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Know the West

More on Mormons' bad rap

  Dear HCN,

Barbara Schuster's confusion about the Mormons' bad rap is not shared by many "Gentiles" who grew up in the Beehive state. Obviously she didn't spend her childhood in a neighborhood where most kids are forbidden to play with non-Mormons. She was never dropped off at Primary (Mormon catechism) by a public school bus. Nor was she forced to watch her beloved foothills carved up to house exploding legions of the faithful.

Maybe Barbara's Mormon neighbors are still nice because they're not done fellowshipping her. Everywhere I lived in Utah, I braced myself for the chill that resulted when the brethren gave up on converting me. Barbara wonders why some are reluctant to take jobs in Utah. Having a federal job, she wasn't asked at her job interview if she's LDS. I saw many a Gentile leave the state for lack of an income independent of the locals.

The first thing Mormons always asked me was how many kids I had. Next came the shocked look when I said "none." I wasn't surprised to hear about the Cedar City bishops who tell women with less than four kids to get busy.

True, Mormons are friendly, as long as you stay off certain subjects. My Mormon stepmother once told me that the purpose of planet Earth is to qualify spirit children for the celestial kingdom, where there will be no traffic jams, endangered species or wilderness. As for their kindness, it was my nightmare stint as a Humane Society director in southern Utah which made me flee my home state. If Barbara Schuster can enjoy a culture that loves cows, oil wells and suburbia more than trees, birds and desert tortoises, she's stronger than I am.

Lester Wood
Coleville, California