formal missionary outreaches that the simple and first commandment that Christ gave was to love goes by the wayside,not because its not a value, but because there just may not be the time. Or the stress and feeling that doing more doesn’t provide the space to be still and be an open heart for others. I am speaking from my own personal experience and shortcomings. I also think because this is not something that can really be defined or checked off..and its vulnerable, it may just not happen. It feels so great to feel as if you have a specific checklist that will increase your ability to be in God’s favor, even if its not, in reality, actually increasing anything but a moving target line of perfection. It takes a spiritual, enlightened person, rather than a solely religious person to do this. I am heartened to see many replies from Mormons who are inspired by this to reach out more. I would also say that this goes for the “others” within the religion, those who don’t have children, single, gay, suffering with mental illness, families touched by suicide and drug addiction.Inclusiveness as a value is of utmost importance. As is patience with each other. As is your wonderful value of authenticity and transparency in this blog. Thank you!

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    • Thank you for knowing my heart Jennifer!! I want to say Amen amen amen to your message! So beautifully said! Thank you for joining me in my vulnerability and for blessing me!

      Like

  27. My children’s best friends were not members of the LDS church. Oh how I loved each of them and the lessons they taught my family. We parents became great friends and watched out for our ever expanding flock. I knew I could trust them with our children as they could trust us. Thank you for this well written reminder that we are all Gods children and we are all neighbors.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you for putting it so eloquently and diplomatically. I was raised Mormon but was inactive and thus grew up on both sides of this fence. My parents never dictated who my friends should be and I had a diverse group of them; some were “good kids,” some were “trouble.” I loved them all.

    I hope that all parents will take your thoughtful words under advisement.

    Lattney

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It is not just Utah. Idaho is a 2nd Utah and Mormon churches are every couple of miles. I worked with many Mormons who stuck to themselves and would only hire other Mormons in their place of business regardless of experience or ability. Really inclusive and they got rude if they had spent time with you and you did not join their church within a few visits. They let you know that they had wasted their time on you.

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  30. Our failure in accepting non members, lies in the fact that we feel comfortable with like minded people. That being said, we fail to recognise that although you are not a part of the “mormon” group we are the ones missing a chance to broaden our thought process by befriending a non-member. Being challenged by a differant point of view (religiously) makes any person of any religion uncomfortable. I was fortunate to be raised in a non-mormon community where my faith was challenged quiet often by my friends. Parents fear that their children may be led to paths away from the church by friends not of their faith. Sonia and I countered many teachings of what we would consider non religious that were taught in our community (Flagstaff). We have two of our seven children that took the path that “mormon” parents fear. Freedom to choose our neighbors is limited but to gain a lifetime friend of a neighbor is priceless. We fear for our children, we fear confrontation, we fear the rejection that we by our religious beliefs are encouraged to share, so we choose the easy path, the path of least resistance, when we choose not to be your friend. We ( your mormon neighbors ) fear the challenge. If you were my neighbor I would be your friend. If your Mormon neighbors don’t get their act together to become your friend I would suggest cookies, we can’t resist. If this dosen’t work, make more cookies. Repeat if necessary. Your friend Jay

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jay your message gave me the biggest smile!! I’m not much of a baker so cookies my hurt versus help 😂 I love your sentiment “to gain a lifetime friend of a neighbor is priceless.” Thank you for your message and God bless!

      Like

  31. This my first ever comment ever to a blog. I feel your pain, our Mormon family moved to a very Christian town in central PA. We felt the sting you talk about. We invited people and tried to reach out but they always seemed a little nervous about us like we were going to push them into the bathroom and baptism them in the tub.
    One of my favorite speakers said to try and assume people are doing the best they can. That has been my mantra lately and with that perspectve I find it is easier to love without judgement.
    I wish I lived in Gilbert and I would say come over and let’s hang out

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pingback: A Letter to My Mormon Neighbors: Mother of Another Faith Shares Important Request | Meridian Magazine

  33. I grew up LDS in the Midwest and was the outsider, not included in my neighborhood, not invited to hang out or be a part of many things, teased because of my weird religion, excluded because the local prayer circle moms at the Lutheran church warned the other parents about us weirdos. Thank you for this and for saying it applies the other way around. We should never ostracize someone because they do not belong to the majority group. These same LDS people who do this in these predominantly Mormon neighborhoods should realize they could easily be on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Dear Friend,
    Thank you for your open letter. I would like to preface my response by telling you that I am a life-long member having grown up in Utah. I have lived in several other states since, including Washington, D.C. and I am now living in a highly LDS populated community in Mesa, not far from you. I realized and respect the fact that your letter was probably written in a spirit of reaching out and a desire for unity. I am the first to admit that I recognize that this is a problem that we’re all dealing with. I would like to tell you about the other side of the story.

    As I stated, I am a life-long believing member. Unfortunately, parents not wanting children to spend time with their children who are not of their familiy’s faith does not begin or end with Mormons. Growing up, there was more than one occasion when it was clear to me that my friends’ parents did not want me in their homes because I was a Mormon. I do not blame them. People worry about others trying to convert their kids. I would feel the same way.

    I married a non-member. Yes, you read that right. Unfortunately, he cheated on me by starting a family of his own with someone else while we were still married. Rather than owning up to what he did, he decided to write me a nasty letter and spread rumors about me in my community, telling people that the reason for our divorce was my apparent “intolerance” of his lifestyle. The only thing I did not “tolerate” about him was his infidelity. While people in my own family believed him for a time, the truth eventually came out. There was no option when his child ended up being older than our divorce. His parents hated me, very much, because I was a Mormon. They made constant jokes and remarks, making it clear that I was not welcome in their circles. I was too young to understand that in Utah, if you don’t stick to your own kind, you’re subject to judgment… no matter what side of the fence you’re on.

    In college, after leaving Utah, I was afraid to tell people about my religion because I knew I’d be ostracized and considered, “weird.” When I didn’t party with friends, it became all too apparent. They approached me about it. When I confessed, I no longer had friends. In graduate school, a friend of mine figured me out. She insisted I was a polygamist. I assured her I was not. She told me I wasn’t being truthful. She stopped talking to me after that conversation. My current husband has many degrees himself. He has realized that if he wants to be considered for interviews, he must remove BYU from his resume. Once he did that, he had many interviews. When we taught a church class of 12 and 13-year-olds in D.C., many of our students reported being beat up in the school hallways for being LDS. We were told that the teachers would walk past and do nothing about it.

    Fast-forward to today. Your article has gone viral in my circles. I am in an LDS Facebook group where a few people have shared your article, asking their fellow Mormons to please be more inclusive of their neighbors. On the other hand, a few people in my neighborhood on NextDoor have shared it. Rather than turning into a conversation of awareness in order to unite our community, those who are not LDS have chosen to use it as a public opportunity to vent, bash my faith and further divide a world that is already on fire.

    My point is that there are two sides to every story. Please understand that we stick to our own because we know people think we’re weird. We aren’t afraid of you. We don’t look down on you. Experience has taught us that you don’t like us. Some Mormons want to convert people. We aren’t all like that. Some of us want friends of all faiths (and no faiths) but we’re afraid to tell you who we are because we’ve been rejected for our beliefs so many times before. Be the neighbor you want us to be, and we will do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brooklyn thank you for sharing! I’m saddened to hear that some people are using a letter that was written from a place of love and clearly points out that we are all guilty of hurting “others” has been used for negative purposes. However, to your point, there is another side. On my Facebook there are over 1200 comments of love and inclusion and vulnerability and community. The love that has been poured out to and from Mormons on my Facebook page has literally brought me to tears several times the last few days. So, although there may be a few bad apples the fruit I’m seeing has been Godly and beautiful! God bless!

      Like

  35. The thoughts of this blog should inspire all people of faith to consider how they treat others of God’s children of other faiths. We truly are our brothers keeper, and how can people believe that and then fail to be inclusive and loving of others. Certainly that type of behavior doesn’t gel with the need to be “fishers of men” or to leave the 99 and go after the one. Instead it is pointing at the one and saying, “hahaha you are not with the 99.”

    Being LDS and having spent most of my life outside of UT (other than 4 years as a child and 3 as an adult) I have seen what you talk about first hand and it’s very sad. Your wake up call is a timely message and needs to be read by many. For some reason it seems to be a cultural problem when there is a majority.

    I grew up in Georgia and currently reside in Alabama where Mormons are .0075 and .005 % of the population respectively. I was surprised when my third grade teacher taught that Mormons didn’t believe in electricity and their women all wore dark long dresses. I corrected her and said that she must be thinking of the Amish? She said she knew it was right and I assured her, that as a Mormon it was not. I was shocked when attending the 1st Baptist Church in Cumming, GA to find a billboard that had yearbook pictures and said, “These Children are in a cult please don’t let your children play with them…” the pictured children were Mormons, Catholics, 7th Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Regularly churches in the “Bible Belt” have classes preaching against other churches. As a child I remember being excluded, and on more than one casino being sincerely asked if another child could feel my horns, or whether I had a tail.

    As a class officer on the schedule of the baccalaureate another officer who’s father was a preacher public ally objected to my offering a prayer and he claimed that we believed in a different Jesus. The service ended up being held in our chapel when the 1st Methodist Church was unavailable, and the Baptist preacher who gave the service remarked that he could tell we were Christians from all of the pictures of Christ through the building, and that he would never show anti-Mormon movies at his church again.

    As an adult I now see missed business opportunities, lack of inclusion in social aspects of the business community, and the occasional, “I know from personal experience with you that you are a Christian and have a fine witness of Christ and have received him, but your church is not.”

    Living in that environment we always include other children and neighbors and continually work to help them understand that we are Christians. We hope through our examples that they come to understand that we believe and live the same beliefs that they ascribe to. Breaking down the barriers of tradition and culture here though is difficult.

    It’s odd that you would experience something similar in UT from a people who’s ancestors (many of mine are included) weee driven from multiple states, who’s homes were burned and an extermination order was even given in MO. For a people familiar with being a minority and being persecuted to act in such a manner when they are the majority is inexcusable. I hope that your letter goes viral in UT, AZ and pets of ID where this may be a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I respect your right to say this, but why? Much of it is not true, or very exaggerated. My very best friend/neighbor is Mormon. My children are best friend with hers. We have a community of mormons in our neighborhood whom are the kindest, most generous of all people. Please be fair.

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    • I respect your right to disagree, but everything I wrote is true for me and my family in the community we live in. I did not exaggerate or lie. Just because you haven’t witnessed this doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. I would like to add that most of the Mormons responding here and on my Facebook page have seen the same problems in my community and have reached out lovingly. As to your question of why…I don’t think I could say it any better than the letter…”…you are God’s creation with gifts and beauty and a soul that has the ability to positively transform my life with each encounter…I would like to know my Mormon neighbors…I would like to enter deep relationships with you…” and I want my children to have the same. God bless!

      Like

  37. After reading this blog article that was shared on the Facebook page of one of my relatives I have been bothered by it and thought about it so often that I need to comment. I just read Brooklyn’s comment, and echo some of her sentiments. What articles like yours do, Little T, is address only one side of the story. You’re correct that all people should be more accepting of others, and it’s interesting that you address that at the end of your article, in the “P.S.” section, rather than in the body of your article. In a way, your article comes across as a Mormon bash, and then at the end you address the article’s flaws. Sure, I need to do better at reaching out to people, we all do, but I don’t base my reaching out on the religion of an individual, or all of the other things that you include in your P.S., but many of the people with whom I associate at work, neighborhood, etc do. There’s an old saying that reportedly comes from the South in the United States that I’ve heard of that says something like, “If you hang out with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas.” That saying doesn’t come from LDS people. I’ve heard that saying repeated in business circles, where the point being made is basically, “If you want to increase your income or improve your financial situation, you need to associate with the people who have the results that you want.” Also, “Your income and financial results are probably pretty close to the results of the top five people that you hang out with the most. So if you want to improve your financial situation, you need to change your associations.” I think that we should invite and include all people in the good things that we do in life, but if the ideas, morals, values, lifestyle, etc of others conflict with where we want to go, and what we stand for, we have to be careful about associating too much with those people, as we may get influenced by what they do and then embrace their philosophy, lifestyle, etc that we didn’t want. A quote that I like that I feel is related to this topic comes from Alexander Pope, not a Mormon, as far as I know:
    “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
    As to be hated needs but to be seen;
    Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
    Yes, I agree that we should be more inclusive generally of all people, but for obvious reasons we also ought to be careful of whom we continue to associate, if the actions, desires, ideas, etc of those with whom we associate will or may eventually take us away from what we believe and even know to be right.

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    • Steven, thank you for sharing! Brooklyn thank you for sharing! I’m sorry to hear that a letter that was written from a place of love and clearly points out that we are all guilty of hurting “others” sounds like “bashing” to you. I will share with you what I shared with Brooklyn. On my Facebook there are over 1200 comments of love and inclusion and vulnerability and community. The love that has been poured out to and from Mormons on my Facebook page has literally brought me to tears several times the last few days. So, although there may be a few bad apples the fruit I’m seeing has been Godly and beautiful! As for the postscript, I struggled for days on where to place that paragraph and I suppose it was the writer in me that decided to stick to the “technical” formalities of a letter. This wasn’t an article…it was a letter from my heart to the hearts of the people in my community who I long to know better. God bless!

      Like

  38. I had to share this after reading your story and making an earlier comment. This is what we believe, even if individual members forget to act this way.
    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement Sunday, August 13, 2017:
    It is with great sadness and deep concern that we view the violence, conflict and tragedy of recent days in Charlottesville, Virginia. People of any faith, or of no faith at all, should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere.
    More than a decade ago, the late Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) addressed the topic of racism when speaking to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He powerfully and clearly taught this principle: “No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.” For members of the Church, we reaffirm that teaching today and the Savior’s admonition to love our neighbor.
    Our prayers are with those who are suffering because of this intolerance and hatred. We pray for peace and for understanding. Above all, we pray that we may treat one another with greater kindness, compassion and goodness.”

    Liked by 1 person

  39. People are people, no matter the religion. I’m sorry you live in a community of narrow focus women.. you find these communities throughout the world. It’s so interesting that just a few neighborhoods away is probably a community that is open and welcoming.
    We are the only LDS family in our neighborhood in the Midwest. My kids have been mocked and shunned by neighborhood kids (backed by their parents) for years.. but I never let it get to me or to them. They are stronger and more open because of it. We never play the victim and we make things work. It isn’t perfect and it’s not the childhood I hoped for my children but we’ve found friends who are open and kind, participate in many service opportunities, and are a tight-knit family.
    While I appreciate your heart-felt and we’ll written letter, it does give those around us justification for their judgement of me and my children.

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    • Shawn, I appreciate your thought, but I’ve seen something so different since I shared my letter. On my Facebook there are over 1200 comments of love and inclusion and vulnerability and community. The love that has been poured out to and from Mormons on my Facebook page has literally brought me to tears several times the last few days. So, although there may be a few bad apples the fruit I’m seeing has been Godly and beautiful! God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. That was beautifully written. I sincerely appreciate the fact that your words came from a place of love.
    I was raised as a Mormon in Mesa but left the religion once I moved away from my parents. Rejecting the Mormon belief, came from a practice of love. I did not want to teach my kids to believe that they had the ONLY truth and that only Mormon teachings would bring happiness. While it may have been born out of good intention, I feel that the religion taught me to judge and discriminate.
    I too, seek beyond the pleasantries, for those deeper relationships. It is my hope for all to seek to understand the thoughts and hearts of others especially when they aren’t paralleled to their own beliefs. So much good can grow out of this space. Choose Love. Namaste.

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    • Thank you for sharing Liz! All religions get wrapped up in judgement because they’re made of humans and humans are flawed. I pray we will all ask the Lord to open our hearts and love others the way he loves all of us. God bless!

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  41. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your kind and gentle reminder/wake-up call to all of us, no matter what our background is. We are all children of God who loves each of us. We are more alike than we are different. I am thankful for the nudge. I see many wonderful things happening as a result of your letter. There will be more tolerance, more neighbors looking after neighbors, more understanding, more cookies shared, more burdens lifted, more hearts softened, and more praise to a loving Father in Heaven. The world will be a better place even if for just a moment. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rick your words have blessed me beyond measure!! I’m also seeing beautiful things happen and it’s such a powerful testament to our God’s goodness!! Thank you for your kind heart!! God bless friend!!

      Like

  42. Hello Renee- if you mean Gilbert, AZ I would love to be friends and have you and your family over for dinner. If you’d like to, find me on Facebook and message me and we will make plans.

    Sara Bybee Fisk

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara,
      Please know the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also known as “Mormons ” by others does teach to extend love and friendship to all diversity and non members. We respect other religions. Our church is Gods Church and these are Gods teachings, but everyone has free agency and not everyone is perfect, this is where the church gets mis judged. People make mistakes and what they do are wrong but the church is still true and the teachings are still true, people have agency to make choices and unfortunately, they don’t even realize the harm they are doing until it’s too late. I am glad you spoke up with your blog and I would encourage you to speak up to these people in your social circle in person, it will be an eye opener at best and help then to learn to live the gospel as they should be living it. And they might find out by doing so, you are the best thing that could have ever happen to them. (They probably are pretty decent people too, just maybe awkward on knowing how to act, give them a try)

      Liked by 1 person

  43. I have another perspective that I would like to share. I live in Springville, Utah. Most of the wards in our stake have less than 5 non-member families per ward. About 7 years ago, our neighborhood was shifted into another ward boundary. I was suddenly out of the carpools that I had been in. My previous ward members never talked to me, unless I ran into them at the grocery store or a school event. My children were no longer invited to parties or other activities. We were not invited to social events or told about weddings or funerals. We lived less than three blocks away from most of our former ward members. I felt like I had lost all my close friends. Why were we suddenly excluded? I’m pretty sure that it has to do with the LDS culture that is centered around a ward. Most members have so much to do by fulfilling their callings, working, and raising their families that they don’t have time to socialize outside that parameter. If you aren’t part of that ward boundary, you may be overlooked. Of course, one way to fix it is for us to invite others into our circle. Just a thought.

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  44. Such a thought provoking read. Thank you. So often the Mormon faith and culture go in polar opposites of each other. Two very different things. Having grown up in the Midwest were I was the only LDS member in my high school to living in college for Utah I can definitely see the differences. I have to admit that I moved out to Utah for college because I was looking to feel included somewhere. Growing up I always felt “outnumbered” and never quite fit in. Since then I’ve lived in a few different places where I was indeed the minority so I can understand how you must feel living in a culture that is primarily Mormon. I was the one at places of employment in adulthood where people felt that they needed to convert me away from Mormonism. I am very sorry that you have ever been made to feel uncomfortable living among so many Mormons. It’s the same level of discomfort that I’ve felt living in some places. Now I reside in St. Louis and I have to say that I’ve found a happy medium. For me it has always been an accepting place. At the same time I know what it feels like to be on the other side so I’m very careful about how I discuss my faith. If someone is curious then I of course will share with them but I leave the door just open. We are the only LDS family in our neighborhood but we love our neighbors. The majority of them are strong in their own faiths. When we have our missionaries over for dinner they will often ask if there are any neighbors who would like to hear a message. That is their job as missionaries! 🙂 I always politely tell the Elders or Sisters that our neighbors attend a church already and that they are happy in their faith. But if they ever want to learn more or ask then of course I’ll direct them to the missionaries. Because I’m happy that they are happy. And I still let my kids play with their kids. 😉 I try to be friendly to all and would hope to have the same kindness shown to me. Thanks again for your thoughts and I truly hope that those in the heavily populated Mormon areas will take them to heart. We can all be happy for each other and show love towards each other in spite of our differences. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing Tara! I’m sorry that you’ve felt the same exclusion but I know that we can heal together and love each other better! Sending love and hugs!

      Like

  45. I am eighty-five years old, LDS and female. I grew up in Utah, lived in California and now reside in Arizona not far from Gilbert.

    I have experienced all of these issues as well as being female in the business world. When employed, I was asked who was the boss in my family, me or my husband.

    My observation is that if we mature gracefully we come to accept our differences and learn from our experiences to be better or we do not.
    It is our free agency to determine how we will let experiences will shape us.
    We can look for faults are we can look for the positive. It is our choice.

    We can all learn from seeing the other perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. This. I love this. I have lived in Utah my whole life. I had some very good friends who were Mormon and never acted like this but I did have other people treat me poorly because I wasn’t Mormon. I got stood up for a dance because a mom found out I wasn’t Mormon I also got told that I couldn’t tell anyone I was going on a date because they didn’t want there family to know I wasn’t Mormon. I wasn’t invited to sleepovers, movies or group dates. It was hard to understand why I couldn’t be apart of things. Sometimes I felt really left out or not good enough. But as I got older I realized that if someone doesn’t like me because of my religion they aren’t worth me knowing me anyway.

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  47. My active LDS teenage daughter was asked to go to a high-school dance by a boy in our ward (his mother was the Relief Society president). My daughter happily accepted… then his parents made him retract the invitation because I am divorced… (although I am also active in the Church).

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  48. Have hope, Renee! As a Christian family, we recently relocated here from Ohio almost three years ago. We were a bit ragged when we arrived and one major priority was helping my eleven year old daughter (at that time) develop friendships. Without going into the sordid details, after many attempts (and trust me, we bent over backwards as parents to help budding friendships, girls can be mean in Jr High!) t felt like she was never going to be able to trust anyone to be a real friend. After close to 1.5 years of trying, it was a girl of LDS faith that came along and became the best friend my daughter has ever had! Believe me, this girl could have any friend she wants to hang out with, she is super popular in her circles, but she has chosen MY (nonMormon) kid and they make the BEST of friends. I won’t deny that your article strikes home with me, but I see the culture here is so very different from what we experienced in Ohio. I have never in my life seen so many houses so close together but ALL with gigantic brick walls every property (these walls do not exist in Ohio). Between this, and today’s large social media, everyone is behind a closed door. This makes baking your new neighbor a batch of brownies seem absurd (not to mention, they will likely be gluten free anyway, so hey, why try?). Not to say that I don’t, because I am the wierdo that still go out on a limb. This is where I agree with you that we need to consciencously need to bridge the gap with our neighbors. I simply think it is more common for friends to be made in circles where people share a common interest. I want to encourage you to keep trying! I believe that people still respond to kindness and offers to friendship by likeminded people regardless of, or maybe some could say because of, their faith. I am an introvert who finds it very hard to keep relationships going if they don’t reach beyond the superficial. After years (in Ohio, actually), of feeling on the outside of many social circles, I have become very picky about my relationships. I’m a busy mom and the juice needs to be worth the squeeze! I have two made two very good friends here. These women are my closest confidants! Both are amazing! My family gets along with both of their families. We even take family vacations together! I consider these gals my sisters and I love them both very much. One is Christian and the other is LDS. I gotta say that after three years of living side by side with prominantly Christian and LDS cultures equally represented, I have had the experience, maybe the rare privelege, of being able to discern my relationships based on the person and not on his/her faith. I hope to see this continue. Great interfaith friendships are there to be made!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your encouraging message Melissa! I love this story and I have lots of hope!! Us weirdos will just keep going out on a limb! 😉

      Like

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