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‘Fitting in’ as a non-Mormon in Utah

updated Friday, October 21, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.

ST. GEORGE – Outside of Utah, the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the Mormons – is in the minority. Inside of the state that trend is reversed. Newcomers to Utah suddenly find themselves in the minority if they are not a part of the dominant religion and its accompanying culture.

To members of the LDS church, religious and cultural intolerance is nothing new. A quick run-through of the church’s early history in the American East and Midwest is full of tales of persecution and forced expulsion.

However, this is not a story about grievous offenses committed over a century ago. Instead, the magnifying glass examines how one of Utah’s minorities, namely those not of the Mormon faith, perceive the dominant culture and relate how they have been received by it.

The Seasoned Resident

Avis Sasse and her family moved to Utah from Wisconsin in 1976. Work brought her family to the state, as her husband was the superintendent overseeing the construction of what would become the St. George Care and Rehabilitation Center. Once the construction was complete, Sasse said they had planned to move, but didn’t. She and her husband decided to stay so their children were not uprooted from school.

As for dealing with the predominant culture of the area, Sasse said it didn’t bother her much. She and her family got along well with their neighbors and the community. Indeed, Sasse had moved into a culture that was a Mecca for a personal hobby of hers – genealogy.

Sasse never felt alienated or discriminated against by the majority either. If anything, she described feeling “more left out.”

“It seemed that all the social activities went through the [LDS] church,” Sasse said.

Sasse and her family are Lutheran, and there were no Lutheran churches in St. George in 1976. Not being LDS led to the Sasse family being left out of a great many social gatherings early on.

Still, being in the minority really doesn’t bother Sasse.

“I have always had friends that didn’t belong to the same religion,” Sasse said.

Concerning the eccentricities of Utah culture, Sasse laughed and said being asked what ward she was in was never one of the first topics of conversation while living in Wisconsin – only in Utah.

When the question of whether or not she believed the majority culture influenced state and community laws, Sasse’s reply was “Oh yes they are.”

Sasse said the state legislators were guided by the culture they lived in. Yet, while some voices cry out with the clichéd phrase “If you don’t like, move,” Sasse said to live with it.

Sasse and her husband had the chance to move once they retired. Instead, they opted to continue living in St. George.

As more non-LDS individuals and families move into Utah, though, Sasse believes the influx will eventually reshape the dominant cultural landscape.

“Gradually attitudes are beginning to change,” she said.

Growing up Non-Mormon in Utah

Lisa Janssen is a college graduate whose family moved to Utah from California when she was seven years old.  In her old neighborhood she didn’t have much opportunity to play with other children her age. She thought that would change when she came to Utah.

“I remember being so excited when I moved to South Jordan,” Janssen said. “My next door neighbors had seven children… Of these children, three were my age; one boy and two girls. I thought I had gone to heaven – so many new friends. However, that feeling was short lived.”

A few days after moving into the new neighborhood, Janssen and her new friends were no longer allowed to play with each other because her family was not Mormon.

The event had a profound impact on Janssen’s young life, but she related that as time wore on, things took a turn for the better. She gained new friends and best friends who were Mormon

“It wasn’t until I started dating that not being Mormon imposed more limitations on me,” she said.

Janssen’s first boyfriend was a Mormon who ended up dumping her because she was not of the same faith.

“I got over it and have even dated other Mormon guys since then,” Janssen added.

Still, Janssen finds dating to be an issue when it comes to dealing with the dominant culture.

“…It amazes me how I sometimes feel like there is something wrong with me since I am 24 and I’m not in a serious relationship,” she said.

For other people her age, Janssen said most of them were married and had at least two children by now.

Despite the cultural setbacks Janssen has experienced, she has found living in Utah to be a generally positive experience.

“I really enjoy Utah,” she said. “I’m not always in love with the culture here, but I feel like I grew up in a safe environment that I would feel confident in raising children in.”

The Recent Arrival

Bethany Ilsley, 36, moved to Ogden from New York City in 2007.

Like other non-Mormon transplants to Utah, she experienced the culture shock and was taken aback by what she described as immediate “surface judgments.”  People would notice the multiple piercing in her ears and come to the abrupt conclusion she was not Mormon, and then come out and comment on the matter.

Ilsley added that because she was affiliated with a non-Mormon church, she didn’t get the welcome wagon Mormons were known for when moving into a new neighborhood. No one came by to introduce themselves or bothered to get to know her.

“I got nothing,” Ilsley said.

Despite the lackluster reception she received at the hands of the locals, Ilsley said her experiences with others over the years have been positive.

“In general people have been nice,” she said.

Ilsley has gotten used to Utah’s distinct culture, and added when she notices something new and distinctly Utahan, it makes her laugh. She has found some of the state’s laws particularly amusing.

“The liquor laws are pretty interesting,” she laughed.

In relation to those laws, Ilsley saw them as an example of the dominant faith and culture mixing with public policy.

“It’s really obvious the major religion has influence on politics,” she said.

In general, Ilsley has little problem with the people who embody Utah’s unique culture. Though she did say she felt occasionally isolated and discriminated against because of her non-Mormon background.

Ilsley added that, if she had any advice to give her Mormon counterparts, it would be to stop trying to convert everyone who moves into Utah.

What Does the Church Say?

Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, spoke in the Oct. 1988 LDS General Conference on the matter of how members of the Mormon faith ought to treat non-members.

“I encourage [members of the church] to build personal, meaningful relationships with your nonmember friends and acquaintances…” Ballard said. “If they are not interested in the gospel, we should show unconditional love through acts of service and kindness…”

Ballard then counseled against appearing indifferent towards others.

“I believe Church members want to be good friends and neighbors wherever they live, but some are shy and overly cautious. This can appear to be clannish. We must not reserve our kindness and affection only for our fellow members. We must be sensitive and not oblivious to the feelings of those whose views may differ from ours. Considering the early history of the Church in these latter days, unkindness or indifference toward others should be abhorrent to members of the Church…”

The sermon was then closed by Ballard asking members to follow divine example in the matter.

“I bear my testimony that ‘God is no respecter of persons;’ we should follow his example in all of our associations with our fellowmen. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind. He loves all men and looks to each one of us to do the same…”

mkessler@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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  51 Comments
  1. Anne V. Williams October 20, 2011 at 10:43 am · Reply

    We moved here a little over 5 years ago. We found people to be friendly, but the LDS have such a full social life with Church and family demands, that they have less time than most for friends outside their faith. I’ve seen this with other faiths as well. The “Dutch Christian Reformed” were a large minority in the community where I was born and raised, and they were similar. Dedicated Roman Catholics were busy among themselves as well, but there were so many “lax Catholics” that it wasn’t as noticeable.

  2. Kellie Mzik October 20, 2011 at 11:32 am · Reply

    We found the LDS people in Santa Clara to be varied, from those who were kind and friendly to those who wouldn’t let their children play with ours and who wouldn’t associate with us, even though we’d never met.

    The schools, on the other hand, and Snow Canyon High School, are another matter altogether. Discrimination against non-LDS students, particularly those who excel in academics or athletics, is rampant there.

  3. Kim Funk October 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm · Reply

    I grew up in Utah as a mormon. I have lived in St. George for 13 yrs. I was not a ‘practicing’ mormon when I moved here. I wanted friends and to be involved in neighborhood activities. I started going to church. I immediately had more friends than I knew what to do with. My social calendar was always full. I moved about 4 miles away from this neighborhhod. Not ONE person has kept in contact with me. I since have nothing to do with the mormon church. I hate that there is not separtion between church and state. I also can’t agree with their stance on gays since I have a gay son. I now feel free of not worrying that I may go to hell for doing this or that. I know God loves me just the way I am!

  4. Chardell October 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm · Reply

    It’s hard to know what people want. I’d love for every non-mormon to be comfortable and happy here but some want to be left alone and some want to participate in activities. It’s so hard to know which way will offend. My advice to any newcomers (or even if you’ve lived here for years) is to let us know where to draw the line because everyone wants something different.

  5. -Mike- October 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm · Reply

    As a Mormon, myself, I can’t disagree with anything that has been said already. I know a lot of the kids and teenagers in my neighborhood and I usually know if they’re LDS or not… I can definitely see a divide between them, and it obviously starts with the parents. Having grown up here (not too long ago), I also have seen how non-LDS kids are, maybe passively, discriminated against and kind of kept at a distance.

    @Kim. Sad as it is, I moved a mile away from my old house and into a new ward (still part of the same stake), and I haven’t heard from a single person from my old ward. I guess if you’re out of sight on Sundays, you’re out of mind for good. Not even Facebook can keep our relationship alive… who knew?

    As with everything else, it’s the “radicals” that create a bad name for the whole group, and there are way too many LDS members who are self-righteous jerks who won’t associate with people who aren’t LDS. And, being in a place with so many LDS members also means there are even more crazies who make the rest of us look bad.

    I think Chardell is wrong in asking for help drawing a line… can’t we just act like adults and get along with everyone? I would be embarrassed if a new neighbor came to me and said, “Now I know you’re LDS, but I don’t want to be invited to church, and I don’t want this, but I do want this, and I’ll think about this other thing.” If something comes up, deal with it then and be done with it… it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. Right? Right.

    I don’t care if you’re LDS or not, I’m happy to make new friends… so y’all let me know if you’re bored some time and we can get together and party (but no dancing, that’s against the law).

  6. RonC October 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm · Reply

    This is a story worth telling, and I found it interesting. But I can’t help groaning when someone calling himself (or herself) a “freelance writer” demonstrates an inability to use the English language correctly. “Decimated against”?? “Mormons were RENOWNED when moving into a neighborhood?” Come on! Does the St. George News employ proofreaders? Do editors check copy?

  7. Travis October 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm · Reply

    Raised a Mormon in Utah, I am constantly amazed to hear stories about Mormon families who wouldn’t let their children play with non-Mormons. Such a practice ignores the teachings of Christ and is contrary to the values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And it seems like such an easy vice to avoid. It’s not like a habit that’s tough to break – crap, I just told my kids not to play with non-Mormons again.

    I am now raising my family in Texas. I am never offended by the efforts of Baptists and Methodists to convert me. I’m flattered they care enough to try to save my soul, and I prefer it to being shunned or ridiculed for my faith – which has also happened.

  8. Not a Mormon October 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm · Reply

    Chardell, you make a valid point. What we want is to be treated like normal people, on our merits as individuals, without any thought whatsoever as to what church building we do or don’t go to. Leave the religion out of it. People outside of Utah – no, let’s not phrase it that way. That makes Utah seem bigger and more important than it is. People in the REST OF THE UNITED STATES for the most part DO NOT talk about religion for any reason with friends and neighbors, let alone with strangers you’re meeting for the first time. Most people outside of Utah feel Mormonism is a weird cult and don’t want to learn about it or be a part of it. We just want to live our lives quietly and be friends with regular human beings who don’t bring up religion. We have that right as citizens of a unified nation to not have that crap shoved at us. Mormons should live their faith richly but quietly by example and be welcoming when we hellbound eventually ask questions. But don’t you bring it up ever!

    My family and I are obviously not mormon……duh. Apart from that, we’re spectacular neighbors and very polite to everyone who is polite to us. When we moved into our home we got the “Welcome Wagon” as I guess its called, though not being from Utah it seemed more like nosy neighbors coming to find out our business. Outside Utah you don’t know your neighbors besides their names, what they look like, and when they come and go. Other than that its none of your business. At any rate, it was very weird for us to have total strangers come up and start telling us their life story and asking ours. That’s a definite no-no outside of Utah. I don’t know you, you aren’t going to get a word out of me about my family until I can prove you’re not a serial killer child molester.
    .
    Almost immediately came the “We haven’t seen you in the Ward yet” (or variant thereof) which we immediately took as a thinly veiled attempt to get to know more of our business (are we mormon?). [My favorite is the "Are you part of THE Church?" I like to answer "yes" and then they'll ask "What Ward?" to which I reply "The Body of Christ doesn't have Wards." That one's saved for the particularly holier-than-thou Mormons though.] At any rate, We politely would say “Oh, we’re not Mormon” or “We’re Christian” and the smiles would instantly fade away, the tone of the conversation would change, and within 2 minutes they’d pack up their brood of kids and disappear with a fake smile and “oh, it was so nice to meet you! We’ll have to get together sometime!”. Needless to say, “sometime” never came.

    We had done nothing to these people save talk for less than literally five minutes and had our kids running around together on the lawn and they were out of our lives – or more correctly, we were out of their lives because we were different. We keep up our house, put up decorations on the holidays, put our kids through Christian education, pay our taxes, go to work, and keep an eye out for weirdos and trouble makers, but we’re shunned because we don’t go to the same church building. Every once in a while we’ll get Ward specific invites stuck on our door. It’s a nice thought, but really really weird and insulting. We’re not good enough to socialize with like normal people, outside of Church, but we’re good enough to be included in your mass canvassing (since EVERYone is a Mormon, right?) for prosthelityzing where all of the Joneses can see what a goody goody you are being nice to the heathens. Get off my porch Pharisees. We’re not helping you check off a box for your daily exercise in having your faith-through-actions witnessed. Be whitewashed tombs without us.
    .
    And that brings us to the work environment. Some jobs naturally attract grittier people who don’t mind using and understanding foul language as “color” rather than horrible, offensive vulgarity. These people come from all different faiths and its rarely ever an issue brought up in the work place. Other jobs naturally attract a more genteel person – and that’s not to say a person afraid of doing work, rather it refers to people who faint at the mere suggestion of someone, somewhere thinking a mean thought. In my experience, the folks in Utah who fill those jobs are Mormons through and through. Depending on the job, some people have a lot of idle time to kibitz, shoot the breeze, or even gossip. Its those jobs and the genteel people who bring up religion in the work place. I’ll grant that its one thing to idly have a whispered conversation between a couple people who are all on the same page, but it is quite another to outright ask people what their religion is, or what their beliefs are, or even to openly discuss any religious matter out loud for anyone to hear as if it is a normal thing to do, just like you’re talking about the weather or something.
    .
    Well, news flash – many of us non-Mormons think Joseph Smith was a huckster and charlatan, inspired by Satan, who completely made up everything to bilk gullible people out of money and detract them from Biblical beliefs in God. I don’t say this here to incite anger, rather to simply make clear what we non-Mormons believe and why it infuriates us that you talk about “Thomas Monson speaking directly to God” and calling people “Prophet” and whatnot. We don’t believe there are legitimate prophets today because the Bible says so. We don’t believe that the Bible – God’s words – which has thousands of years worth of history and billions upon billions of believers is outweighed by the Book of Mormon – Joe’s words found underground by a tree on a hill in his backyard – which doesn’t even have 200 years of history and only a few million believers. Can’t you see why its so backwards and angering to us at such a fundamental level when such “heresy” as we see it is openly flaunted and forced upon us when we have no recourse to retaliate or ask it to be stopped because WE are the minority. I have brought this issue up to many superiors at jobs and I’m given an empty smile and a meaningless nod of the head with a “uh huh, yeah, poor sweet little you” attitude. I guarantee if I were to speak my mind on this matter at work I’d be fired in a heart beat, no matter how polite or disciplined my train of thought. What if I wore mock temple garments to the work halloween party? Or came as an “LSD” missionary? That’s not ok, but coming as a pregnant nun is?
    .
    Outside of Utah, I am on top of the food chain as a white, Christian male aged 18-59. My kind has ruled the world for centuries. Here in Utah, because I’m not Mormon I’m no better than “dirty illegal mexicans” or any other “undesirable” population of outsiders. Being a minority is a real thing, and its not cool. We non-Mormons want to live in AMERICA, not the theocratic outpost of Utah doing everything it can to artificially maintain a medieval-minded bubble of isolation and brace itself against the onslaught of the real world. It’s time to remove involuntary and gargantuan levels of in-your-face Mormonism from the public sphere. Please, live your faith by example all you want and associate with your fellow Mormons all you want. But treat us non-Mormons like human beings. Don’t bring up religion at work. Don’t shun people because they’re not in your Ward and you’re too busy with church-mandated things to keep idle hands from doing the Devil’s work. One day we will get our people into the State government. One day we will enforce the separation of Church and State. One day we will outnumber you. There’s no place to run, no more “Deseret” out in the remote west.

    • hillplus October 21, 2011 at 8:16 am · Reply

      Goodness, Not a Mormon, I am sorry you have been hurt. You come across as very angry and bitter.

      PS the Bible doesn’t say there are no more prophets, In fact, it says that the Lord will do nothing without revealing his secrets to his servants, the prophets. :)

      Have a nice day!

  9. Carola October 21, 2011 at 8:34 am · Reply

    I do not limit my children’s friends based on their religion and I don’t know anyone who does. But I do set some limits based on vulgar language and jokes or other bad activities. I limit movies and video games. This will leave out some kids because of their families. It’s not because of religion. It’s the values of their family. But for some reason it’s always blamed on my “bigotry” rather than what they may teach my children.

    We’re not super strict. For example, I teach my children that people can smoke if they want and not to comment on it or any other thing they see that we don’t do in our family. Why can’t people see that every parent draws a line for their children, but my line is in a different place? That’s not offensive. Get over it. I never believe it when people say “my kids can’t play their’s because we’re not Mormons.”

  10. Sue in Atlanta, GA October 21, 2011 at 11:14 am · Reply

    I am from the South and the Bible Belt and a former Southern Baptist. I have been LDS since 1962. The first thing a Southern asks when you move it is “Have you found a church home yet, if not come visit mine.” We also have Welcome Wagons all over the South. So I found “not a mormon” comments rather laughable. Must be a Yankee, as we say in Georgia.

    We have to put up with comments about our southern accents and our heritage but we are friendly and sharing and just like folks in Utah. I have friends in and out of the church – Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Jewish, Congregationists, Presbyterian and more. Atlanta is a a city of many cultures and religions and we co-exist nicely. Of course, there are plenty of people who call us names but we can’t be offended by every little thing. It is sad to read the comments of a person like “not a mormon” because the words come across as so unhappy and bitter. Not the kind of person I would want to hang out with for a fun evening. He even takes time to make threats about “someday” what they will do.

    The only thing I would focus on is Christ’s teaching to love one another. I think “not a mormon” left that part out. Maybe he has chosen not to do that commandment. These days so many people think commandments are suggestions anyway.

    We are commanded to share the gospel and to do less is unthinkable.

  11. Janet October 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm · Reply

    Carola, how very generous of you teach your children that people can smoke if they want.

  12. urbanboy October 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm · Reply

    “Fitting in” in Utah as a non-mormon”……..in short, you won’t. Have to meet friends and people from outside the area :/

  13. wayne's world October 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm · Reply

    THIS ARGUMENT WILL NEVER CEASE TO EXIST CUZ THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE THE TRUE CHURCH LIKE EVERY OTHER CHURCH DOES……..JUST LEGALIZE WEED!!!!!!! GOD CREATED IT FOR ALL HIS CHILDRENS’ PLEASURE!!!!!

  14. tyler October 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm · Reply

    church and cults like everything else involving $$$ in someway, are nothing more than business after that almighty dollar-and why not brainwash in the making?! some points to keep in mind…mormons are originally polygamous, they ONLY stopped practicing that horrid culture so utah could gain statehood. i wouldn’t join any religion if my life depended on it cuz my mind is far too open to be closed, narrowed and controlled. have to agree with many of these comments, especially urbanboy’s and wayne’s. i must also add, hypocracy is HUGE.

  15. Just_a_nice_guy October 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm · Reply

    @tyler—Speaking of $$$, if religion is all about the money, then I’m in the wrong church. There is no paid ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at least not that I have seen. I spend hours upon hours helping my neighbors build computers, rake yards, paint houses, clean houses, landscape the neighborhood dog pound, clean the church building, prepare emergency plans in the neighborhood, etc. I’m not bragging here. My point is, I haven’t gotten a penny for my efforts here, and I’m a member of the said church, and I have a full-time job collecting money for a utility company that isn’t owned by the church.

    So please, tell us where you live, and some people in the church might consider moving in your neighborhood, and share some of the wealth. We really could use it in this day and age.

    • Rae January 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm · Reply

      RU aware of the billions of $$ used to build temples? Or certainly the millions the mormon church pays each year to promote their religion in TV commercials, on-line, etc? They are building their fortune, yes, tax free fortune- off you and your fellow mormons backs. RU aware of all the land holdings the mormon church has around the world? Yes, it IS about $$… stop paying your tithe and see what happens.

  16. Not a Mormon October 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm · Reply

    hillplus and sue, that’s the exact patronizing I wrote about. “Boo hoo, poor you, if you just drink our kool aid your problems will be better, but until then I’ll be smug that I’m in a position of safety in my community because you really don’t matter.”
    .
    Heaven forbid someone who is anti-Mormon actually have valid observations and experiences about harassment and bigotry, let alone have a passionate opinion on it. Let’s just put our heads in the sand and chalk it up to one lone individual being “unhappy and bitter” and not associate with them because their feelings make us uncomfortable. Everything’s fine here in Pleasantville/Stepford. Nothing to see. Move along.
    .
    “I got a feeling, that you could be feeling a whole lot better than you feel today. You say you’ve got a problem? Well that’s no problem. It’s super easy not to feel that way! When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head, don’t feel those feelings, hold them in instead…….
    .
    “Turn it off, like a light switch. Just go ‘click’! It’s our nifty little Mormon trick! We do it all the time. When you’re feeling certain feelings that just don’t seem right, Treat those pesky feelings like a reading light….and turn ‘em off!”
    .
    More of the same from your types.

  17. Duck Duck Goose October 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm · Reply

    @Sue

    “Must be Yankee, as we say in Georgia.”

    God, don’t you love the person who uses prejudice to try to argue in the sake of not being prejudice? Not only does your expression not make any sense but it removes anything of value from what you have to say afterwards. Allow me to let you in on something, Sue from Georgia. When you’ve led a life of being shunned from circles of people (in this case a certain group of people)- regardless if it’s kids down the block, neighbors to your left, or fellow class or work mates- then the human nature tends to shy towards a lax resentment of the group and their ideologies. But the article, as strangely written as it is, hits on the key point that the majority of ‘non-momo’ out there cope fine with the prejudice and everyone couldn’t be happier.

    @Carola

    I think it’s funny this person commented that they don’t want their kids to play with ‘other kids’ because they “play video games or watch movies. Since you’re most likely an expert on child interaction through media and entertainment, I’m sure you’ve had discussions with the parents of the poor kid with nothing to do but sit in his basement and play Mario Party by himself and why you feel it’s needed to distance him from your normality.

    I grew up in West Jordan (Christian, loosely) and my best friend had a very poor homelife, got into trouble, never had clean clothes, the works. Instead of excommunicating him from my life my Mom brought him in, did his laundry, taught him to read, and involved him in things we did as a family. Everyone benefited from this.

    When I moved to St George when I was 11, I was immediately barred from entering two houses of fellow schoolmates on the block. And I was a good, quiet, shy kid. I never really understood why my friends would stop short of inviting everyone in the hows to show off some cool new video game or whatever whenever I was in the group. Later on I found out that simply because their parents didn’t recognize me or my last name from the ‘ward’, that they thought I would be trouble (even as far as being called a thief for no reason at all).

    So before yall grab off a piece of smug and say you *are* nice to everyone and that you *do* love everybody and live Jesus’ word, the numbers and writing is on the wall is against you

  18. LDSinOH November 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm · Reply

    Utah is even strange to LDS who move in from other states.
    It’s just the way they do things it’s not any better or any worse than
    what you are used to it’s just different and differences can help
    us learn about ourselves.

    I love to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there again.

  19. Yvonne November 20, 2011 at 10:30 am · Reply

    I belong to the LDS church in place where it is not the most popular or dominant church. i experience bigotry, hatred, kindness and friendship. The more dominant churches influence culture and politics. I don’t regularly see news articles about the experiences of members of smaller churches living here where the majority of churches are Baptist and Methodists. I don’t understand why this article topic appears again and again in Utah.

  20. Ilsley December 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm · Reply

    Wow… Didn’t know she was discriminated against… Must be even worse since Beth has now released a gospel album… Most Mormons are nice to ya until you tell them you ain’t Mormon, then they just walk away…

  21. Ben Lively December 21, 2011 at 8:44 am · Reply

    Let’s just say that of course a St. George paper wouldn’t print anything negative about mormonism.

    My advise is that if you plan on living in Utah unless you work for a non-Mormon company and have a large support network of non-Mormons you can trust that are local don’t go there!

    In every town in southern Utah I have had or heard of :
    experiences of harrassment by city, county and state police against non-Mormons
    Mormon supervisors against non-Mormons
    non-Mormon children routinely and actively harrassed especially if they REFUSE to go with their
    Mormon classmates to church functions where they try to enlist new converts
    Active and open hostility toward people of different lifestyles- gays/lesbians, single mothers with
    children, women who want to live single and never get married etc.
    Absolutely no separation of church and state to the point where federally employed Mormons forget they
    work for the entire public of the US not just the church.
    Death threats and other harrassment against non-Mormons especially government employees.
    Financially directed attacks against non-Mormons- ie ruining people financially etc.
    And how about the old saw that those who are LDS belong to the Church of God and everyone else
    belongs to the church of Satan?
    Or how about devout Mormon wives refusing to allow husbands to hang out with non-Mormon co-workers? or vice-versa? Unless there is a chance at conversion?
    Or how about knowing that LDS members are allowed to actively lie to gentiles if it is in the interest of the church?

    I know everything that I have just written is a FACT period. Why? Because I saw it first hand!

  22. Firefly December 21, 2011 at 11:34 am · Reply

    Well I just have to jump in on the commentary here. Both my spouse and I are non-mormon and have lived in the southern Utah area since 1988. A little over 6 years ago, my spouse was hired by the prominent healthcare facility in this area. On the first day of employment, my spouse was confronted by her manager at the time and flat out asked my spouse if she was LDS. My spouse responded that she was not LDS and then asked if that really mattered as long as she was qualified for the position. The manager responded directly to my spouse, “if you want to advance here, you should consider becoming an LDS”. When my spouse came home that afternoon and repeated to me what this manager told her, I wanted to contact the administrator of the facility and file a complaint. As my spouse truely needed the job, I thought better against such actions. However, I did research state labor law and determined that it was in complete violation of state AND federal labor laws to ask new employees such questions. During these 6 years, the exclusion of participation in many department activities, both professional and social, has reached such significant levels, that it is now simply accepted that, that is the way it is done here. We do have our circle of friends and social acquaintences that we involve ourselves with, and include several LDS and non-LDS individuals. We are very happy here and will continue to live a very satisfying and productive life.

  23. AZ dweller January 2, 2012 at 7:04 am · Reply

    Reading all of this certainly changed my plans to move to St. George! Think I`ll stay right here in AZ. After all, why would I want to move to a state that treats non LDS like the plague!

  24. Jus' Me January 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm · Reply

    Another commentary, both pros and cons….the usual stories. As a non-Mormon family (aka “gentiles”) that moved to the area in the 70′s, I am here to tell you that non-Mormons are definitely discriminated against. At the tender age of 6, I learned my first “swear word” and came home from school and asked my momma what “shit” was. In the same week, I was told by my new LDS friend that she could not play with me because I was not a Mormon. I learned to live with the discrimination and also decided to attend the LDS church so that I would be better accepted. I fooled them and myselt! I actually loved learning about the religion, where most of my LDS friends HATED going because they were forced to. I was actually a better Mormon than most of my friends, but I was also counseled at home on right and wrong with strong Christian teachings. I learned all about the religion and made my decision on what I chose to believe or not believe. I never judged those who didn’t learn about the church and just chose to accept everything they were told as gospel. I made my decisions for myself.
    There are wonderful LDS people out there and there are also NOT so wonderful LDS hypocrites out there. This community is what it is, the LDS should not judge, nor should the non-LDS. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else, but realize it won’t change where the LDS religion is predominate. Politely tell the missionaries you are not interested as well as the neighborhood ward members. Live a good life and hold your head up high. That is all we ALL can do!

  25. Greg January 3, 2012 at 8:34 am · Reply

    It’s interesting that the majority of people leaving comments are saying that the only reason LDS folks are nice to people is to convert them, but they then say that when an LDS person asks if you are LDS and you say “NO” that they don’t ever want to talk to you again. If the LDS people want to convert you, they have to be nice to you after they know you aren’t LDS. You can’t try to make a point and then contradict your point. Also, a lot of people don’t get along. This can be for many reasons. Just because you are not LDS doesn’t mean that that is the reason that you cannot be friends with an LDS person. And I”m sure that the LDS person is not the only one that prevented the friendship. Just my opinion.

  26. Rae January 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm · Reply

    When my sweet daughter was 5 years old, she came home and told me, “Natalie (her little friend) says I’m going to hell because I’m not a mormon”. I was appalled and tried to hide my thoughts, and I asked my daughter as calm as I could, “Well, what do you think?” She replied, “I think God knows what’s in your heart.” So, you see, my daughter was smarter at the age of 6 than all my mormon neighbors who shun me for no reason at all. Especialy the women here are so filled with hate. It bothered me at first, but now when they turn their head to ignore me I just smile, call their name loudly and wave. Thank-you, thank-you for this article and all the comments, it feels so good to know that I am not alone. It saddens me all the time to know that smart people continue to follow that horrible religion that, to this day, allows polygamy to flourish. Mormons act like FLDS is some “crazy off-shoot” of the religion, but reality is Mormonism started with FLDS, not the other way around! UT: #1 state in anti-depressants, on-line porn, meth use in women (#2 for men), a tope state for bankruptcy’s for the last 30 years, high rates of suicide, mormon churches beside every school…… only in UT ….Again- thanks for talking about the elephant in the room!

    • Vincent Mahoney January 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm · Reply

      Your daughter only said that because she was parroting whatever woowoo nonsense you indoctrinated her with.

  27. Petey July 15, 2012 at 10:33 am · Reply

    I need help dealing with a rogue Mormon neighbor. Is the an LDS hotline to report Members that are ruining our neighborhood. They don’t clean their yard, wash their cars, or watch there children. They seem to think that they own the neighborhood.

  28. sam September 7, 2012 at 5:36 am · Reply

    I was born and raised here in St George and love the area the people not so much, my Fathers side is mormon and my Mothers is not, I tend to take after my mothers side(thank god my father was able to meet a woman from a clean gene pool) but I have had many different trials and experiences with mormons in the area and outside of this area as well, being a non mormon I was teased, ridiculed and just treated very nasty by some mormons but on the other hand their have been a few mormon people that treated me very well. In my experience its mostly small town utah that has this problem I have meet and enjoyed the company of many mormons from larger cities in Utah and many from other states that were very nice people in short there are bad people in every walk of life and there are good same goes for the mormons however they do have a strangle hold on everything in small town utah from government to the private sector wich means the best jobs private or city go to mormons reguardless of skills or experience but as the town has grown this seems to be happening a little less.

  29. al hakanson January 5, 2013 at 8:42 am · Reply

    in websters i ran across a word for nonmormons who live amicably w. mormons but i forgot the word

    please tell me what it is

    • Orvin January 5, 2013 at 9:43 am · Reply

      ” neighbor “

    • Craig September 22, 2013 at 7:41 pm · Reply

      Realist

  30. Paulette July 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm · Reply

    It’s so sad to see so many people judging based on religion (or lack thereof). So many people say they are not included socially with the LDS ward members. What if a social event was held for non-Mormons? Would the city retaliate or would they be more shunned than they already are? My husband and I are Christian and want to move to a place with low crime. I thought St. George would be nice but after reading the comments I question those thoughts.

  31. N. Smith September 2, 2013 at 2:20 am · Reply

    My wife and I have been thinking of moving our business to the St. George/Cedar City area for several years. We drive up there when ever we get the chance. We’ve found most people very friendly. We’re getting older (50s) and are thinking of slowing down a bit. I run a guitar repair shop in Las Vegas since the late 90s. We have a terrific business here and I’m a little nervous that there may not get enough fretted instrument repair business in the area to survive. Seems St. George could use a good luthier. However, after reading the posts I’m a little more nervous about the idea. I would like to thank everyone for being so out front and honest. Seems to me all the people who posted are good people who would be nice to know – but I’ve always had a few rules written in stone in my shop – we talk about instruments and exchange common pleasantries – but never discuss politics or religion. We welcome all and do not discriminate against anyone. Would that still be possible in SG?

    • Welcome to STG September 2, 2013 at 9:12 am · Reply

      Yes!

  32. Craig September 2, 2013 at 11:19 am · Reply

    I’m so glad we didn’t get “the welcome wagon Mormons were known for ” when we moved here. Hard to take anyone who believes in magic underwear seriously.

  33. Sad & Surprised September 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm · Reply

    I moved her from Calif 7 years ago. I was excited to move to St. George because it was a beautiful place with low crime, no graffiti, little big city traffic or gang problems. I had NO IDEA that I would end up feeling discrimination. Religion and politics were sacred subjects – no one ever discussed them in Calif. I had long-time friends that I had no idea if they were Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, or Fundamentalist Christian..we didn’t know and we didn’t care. After moving here, I began to recognize the same “code phrase” over and over again when I met someone new. It was always “What brings you to St. George” (meaning are you LDS?). I also got a lot of the “up front phrases ” What Ward are you in” or ” Where did you attend your Mission”? Like I said, religion was never discussed outside of Utah, but here, even though I am not part of the majority, I am constantly hearing about “My Bishop” this, or “Sister/Brother” that in polite conversation. I am also constantly hearing about General Conference or what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints feels about Gays or Alcohol consumption on the NBC Affiliate KSL (among the many “Deseret” holdings of the LDS Church). I can deal with going to the Sate Liquor Store to purchase wine for a recipe, and I have learned to deal with so many businesses being closed on Sunday. I am an adult and I have learned tolerance…but, it breaks my heart when my friend’s children come home from school crying because none of the other kids will play with them since they are not LDS. My most sincere wish…keep your religion discreet…don’t talk about it constantly…instruct your children to be discreet… .maybe then, we can all feel like neighbors rather than like members or non-members of a particular group.

  34. Moses November 6, 2013 at 10:46 am · Reply

    I think that this is all very simple. Comfort Zones. People who are secured with themselves and have taught their kids the same have no issues allowing their kids play with non-Mormon kids as long as nobody is doing anything bad or illegal. You don’t have to be a Mormon to prevent your kids from bad influence.

    The problem with many Utahns is insecurity. When people are insecure, and many of us are, we tend to create barriers to protect ourselves from others and tend to stick with a close niche of people – a comfort zone.

    Obviously, being anti-social and unfriendly or indifferent to others is ANTI-CHRIST behavior. Utahns could use more self-esteem boosting, more self-assurance and get out more, visit other states, see how other societies live and then they would develop a better self-esteem.

    I lived in Utah for 25 years. Still own a home there. But have since moved to Texas.
    Not all Mormons behave strange. It all depends on their backgrounds and comfort zones. Most Mormons, given a chance, would be nicer to others and welcome people not of their faith. Their real fear is that non-Mormons will introduce ideas and behaviors that would deviate them from what both the Church and the so-called ” Gospel” want them to do.

    In the past I have personally witnessed Mormons not allowing dating other Mormons that were not of the same social class or heaven fordbid Mormons from other countries. Like all Christians, there is the good, the bad and the ugly among them. Same with other religions. You just need to sort things out, be nice to everyone and follow Jesus’s teachings. There is no way that all Mormons are going to be super nice and friendly. That’s not even a realistic expectation for ANY other religious group.

  35. Vegas November 10, 2013 at 11:51 pm · Reply

    Our Vegas neighborhood is about half LDS. When kids were very little they all were allowed to play together. As they are starting to get older, the Mormon kids told my daughter they were only supposed to hang out with their own. One of my friends said its because they’re nearing teenage yrs & then dating & that they don’t want non lds to influence their kids.
    Now my husband wants to move to St George for work, also because we are a very conservative old fashioned values family and we like the low crime & we share same political views. However, I am scared the kids will be shunned although we share same morals, values, politics, and are practicing Christians. We belong to a non denominational church now &we have studied bible for yrs. Alot of Book of Mormon is in direct contrast! But my husband wants to combat the kids being shunned by just joining their church. He has expressed he’s impressed with their ‘modern’ version of the church but I can’t get past their false prophets & false doctrine. He thinks we can just teach our kids the parts we don’t believe in, he thinks it would do them more good than harm as far as being ostracized. Any advice?

  36. MrSmith November 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm · Reply

    @Vegas -

    Hopefully welcome to the neighborhood. Moving in to a predominant LDS community can be very intimidating. I speak as an LDS member moving from a Non LDS community. Even the members sometimes struggle to fit in. I have moved 3 different times within St George just to find the right place where I feel we fit and I’m happy to report that we found a place. My wife and I have several non LDS friends, partly because we relate better with them because they originally felt like outcasts as well. I have two pieces of advice for you. #1 don’t let the first bad experience you have in St. George influence your decision to stay or opine what all of the people in St George are like. There are some communities in St George that are very cliquey. #2 don’t join the LDS church just to fit in. You will have plenty of opportunities to share experiences with LDS members without having to fill like you must join simply for that reason. I can’t speak for all of the kids in St. George but I have seen some kids be very accepting of people from other faiths.

  37. Brian S November 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm · Reply

    “Not A Mormon” & “Sad and Surprised”,

    I’m in the same boat…I moved out here in 2006, so my wife could be closer to her mom, who had moved out 6 months prior. I also moved out here, so my mother would receive better treatment, in a nursing home, while MS slowly took her life.

    I’ll tell you all something else right now. I am 43 years old. I smoke. I drink. I have tattoos, and a few piercings. I have been a punk rocker, since 1977…I played in several punk bands, back in San Jose, California. I have several gay friends in California. I also have quite a few black, mexican, indian (both kinds), and oriental friends. Uh OH! That’s a lot of Utah No-Nos :) Not every person, who isn’t white, is a “damn illegal immigrant”.
    Sidenote: The LDS church, up until 1976, wouldn’t let black people (They really do hate the term “African American”) be members, let alone step foot in their churches (look it up, it’s true).

    I have also been married to a fabulous lady, for the last 13 years, I have 3 wonderful kids, and I have a full time job, with a fortune 500 company (My company is actually ranked 33rd, as of 2012′s postings)..

    My wife was raised LDS. I married into an LDS family. My neighbors have been nothing but cordial, and nice to me, my wife, and my kids…It’s certain members of the “family”, that tend to think I am the anti-Christ. We have visiting home teachers that come once a month. Even though I don’t practice their faith, I come out, and visit, and listen to them. Why? Because it’s the polite thing to do. How can I expect them to be accepting of my points of view, if I don’t listen to theirs? That’s respect 101, and it’s something that a lot of LDS folks need to learn in this town. I live by the “Bill & Ted” philosophy, which is, “Be excellent to each other”. Simple, yet effective. Basically stating that I treat people, the way I want to be treated, and I don’t need to pay tithing, “learn tolerance of others”, or any religious agenda, to make it work.. It either works, or it doesn’t. Nothing lost in the process of trying.

    In regards to the area, it’s nice here in STG. I love the spring, and summer weather. I like it warm. Do I particularly like living here? No. Not a lot to do. ZERO night life unless you travel into Arizona, or Nevada. I like my fun closer to home. My wife likes it here, and so do my kids. I sacrifice my wanting to leave, to make them happy. I will eventually get back to Cali., and that keeps me going. Until then, Home is whee I hang my hat.

    Back to the topic at hand….

    How could I join such a religion, that wouldn’t have me as a member, unless I “changed” as one bishop who tried to convert me said to me? I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I don’t need your religious club, to feel good about myself. I wake up every day, and I succeed at being the best ME that I know how. Hold on to your religious crutches…I walk freely. Plus, I have an extra 10% of my paycheck every 2 weeks…

    In closing, I will quote song lyrics, from the punk band ill repute. The song is called Book And Its cover, and it’s right about 30 years old…

    “The way I am is the way I like, and I won’t change for anyone
    My morals are good, my values are right…It doesn’t mean I’m bad if I have fun
    The way I look, don’t mean S#@T, it’s what’s inside that counts
    I try to be nice, I’m always polite, but still you go and have your doubts”

    My life in a nutshell
    Brian S

  38. Anonymous November 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    My family is RVing through Utah right now. We’ve been in Brigham City for four days, and we can’t wait to leave the state. I got dirty looks from nearly everyone as I walked through Walmart. At first I assumed it was because I was wearing a somewhat low cut shirt that day …but my husband got the same exact looks from people, despite being clean-cut and wearing khaki pants and a polo shirt. We both are friendly and smile at everyone, but the only people who smile back are the ones who are paid to (store clerks)…and even some of them are standoffish.

    I don’t mean to judge all of the SLC area or Utah, but so far, I am NOT impressed. I mean, out of more than a half dozen trips to various stores and restaurants, I don’t think I’ve seen a single patron or customer who has smiled back at me, and my husband said the same thing. We plan to travel through St. George, so hopefully the people are friendlier there.

  39. Melissa Norris November 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm · Reply

    I wasn’t raised Mormon, but, I am now, and I support an individual’s right to choose their lifestyle, be it religious or otherwise.

    I don’t care who you identify with or whether you have tattoos, piercings, smoke or don’t smoke. It’s not my business. If you need help ask. If you need a shoulder, ask. I have lived here for twenty plus years and I raised four kids on my own with some pretty horrid stories of discrimination.

    I have tattoos, a nose piercing, a Harley and I live my life how I choose. My TRUE friends love me with all my faults. Those who don’t, are not my problem.

    When all is said and done, EACH of US will answer for our actions and NO ONE will be standing behind me with a list of wrongs, furthermore, OUR graves will all be the same size.

    May each of you be blessed beyond measure.

    Peace to you all.

  40. Paloma Nederlander November 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm · Reply

    Hmm, reading comments makes me wonder whether moving to St. George as a retiree is a wise thing to do? I’m Jewish, not Mormon. I understand there’s a tiny but growing Jewish population there; and the area is a growing mecca for retirees from around the country. I want the quiet low key life the city has to offer; and traditional values. But not to be ostracized for not being LDS.

    I wonder how different it is for retirees there from a working folks perspective? I was hoping for a more diverse and eclectic population than predominantly LDS. That would get old rather quickly! :(

  41. Vegas December 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm · Reply

    I just recently saw the new tv show that explained what “downwinders” are. I had no idea St George was so radiated still till this day from the NV nuclear testing, especially Snow Canyon which is where we were looking! They had a geologist from Vegas take soil samples this past year, only a couple inches down, and found Cesium! Of course that is not found in nature, on nuclear bombs! Just like I would not move to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. No thank you to St George, the LDS population is the least of their worries. Sorry for all the families still being effected with high cancer, leukemia, etc rates. Govt even has website set up for compensation if you get sick living in one of the downwind cities. That sucks, its such a beautiful town.

  42. James Sundquist February 9, 2014 at 10:57 am · Reply

    You should be alerted to this breaking news concerning Rick Warren (who thinks Mormonism is simply another Christian denomination):

    http://www.perfectpeaceplan.com/post/is-rick-warrens-claim-that-his-book-is-the-best-selling-non-fiction-hardback-book-in-history-true/

    Also see:
    (re Tom Mertz, Pastor of Springs Church in St. George, Utah))
    http://www.perfectpeaceplan.com/post/testimony-of-abuse-by-purpose-driven-predator-pastor/

    Sincerely in Christ,

    James Sundquist
    Director
    http://www.perfectpeaceplan.com

  43. Rick February 14, 2014 at 10:56 am · Reply

    I am non-LDS. I am married to an LDS member. I have lived in and out Utah, and have experienced first hand the unwelcoming behavior of Utah LDS. After just having a conversation with my mother-in-law today(down to visit me and my wife where we live outside of Utah), I came looking for some answers on some of the mind set. Part of it is because she is 80 years old, and from a different time. But most of it is the whole “submit peacefully and dont make a fuss” attitude that makes me want to put my fist through the wall. I will NEVER SUBMIT OR BOOT LICK. I’LL DIE FIRST. I am an US ARMY VETERAN. I STAND TALL, I LOOK YOU IN THE EYE, and I SAY MY PEACE. IF YOU DONT LIKE IT, FINE. BUT I WONT BOW DOWN TO FIT IN!!!!!!!
    Just talking about this is triggering my gag reflex. How can people live that way? And its not just her, but many if not most of them. It is a culture I am struggling to understand. I suspect I’ll never really be approved of(every time they call I hear why wont I move back speech) I still have missionaries over, home teachers, and go to the church often, as workl allows. But I have not quit smoking or drinking coffee. And truthfully, until I can make peace and feel like I would really be welcomed, I never will. I dont get treated this way here. But I have NEVER NOT BEEN TREATED THAT WAY IN UTAH. AND I’M NOT GOING BACK! Hopefully more people will learn something from this, and either find their own answers and magically bridge this gap, or not waste their time trying.

  44. New Here March 27, 2014 at 8:21 am · Reply

    I am LDS. Just moved here from NYC. There is a definite small town mentality here. People are very closed, but I don’t blame them. If all you have ever known in your life is a small town in UT, anything from outside that little bubble is going to scare you. This problem is not one of religion. It is a cultural problem. I have lived in several states and in Puerto Rico. There are fabulous people and not so fabulous people everywhere you go. Discrimination is wrong, and is not accepted by the teachings of the church. I think it is interesting that there are people of all faiths in this country who live those faiths to varying degrees and are not judged by their neighbors, but a Mormon who doesn’t live up to every standard is hated(ie.did or didn’t bring out the welcome wagon, did or didn’t accept your differences). People are human, LDS or otherwise. LDS people have weaknesses and faults and shortcomings, just like everyone. We can’t be surprised by this. I was the minority in my town. I had to reach out to the majority to be included. It is no different here. I still have to reach out if I want friends. I don’t rely on my neighbors to come to me with personal invitations. Hating is never the answer and never solves anything. I don’t love it here, but I am grateful for the good people who are here. The thing I hate most about Utah is the underlying division between LDS and non-LDS. It is perpetuated by both sides and both should be ashamed. The contention is palpable. It makes me sad.

  45. Sasha April 22, 2014 at 11:27 pm · Reply

    I moved to Utah from California, and later moved from Utah to Texas, and now I’m back in Utah. I must say, I’ve been pretty surprised randomly stumbling across this link and reading the comments. During my times living in Utah, in multiple neighborhoods, I never once encountered someone who felt unwelcome or discriminated against to the degree of some of the people posting here. I hope that it’s a personal grudge thing or maybe a convenience sample (and of course my experience is a convenience sample too), or maybe its more common in St George (I’ve lived mostly in Salt Lake County). It’s also sad to see people saying they considered moving to Utah and were deterred by this one new article. Wow. The internet really can be an uncivil place, and it’s a sad thing that hopefully the younger generation will correct. In the meantime, my advice would be to take things with a grain of salt and trust personal experience more than any internet comment (including mine).

    As for my experience, I felt roughly the same level of welcome in Utah and Texas as a transplant (Texas is known for being friendly, per this post apparently Utah’s rep is mixed). Each time after moving, I had to do most of the reaching out and relationship building myself- people already there have their own lives already made, and don’t need ‘the new guy’ as much as you (as a new person) need friends. In both states, a good portion of the people went the extra mile to be friendly when they realized I was new, but in both states there were others who didn’t bother. I could take this as unkindness, but in reality I’d chock it up to oversight. I didn’t experience active shunning of any kind in any of the places I’ve moved to, and frankly I question whether those who claim such experience are misinterpreting someone’s intentions. Truth is, most people are nice, esp when you’re nice to them, but at the same time most people who have established lives and circles of friends don’t spend much of their energy reaching out to new folks. Those who do are a blessing, and I’m glad to have them regardless of their faith or background.

    At the local high school (Salt Lake County), everything I can tell says the LDS and not-LDS kids get along fine. The ratio is somewhere near 50-50, and I’ve seen kids hanging out and dating with people of other faiths all the time. At work, i actually heard a whole lot more talk about religion in Texas than in Utah, which surprised me. In Texas even though the folks are of mostly of different faiths/no faith, church activities and bible studies and youth groups are casually mentioned in conversations like it’s nothing, whereas in Utah it’s often seen as a taboo to talk about religion at work, even if a majority of the employees share the same church (go figure). At an office lunch in Texas, I saw some coworkers bow their heads and pray before eating, which I never saw in Utah even though LDS typically say grace.

    From reading the comments, It seems like many people in Utah who aren’t mormons feel like they are left out socially, since mormons have many social activities sponsored by their local church ward. That’s understandable, but I’ll say that I’ve been to catholic and buddhist and presbyterian and mormon social events in Utah, and all of them have been open to anyone. Don’t assume that you have to be a certain religion to go to a social event; so far as I know the only mormon thing that non-mormons aren’t welcome at is their temple ceremonies. Likewise, people of all faiths should remember that they can organize events themselves and invite whomever they want, and if you feel like there’s a religious divide in your local social scene, the best way to bridge it would be to invite a mix and get them to rub shoulders more. I’ve gone to Mormon churches just to meet people, and in Texas I went to a variety of churches for events, and I found that my experience was always positive when I made the effort to reach out.

    Bottom line, moving is always a big social adjustment, and sometimes you fail more than you succeed, but don’t be discouraged about moving to Utah. Having moved 5+ times, it’s about the same anywhere and isn’t any worse in Utah- you have to be patient and do most of the reaching out yourself no matter where you are. The reverse of that of course is that all of us should do more to welcome people who we know are new- those people that are extra welcoming are a huge asset to any community. The time around when you (or a neighbor) move is one of the easiest and most natural ways to make new friendships, some of which I’ve cherished long after I moved away. “Fitting in” just means being friendly, and if someone else isn’t friendly back than you can always find another person that is.

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