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I was born and raised in the LDS Church, but after much serious contemplation I have decided to become a member of my local Quaker meeting. In my letter that expresses my desire for membership (nothing so beautiful and symbolic as my Mormon baptism, of course), I shared that I consider myself a Mormon-Quaker. There are Buddhist Quakers, Muslim Quakers, Atheist Quakers. I am wondering if there is a breaking out of the mold and yet still faithful interfaith tradition to speak of within Mormonism? Am I, by chance, following in others' heterodox footsteps? I was thinking maybe there are some examples of Native American Mormons who may have charted such a path for themselves . . . and wrote about it? Spoke about it? Anything?
Of course, I am aware that I may be crossing the streams (Ghostbusters reference) of Protestant denominations and that membership in another church would be considered grounds for nulling my membership in the Mormon church. But that is not where I want to go. My decision to become Quaker has been one of much discernment, and I only decided to do it when I realized that there is much room, even richness, in being my Mormon self within my Quaker communities. Right now, for now, I find that my contribution to the building up of Zion seems to be with the Quakers, or the Friends. That said, I am open to all the transformations life offers and I wonder if living and worshiping with a Mormon community might someday be a possibility for me again? Some Quakers participate fully in two or more different spiritual traditions at the same time, so I am told. For now, I am practicing most outwardly as Quaker, but I am Mormon, first and foremost. It is where it all begins for me. And our family's Quaker faith and practice has a particular inflection of Mormon hymns, Mormon prayer, Mormon vocabulary, Mormon cooking, and of course, Mormon stories. I guess I am also worried that this choice might horrify some, if not most, of our brothers and sisters.
So, what do you say Mormon Girl? Any one else done this before? Anyone else doing it? An interfaith family is one thing, but what about an interfaith person? And, am I just asking for trouble? In your opinion, what are the realistic stakes of my decision to become a Mormon and a Quaker?
in the light,
Oh, Sister-Friend. Reach deep back into LDS Church history, and you'll find many touch points between Quakers, their cousins the Shakers, and Mormons, from our common roots in the English Radical Reformation through the early days of the Church in Quaker-rich Ohio and Pennsylvania. And I'm not even talking the much-abused dictum attributed to Joseph Smith that there were men living on the moon "dressed in Quaker style."
Joanna Brooks is an award-winning writer, religion scholar, and university professor. She lives in San Diego and writes the weekly Ask Mormon Girl column.