There is certainly an entire spectrum rather than simply a bi-polar environment
within Utah. Within "the church", I had a graduate advisor at BYU who
stated that it must be incredibly difficult for me, a non-Utah convert, to be
living out there, as in his mind there were three churches within the church
(and thus, reflective of life in Utah). First, there was the church outside of
Utah, where folks tended either to be fully committed, or living out their lives
"inactive", but under the radar. Second, there was the "flag pole
church" inside of Utah, wherein resided a number of incredibly strong
Saints, but also existed an under culture of "societal Mormons", active
on Sunday but attempting to prove on the other six days just how
"non-Mormon" they were. And lastly, he said there was the "Church
at BYU", where there existed a strict "letter of the law" mentality
... "How could you wear blue jeans -- let's go speak with your
Bishop", also followed by those who would stay as close astride the line as
they could, to prove non-conformity. Simplistic perhaps, was his reasoning --
As the church grows now beyond 15 million and on toward 20 million a larger
diversity of members are joining with all sorts of cultural differences as well
as their own individual uniqueness such as tatoos and piercings and then even
bigger issues such as same sex attraction etc... the once small Utah-Idaho
dominated church is now world wide and carries with it all sorts pluses and
minus's. The main thing however that matters is that whomever the person is
we need to all chill out a bit and understand you can worship Jesus Christ fully
and go to the temple with green hair and tatoos if you choose so long as you are
keeping the commandments to the best you can and you meet the basic
qualifications for worthiness. as far the BYU / U of U rivalry...I
won't touch that one.
I was taken aback when I saw this column, because the divided and stereotyping
quality of this state recently led us to the decision to move back East (though
not NY, as shown in my screen name). Thank you for taking on this issue, and I
hope for all those that live here that it will improve.
Checking into the history of Utah might enlighten a few skeptics. No Mormon came
here out of a love for this place. They came to put enough distance to survive
those who would not let them live in peace and exercise the right to believe as
they chose. Anyone living in Utah now, benefits greatly from a culture, members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created, turning an
undesirable land into an oasis that has made it into many top rankings as one of
the best places to live. Others had a choice to come to Utah and through no
great deeds of their own, enjoy awesome benefits as well as its rich cultural
diversity and certainly are not forced to stay.
@skeptic"The problem with Utah is that there are just too many
Mormons."I hope you never move to Rome.
If I were moving to Utah I would only consider moving to Salt Lake County and
maybe a couple of other pockets. Try to move to a small-town community in Utah.
It is likely that you'll never fully be accepted into the fabric of that
society. It is especially tough on the wives, sometimes the children. But Salt
Lake County, the city especially, is more diverse and more live and let live.
@ SkepticThe problem with the world is, there are too many skeptics. Most
people who perceive intolerance are those who are intolerant themselves. Best
place to change perception is to start with your self first, then perhaps the
world may be a little more beautiful than you think, Utah included.
Patriot, how many of those 15 million Mormons do you think are truly active and
how many just simply have their names on the rolls?
To make a comment that infers that nonmembers shouldn't come here to Utah,
misses much of the history of this state. Yes the followers came in 1847, but
the non-believers came very soon after. I don't feel qualified to make a
comment about how nonmembers "enjoy awesome benefits" "through no
great deeds of their own". I'm sure that the miners who labored in the
mines, the Japanese who were forcibly moved here during WWII and stayed, the
thousands of military who were stationed here over the years all have a stake in
the state of the State. Those anti-nonmember statements were a perfect
illustration of the author's point. All people should be welcomed. This
is a great state. The quality of life is extraordinary. But there is a lot of
finger pointing and temple card comparing going on. I love my neighbors and it
really doesn't matter where they worship, or even if they do as long as
they are respectful and we are all good neighbors. I think the Goshute, Shone
and Utes might have issue with your opinion about who should or shouldn't
be allowed to live here.
@ SkepticStrange, I was thinking the same thing about skeptics. But
I digress.@ Howard BealI am of the opinion you have a
good point, having lived for a year in Central Utah, I think you will find the
more cloistered society syndrome in any small town. I can cite experiences in
the Midwest were new people were initially excluded but over time accepted into
the fabric of the town. My suggestion? Get over it, be a friend, overlook the
fear they feel and get involved. Volunteer to work in the local election
polling places, do something in PTA or whatever the school has going, check out
the city governments list of volunteer help wanted committees. It’s hard
to ignore people who are on the same committee or work group.
Having spent both parts of my youth and adult life both in and out of Utah,
there is one small slice of Utah society that makes living here more
"interesting", if that is the right word. In southern California where I
passed a couple of decades, there was a lot of religious and demographic
diversity. But those who were not religious, including those who had been in the
past, seemed to just head for the beach or the lake on Sunday, or worship at the
church of the NFL, pretty much ignoring those who made church part of their
lives. Live and let live. Here in Utah, at least some of those who do not
make religion part of their lives, especially some who have left the LDS faith,
seem to make it their life's work to belittle and fight against the
influence that church members have due to their sheer numbers. A lot less
live and let live. Some I guess are trying to rescue their former coreligionists
from their errors, some seem to resent any and all things LDS, from BYU to weak
@Linda and Richard: Good job! Excellent article.@kdmicha22: I agree
with DJC. Utah's diversity didn't start yesterday. Catholics and
protestants were building churches and pioneering in Utah during Brigham
Young's lifetime. Of course we honor the singular contributions of the
Mormon pioneers in this state but over the past 167 years there has been a lot
of pioneering by different people.Some of the statements about the
judgmental ways of others are true of course, but that is the one sin that is
seldom corrected by pointing it out in others. The best solution is to
vigilantly patrol one's own prejudice and try to be a good neighbor.
Let's follow the Eyre's advice and not jump to conclusions about
others. Just because someone lives in the Avenues or Park City doesn't
mean they have nothing in common with someone who grew up in Orem or Kanab.
I also agree with Strider303. While I would stop short of saying "get over
it", I am a strong believer that you can show up in a small town and make
friends and make a difference. You have to be willing to let the first few
real/perceived snubs roll off your shoulders. But if you donate items to the
community church bake sale, show up at the High School band bazaar or help coach
little league, people will notice.
Comments like kdmicha22 sure do make people feel welcome! It would be a lot
easier to live and let live if those who don't fit the mold were not
constantly being told to leave.
Mr. Obama winning Salt Lake County in 2008 is proof that Utah is diverse.
Utah is very unique. I imagine that the early settlers thought it would be a
Mormon-only place. That reality didn't last relatively long, but the
mentality (of those settlers) persisted for many years beyond. So there was an
"outsider" feel, and somewhat still is.I went to BYU and having
had roommates and mission companions from Utah, I saw there perspective as well.
One went to East High in Salt Lake and said just about everyone is Mormon, so
there are two kinds: Those trying to be good (majority), and those trying to be
as bad as they can. He recommended not raising kids in that kind of environment.
He also grew up with a distorted view of BYU, mainly because of the rivalry. He
didn't want to go there growing up, but was glad he did, and saw how
different it was versus how it was portrayed.I love Utah, it was a great
place to live, and defend it any chance I get.
Kings Court,How many are active? If I understand correctly,
"activity" is measured as attending church meetings at least once a
month. Worldwide I believe it is somewhere around 45%.It can vary a lot
from region to region, though. In Alpine, Utah, I wouldn't be surprised if
it were around 90+% activity. In parts of Latin America, however, I
wouldn't be surprised with an activity rate of 20%.
"There is little that is wrong with the reality of Utah ..."--- One of those things that is wrong is that Utahns feel they can revoke the
civil rights of others. "We met and fell in love at Utah State
University and got married while I was in graduate school at BYU before we left
together for Boston and Harvard."--- You were allowed to marry
in Utah and carry your marriage to MA, yet YOU want to prevent someone married
in MA from carrying their marriage to Utah (not to mention prevent that couple
from marrying in Utah in the first place)."...we think most
Utahns are pretty happy ..."--- Possibly true; however Utah has
the largest anti-depressant use in the country."We accept others
for who they are..."--- Nope."Kids pick up
quickly on signs of intolerance or criticism and judgment of others who are a
little different from themselves."
@kdmicha22;There were actually some settlers here BEFORE the
"saints" arrived. Not everything nice here is due to Mormon
influence.@Brave Sir Robin;I have lived in Rome.
Catholicism there is much like Mormonism here: Largely cultural.@Buzzards;That "lot less live and let live" attitude you
mention in Utah could be due to the judgementalism felt by "that crowd"
RE: divided, two-sided, competition-mixed-with-animosity division persists.Mormons are the majority over 60% and then you have the second group
which is liberal, but you have a very small third group of Bible believing
Christians. When you add the first two groups together you probaly have the
least Christian state in the U.S..
@RanchDon't forget that marriage between a man and a woman has
been the norm for thousands of years. It wasn't invented by Mormons. We -
along with a lot of other folks - happen to think it's a good idea that
shouldn't be changed on a whim. The consequences of altering marriage to be
about sex partners rather than about families will not be pretty. It's not
bigotry, it's prudence.I will say that whoever wrote Amendment
3 shot us all in the foot. Gay people who wish to make legally binding
commitments ought to be allowed that privilege.@DemocratI agree with your ideas about fitting into small towns. When we moved to Davis
County many years ago, we were treated like outsiders with no real roots here.
But we didn't mind because we _were_ outsiders, but now we're old
timers here. The irony is that a number of my ancestors lived in Davis County in
the 1850s, so in a way I really do have roots here.
@kdmicha22, I descend from no fewer than 37 Mormon pioneers, and have spent the
majority of my life in Utah. I certainly have benefited from the legacy my
ancestors and many, many others left behind, but that was through no great deeds
of my own. Even as a native of Utah, I have been as much a freeloader as anyone
who ever moved in from out of state.I now live in a state where, to
the best of my knowledge, few if any of my forebears ever even set foot.
It's hardly heaven on earth, but I appreciate the considerable sacrifices
of strangers which have made it what it is today. I also appreciate that my
neighbors accept and respect me even though my race, my religion, and some of my
political views differentiate me from the majority of people here. I would hope
that people in my home state would show the same kind of tolerance,
neighborliness, and acceptance to newcomers of different backgrounds that the
good people of Maryland have shown to my family.
"Don't forget that marriage between a man and a woman has been the norm
for thousands of years. It wasn't invented by Mormons."Maybe it "wasn't invented by Mormons" but it certainly was
changed for a while by them.I love how selective some can be in an
effort to suit their biases.
@Pops;Tradition, tradition. Tradition, TRADITION!!!"The consequences of altering marriage to be about sex partners rather
than about families ..."WE ARE FAMILIES TOO!!!!!!!!!
The good word of life can heal heal the nations; yet the gospel is a sword
cutting down thru the middle of society, leaving us no option but to choose
between light and darkness. In the end, there will be few in-between persons in
the middle area of indecision. Either there is right and wrong, or else there
is not and anything goes. Abraham put God before family, so we may at times,
be required to do the same ; (which blesses families), so clearly if we ever
have to choose between God and neighbor, surely we will choose the former, and
the Saints will be marching and dancing before the morning gates of heaven,
going onward to glory, following prophets, revelators , seers. I want to be
in that number when the Saints come marching in.
Can someone please define Civil Rights and then tell me where they begin and
where they end?