Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Do you seek Jesus Christ? Wise men still do. I testify that seeking Jesus Christ will bring peace and happiness to your life and to those you love.

Merry CHRISTmas!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are Mormons Christian?

Watch this 2 minute video and judge for yourself. 

Last week, the popular Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress made the comment in an interview that Mitt Romney, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was a “non-Christian” in a “cult”. The LDS Church made a simple statement in response to his comment.

“We really don’t want to comment on a statement made at a political event, but those who want to understand the centrality of Christ to our faith can learn more about us and what we believe by going to”

It’s as simple as that. If you want to know what Mormons believe, go to the source. Don’t rely on an Evangelical pastor or any other person who is not a devout member of the LDS faith to tell you who Mormons are and what we believe. Evangelicals are no experts on the Mormon faith. Would I turn to a Mormon to find out what the Baptists believe? No. I would go to a devout member of the Baptist faith to find out what the Baptists believe. If you truly care about getting to the truth, go to the proper source.

So then, what about this accusation that Mormons aren’t Christian? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am here to tell you that absolutely YES! We ARE Christians. We believe in the Bible and believe in the Jesus of the New Testament who was born of the virgin Mary. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world who suffered and atoned for our sins, died for us on the cross and was resurrected 3 days later.   Christ is the cornerstone of our religion.  How could we not be Christians when “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we prophesy of Christ…” (2 Nephi 25:26)

I have watched several interviews where Jeffress expounded on the comments that he made about Mormonism being a cult and a non Christian religion. It bothers me that he uses the word “cult” because naturally the word “cult” has a negative connotation associated with it. He did at least clarify that he was not referring to a “sociological cult” (ex: David Koresh and his followers) but rather a “theological cult”. Basically what it boils down to is that there are theological differences between our religion and his.  Ya, so what?? Aren't there theological differences between all religions? Is this reason to label Mormons a cult and a non-Christian religion? I find it interesting that Jeffress (and others as well) see fit to create their own definition of what a Christian is. I don’t quite understand his philosphy that Christians are “only those who believe as I do”.

I do have to say that it is true that we are not “Creedal Christians”. Mormons do not embrace the creeds which were formulated by men centuries after the books in the bible had been written. The lds newsroom blog explains it perfectly. “When Mormons say they are Christian, they are not suggesting that their beliefs line up perfectly with evangelicals or Catholics or other Christians. Using the term "Christian" is not an attempt to gain acceptance into the mainstream -- something that has little appeal or relevance to Latter-day Saints. Mormons are not interested in parsing semantics or embracing the Nicene Creed or any other post-New Testament creed in order to be accepted by the world of Christian orthodoxy…What Mormons mean when they say they are Christian is that they follow Jesus Christ. Their religion teaches them not only that they should embrace the teachings of Jesus but also that they should try to model their lives on the pattern He set. All Christians can acknowledge that the Lord offered two commandments as primary -- to love God and to love our neighbors. Doing so makes us followers of Christ, theological interpretations of doctrines notwithstanding.”

I've never understood how pastors of other religions can preach Christianity but then turn around and bash other churches. It seems a bit hypocritical to me. I truly wish that people of all Christian religions would focus on the common ground that we all share (Mormons share more common ground with other Christian religions than most people realize), and then be Christian enough to respect the differences amongst us. As fellow followers of Jesus Christ, let us work together to lift people up and do good in the world.

Christian-“one who believes or professes…to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth taught by him…one whose life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ”

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Christian.

For more information about our beliefs in Jesus Christ visit

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mormon Media Campaign

As I mentioned in my last post, the church is taking steps to dispel the misconceptions about Mormonism.  I’m excited that the church will be rolling out a media campaign in our area this month.  I came across this article in the East Valley Tribune which discusses the campaign. 

Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 3:00 pm | Updated: 4:07 pm, Sat Oct 1, 2011.

Mormon media campaign looks to dispel misconceptions (By Lawn Griffiths, for the Tribune East Valley Tribune)

It is getting personal in the Mormon Church.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are showcasing themselves on the Internet and in TV commercials to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about their faith and to try to show they’re a diverse group of people who are “as regular as anyone else,” in the words of one Mormon, Don Harkey of Ahwatukee Foothills.

The Valley is one of a dozen major markets where the Mormon Church this week is launching a national media campaign called “I’m A Mormon.” The project is anchored by the website, an attractively designed place featuring close-up sketches of members. They include wholesome, engaging video profiles of Mormons who have overcome daunting life challenges, but came out with their faith intact or strengthened.

Rather than hard-sell evangelism, the videos focus on members’ personal lives, before they end their remarks with the simple words, “and I am a Mormon.”

Area TV stations will begin running advertisements highlighting Mormons, while there will also be a dozen billboards in the Valley as well as ads in buses. The effort will continue for six months. Local church leaders were unable to say the cost of the advertising campaign.

Data shows there are 387,956 Mormons in Arizona, of which 190,000 reside in the Valley. Of the 801 wards, or congregations in the state, 490 are in the metro area.

“Research shows that despite our being the fourth largest Christian faith in the United States, many are not familiar with our faith, or they have received misinformation about it,” said Cindy Packard, Arizona spokeswoman for the church. “Rather than simply explaining our beliefs and practices, the redesigned website highlights people sharing their own stories in their own words.”

The key, she said, is an emphasis “not so much on what we believe but what we do because of what we believe.”

The “I’m a Mormon” campaign comes out of church research that found half of Americans had never met a Mormon, but when they had done so, “misconceptions about the church fell away,” according to campaign materials. After the site was redesigned in June 2010, church members were invited to write their profiles and share their testimonies worldwide with a few computer clicks.

Curtis Keller of Gilbert wrote his profile immediately and posted it, but says he should get back to updating it. “It is a great way to show people what we believe,” he said. “I think there is a common misconception about Mormons that they don’t believe in Jesus Christ” or that they, instead, worship their prophet and founder, Joseph Smith.

“I answered that: ‘Of course not. We revere Joseph Smith as a prophet, but we worship Jesus Christ as our savior, knowing that if we believe in Jesus Christ and accept him, we can be forgiven of our sins and receive redemption.’”

Keller, who is the bishop of the Fairview Ward in the Higley Stake, said members repeatedly are asked about polygamy, which the church officially ended in 1890.

“It’s out there that Mormons are ‘weird’ or ‘odd’ people,”Keller said. He noted that LDS members have long regarded themselves as “a peculiar people” because of a special covenant they believe they have with God. “Yes, it goes back a long ways that we will be a ‘peculiar people,’ and I think we are a ‘peculiar people’ in today’s standards in that we have pretty traditional moral standards. The world doesn’t have the same moral standards that we are used to.”

The campaign, he said, “helps people understand that Mormons are like your neighbors next door: They have tough times in their lives, and they have happy times” and hold down many kinds of jobs.

For Kara Kelly, the campaign will “clarify information” about her church. She said “people don’t know about us” and, too often, focus on things they hear “that have been taken out of context,”including the “crazier things in history” that may have been sensationalized. “But if you really know the real people, you get a better picture,” she said.

Kelly, who is a third-generation Mormon on her father’s side and at least three generations on her mother’s side, said the campaign smartly uses the latest technology to respond to misconceptions.“It is mostly taking advantage of where the world is going with technology.”

Miranda Culiver of Gilbert sees the campaign as an effective way“to illustrate that we are everyday people. We are school teachers, we are serving in our communities, we are neighbors and we are also Mormons.”

A convert to Mormonism when she was 19, Culiver, now 31, who works for the city of Mesa, teaches fourth-graders at her ward on Sunday mornings. She doesn’t regard the campaign as a defense of the church, but instead an opportunity to demonstrate one’s “faith and testimony in Jesus Christ, and anytime someone has a question or comment, it just presents us members with an opportunity to better explain who we are.”

East Valley Mormons say they believe the campaign, which had previously been test-marketed in nine cities, including Tucson, will help dispel stereotypes.

Mark Mendon, father of six, said his wife Michelle and their son Josh are the first in the family to write their profiles “Josh talked about himself, what he does, why he believes and why it makes a difference in his life,” Mendon said.“… The goal is to help people recognize who we are, and that we are normal people.”

Noting that Mormons are known for their “knocking on doors to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the head of the denomination’s missionary department, David F. Evans, said, “ gives people the opportunity to knock on our door through the Internet and ask members questions about our faith.”

The church currently has 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide.

Harkey calls the campaign “an invitation,” in a non-threatening way, for non-members to hear Mormons from across the world tell about themselves. Harvey, who completed his own Mormon mission in Tennessee in 1976, has three sons who have been sent to Australia, Argentina and Connecticut for missions.

“The whole point of those missions was to teach people about Jesus Christ and his gospel and share his message throughout the world,” Harkey said.

He emphasized that the videos and profiles that members recorded or wrote have been left in their original form, not even modified for grammar or spelling. “The videos use no make-up or art direction,” he said.

Young Mormons especially have been sharing their stories and getting questions from their non-LDS peers.

“This is not surprising given the presence this has on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook,” Harkey said. “This gives young people a tremendous opportunity to communicate our message of Christ to their peers in their own personal way.”

So far, nearly a half-million people have been visiting monthly. Members locally and nationally dismiss suggestions that the church campaign coincides with the current U.S. presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who are Mormons and former state governors.

“I don’t see that it is any way connected to Mitt Romney,”Keller said, noting the church had begun developing the campaign more than two years ago. “The church’s stance has always been to let politics take care of themselves.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who are the Mormons?

I love the profile videos that the church has been producing.  Too many people don't understand the truth about who Mormons really are and what Mormons believe. Many only know what they have heard or read on the internet which more often than not is false, inaccurate, or twisted. Elder M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of the church stated, "The many misunderstandings and false information about the church are somewhat our own fault for not clearly explaining who we are and what we believe."  So the church and we as members of the church are doing all that we can to dispel the myths about the church and teach the world who we really are and what we really believe through written and video profiles.

So who are the Mormons and what are they like? The profiles give a snapshot look at the lives of Mormons to help the world better understand that Mormons are just a diverse group of people with varying backgrounds, interests and personalities who share a common desire to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I recently completed a written personal profile on  To learn more about me and why I am a Mormon go here.

Here are a couple new profile videos that I came across.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11-Words from a Prophet

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson writes about the spiritual lessons learned from the 9/11 tragedy in today's "On Faith" blog on the Washington Post website.

"If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us," President Monson wrote. "We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season."

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson

President Monson noted that there was "a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way."

However, he said, "it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well."

President Monson suggests that "the way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly 'need Him every hour,' not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.

"It is constancy that God would have from us," he concludes. "Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm."

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I enjoyed this article in the church magazine about Autism. Autism affects so many families and can be a difficult challenge to deal with.

Garrett Was God's Child First
"When our son was diagnosed with autism, I prayed to know how to “fix” him. But I soon learned that he was not broken."

For more about Autism or other disabilities, go to the church's

My sister in law who has 4 boys with autism has written a book about autism.  Here is a news segment feauturing her with her boys.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Finding Truth and Guidance Through Obedience

“Show me Latter-day Saints who have to feed upon miracles, signs and visions in order to keep them steadfast in the Church, and I will show you members…who are not in good standing before God, and who are walking in slippery paths.  It is not by marvelous manifestations unto us that we shall be established in truth, but it is by humility and faithful obedience to the commandments and laws of God” (Joseph F. Smith)

This really rings true to me. In my own life, I have learned that receiving guidance and direction from God and the manifestation of truth is a direct result of obedience to God's commandments. It takes action (obedience) along with faith to receive direction and revelation from God.

I've also learned, just as the above quote says, that guidance from God and the manifestation of truth doesn't usually come in the form of miracles, signs and visions. It is more likely that we will be guided by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost through small spiritual impressions. Sometimes we may actually recognize those impressions as coming from God.  However I think more often than not, we may not even recognize that we're being guided and directed through revelation. But I do know that even though we may not always recognize the small impressions we receive as coming from God, when we are faithfully obeying God's laws, we can be assured that God is directing our path and enlightening our minds with the Spirit of truth.

"Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it.  But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding, and direct and protect you and your family." (Elder David A. Bednar)

I love this scripture in the Book of Mormon: Mosiah 2:41
"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Joseph Smith-Prophet of the Restoration (Movie)

I was so excited to see that this film is available to watch online.  I highly recommend watching this hour long movie about the life of Joseph Smith.  It is very well done and most definitely worth watching. 

Watch in full screen for better viewing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon?


In an attempt to answer this question, here’s something to think about…If Joseph Smith’s story of the origin of the Book of Mormon is not true, then where did the record come from?

Well, there are some non-believers that have conjectured that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction written by Joseph Smith himself.  So the question is, Is it possible that Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon himself? It’s not likely.  Those who make this claim don’t understand all that would have been entailed if Joseph Smith had attempted such a feat.

Please consider the following points and determine for yourself whether you, had you been Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon:

1.  You are between 23 and 24 years of age.

2.  You are not a college graduate.  In fact, you have only had three years of formal schooling.

3.  Whatever you write must be on the basis of what you know.

4.  You must write a book with 239 chapters; 54 of them about wars, 21 about history, 55 about prophecy, 71 about doctrine, 17 about missionaries, and 21 about the mission of the Messiah.

5. You  must write a history of an ancient country, covering a period from 2200 B.C. to 421 A.D.

6.  You must include in your writings the history of two distinct and separate nations, along with the histories of different contemporary nations or groups of people.

7.  Your writings must describe the religious, economic, social and political cultures and institutions of these two nations.

8.  You must write the history, covering a period of over 2500 years in approximately 80 days.

9.  After pauses for sleep and food, you must continue dictating to your stenographer without ever asking to have the last sentence read back to you.

10.  Your history or record must be long, approximately 522 printed pages, with over 150 words per page.

11. You must announce that your narrative is not fiction, but true, sacred history.

12.  In fact, your narrative must fulfill the Bible prophecies that foretell the coming forth of the book, even down to the exact manner in which it shall come forth, to whom given, and its purposes and accomplishments.

13. Three honest, credible witnesses must testify to the whole world that an angel from heaven appeared to them and showed them the ancient records from which you claim your record was translated. (Read the Testimony of Three Witnesses here)

14. Eight other witnesses must testify to the world that they saw the ancient records in broad daylight and that they handled them and felt the engravings thereon. (Read the Testimony of Eight Witnesses here)

15. These eleven witnesses must bear their testimony, not for profit or gain, but under great personal sacrifice and severe persecution, even to their deaths.

16. You must find someone to finance your book with the understanding that neither he nor you will ever receive any remuneration from it.  You must sell the book at cost or less.

17. Finally, after suffering persecution and revilement for 14 years after you finish the book, you must willingly give your own life for your testimony that the record is from God.

(Taken from “What is the Book of Mormon” published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

These are interesting facts to consider.  If you know anything about the life of Joseph Smith, you know that because of the testimony he bore, he and his family endured extreme persecution throughout his life.  Why would he be so willing to endure such persecution and pain, even to death? How much easier life could have been if he would have just denied what he knew to be true.  But he didn’t.  I have read the Book of Mormon many times in my life and I personally believe that it would be an impossible task for Joseph Smith, or anyone else for that matter, to have had the knowledge necessary to have written such a complex book. 

I truly believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.  I have a testimony that he did indeed see God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and that with the help of God, translated the ancient records which are now known as the Book of Mormon.  Although the above facts about Joseph Smith are interesting, I want to clarify that it is not the facts that convince me that Joseph Smith’s claims are true.  I can’t base my testimony on facts alone.  The facts only confirm what I already know to be true through the witness of the Holy Ghost.

joseph smith translating[1]

“No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.” (George Cannon)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Video

A short video to remind us of the sacrifice the Savior made for each one of us.  I am truly grateful for the love that Jesus Christ has for me and you.  I know that my Savior lives!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hypocrisy in the Church


I love it!! :)

There are various reasons as to why people choose to not attend church. I have found that a common reason for choosing to not attend is because “All churches are full of Hypocrites”. This is something that I have a hard time understanding. Yes, there are most definitely hypocrites in every church. But aren’t we all hypocrites in one way or another? I have a hard time understanding why some people expect church goers to be perfect just because they attend church. I am not trying to excuse sin, but we need to understand that church goers are not perfect nor will they ever be. There are people in every church who say and do stupid things. There are people in every church who will offend others. There are people in every church who may go to church every Sunday but then don’t abide by the teachings of their church during the week. Yes, there are hypocrites in every church. But…so what?? Why would we choose to make that our problem?? Their sins and imperfections are between them and God. Not between us and them. Why do we sometimes allow people to get between us and God? I am reminded of the quote, “When you let a hypocrite stand between you and God, who is closer to God??” It’s something to think about. There may be church goers who are hypocrites, but what better place for a hypocrite to be than church?? Isn’t that where they should be? Church goers don’t claim to be perfect.  It’s important for us to remember that church IS for imperfect people. The purpose of church is to HELP imperfect people (including hypocrites) become better.

This is one of my very favorite quotes because it teaches an important point:

“The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other.… We are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves” (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Let’s remember that we are NOT accountable to God for the actions of others. When it is time for us to stand before God, we will only be responsible for our own actions. And while here on earth, if we choose to let any thing or any person (including hypocrites) come between us and Him, we will be held accountable for that. None of us are perfect, so let’s stop judging and labeling others as hypocrites. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2) We ALL fall short sometimes.  We ALL sin.  As hard as it can be sometimes, we need to take our critical eyes off the sin of others and focus on our own need for improvement and forgiveness.

"We have a choice. We can seek for the bad in others. Or we can make peace and work to extend to others the understanding, fairness, and forgiveness we so desperately desire for ourselves. It is our choice; for whatever we seek, that we will certainly find." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

If you happen to be one of those who choose to not go to church because there are hypocrites in the church, I would hope that you would reconsider. Please don’t use the failings of others as an excuse for wavering in your own devotion to God. Most churches, although full of imperfect people, are also full of wonderful, service oriented, Christian people. For me personally, church is a wonderful place to be. I need church. I need that weekly spiritual rejuvenation. I need that opportunity to become closer to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I truly gain strength from attending church each Sunday. I know that there are many people who feel that they can fulfill their spiritual needs without attending church. I personally believe that everyone can benefit from attending a good church. Through experience I have learned that there are simply some blessings and opportunities that can only come as a result of being part of a church. Don’t miss out on those wonderful opportunities. 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Smile

Top 10 Reasons to Smile
By Mark Stibich, Ph.D., Guide
Updated February 04, 2010

Smiling is a great way to make yourself stand out while helping your body to function better. Smile to improve your health, your stress level, and your attractiveness. Smiling is just one fun way to live longer.

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive

We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood

Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling Is Contagious

When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress

Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day -- you'll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful

Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It's hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

I'm so grateful for the healing power of the Atonement and for the Peace of God that each of us are entitled to if we so desire.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mormons need to do better…

I wanted to address something that I have been thinking about for quite some time. In my previous post I told of the story of a lady who said, “I could never be friends with a Mormon”. I personally consider it shallow to purposely avoid being someone’s friend just because their religious beliefs are different than their own. However, I do want to say that I realize that Mormons are not the perfect example when it comes to the inclusion of others. The majority of us do not intentionally exclude those not of our faith, but I do know that many times we tend to stick to our own kind and might unintentionally exclude others.

In the past, there have been a few occasions where I have heard people not of our faith make comments that helped me come to the realization that we as Mormons need to do a better job in the inclusion of others. I know that some people see us as “cliquish” and feel that we only socialize with our Mormon friends. In hopes of shedding some understanding on the matter, let me give you my point of view. It is human nature to flock towards people who are most like yourself…people who you share commonalities with. It’s what we all do isn’t it? And I’m sure that most would agree that doing so is not an effort to purposely try to exclude others. It’s more about where you feel most comfortable. There are times when Mormons feel like outsiders because of those who wrongfully judge us and don’t accept us and our religion. Therefore we might sometimes wrongfully assume that those not of our faith would rather not associate with us, because we are Mormon (as is the case in the aforementioned story). So for some Mormons, it might be easier and more comfortable to stick with the people whom they know will love and accept them. But one of the biggest reasons why Mormons tend to mostly socialize with their Mormon friends is simply because…it’s who we know. People naturally become friends with those whom they associate with most. The Mormon culture is very social. We are simply together a lot. We are together at church every Sunday and we are together for various activities throughout the week.

I know that especially in Jr. High and High School, the majority of Mormon kids will spend most of their time with their Mormon friends. I personally was fortunate through Jr. High and High School to have amazing and wonderful friends both Mormon and not. I felt just as accepted amongst my friends who weren’t of my faith as I did my Mormon friends. But I do know that it is common for Mormon kids to mostly socialize with other Mormons…for the same reasons mentioned above. But I know how this must look to the other kids in school. It definitely appears cliquish and maybe even gives the message that Mormons don’t want to have anything to do with those that are not Mormon. In most cases, that’s not true. I will admit that my high school aged daughter hangs out with Mormon girls on the most part. Is she purposely avoiding friendships with those that aren’t Mormon? No. Am I as a parent forbidding her to befriend kids that aren’t Mormon? No. In fact, I would love it if she were to open up her circle of friends to include those that aren’t of our faith. Once again, it’s not about intentionally trying to exclude others. It’s really not. We just don’t realize (especially young people) that we are causing others to feel left out. Believe me, the majority of Mormons would gladly welcome any decent person, Mormon or not, into their circle of friends if they knew that they so desired.

Hopefully that sheds a little light on the subject. However it doesn’t give Mormons an excuse to continue this behavior. We are taught in our church to love and accept all people, and I personally think that those of us who are members of the church need to be more aware of those around us and make more of an effort to include all people. And if there are members of our church who purposely exclude or are in anyway unkind or unfriendly to those not of our faith, shame on them! They are most definitely not in alignment with the teachings of our church. Let me share with you what our church leaders say about the inclusion of others…

In speaking to members of the church, M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of the church has said this,

Perceptions and assumptions can be very dangerous and unfair. There are some of our members who may fail to reach out with friendly smiles, warm handshakes, and loving service to all of their neighbors. At the same time, there may be those who move into our neighborhoods who are not of our faith who come with negative preconceptions about the Church and its members. Surely good neighbors should put forth every effort to understand each other and to be kind to one another regardless of religion, nationality, race, or culture.

Occasionally I hear of members offending those of other faiths by overlooking them and leaving them out. This can occur especially in communities where our members are the majority. I have heard about narrow-minded parents who tell children that they cannot play with a particular child in the neighborhood simply because his or her family does not belong to our Church. This kind of behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot comprehend why any member of our Church would allow these kinds of things to happen. I have been a member of this Church my entire life. I have been a full-time missionary, twice a bishop, a mission president, a Seventy, and now an Apostle. I have never taught—nor have I ever heard taught—a doctrine of exclusion. I have never heard the members of this Church urged to be anything but loving, kind, tolerant, and benevolent to our friends and neighbors of other faiths.

The Lord expects a great deal from us. Parents, please teach your children and practice yourselves the principle of inclusion of others and not exclusion because of religious, political, or cultural differences.

“Doctrine of Inclusion” (October 6, 2001)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mormons are Worth Loving Too

So I was talking to a friend of mine who just recently joined the church a few months ago. She was telling me that while at work she overheard a couple of her friends/co-workers talking about Mormons and our beliefs. One of her co-workers said, "Ya, I could never be friends with a Mormon." Hmmm...Really?? It just boggles my mind how some people will consciously choose to not be friends with someone just because they have different religious beliefs than them. This isn't the first time I've heard a story like this, but it never fails to surprise me. It's hard for me to understand because I have many friends who are of other faiths. I disagree with and don't understand many of the doctrines that they believe in. But would I ever choose to not be some one's friend just because they have different religious beliefs? Of course not. That seems ridiculous to me, and honestly quite un-Christian like.

What's funny is that they ARE friends with a Mormon...They just don't know it yet. I can only hope that once these gals find out that their friend is a Mormon, they will realize that Mormons are regular, decent people who although imperfect, are worth loving too.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:36-40)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Look Not Behind Thee

I really think this video relays an important message.  We have a new year before us.  We have the opportunity for a new start.  The important thing to remember is that we need to move ahead and not look back.  I made plenty of mistakes in 2010.  But because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we all have the opportunity to repent, forgive ourselves and move forward.  Let's make positive changes in 2011 and not look back.  Yes, I will still make mistakes in 2011.  But the great thing is that each day is a new start and the Atonement is there for us always.  The opportunity for a new start is available to us each and every day.  Look Not Behind Thee.

"If any has stumbled in his journey, there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Though the path is difficult, the promise is real: 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow' (Isaiah 1:18)." (Pres. Thomas S. Monson)