Mormons Being Proselyted

November 4, 2013
Kody and his 4 wives from left to right:  Meri, Robyn, Jeanine, Christine

Kody and his 4 wives from left to right: Meri, Robyn, Jeanine, Christine

Mormons are known for proselytizing other faiths, rather than being the subject of being proselyted. I hadn’t considered why Protestants get upset at Mormon missionaries, or even why Mormons get so upset when evangelicals try to proselyte during General Conference weekend. I also hadn’t considered Mormons proselyting or getting upset as being a double standard.

There was an interesting exchange in Season 3 of Sister Wives. (I know that there are at least 6 seasons, but I don’t have cable and have refused to pay for episodes when I have Netflix already. Netflix has recently added season 3, so I am slowly catching up.) In Episode 6 Kody Brown returned to his hometown of Lovell, Wyoming. The episode mentioned that Kody served an LDS mission, and then he converted to the Apostolic United Brethren soon after his return. (Kody is not a member of the FLDS Church of Warren Jeffs. In fact episode 9 showed they had some really harsh words for Warren Jeffs, comparing him to the wicked King Noah of the Book of Mormon.) Because of his conversion, Kody lost many of his high school friends, and he was nervous to return. I thought it was really interesting to hear how threatening his conversion was to his friends. Kody’s best friend Ken described why he was threatened by Kody’s conversion:

Ken was Kody's best friend in high school

Ken was Kody’s best friend in high school

Ken (high school best friend), “We can be tolerant of you, you doing your own thing, but if we saw you proselyting and bringing in others of our friends into your faith, that would bring back all of the hard feelings again.”

Kody Brown, “I don’t want them in my faith. If Ken wanted to become a fundamentalist Mormon and become a polygamist, I’d tell him he was stupid. I would. ‘You’re in your faith. You know it and you believe it. Why do you want to come over here?'”

Robin (Kody’s 4th wife), “Can I say something too Ken? Our church does not really condone us going out and preaching.”

Ken, “Right, and Kody has explained that.”

Robin, “We don’t. In fact, anybody who comes to us from the LDS, the mainstream LDS is usually searching, and they have to do a lot of really hard work to find us.”

JakiJaki (high school friend), “I’m just going to kind of play the devil’s advocate here. I’m not picking one side versus the other side. I find it interesting that you say that you would be offended if they tried to teach you about their belief system, when you sat here and said ‘while I was on my mission,’ so obviously you think it’s okay for you to go out and tell people about your theological beliefs, but what I’m hearing from you is that you don’t think it’s okay for someone else to go out and talk about their theological beliefs.”

Ken, “Kody can come to me and use information that I grew up with, tweak it a little bit, confuse me, and get me to decide he’s right. That is much more dangerous than two totally different foundational beliefs. So him leaving our religion and then trying to drag more people with him is much more threatening than if a Catholic convinced me to become–or a friend of mine to become Catholic. That’s not as threatening.”

Jeanine, (Kody’s 2nd wife), “It was this double standard that was making me angry, because it’s like I could be a Catholic and come tell you about my belief, but I can’t tell you about my belief, because, what, it’s too close to yours and I’m gonna confuse you? You don’t know your own religion, so I’m gonna confuse you with my interpretation of your religion?”

What do you think of this exchange? Is there a double standard going on here? Does this help you understand why other religions take exception to Mormons proselyting Protestants or Catholics?

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12 Responses to Mormons Being Proselyted

  1. Kullervo on November 4, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    “Proselyted” is not a word.

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  2. kamschron on November 4, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Google, in agreement with many dictionaries, has a different opinion.

    proselyte

    verb
    past tense: proselyted; past participle: proselyted

    1. another term for proselytize.

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  3. Jeff Spector on November 4, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Firstly, we do not proselyte faiths, we proselyte people. Their religious affiliation is only marginally relevant as to how they are approached in the discussion dialogue. But, we are non-discriminatory as to who we seek out. Only which places we can go to find them.

    I remember that show you described and I agree that Ken, in particular, is promoting a clear double-standard and acting as though Mormons cannot be trusted with their own testimonies. Now, as a amazing sideline, seems men might be more interested in a polygamous group than women, but that is a whole other discussion. If some guys could have basic Mormon teachings and polygamy too, they might go for it. Kody did.

    We have a larger problem with members proselyting themselves out of the Church by adopting more secular world beliefs and doubting the fundamental principles of the Church then we do with any other religious group. Most disengaged members tend to non-religion or atheism or, if they chose one, it is more universal-Unitarian in nature.

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  4. Kate on November 4, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    It’s always been a little strange to me that we are so frequently encouraged to “share Christ’s message” (or something along those lines) with people who are members of other Christian faiths and, by extension, already know about/believe in Jesus. You don’t see Methodists out trying to convert Presbyterians (or at least I don’t). Something about telling Christians that their faith in Christ is ‘less than’ in some way and needs to be changed has never set right with me.

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  5. Hedgehog on November 4, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Proselyte would be the verb we use in Britain (same as we use burgle not burglarise etc.).

    I tend to prefer discussions where the religious beliefs of all those participating in a conversation are included, in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

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  6. Jack Hughes on November 4, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    I don’t mind being proselyted by my evangelical neighbors; I admire their commitment to their own beliefs and their courage to share it with others. I even tolerate visits from JWs. What I don’t like, though, is mormons proselyting other mormons in the form of Pinnacle Security/Apex/Vivint summertime salesdrones. Kindly pack up your mediocre products, go back to Utah and never come back.

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  7. Douglas on November 5, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    No one should mind a honest sharing of another’s faith nor feel threatened by same. If you’re really not interested, politely decline and don’t feel obligated to explain.

    There is typically a significant between how we proseletize versus how we are targeted, especially by so-called “Evangelical” Christians. We simply want to convey what we have; regardless of the investigator’s background the message is its own sales tool. There is usually no need to get into a contentious discussionq of comparative religions. Those that target Mormons, instead of simply bearing their respective testimonies, take the approach of “this is why your religion is of the Devil and you’re going to Hell”. It’s annoying, arrogant, and condescending; and those that employ said tactics are told to hit the road. But considering that in many cases they’ve been given a steady diet of “Hellfire and Damnation”, they probably don’t know any better.

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  8. downtown dave on November 8, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    “What do you think of this exchange? Is there a double standard going on here? Does this help you understand why other religions take exception to Mormons proselyting Protestants or Catholics?”
    I don’t take exception to Mormons trying to proselytize me, because I read the Scriptures (the Bible) and the Bible is the Standard by which we can grade anything we read and hear. If something being taught is contrary to what the Bible teaches…the Bible is always right.

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  9. Douglas on November 8, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    #8 – And we LDS say likewise of the Bible and THE REST of the Standard Works (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price). This is why no Latter-Day Saint should feel threatened or offended by an honest discussion of comparative religions. If a Catholic, an Eastern Orthodox, or a Protestant Evangelical wants to bear their testimony, they are welcome to do so.

    Where we LDS take offence is others presuming to tell us and others what we ‘really’ believe, or of our ‘secret’ history. I’ve never taken that approach to any other faith, nor have I scoured their writings and what their leaders have said in attempts to juxtapose twisting of their beliefs, and I don’t know of any LDS apologists that do likewise.

    In this case, the offense against Cody Brown is more that he’s an apostate who’s bought into the polygamists (AUB) ideas. Mainstream Latter-Day Saints see outfits like the AUB and the FLDS as impostors whose outspoken practice of polygamy indirectly defames the Church (I’m not that uptight about them but I live in California, not the Intermountain West).

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  10. mh on November 8, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Dave, I will add that if all Christians believed the bible in the same way, there would only be one Christian religion, instead of the hundreds of denominations. Claiming the bible as the authority doesn’t seem to work very well because the different Christian sects interpret the bible differently.

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  11. downtown dave on November 9, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Mormonism teaches that a man can someday become a God based on a sentence in Psalm 83, “ye are gods.” But if a person were to read the whole Psalm and take this sentence in context, they would understand that God is rebuking rulers (kings, priests, judges, etc.) that He has put into position to represent Him in Israel. Instead of representing Him, they are perverting justice, and God is telling them to turn that around. So we can take the claim that we can someday become a God, compare it to Scripture (the Bible) and find that the claim is false.

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  12. MH on November 10, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Dave, let me give you a few examples. Baptists believe a man must be baptized by immersion, and cite Jesus’ baptism by John. Meanwhile Catholics think sprinkling is just fine. Both claim the Bible as their sole authority. Many denominations say the method of baptism doesn’t matter. Some Born Again’s say baptism isn’t even necessary–it is strictly a symbolic gesture. Why the disagreement over the seemingly inerrant Bible?

    Furthermore, the trinity is not biblical at all. It is a product of the Council of Nicea. The trinity is never mentioned in the Bible a single time.

    As for your claim that theosis is not biblical, I can find not only ample evidence of Psalm 83, but lots of others such as Paul’s admonition in Philippians 2:5-6: “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”

    In addition, ancient Christian Father Athanasius wrote, ‘God became man, that man might become God.’

    Dave, we’re getting a bit off topic here, and it sounds like you want to debate this. Rather than sidetrack this discussion, if you want to further discuss this topic, perhaps we can discuss it on my post about theosis. Eastern Orthodox Christian beliefs about theosis are not only biblical, but sound suspiciously like Mormon beliefs.

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