Monday, October 08, 2007

Hateful Comments and Being Neighbors

As far as local news sources, I prefer the Salt Lake Tribune. I read online, and occasionally check out the Deseret Morning News website, but for the most part, I like the Trib better. By now, I should have learned to stay away from the online comments. It's a guarantee that anytime there is an article that is even remotely related to the LDS church (maybe someone in the article had a cousin's friend's uncle who was a member) the comments that follow are numerous and hateful.

What's the point? If the LDS church bothers someone so much, why would they spend so much time thinking about it?

I know there's a frustrating level of mixing of church and state because so many of our state officials get "carried away" and forget that their positions are to represent the residents of utah, not the members of the church.

Glendon Brown over at One Utah has a really good post about the liquor laws and how mormons and non-mormons talk around and around but never really talk to each other.

It would be really nice if we could start talking to each other instead of at each other. It would also be nice if LDS people could remember that not everyone wants to be preached to, no matter how good the intentions, and if non-LDS people could be content to simply not be a member and not constantly attack the church or it's members for their apparent short-commings. (I realize that not all people fall into the two groups I just listed, but the people that don't aren't the ones causing problems.)

I recently received a new list of Relief Society sisters to visit. There was one sister whom I had never met before, so I stopped by one day and left a plate of cookies since no one was home. I tried again a couple weeks later and her husband answered the door. He was holding a beautiful baby girl, and from what I saw, he looked like a pretty cool guy, about the same age as my husband. There aren't a ton of neighbors our age, so I was happy to see one. Unfortunately he and his wife didn't want to be visited and he yelled at us until we apologized for bothering him and left.

I really didn't mean to bother him. I didn't want to bother him. Perhaps there needs to be a better way of letting people know if someone with records in the church doesn't want to be visited.

I would like to be friends with the family. It seems really sad that because we belong to different churches, that we can't be friends. I really don't like perpetuating the views that LDS people only want to be friends with non-LDS people if they can somehow get a convert out of the deal. I don't care what religion these people are, they're neighbors and it would be nice to be friends.

I just have to get over my fear of getting yelled at again and introduce myself as a neighbor who is not there to convert them, but just to be neighborly, and hope that they listen long enough to hear what I have to say before yelling.

If someone doesn't want to be my friend because they don't like me, that's okay, but I'd like to not be dismissed just because I'm mormon. I'm sure lots of non-mormons feel the same way.


adam said...

I've actually been contemplating calling the inactive members on my home teaching list and telling them who I am and asking if they want home teachers, and want they want out of home teaching.

I agree with you that we also need to be friends with people outside of an official ward duty, and just as neighbors.

Also-I don't like the tribs comments very much either. And the DNews is the exact opposite-kind of like a testimony meeting, which I think is a little inappropriate given the setting--so I guess I just shouldn't read the comments. : )

If we were all good friends then there wouldn't be such comments, I think. I know that when I am talking to a good friend and we don't agree, we are still friends and we don't say mean things. Crazy huh.

Emily said...

I have relatives who are ex-mormons, and they seem to be the worst at spreading mormon-hate. It's almost like they try to put down our beliefs because they know them. But they have their agency and can choose to live their life the way they want, and we have our agency as well. And sometimes I feel like they view us as inferior - like we aren't truly using our agency, or using it correctly, just because of our religion. They think we are just following our leaders blindly, not considering that maybe we actually choose for ourselves things like starting family while still in school, staying at home with our children all day, going to church for 3 hours, and not drinking. And it can be hard at times - especially when it comes to politics. So it does make family get togethers difficult.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, while we were in Boston we had a totally different experience. Wayne dealt with non members more than I did, but they actually respected him for following his religion. Yes they thought it was weird he never drank at social events and didn't swear and had 2 (almost 3) children, but they also understood that it takes a certain kind of person to live with their convictions and beliefs. It was kind of a nice change.

And of course when we got here, Wayne was looked on as weak because he followed his beliefs - like he doesn't know what he's missing, all because he follows some group of old men. So in a way it's harder to be a Mormon here, because everyone knows about our faith and thinks we're just trying to convert them rather than be their friend. And it is sad. When did it become a bad thing to be a friend?

Anyway, sorry for rambling. I'm sorry you were yelled at. I think I would have gone home in tears and it would be a while before I got up enough guts to go over again.

WP said...

I was empowered once by a wise bishop and good friend as a young president of the Elder's Quorum. He allowed me to visit every one of the elders on the roll and ask them the 'platinum' questions. These are higher on the scale of worthwhile questions for Mormons and their neighbors. It was for me the beginning of honesty in these kind of relationships. No relationship can develop or will endure unless it is an honest one. The door approach went something like this: "Hi, we are priesthood reprentatives from the Centerville _th Ward. You are listed on the rolls of the ward and we note you do not attend. We would welcome you anytime to visit. However, if you would prefer in the future that no one from the ward call or contact you we can arrange that. Would you prefer that home and visiting teachers no longer contact you?"

I was amazed, out of all the folks we contacted for whom we had records, not a single one asked us to desist. I carried that attitude subsequently with me when I eventually inherited his desk and office.

Emily said...

I have thought about some of these issues for a long, long while. The energy that goes into the hostility on one side, and the judgment / fear that too often exists on the other side, seems like it'd be enough to light up several city blocks. I can't imagine yelling at some sweet, smart, friendly person who came to my door with cookies, whether I ultimately wanted to have a long conversation or be friends or not. Whatever their reasons they must be carrying a lot of anger and hurt. A very heavy load. Perhaps sometime a situation will come up where you can meet them in a way that is not threatening to them. Stuff like that happens. And maybe a little bit of the dialog you're talking about could happen. [Or maybe I'd just really like them to have a chance to apologize to my little sister. I can't imagine them not liking her if they got to know her a little. Maybe I'll write an online comment to the Trib. :)

Allie said...

I'm not used to getting yelled at, so it was a little unsettling, but I understood the guy's frustration, so I tried not to take it too personally.

adam said...

This is one thing I'm enjoying about living outside of Utah. People are genuinely interested and open to discussing beliefs. It's so neat.

WP: Interesting that no one rejected you. I suppose that has something to do with the small community of the ward. When I was in Japan I tried similar tactics and about half of the people I talked to did not want any contact, and about half of those people got angry at us. Then again, I suppose if I was baptized at age 15 in the back of a van along with 40 other people I would be a little bitter too.

Julia said...

Hi Allie,

I just happened across your blog. I'm in Utah too and I know what you are saying about the Trib and the comments there. I'm sorry your neighbors yelled at you though. I think LDS people and people who aren't are both to blame for the crazy divisions that occur here. It makes me sad that people can foster such hate. I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood where, while most people are not LDS, they are really great neighbors. I don't talk about religion because it's not necessary. I enjoyed your blogs. :)

q said...


From what I understand, getting off the LDS roll has a success rate equivalent to stopping telemarketers from calling, and credit card companies from sending you pre-approved credit at a low low 0% for the first year.

While I am sure that you did not come knocking at ~9pm in the dark night in search of a young boy (nor are you a middle-aged male), sometimes the frustration of being pestered/nagged/bothered after repeated requests to not be contacted will be released upon the most recent messenger.

While it is no excuse, he may have also just had a Bad Day.

In the end, I do hope that this experience does not cause you too much distress. He is probably a Satanist, and who wants to be friends with a Satanist?