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 (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.”
Jaki (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?