Mormon teachers are great at division

Last week an interesting thing happened at my daughters’ junior high. On Thursday, all the REALLY ACTIVE MORMONS in the 9th Grade came to school in their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ garb. Now, why did they do this, you might ask? See, this past weekend was the Mormon General Conference. And apparently, in honor of General Conference, they all dressed up. Now, this might sound innocent, and perhaps it even was, on the face of it.

But when we dissect it closer, if you have even ONE OUNCE of a crack in your mind that isn’t completely steeped in all things Mormon, and through which a little light shines, you might see there are some issues here.

First of all, living in this Mormon state, asking kids to do something like this proved one purpose. It showed WHO was Mormon and WHO was not. And nothing else. It also showed that the MAJORITY of the ninth grade is Mormon, and attends Seminary. And it also served to point out just WHO WAS NOT MORMON, so the rest of the masses could avoid them like the plague.

Now, Mormons, I can hear your arguments, because I’ve already heard them from my dad. So let me get this out right now. I do not think that the seminary teachers thought, “Hey, here’s a good way to ostracize everyone at our school who isn’t Mormon. Let’s tell all the kids to dress up in honor of General Conference, and then they will know just who is chosen, and who is not.”

No, I don’t think that’s how it went down. I sincerely hope that’s not how it went down. But in reality, none of that matters. What DOES matter is that it was wrong. Whatever the reason, it backfired, because it only spotlighted that Mormons think they are special, and there is a HUGE gap between Mormons and non-Mormons, and that divide will NEVER be bridged. Whatever you do on Sunday is your business. And how you live your life is also your business. But SPOTLIGHTING just who ISN’T what you are is stupid, rude, and downright nasty.

And that is the only outcome that could come from this. Because this IS a Mormon state. And this IS a Mormon city. And we even have politicians in this Mormon city that have deemed it almost illegal to have city-sanctioned events on MONDAYS because that is the Mormon Family Home Evening night.

The majority of the population is Mormon, and so it was not brave, or honorable for these kids to wear their Sunday clothes to school. The majority of the ninth grade was doing the same damn thing. It was the same old, “I”m a Mormon and you aren’t, so neener, neener, neener.” Or “Boys and girls, take a good look, because the kids NOT in dress clothes? Not temple material. Don’t date them.”

My father argued that the intent of the seminary teacher/teachers was pure, and perhaps it was. He also argued that the Mormon Church does NOT teach they are better than everyone else. They do not encourage division and separation. Wrongo. Only Mormons will go to the Celestial Kingdom. Ring a bell with ya? The Mormon Church has been one of division and separation for years. Things have started to change, but as long as events like this happen, it’s just three steps forward and forty-two steps back.

Because, after all, these kids were NOT dressing up to GO TO CONFERENCE. Oh no. Conference was on the weekend. This happened on a Thursday. DURING REGULAR SCHOOL HOURS. Public school hours, no less. They were not attending a program, or putting on a special program. No, the only reason to wear the clothing was to show that they WERE MORMON. And spotlight who was NOT Mormon.

So much for separation of church and state.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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20 Responses to Mormon teachers are great at division

  1. WendyP says:

    Yuck! How obnoxious.


  2. Shaun says:

    This has got me wondering. Is it wrong when the football team dress up on game day to set themselves apart? Is it wrong when the spanish club dress up on spanish holidays? When I was in choir, we used to dress up on concert days to draw attention to ourselves. I don’t see the difference in those groups dressing up for an occasion and the seminary students dressing up. This wasn’t “all Mormons” dress up. This was seminary classes dressing up in honor of conference just like any other class, group or team dress up to honor their activities.


  3. WendyP says:

    Separation of church and state, Shaun. It’s a wonderful concept.


  4. Renee says:

    Hell, we have parochial schools in Utah…we just pay to fund ’em. I can’t BELIEVE that kids get out of school during school hours to go to SEMINARY. In Idaho, where I am from, you know they did it AFTER school. I doubt my son could have gotten out here to go to confirmation last year.

    It just pisses me off. Totally. ‘Nuff said.


  5. Nope, Shaun, doesn’t fly. You obviously did not read my entire post. They were NOT dressing up because they had a game. They were NOT dressing up because they were putting on a concert. They were DRESSING UP because they were Mormon. If they were dressed up because they were all going to ATTEND General Conference after school, that would be different.

    Furthermore, as Wendy pointed out, football, choir, etc., are all ACCEPTED SCHOOL ACTIVITIES that take place on SCHOOL GROUNDS. Even though Mormon seminary buildings in Utah are really, really close, they are NOT on school grounds, and seminary time is released time.

    And you missed my point. Even if the intent was good, the OUTCOME was not. Think things through, people. Sheesh.


  6. Hi Renee,

    When I was researching this post, I actually learned that “released time” for religioius study is not a Utah concept. It was accepted nationwide for many years, although it is now generally only used in Utah.

    Thought that was interesting.

    Here’s a link.


  7. Will says:

    When I was going to Highschool in Wyo, this same thing happened often used to really tick me off…

    And yea football, choir, etc… are school sanctioned activities while seminary is not. I never felt weird or outta place when football players wore shirts and ties on game days or the debate club put on suits for a debate. Sure enough though when all the mormons dressed up to recognize some mormon related event I felt a little singled out and cast aside.

    Maybe i should wore my hockey gear and put on rollerblades on game days and went though the school halls taking my revenge by checking kids into the walls =P j/k =D


  8. Renee says:

    Thanks Natalie, that is interesting. Granted, I’ve only lived in 2 other states besides Utah, but one of them obviously is pretty Mormon so I was totally shocked when I moved here. Guess I will let the church off for that one, although it does exactly what you describe above – it singled out that my son was NOT of the faith, since he didn’t leave for that period. But he had lots of good LDS friends anyway.


  9. When I was growing up around Vernal, Utah, we knew who the non-mormons were. It was a very small group who were mostly Catholic. My parents vetted our friends. If they were non-mormon, we couldn’t play with them.

    So… do you remember the quote “in the world, but not of the world?” Division is right.



  10. Renee says:

    My younger son seems to be having that experience (his bestest friend is totally non-LDS – they can play together on Sundays, but my older son had quite a bit of acceptance from the LDS kids. However, I must state that his in was our neighbor’s daughter, very good LDS BUT not originating in Utah – they are from Arizona and so much closer to what I grew up with. When you’re not the majority you tend not try to rule things so much.

    I do remember the most popular kids at school in Idaho (in junior high) were the LDS kids. They were taught to be perfect. But high schoolers don’t want so much perfections so the rest of us came on with a vengeance. Ha.


  11. INTJ_Mom says:

    I had to laugh when I read about your dad saying the church doesn’t encourage division. It’s interesting to me that if my neighbors need landscaping or home improvement help they are here on our doorstep wanting us to help them out for free, but other than that they don’t want anything to do with us. It’s like we are expected to do all the giving while they do all the taking.

    Every October the local ward does this secret treats thing for 2-3 weeks before Halloween. Someone gets assigned by the ward to start it off, they secretly leave goodies on someone’s doorstep with a paper that has a picture of a ghost and instructions in the form of a poem. One of my neighbors showed it to me once a few years back and explained the process saying it was called getting “bood”. They are to then photo copy the ghost paper, put it in their front window so others know they’ve been “bood”, and then secretly leave goodies and the ghost picture with instructions at someone else’s house. I’ve noticed that none of the inactive, ex, or nonMormons ever get “bood.” They do the same type of thing during December for xmas with a photocopied Santa. But it only goes on amongst the active ward members.

    Also, even though there are many Mormon teens in my neighborhood, I can’t get any of them to babysit for me because their parents will only allow them to babysit for active Mormon families. There’s also a lady in our neighborhood who is supposed to be a really phenomenal piano teacher. 6 months or so ago I left several phone messages to see if my son could possibly start taking lessons from her. She never returned my calls. Finally I ran into her at a store and asked about lessons. She looked at me and said “well I give the LDS kids first preference for my openings. I would only take on non-members if for some reason the LDS kids don’t fill my slots. So I don’t have any openings for you.”

    But hey, when these people need help fixing something guess whose doorstep they’ll be showing up on and expecting us to be their smiley helpful neighbors. I think I’m done with that…


  12. Elaine says:

    “It’s like we are expected to do all the giving while they do all the taking.”

    That sounds really familiar, INTJ Mom. In our old ward (since we’ve moved, we’ve requested no contact except by mail, and they’ve mostly been very good about that), they were always calling us to do stuff, but hardly ever responded the few times we said we needed something. I had one woman go ballistic on me on the phone when I told her I couldn’t bring something to some function.

    Oh, and by the way Natalie…finished reading “Tapped Out” yesterday. It rocks. 🙂


  13. Natalie says:

    Hey, thanks Elaine! So glad you liked it! The cover to POINTE AND SHOOT is up on my site!

    I think you will REALLY like that one…. It’s my favorite of the three. Comes out in May 2008.


  14. Mark says:

    New to your Blog. I have read a few so far and I must admit, I love your take on things. I’ll be the first to agree that there are many out there who, while their intentions might be good, make bad decisions. Mormon or otherwise. Then there are others who are just plain stupid. I don’t believe that is the case here though. Just for the record, I am a former anti-mormon, now a member for 9 plus years. I guess I went the opposite way others here did. He-He. You seem to have a good common sense grasp on life around you. It is so easy to fall in rank and file, so to speak, and play the part of a lemming in life. I find it alot in the Church, and it drives me crazy sometimes. But, to be fair, I also find it just as prevalent out of the Church as well. A little common sense could go a long way and I think your candor would be quite refreshing in the church. If you’re interested, I could send over a couple of representatives of the Church over …….. Just Kidding! Take care and keep up the commentary.



  15. kd says:

    Utah is odd in that many people go to private schools to get a secular education.

    Everyone already knows the non-mormons, and treat them apropriately (that is kind to the point that they say, “No I am not internested in converting.”)

    I actually wonder how this reversal of roles will affect this voucher debate. There is a large number of people who want their kids to have an education in a diverse, secular environment. Many of the private schools fit that bill better than the public schools


  16. Sideon says:

    There are times when I wish I was in high school again, just to mind-fuck with the sheep and the masses. I would be a holy terror in seminary. My Sunday best would never include white shirts – I happen to like dark button ups. I choose my life – no bishoPRICK is gonna tell me what where or how to wear my Joseph Smith Underoos or a whitesome and delightsome button-up. No, no, fuck no.

    Natalie – why the hell don’t you and your family move out HERE to California? We’re next to the Mormon mecca of Walnut Creek, but Mormons are such a minority that they only control they have is trying to fill their wards each week with enough cars to make them look slightly busy.

    Sorry – Utah norms are INCREDIBLY infuriating. Still!


  17. Natalie says:

    Sideon, I know what you mean. And it is good for people to get AWAY from Utah and realize that what is the “norm” here sure as hell doesn’t apply elsewhere!


  18. hiker says:

    It isn’t a conspiracy. It’s more insidious than that. I now in Alaska and don’t deal with this stuff except when I visit my family. But this type of division happens at the family level too. I would have liked to have watched my sister get married, for example. Just in case there are non Mormons reading this, the church does not allow anyone but active Mormons attend weddings in the temple. I got to sit through a blizzard by the temple doors waiting for sister to emerge so I could throw rice at her. Garments are another divider. The church is all about division but most of them don’t even know it. Incidentally, I was on the football team in high school . We wore ties on game days because we thought it was a good way to show the girls we were better than those other guys. I didn’t work for me.

    This blog entry was great because it reminded that I am not being petty for resenting this stuff.


  19. ruth says:

    Very petty!!! Jews dress for days or events, as do nuns, priests…….its not really that big a deal! Would you be saying this if you lived in an arbian country and the women wore DIFFERENT clothes? Would you feel LEFT OUT? Grow up!! Get a job!! Get a grip!! If these things are all you have to worry about in your lives then….well…..poor you!! lol!! Pathetic! Whatever you do dont dress up for christm,as this year!! You might offend a non western person!! I have heard it all now!!!


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