This past weekend I had an interesting experience. I attended not one but two church services at a “Mormon” church. Those that know me will probably be shocked by that confession.
It all started with me visiting my father and his wife this past weekend. My dad “converted” about two years ago. When he first told me about his new religion I was shocked. You see my father is an educated man. I have known him my entire life and he always struck me as being the ultimate skeptic when it came to religion. I had always been taught in mainline evangelical churches that Mormons were these scary shock troopers that had the uncanny ability to brainwash people into believing in the book of Mormon. I knew that my dad was not one to be brainwashed by anyone. At first I figured that maybe he had converted in order to make peace with his new wife. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. His life changed for the better. I as his son will be the first to say that something worked in his heart and made him a better person. He is still my dad but he is different. He wakes up and reads his scriptures every morning. Not only that but he prays before every meal and he regularly goes to church. Not only does he go but he likes it. He’s even a leader in his church now. If you had told me three years ago that my father was going to be a leader in his church I would have laughed at you.
When I arrived at my dad’s house on Friday he informed me that he had church on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I decided to go along with him so that I could experience this Mormon thing first hand.
Given all of the horror stories that I had heard about The Latter Day Saints I expected to see someone like this leading the service:
There were no signs of dark priests or demonic rituals. In fact the services were very uplifting. They were having a “Stake” conference which is a lot like other denominations’ district conferences. They sang hymns and three to four people spoke on different subjects. A teenager even got up and shared with the congregation at one point. I never got to do that when I was a teenager. All I was offered the chance to do is to be in horribly choreographed “dramas” called “human videos”. Yeah…no thanks.
As I looked around the room I noticed that no one had glazed over eyes. In fact the people attending the church were much like any other church I had ever attended. Some were paying attention to what was being said. Others were attending to their children while one lady I saw was balancing her check book during the service. They didn’t offer me any funny looking kool-aid or anything like that. Most of them shook my hand and talked to my father. The only other difference between that service and a traditional baptist service was of course the fact that they used scriptures from two books:
Overall i’d say that checking out the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was a positive experience. I was glad that I got to experience first hand something that has impacted my father’s life in such a deep and profound way. When it comes to religion people can argue doctrine all day. What they can’t argue with is a changed life.
The next time Mormon missionaries come around I won’t try and avoid them. I’ll shake their hands and talk with them.
Do I agree with everything that they believe? Based on what little I know about them the answer is “no”. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t treat them like people and learn more about them. Ignorance is not bliss.