Whitworth’s Latter Day Saints educate others on their beliefs to increase understanding

by Madison Garner

Imagine that after stating your faith, someone replying, “your faith is weird and unintelligent.” Students interviewed for this article said they have heard similar sentiments to this one  expressed on campus, both explicitly and implicitly, by both students and faculty members, towards individuals of the Mormon faith.

The main barrier to communication and understanding is misconception, Mormon senior Nichole Boyd said.

“The general response to finding out that I am Latter Day Saint is a shock because there are so many misconceptions,” Boyd said.

Whitworth senior Rebecca Ashburn wanted to help clear up confusion by bringing the Mormons Next Door Presentation to campus.

“It was so straightforward and answered so many questions about the church,” Ashburn said. “It is not sugarcoated, not biased.”

The event is a slideshow presentation involving facts from non-biased sources such as Harvard University and UCLA, with a question and answer panel of LDS individuals following.

The aim of the event is to clear up any misconceptions about the Mormon faith. On campus, LDS students said they are met with a wide range of misunderstandings.

“Within my friend group, everyone knows I’m LDS,” senior Taylor Colvin said. “Their biggest questions come from misunderstandings of what Mormons really believe. It’s great when I can explain and they respond with, ‘Oh that makes sense. That’s not weird.’”

In their experience on campus, Mormon students have been met with varying responses. Some professors joke around with Mormon students.

“My professors are always really cool about my religion and ask me questions,” Colvin said. “My advisor, Dr. Michael Sardinia, jokes with me, saying things like ‘I saw one of your kind today’ (when talking about the Mormon missionaries).”

Some professors are less friendly in regards to the Mormon belief system.

“There was some bashing of the LDS church in my theology class,” Boyd said. “My professor did not know I am a Mormon. Because the professor did not believe the same things as I do, he might have thought the beliefs were not as credible or as valuable as his belief.”

Among students, reactions varied as well.

“At first, it was really hard, not because I felt persecuted, but because I felt people thought my faith was dumb, that I shouldn’t be LDS,” Ashburn said. “As things progressed and I felt more comfortable here and in my faith, it got better. It is a great place to be, challenging because there’s a lot of various Christian denominations. It’s a great community for people who aren’t necessarily Presbyterian.”

Contact Madison Garner at mgarner16@my.whitworth.edu

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