When I was a kid in Southern California, it was obvious to me that there were two kinds of people in the world: Mormons and the rest. As I got older, the rest became more differentiated; there were Catholics and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Baptists, Syrian Orthodox, Church of Christers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and even some people who claimed to have no religion at all. I was puzzled at one family’s celebration of Christmas when they apparently didn’t really even belong to any particular religion that I could discern.
As I attended high school and early-morning seminary, I began to notice that there was more than one kind of Mormon in the world as well. Some Mormons had such different attitudes and beliefs from me that I sometimes felt like I had grown up in a different church. Also, some Mormons I knew made strange comments, like whites shouldn’t date those of other races because the prophets have counseled us not to, or Americans shouldn’t pay income taxes because the prophets said not to. To my horror, as one raised by a baby-boomer mom to respect Martin Luther King and John Kennedy, some even used statements of the BRETHREN to condemn the civil rights movement as communist-led and hence Satanic.
Going to BYU, serving a mission, getting married, going to grad school, starting a career, and having a kid have exponentially increased my exposure to THAT KIND OF MORMON. But increasingly I learned that there were others too. There were Mormons who were pro-choice, Mormons who were gay and most interesting of all to me, those who acknowledged there was at least more than one kind of Mormon .
Given this diversity, is there something that all Mormons have in common? What does Joseph Smith have in common with Gladys Knight? And why are there so many kinds of us?
More ominously, should there be so many kinds of us?
I’m confident that no matter what kind you are, you will be able to unite with me behind this timely message: