13 Things I Like About Mormons

13 Things I Like About Mormons August 19, 2010

So awhile back I did a post on 13 things I like about Protestants in what is meant to be an ongoing series. On a multi-faith site I think it’s important to talk about what we really respect and admire about each other, even just on superficial level.  So here I take on the Mormons, and I think as we head into fall I may write about Catholics next.

Each faith has it’s own contributions to culture as well as deep spiritual insights. Protestantism is part of my past, but other faiths are somewhat exotic to me. For this post, and those to come, I have to do some research and learning is a good thing!

13. Jello


I don’t get the relationship between Mormons and Jello. The joke is completely out of my context. It’s absurd and I like the absurd. Better to be associated with Jello than Spam or Marmite, right? Or is it?

12. Mormons Are Uniquely American

Their revelations and history all take place on American soil. Most of their holy places are here, not in some land far, far away. That’s really incredible. I could hop in my car and take a road trip to all the places of spiritual and historical importance to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Wow. Kinda jealous.

11. Mormons Are Friendly

At least all the Mormons I’ve met are friendly, but then in my area there aren’t all that many of them. I quilted with Mormons once. Nice ladies. Never once commented on what a horrible quilter I am. Very diplomatic of them.

10. Alma

Not only is this a section of  the Book of Mormon, but it’s also my great-grandmother’s name. It means nourishing. It’s a small thing, but I like this.

9. Evolving Scripture

Over 3,000 changes have supposedly been made to the Book of Mormon since it was first printed. Most of them have been very small changes to grammar, to update archaic language or remove redundant phrases. I like that although their scripture is holy, it’s also not stagnant. Well done.

8. Mission Work

99.9% of Pagans do not participate in prosetylizing, but leaving your family for two years to live in poverty in service of your faith is an incredible thing. While I can’t applaud their goals, I do admire the dedication of those participating in mission work. Especially because they do it all without any coffee.

7. Priesthood

Pagans generally don’t have lay people. We are each priests and priestesses in our own right. What varies is the type of priest or priestess we are, and in what way we serve a tradition. I love that each man is a holder of priesthood in LDS. Just seems odd that each woman isn’t a holder of priestesshood as well. Especially as you are all working towards the same goals and inherit equally in the Celestial Kingdom.

6. BYU

I like that you have your own university. Religious education is important. I hope that soon we will have a Pagan university.

5. Polygamy

Bet you didn’t expect this on the list, did you? Paganism has always been welcoming and accepting of the polyamory community. Currently Pagans are helping in the fight to decriminalize polygamy in Canada. Love is important and so is family. The union between consenting adults should not be a crime.

4. Occult Roots

Both the LDS and modern Paganism have drawn on Masonic influences. The levels of initiation, the rituals, the names, the symbols, the secrecy and the emphasis on personal spiritual growth are things we very much have in common. Though Pagans and Mormons may seem to be at opposite ends of the religious spectrum, I think we’d actually find ourselves very much at home in each other’s rituals.

3. Big Love


Yes, I know the entire state of Utah is groaning with exasperation over this being on the list of things I like about Mormons. The truth is though, that although the drama and sex reeled me in, it’s the religion and emphasis on family that keeps me hooked. After each episode I find myself Googling LDS terms because I know the show is fictional and I want the truth. Bill Henrickson and his family has spurred more curiosity in me about Mormonism than years of seeing those Book of Mormon commercials on tv.

2. Importance of Family

Modern Pagans are often seen as a bunch of non-committal hippies, but in truth we are very concerned about family. Pagan homeschooling is on the rise, second and third generation Pagans are being raised in our faiths. We are very concerned with caring for our elderly. We are grasping for a new paradigm of family that is inclusive, loving and supportive. While I don’t agree with Mormons on many issues, such as sexuality and coffee, I do respect their commitment to family. As we move into the future we need to give careful consideration to what family means, by looking at the ancients and by observing the faiths around us. We can learn a lot from Mormons about family, even though we don’t always agree.

1. Modern Prophecy

As someone whose spiritual path includes divination, prophecy and revelation I find it comforting that there are other traditions who engage the idea of modern prophecy and revelation. Trusting that your God does speak directly to you and practicing careful discernment to ensure your messages are truly Divine are things we have in common. The modern world is not comfortable with the idea that the Divine speak to us. It’s nice to know that there are other contemporary revelatory traditions out there.

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  • tanila

    Big Love did the same thing to me. I started reading all I could about the Mormon faith after watching it.

  • For us Reconstructionists with cattle/other raiding in our paleopagan history, Mormons who have a years supply of food/etc also make EXCELLENT raiding targets. OTOH, it IS unfortunate that they never have any alcohol to make off with.

    #WhyAstruar&CelticReconsTeamUp

  • Fern, you ain’t right. :op

    Tanila, I’m DYING for Season 4 to come out on dvd!

  • Interesting. I’d argue with some of these, but very diplomatically put.

    It’s a healthy exercise to look outside one’s own tradition for positives elsewhere. Krister Stendahl called it “holy envy”, one of his three rules of studying another religion. Helps break down the US vs. THEM mentality.

  • Ben, it’s always strange to see your religion from another perspective. I’m constantly befuddled at how Paganism is perceived by some people.

    Holy Envy? I like that concept!

  • Jennifer N

    Hey Star!
    I grew up in Utah so I find this post fascinating. I would agree with most of what you said, however, I want to point out that polygamy and polyamory are two VERY VERY different things. All those things you see on Big Love (HUGE FAN by the way) are true. The marring 12 year old girls, dropping young uneducated men off in the middle of the city with out a clue, incest, abuse, Blood Atonement, being ‘assigned’ to your spouse… all of that stuff is real. I’ve seen it. Polyamory is a relationship between consenting adults who choose to be together in love. It’s also for multiples of women AND men. Polygamy is in SO many cases forced and brainwashed and it’s always one man with many wives. There is never an option for a woman to have more than one husband. It makes my heart hurt to have witnessed so much of it. I am 100% on board with making polyamory legal…. not polygamy though. This is such a hot button with me! LOL I can talk for hours about the evils of polygamy and not even scratch the surface of why I think there should be efforts made to wipe it off the planet. I’ve known people who have had to go into the witness protection program because of blood atonement. I’ve seen the way women are pitted against each other to ‘attract’ the husband when it’s not that wife’s night. I’ve seen a woman gain 8 pounds during pregnancy because he husband thought she was fat and he kicked her off the “rotation” for sex. I’ve seen a group of polygamists who was run by a man that declared all girls when they turn 13 were to give him their virginity.
    Anyway, I can go on forever about this. I’ll stop though, I think you get the point I am trying to make. Polygamy and Polyamory are NOT even close to the same thing.
    Thanks for the post! I love reading your stuff!!!!
    xox
    Jenn

  • Polygamy is plural marriage, while polyamory is plural love and any form of plural marriage is polygamy. I think most of the issues dealing with polygamy are due to it’s outlaw nature. Only outlaws practice polygamy, and where one secret hides so do others. I am fully aware women are in abusive plural marriages and young girls are forced without their consent.

    What I believe is that if plural marriage is legalized then these women have legal recourse, a public identity and they are no longer as bound by fear.

    One thing to remember is that you have to separate the act for the cult. How many of these separatist LDS movements would evaporate once their primary cause for existing, to protect LDS polygamists, is taken away from them?

    If you don’t need the protection of an abusive church to protect your polygamist family, then you no longer have to endure the abusive church. Abuse will always exist, but allowing polygamists the freedom to live openly and honestly would reduce the cases of abuse dramatically.

  • Here’s an interesting article on the subject of FLDS polygamy: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/The-Future-of-Mormon-Fundamentalism.html

  • Wes Isley

    A humorous and insightful post (not an easy thing to do!). I like Mormons because my best friend way back as a kid was a Mormon. Might seem simple, but I was envious. His family met every week to talk about spiritual matters, which I’m sure was lame to him but, as a starry-eyed Bible-thumpin’ Baptist myself, it was like crack. His family always had great food, and I even went to church with them a few times. Nothing earth-shattering, certainly, but it did help dispel the myths and misinformation coming at me from my more “enlightened” Baptist friends (who weren’t nearly as fun!).

  • Re

    I’m not sure if I use the term proselytizing to describe Mormon missionary or at least not the ones I’ve encountered. I’ve read the book of Mormon cover to cover after it was given to me by a missionary. In my experience, Mormon missionaries are much more accepting of the idea that “I’m Wiccan but while there is almost no chance of me converting to your faith, I’d still love to read your holy text and understand your faith better.” than their non-Mormon counterparts. If I say that to other types of missionaries I get told that I’m going to hell if I don’t convert to their religion, or my personal favorite “I’m going to come back next week and quiz you to make sure you actually read it.”. The Mormon missionaries I’ve encountered were simply happy that I wanted to know more about their religion and not upset at all that my intention was to harbor understanding between faiths and not to convert. I supposed TECHNICALLY proselytizing refers to any unprovoked intentional spreading of one’s religious beliefs BUT I feel it carries a negative connotation, especially to Pagans who usually encounter more of the attacking flavor.

  • Bookhousegal

    Always nice to give compliments. :)

    I don’t particularly think Mormons would take their particular polygamy heritage and turn around and respect polyamory over it, but you left one thing out:

    They make a practice of stockpiling food and stuff, for the future of their own community, sharing in times of need, and disaster response. They’ve got a warehouse or two full of stuff ready to airlift when disaster strikes, or so I’ve seen on TV.

    Not hard to do, I suppose, with all the tithe-money and hierarchy, but it’s a very impressive operation and a practice much worth emulating by others, even if normally our common secular government ought to be doing more of that rather than being told to do less.

    Very admirable, that.

  • Peter Nelson

    Star, I really enjoyed your list. I found it fun and open-minded. Thank you. I could try to debate a few things but why? Again, fine job.
    Jennifer – I know that you speak from experience. I too have witnessed such crimes and abuses but my family has had active members of the LDS church since before and after plural marriage (which policy and practice was discontinued in 1890). Real LDS members in good-standing find the things you mentioned to be unacceptable and against our deepest beliefs. I hope that most of the “Mormons” you know have been good Christians – we should be.

  • Thank you for your beautiful post. I think you would also really like the Mormon theology of exaltation and deification as well as the under talked of fact that we believe in a heavenly mother as well as a heavenly father

    There is much I’ve admired in the pagan friends I’ve had over the years including their open mindedness for other faith and spiritual traditions and their typical love of nature and the natural world. I also love the emphasis on finding inner strength or power as expressed through ritual or magik.

  • Thanks for this post, it was a great read. I’m a rare one, I suppose, because although I was raised LDS and am still LDS, I very nearly became Wiccan when I was a teen as I investigated other religions. There are a great many more doctrinal similarities than most people from either side of the tracks feel comfortable admitting. Certainly more than many Christian religions have with Wiccanism.

    And it’s nice to hear about what other people like in your religion.

    My favorite things about Wiccanism are the seemingly dichotomous combination of self-empowerment and responsibility to/harmony with everything, the deep spirituality, and the reverence, merging with and enjoyment of nature. I also find myself wishing for your clear, developed female divine. I suspect that latter will come in time to Mormonism, though the former points are probably culturally an uphill battle in spite of actual LDS doctrine.

  • M. Conder

    I’ll return the favor–things this very mainstream Mormon likes about Wicca–

    8–Great clothes–capes and such
    7–Pentagrams
    6–Reincarnation
    5–All the ones I have known are very smart
    4–Their fascination with and acceptance of ritual and symbols
    3–That the earth and everything thereon in alive (even rocks)
    2–Therefore we have a serious stewardship responsibility to the earth.
    1–A Mother Goddess as well as a Father God.

  • As a former pagan and now a practicing, active Latter-day Saint I really appreciate your care and attention to detail and diplomacy in your writing. Your observation that we are far closer on the spectrum is absolutely true. One of the things I favored when looking into joining the LDS church was that I didn’t have to give up some of my deeply held beliefs about revelation and my personal relationship with the Divine. It’s worked well for me.

    Thank you for sharing your list, and I look forward to reading more.

  • DrEveryday

    If nothing but to echo some of the things mentioned, I love the polytheism of Mormonism. Sure, in the Christian sense, they are monotheistic, i.e. worship one Godhead. But in a literal sense of believing there are more, countless powerfully creative beings impacting the cosmos and beyond….I like that.

  • manaen

    Thx for this gracious, good-hearted review of my faith!
    .
    Jello.
    A news writer in Colorado wrote shortly before the 2002 Olympics a piece that tweaked us, including a supposed fascination for green Jello. The LDS response was typically moderate: green-Jello pins were top sellers in Salt Lake City during the Olympics and a grass roots movement resulted in more than 10,000 boxes of green Jello mailed to that writer. This tongue-in cheek response continues; although the Church never mentioned this officially, I’ve noticed that every dinner at my local ward (congregation) has a bowl of green Jello on the serving table.
    .
    #6
    Jenn, I’ve also heard stories like this. We should clarify, though, that the LDS Church excommunicates anyone in a polygamous marriage; these people are members of split-away (apostate) groups.

  • M. Conder

    I haven’t seen any green jello at any function in my Wasatch Front ward for YEARS.

  • As a Mormon convert (35 years), I would suggest a few things to Star’s list.

    First off, only Utah Mormons believe Jello must be served at every outing. It is one of the main reasons this Mormon has not lived in Utah except for one year in the early 1980s….

    Second, Mormons believe there is space in heaven for Pagans and other non-Christians. We believe that Christ’s atonement is so great and outreaching that almost all God’s children will receive a level of salvation in a heaven. We believe in 3 main levels of heaven, with possible mini-levels in each. For those who seek and obtain the greatest truths and righteousness goes the higher levels of heaven. But even murderers, thieves, and the wicked can obtain a level of heaven simply by not being complete enemies of the good.

    I’ve known several Wiccans and Pagans over the years. While I may not agree with some portions of their lifestyles, I do not see them as meriting an eternal hellfire and damnation. Rather, I see them as my mortal brothers and sisters attempting to find their way back to God and heaven – not an easy task for any of us.

  • Nita

    I was raised as LDS and somehow found myself more suited as pagan. I married my husband 5 years ago. We have received our pagan names before our anniversary. And we decided to renew our vows at a pagan camp ground and did a handfasting. We invited my parents and my mother was more willing to go, but my father faught me on it. He claimed to do some research and said to me that we don’t beleive in god…this hurt me to know he was miss informed and didn’t want to come because of it. I guess my mom talked him into coming and putting his feelings aside. We had 2 workshops for my parents to go to to help them understand better. And as the day went on I realized he was starting to relax more. During our ceremony I was surprised to hear him chanting with our pagan friends. It made our ceremony that much more meaningful. I still find myself trying to defend myself to him though. Any advise?

  • Smart

    Just FYI, mormons have not practiced polygamy in over 100 years and even then not many did it

  • Smart

    Just FYI, mormons have not practiced polygamy in over 100 years and even then not many did it

  • Azraels_lil_sis

    Actually you are inaccurate in statement seven anyone is capable of being a high priest or priestess and we step down to allow others that awesome experience we are all equal no one is greater in power than anyone else. So the Mormons allow all men to hold the priesthood while their women are basically useless vessels used in birthing more arrogant Mormons

  • Azraels_lil_sis

    Actually you are inaccurate in statement seven anyone is capable of being a high priest or priestess and we step down to allow others that awesome experience we are all equal no one is greater in power than anyone else. So the Mormons allow all men to hold the priesthood while their women are basically useless vessels used in birthing more arrogant Mormons

  • Aubzpope

    Hello, I’d like to say that I am a Mormon, born and raised as one. I love reading about what others have to say about my religion and I love finding out about other religions. Might I say though, just to set this straight, unless I’ve read something wrong. Any way, polygamy is no longer apart of our belief. It hasn’t been for quite a while. Now I’m not the person to start asking the questions of why and what happened and such things. But I know my religion pretty well for my age and I promise you that true members of the church of jesus Christ of latter-day saints will tell you that we do not practice polygamy or the other thing you mentioned, and that it is no longer a part of our belief to practice it. Just wanted to say this to set it straight. Sorry if I have upset anyone, I just wanted to stand up for my religion.

  • Aubzpope

    Hello, I’d like to say that I am a Mormon, born and raised as one. I love reading about what others have to say about my religion and I love finding out about other religions. Might I say though, just to set this straight, unless I’ve read something wrong. Any way, polygamy is no longer apart of our belief. It hasn’t been for quite a while. Now I’m not the person to start asking the questions of why and what happened and such things. But I know my religion pretty well for my age and I promise you that true members of the church of jesus Christ of latter-day saints will tell you that we do not practice polygamy or the other thing you mentioned, and that it is no longer a part of our belief to practice it. Just wanted to say this to set it straight. Sorry if I have upset anyone, I just wanted to stand up for my religion.