Won’t be Friends with Non-Mormons?

Huzzah! Another question in the inbox! This one was asked anonymously:

Growing up, my sister and I were BEST friends with 2 neighborhood girls who happened to be Mormon. The 4 of us played almost every day until one day, out of the blue, our friends’ parents peeked out the front door of their home and notified my sis and I that their children were no longer allowed to associate with us. We were too shy and polite to ask for an explanation. Heartbroken, my sister and I cried hysterically as we made our way back home. Our family was very surprised when we had explained what had happened. They could only speculate the reason for the rejection was simply that we come from a non-Mormon family. My questions are, does the Mormon Church influence its members to pass judgement on people of other faiths? Are Mormons discouraged from having non-Mormon friends? Do Mormons think that non-Mormons are not worthy of them?

Well that’s a sad story….

Is it possible that Mormonism had something to do with it?  Sure. I’ve heard of this sort of thing before. But it’s also equally possible that you weren’t as nice and polite as you remember being. Or maybe their parents were just douchebags who also just happened to be Mormon. I dunno.

I won’t speak for past generations of Mormons, but regarding current Mormons, I think the answer to all of your questions is NO:

  • Mormons are not encouraged to pass judgment on people of other faiths
  • Mormons are not discouraged from having non-Mormon friends
  • Mormons do not think that non-Mormons are not worthy of [their friendship].

However, Mormons are very quick to try and protect themselves (or their children) from anything or anyone that they fear is a bad influence. If Mormonism played any role in this story, it’s likely that your friends parents saw you or your sister as a potential threat to their own children – not specifically because you weren’t Mormon, but maybe because you had some sort of different value system than they did. This isn’t to say that you must have done something egregious, however. Maybe the only offense you committed was wearing a 2-piece bathing suit, or perhaps a sundress that left your 6-year-old shoulders uncovered (oh, the horror!). Mormons are strangely sensitive about bare shoulders.

Mormons have a reputation for being a little bit insular, isolated, and separated from non-Mormons. But they also have a reputation for being extremely nice, outgoing, and friendly with non-Mormons, even if only in an attempt to convert them. Still, Mormonism does claim to be the One-and-Only-True-Church, which requires a little bit of I’m-Right-You’re-Wrong hubris.

But this one cuts both ways. I’m guessing that for every non-Mormon girl who gets rejected and wonders if it was because she wasn’t Mormon, there’s a Mormon girl out there getting rejected because she is Mormon.

Any More Questions?

Ask Me Anything!!!



21 comments to Won’t be Friends with Non-Mormons?

  • Interesting point on this cutting both ways. I never thought of it that way.

    Growing up in a conservative independent Baptist home, any interaction with non-Christians sort of came with an expectation of an evangelistic purpose. I think a lot of Christians are like that. I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong in the sense that if you really believe everyone who doesn’t believe like you is going to hell, it makes sense that your number one goal is to get everyone else to believe what you do. But I do struggle with that mindset because it would leave friendships with anyone outside of my faith very temporary since once I reach the point where I conclude that the non-Christian isn’t ever going to change their beliefs, I’d have no purpose in continuing the friendship with them. I would think I’d come across as somewhat shallow, superficial, and inauthentic to people.

    Besides, if I shut out everyone who thinks like me, I’d be pretty lonely on Twitter, Facebook, and IRL.

  • Do you believe you (or other Mormons) can have the same type of relationships with non-Mormons or non-believers as you do with people of a similar mindset? This is penned to Joey as well.

  • marla

    ha ha ha
    favorite line:

    Or maybe their parents were just douchebags who also just happened to be Mormon. I dunno.

    this just made my monday.

  • Tuittu

    Mindsets are such different things… Being mormon surely is a big definer on people but it’s not the ONLY thing that defines us. Look at Reuben – he can relate to anyone who bikes and badly to everyone else, mormon or not. I have to admit that my best friends in the world are mostly mormon, but my husband (who is also mormon) wouldn’t say the same thing. Just depends.

  • Katie

    I agree with Joey, if I were to associate exclusively with Mormons, all the spice would go out of life. There would be no alternative viewpoints to challenge my way of thinking, no one to give me a heads up when I’m being to close-minded, and no one to give me a can of beer so I can make Beer Can Chicken (so I don’t have to go to the liquor store and buy a 12 pack).

  • I think Mormons are really just like everybody else in this regard, in that they tend to fear any groups or individuals they identify as “others”. For some Mormons, “others” includes anyone that’s not Mormon.

  • @Bill – Yes, Bill, you don’t need to worry. I’ll still be your friend. lol.

  • Katie

    I found this post interesting 🙂

  • kat

    I’d consider myself a pretty main stream Mormon, and have no problem associating with people that aren’t Mormons. Some of my very best friends are not Mormon and I never ever associated with them with the intention of converting them(I’m not much of a missionary). I’m sure there are plenty of Mormons that are protecting themselves from bad influences, but I think most of the time we aren’t hanging out with non-mormons now isn’t because we don’t think they are worthy to hang out with us. We like to hang out with anyone that wants to have clean fun. I think for me personally, the reason I now don’t spend a ton of time with people that aren’t Mormon is because, as a non-drinker, it is just not that fun for me to go to parties where the focus of the night is usually about alcohol.

  • kat

    I realize that last sentence makes it sound like I think all anyone does that isn’t Mormon is drink, which I know is not the case. Just for me and the friends I have made through work right now, most of the functions that I’m invited to by my friends that aren’t Mormon these days are usually about drinking.

  • @kat – well this explains why you never responded to the invitation I sent you to attend the “Boudoir Whiskey Party” I hosted a few months ago.

  • @kat – just kidding. I know what you mean. Everyone likes to hang out with people they have something in common with.

  • In response to Bill’s question,”Do you believe you (or other Mormons [or Christians]) can have the same type of relationships with non-Mormons or non-believers as you do with people of a similar mindset?” I’d have to say that no, you can’t have the same relationships. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to have the same kinds of relationships, but I think there are a few reasons.

    1. If you adhere to your faith’s claim to exclusivity as the only way to heaven and its command to spread that message to others, your relationships with non-believers will all ultimately serve to convert them.
    2. If you don’t adhere to all of your faith’s claims, you’ll likely be reluctant to be open about that within your own faith but are more likely to question it with others.
    3. If you’re uncomfortable with the values of someone whose value system is different than yours, you probably won’t be able to have much of a relationship with them, or it will be a limited relationship.

    There are other reasons but I think that’s a decent start.

  • Paul

    Sorry for the very late addition here. I remembered hearing this long ago, but it took me two weeks to actually do a search for it.

    This is a quote from a church leader in 1992. It basically shows that 1) this behavior was a least common enough to warrant an explicit condemnation and 2) Anonymous’ former childhood friends’ parents are going to hell…probably 🙂

    Elder Ballard in 1992 general conference talk:
    “Occasionally I hear of members offending those of other faiths by overlooking them and leaving them out. This can occur especially in communities where our members are the majority. I have heard about narrow-minded parents who tell children that they cannot play with a particular child in the neighborhood simply because his or her family does not belong to our Church. This kind of behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot comprehend why any member of our Church would allow these kinds of things to happen.”

  • @Paul –
    Take THAT, Anonymous’ former childhood friends’ parents! Enjoy your stay in Hell!

  • Jayda

    Hi Everyone. I have been doing some background research on the Mormon faith since by Best Best Friend of over 20 years announced that she is not only to become a Mormon but is to marry a Mormon Priest. I have to admit I knew very little about the faith, I did not know any other Mormons to ask, and had heard all kinds of stories (good and bad) about what would happen to our friendship, as she and I have been through an lot over the years and have a very strong bond, she is like a Sister to me. I found this particular discussion group very enlightening and the quote from Elder Ballard I am glad to have been acquainted with, it has put my mind at ease a little more. I am very happy for my friend to have found a faith system she believes in, and a soul-mate to spend the rest of her life with, but was concerned for her and our friendship. Thank you for helping to put my mind at rest.

  • Githa

    Thanks for contiurbtnig. It’s helped me understand the issues.

  • Britt

    I live in Utah, (which kinda means LDS churches are at every corner in Northern Utah) I live in a neighborhood where almost none of the neighbors talk to us because my dad has said we are not a Mormon family. My Mormon friends know I am a Catholic, and constantly ask about what the Catholic church does and blah blah blah. But the thing that drives me insane are those Mormons who critize me and my faith because I am not Mormon. I honestly think some Mormon parents should think about how they raise their children because I am not of their faith.

  • fred

    It is effectively teaching people to be racist – that is, they find themselves to be superior to anyone not in their group. I knew a Mormon very well. Turned out to be deeply dishonest, two faced, genuine bully. Had a knack for convincing other people to do his bullying for him, so he could pretend to be “nice”. He was a master of projection and guilt tripping. I suspect this is how they teach religion and ‘keep’ people with a church. He used the pretense that he was teaching me a lesson. Well I sure learned one: never have anything to do with someone who talks about God. Just go, get out, do not waste your time – or THEY WILL.

  • kenna

    Hi, my brother has always been an athiest. He started seeing a strict mormon girl in high school in around 10th grade, they dated until his senior year of high school then ran away to utah together. He now refuses to speak to any of his family memebers, including children. It occured to me today that maybe its because we are non Mormon? There was no fight between us, and my mom always encouraged the relationship, but now he only speaks through his soon to be wife saying he needs to rid “toxic people” from his life. Is this just something they do while converting to mormonism? I remember reading he had to do it for two years, maybe its temporary? Or is he seriously planning on never speaking to any of us again? Ive written him nothing but kind enails begging for forgiveness and just to hear from him, only to be ignored and blocked. I dont understand….

  • betou

    We are a Christian family from France.We have the american nationality for quite a while, and lived in different states.We lived in New Mexico for over 9 years,and everyone,mormon or non mormon,adult or children,was interacting with each other.Rarely was there a problem,and they were solved immediately. Then we move to Utah,to Heber City,in May 2012014.Well,us who NEVER put aside anyone for reason of religion,color,ethnie or social class,in less than a year,have been shun by the entire neighborhood.Welcome to Utah!My very active 12 years old daughter is especially taking badly that cruel form of child abuse!Shame on you guys.