Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore... or Utah.

I posted this, then took it down because I'm a chicken. But now it's back. :)

This past week was a weird week for us. As y'all know I am LDS (aka "Mormon.) I've never hidden that fact and speak openly about it. I grew up in Texas. There weren't a lot of LDS kids my age.. I never had any of them in my school classes in junior high or high school except for one girl, one time. Well, the church has grown a lot since I moved from Texas to Utah. Of course in Utah I came in contact with other LDS several times a day. My children's teachers at school were LDS. My neighbors were LDS. We were EVERYWHERE!! ;) The fact that I or my children were LDS was never an issue.
Fast forward to now. We are not in Utah anymore. We're in Texas and apparently everyone knows everything there is to know about Mormons- except for the truth. And the fact that Warren Jeffs- the FRLDS leader- moved his polygamist sect to Texas doesn't help. FRLDS does NOT equal LDS. They are NOT Mormon. But no one seems to care for that explanation. In the last week on 2 different occasions my kids were confronted about their religion.
Alec was studying the Mormon pioneers at school. It came up that Alec was LDS. Well, his friends started asking questions, asked if he was a Christian, etc... Alec told them that yes , he believed in Jesus Christ. He believes in the bible. He is a member of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints, etc... His friend told him he wanted to adopt him so he could be a "real Christian." Alec again told him he was Christian. So, his friend went to ask the teacher if "Mormons and Christians were the same." She answered 'They are totally different.' When Alec told me this is really frustrated me. I emailed her:

Mrs. P,

We have a question regarding something Alec heard you tell one of his classmates about his religion. Ever since the class studied the section about the "Mormons" coming to Utah and Alec identified himself as a "Mormon" when you asked, Alec has been questioned by several of his classmates about his religion. Being questioned about it is fine. However, they were accusing him of not being a Christian and when one of his classmates (Eric) asked you in the lunch room if Mormons were Christians, Alec heard you say "they're totally different." Eric came back and said "she said they're totally different."

We don't want to turn this into a religious debate. We don't think school is the place to "teach" religion or for teachers to give their opinions about what one of their students believe. Alec told his friend that he believes in Jesus Christ and that he is a Christian. That should have been the end of it. Now instead of the answer given by the person who practices and lives the religion in question, kids are telling him that they are going to "adopt him so that he can become a Christian" because their teacher told them that he is not a Christian. We would like some clarification on this matter.

Thank you.
Seiuli and Tori G

Well, she emailed back, eventually and said this:
Mr. and Mrs. G,

First of all I want to apologize for any misunderstandings that may have occurred over this issue. I just want to clarify, however, that I never said that Alec was not a Christian. Me being one, I have always respected other people's religion. Being a 5th Grade Social Studies teacher, I teach the principles of what our country was founded on and freedom of religion is a great part of that.
When I was approached with the question about Mormons being different than Christians, it was right after lunch and I was trying to get the students quiet in the hall. The question came out of no where, and I was completely caught off guard and didn't have time to elaborate. A student approached me and asked, "Are Mormons and Christians were different?" My reply was, "That there are some differences." After that, I told the whole class not to address this topic again. I never brought up Jesus, or any thing else like that. I also want to clarify that I don't "teach religion" in my class room. I present to the students what is in the curriculum. We have been learning about the Westward Movement and one of the groups of people that we discussed were the Mormons and when they settled in Utah. I never told the class how Mormons practice their religion. I asked if anyone in the room was or knew someone from Utah that was Mormon and Alec shared that he was. My reply was that he might be familiar with the Mormon's background. I have not been aware of all of the harassment that has been happening, or I would have put a stop to it immediately.
I hope this will clear some things up for you. If you have anymore questions, or concerns, please let me know.

Thank You,

Mrs. P

Ok, I'm sorry, but isn't saying "They are different from Christians" basically the same as saying "They are not Christians"? And for the record- she didn't tell the class not to address the subject again until AFTER our email. I felt as I read her email that she was full of crap. I just thanked her for making sure Alec wasn't harassed anymore and that I knew she wasn't teaching a class on Mormonism and was sorry if it sounded like I insinuated that. She never replied.
I'm tired of hearing people say that we don't believe in "the same" Jesus or "the right" Jesus or we believe in Jesus "differently." I'm also tired of the lies out on the Internet and what not. I read somewhere (I don't remember where) this one story where the author stated her mom was told to divorce her dad because he didn't want to go to go to the LDS church anymore, so they left the church. Um, that' s a load. Maybe that's what her mom told her, but that's not true and if it is then her bishop was very wrong and should be disciplined. My (ex)husband was cheating on me and treating me like crap and I was never once told "Divorce him" and I know there are others in the similar situation that have never been told "Get rid of him!" It's like my ex telling his new church that he was "rejected by the LDS faith." Ok, he was not rejected. He didn't get excommunicated or anything. His records are still with the church. A friend told me a few months ago "Guess who's on our ward roster??" My ex was listed as living in their area. He was never "rejected"- he left. But ya know- I guess you gotta go what you've gotta do to deal with your own conscience.
Anyway, that was the 1st thing. Then Alec and Tristan went to a camp out with my ex. It was with people from his non-denominational church. Some guy sat there and talked about how Mormons are "taking over" his neighborhood and how weird their beliefs are, etc... No one said anything, just listened. My sons- who are LDS- were sitting their with their "father" who was raising them LDS until he was "rejected" (haha) and he said nothing. Tristan walked off and text me. I told him to tell my ex how he felt. He told him that it made him feel uncomfortable, and my ex just said 'Oh, sorry about that." I know he doesn't want them to be LDS, but they are, and he did nothing to defend them at all. He could have just said "Hey, my boys are LDS..." or "Let's talk about something else." and left it at that. But he said NOTHING and he has no idea how that just made him look in the eyes of "his" sons.
Anyway... I guess what I don't get is WHY does it matter to people?? At our camp outs we don't sit around and rag on other churches. If we were terrorists encouraging people to sin and hurt others, then I could understand why people feel the need to "protect" people from us. But we aren't. We live good lives. We are productive citizens. Yes- there are LDS that make mistakes and do evil things- just like in every religion. Everyone has their free agency, right? I just don't understand who decided who is the "right" kind of Christian?
I was attacked on a friend's blog for defending my beliefs. A man actually got in my mom's face and told her that she believed in Jesus "wrong." Faithful LDS members follow Christ's example as set in the holy Bible. We strive to live more like him. How is that wrong? We also don't judge others for believing differently. So, what is it that makes a "Christian" if it's not being a follower of Christ?
Here is the definition of CHRISTIAN from Websters:

Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

** I know I may have just opened a can, but this is my blog and if you leave a rude, hateful, NON-CHRISTLIKE comment it will: 1) Just make me look better. ; ) 2) Be deleted.

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Amanda said...

I'm glad you put this post back! I think it is awesome. You said it so well! I don't get why we are always having to defend ourselves. When I go to church I learn about Jesus Christ, not about how terrible and evil other relgions are. It makes no sense to me that they spend so much time trying to convince people that our church is so evil. Are they that worried that someone might actually like us if they gave us a chance?

I'm sorry that your kids are having to defend their beliefs already, especially to their Dad! :( He of all people should be sticking up for them, regardless of what he believes.

Mrs. Burns said...

Amen. We have our resident experts out here too. Oh, and gotta love the Warren Jeffs thing. I was glad to see the focus move away from Arizona. Sorry about what you are going through.

Gretch said...

Did you send the teacher the definition of CHRISTIAN???
I bet she is cra**ing her pants!!
She shouldn't have allowed it to go as far as it did!!

Truly, most people who "say" they are Christian, don't follow the definition. So then what do we call them???? Pretend Christains????

I'm glad you spoke up.
I think it is bull that you have to defend yourself and family !

realworldmartha said...


I am a Christian but not Mormon. I feel bad that you have received such negative experiences. I think it goes beyond your faith though. I was brought up in one denomination and went to another and they just completely bagged on the other. I was like hey don't we have some things in common here? People want to see differences and not things in common (I believe the devil loves that to keep us out of fellowship with each other).
I have had some Mormon friends that are so completely close to their families that I think a lot of faiths could learn from. Even though I believe we could differ and debate a main point people have to realize that putting others down and name calling is never going to help.
Many Blessings,
Debbie aka The Real World Martha(S)

swampbaby said...

Good for you, Sister! I think sticking up for your beliefs in a CHRISTLIKE way is the best example to show people what/how the "terrible" Mormons believe. You tell your boys to hold their head high.

Suzanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne said...

How annoying and stressful for you to feel like you always have to defend our church.

I've decided that people are either closed off to our explanation that we are Christians or open to it. Those that don't think we're Christians, we may as well be saying "Blah blah blah" because they're never going to believe that we are no matter what we say.

You're right, sometimes LDS people make mistakes, but if I'm not mistaken, everyone makes mistakes regardless of religion.

I hope you have a time of peace when you don't have to deal with this Tori!

(Sorry, the last comment was mine, but I messed up so I had to delete it.)

Klin said...

We worship and follow the ONLY Jesus Christ that exists.

I'm ready for a battle after today. Let me at 'em. Ok, so I don't argue religion. I am not above saying unless you are a practicing member I promise you don't know what you are talking about. Your opinion is jaded by what you heard from others who also don't know or who were too weak to live the gospel standards and have anger issues bases on blame shifting.

Prove me wrong.

I won't get started on the ex.

Have I told ya lately that I love ya? No? Well, I do. You are awesome Tori:)

Kylie D. said...

Great post. Thanks for putting it up.

aubrey said...

i'm sorry about that experience. that is superlame about your ex and sad for your boys that he didn't stand up for them.

No Cool Story said...

I can't make you look better, you already look great!

Before I became LDS I had a little notebook where I kept a "tally" of all the things that were wrong with Mormons. One of the top 10 was "You believe in a different Jesus". BOOOO!

You are right. The main problem is misinformation and the lack of dialogue. Like I always say, people hear what they want to hear.

:( Sorry the kids have to deal with that kind of stuff. It's not fair.

No Cool Story said...

PS: The teacher should have stayed out.
Or at least she should have said
Mormons are Christians. There are different types of Christians.

Lauren said...

Thank you for posting this.

I too have been receiving a lot of crap from people about our religion. Why attack people that are a peaceful people that go about doing good in this world. We don't bash religions, we simply practice ours and try to live good lives.

How can they say we aren't Christians when we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?! Ugh, I get so frustrated with this.

I am sorry your boys have had to deal with such ignorant people.

Stacey said...

What a wonderful post Tori. I've never really had to defend my religion to anyone personally. The few friends I've had who weren't L.D.S. respected me and never made a big deal about it. Good for you for e-mailing the teacher! Although her response does seem a little patronizing to me. Anyway it makes me want to say "Can't we all just get along??!!" Perhaps you should send her a copy of President Uctdorf's talk from conference. ;)

Boo to the ex for not defending your kids! >:(

s--max said...

Good for you, Tori! People are scared of things they don't understand. Instead of taking the time to research & learn, it's easier to bag on it. & like I told you earlier ~ you-know-who is a loser. & Good for Tristan texting you; he knew it was wrong that "ex" didn't say anything. That is a true testament to you & Sei's parenting.

utmommy said...

Yeah for you for standing up for what you believe in! It's so frustrating to always have to be defending our religion.

You know how on Survivor they always have a title to go with each person, like mom or radio talk show host? Well, one time it said Gay Mormon Waiter. Now, why did they have to put the mormon part in? Why couldn't they just say gay waiter? They didn't give other people titles such as Heterosexual Catholic Accountant. But, if it has something to do with mormons in the negative, they'll be sure to share that with the world.

Good for you! You rock!

Yvonne said...

What a wonderful post, tori.

I am always blown away by the people who don't think we are Christian. I love that you have posted the definition--good for you.

There are so many "experts" on our Church.

Sorry your children have had to deal with this.

Millie said...

Hell yeah!!!! :)

You know what it all boils down to - the Bible is just OLDER than the Book of Mormon. We're newcomers. We're rabble-rousers. We're dangerous and powerful and united and (my non-denom aunt's favorite thing to call us) rich.

They can't tell us we believe in a "different Jesus" - they don't have any more claim on Him than we do. They can just say that and hope they get us angry - that's the plan.

The teacher's a weiner. :)

Nancy Face said...

I'm so glad you posted this, Tori. Your email to the teacher was excellent, even though her response was not. The actions (or lack of action) on the part of your ex are extremely disappointing...big surprise, eh?

I used to do the hair of a lady who attended a church that actually held organized meetings with the purpose of "educating" their members on the ways that the LDS people were going to hell. That way, they would be prepared on how to "save" them. She loved and respected me, so she would come to the salon and ask me questions after one of those meetings, and actually listen to my answers! Then she would go to their next meeting and bring up what I had to say, but they would always have another lie ready in response. Here's an example:

I told her I led the singing in our worship services, and that we sang some of the exact same hymns about Jesus that her church sang, such as "How Great Thou Art." When she brought that up in the next meeting, they didn't even hesitate before saying that Mormons plant fake hymnals in their chapels to deceive visitors, and that they really do not sing any Christian hymns! Well, my sweet and brave friend chose to believe me instead of them and their lies, and she didn't back down at that meeting. She was a true Christian who loved and accepted others...isn't that just awesome? :)

JustRandi said...

I live in the "mission field" too, and I get to deal with Christians a lot.
The biggest thing I've learned is that when we say Christian, we are talking in a broad generic term for anyone who believes in Christ. When they say Christian, they are talking about their specific religion. And since their religion is different than ours and they know for sure that THEY are Christian, they just reason that we are not.
Most of them don't really want to understand the differences, or my opinion on the subject. They just know we're different and they have been told it's bad. That's where I just leave them with the "by their fruits shall ye know them" thought, and then we agree not to discuss it.

I'm so sorry that it's been stressful for you. I think you did a beautiful job with the teacher. She sounded a little stressed in her email, didn't she. Probably she knows that she can be fired for religious discrimination/harassment in the classroom. Might be nice to write her a quick note to reassure her and let her know that you appreciate her being sensitive to the issue.
IDK - Now that she knows you are LDS it seems like good missionary work to leave her with a good taste in her mouth.
Sorry about the novel.

Chel said...

I am glad you were proactive on this and called the teacher out on it. Too many times people sit back and think.. "well there is nothing I can do."
I have heard a lot about how Mormons are not Christians and I don't understand how they come to that conclusion when we are The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... what are they missing?

Ever since I moved from Utah, I hear a lot and to me, it's pure ignorance of other people to learn the facts.

~j. said...

I grew up with kids who attended churches where their lessons were on such topics as "What to say if a Mormon tries to tell you that they're Christian." Yeah, awesome. I even went to their youth pastor (who was also one of the track coaches) and told him that I didn't appreciate him interfering with my life this way, that it was completely disrespectful, not to mention that he was teaching plain falsehoods. He invited me to attend another local church's evening meeting (like a fireside) to prove to me that it wasn't mormon-bashing. (These churches were hosting monthly meetings to 'educate' others regarding other religions.) I went to the meeting and it was absurd. I don't know what I was more frustrated by: the fact that most of the 'education' consisted of lame jokes ("They hold their meetings in a STEAK HOUSE! I hope you brought your appetite!"), or that people sat their and believed it without questioning how ridiculous it all sounded. At the end, the youth pastor apologized to me: "I had no idea it was going to be like this. I'm sorry." Then, on my way out, I approached the preacher, shook her hand and said to her, "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Most of what you said here tonight was false, and all of it was said with intent to sway people away from the truth. Jesus lives, and he is my Savior. The Book of Mormon is true. Have a nice evening." And then I walked home in the snow.

I get angry when I think of this happening in my life, because children should not be put in those awkward positions to defend themselves against adults.

Pezlady said...

Tori, you are the rockstar of all rockstars to me!! That was an awesome post and I am so proud of you for putting it back on your blog! I hate the labels and crap that get put on us and our religion and I hate how it makes my kids feel and we actually live in MORMONVILLE! It's everywhere, but especially outside of Utah.
Anyway, good for you for teaching your kids correct principles and for standing up to that IDIOT of a teacher! One day she will have to eat crow and I guarantee she will not like it!! :)

Anonymous said...

New kid on the blocks are gay! Mormons are cool.

Anonymous said...

I was raised in the Lutheran religion which is one that most people do recognize. I however find myself in a somewhat similar situation explaining and/or defending my stepdaughter's religion which is Seventh Day Adventist. Many people associate her religion with the Branch Davidians since it splintered from the Seventh Day Adventists (think David Koresh and Waco if you are not immediately familiar).

This teacher was wrong to differentiate your child's religion from Christianity and should have said nothing rather than give incorrect information. Even though it's not part of the curriculum, she really should follow up with an apology and an explanation of the truth. I understand that people make mistakes but she should take responsibility and attempt to make it right.

sogratefultobemormon.wordpress.com said...

amen sister. great post :)