I liked the article “Hug One Another” [April 21, City Weekly]; the pastor behind that campaign is doing a good thing to bridge the gap between faiths.
I was born and raised in Utah in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and still practice the faith. I served an LDS mission in the South in a buckle city of the Bible Belt, and so the interaction with various other faiths was a daily occurrence. I spoke with a lot of people and was impressed by their faith in their beliefs.
Growing up, I was taught to treat everyone with respect and love. Many of my best childhood and current friends are not of my faith, so it is foreign to me to mistreat someone on grounds of their faith.
Living in the South, it was hard to understand why we missionaries were treated as we were. In one city, we tried to do service in other faiths’ service projects while dressed not in “missionary clothes” but everyday attire. We were turned down and treated coldly for offering.
They believe they are doing a good thing by approaching us in a more aggressive way. It is admirable and a sign of their conviction that they are willing to protest in the rain to bring us the salvation they fear we are losing by being LDS. It shocked me to learn that some Southern churches have classes on “how to confound a Mormon” or the “evils” of the LDS faith.
Although they may have a sincere concern for the salvation of LDS members, that approach only helps to widen the gap between our faiths. By avoiding criticizing others’ faiths, striving to understand other faiths and focusing on the study of my own, I have been able to have healthy, respectful relationships with my friends of other faiths.
Does that mean I am saying that all LDS people live this way? Of course not. I’m sure protesters on Temple Square are approached by LDS members and treated badly, as well. But no matter how many differences one may have with another, I believe that an attitude of love and an attempt at understanding is essential.
The pastor you spoke of in your article is showing a Christlike love that can be admired. Do I agree with the entirety of the evangelical doctrine? No. Do evangelicals agree with the entirety of the LDS faith? No. However, there needs to be respect of each other’s beliefs and an attempt at understanding why others believe the way they do. There needs to be a greater ability to see others as people.
If someone who is following the example of Christ believes another is going down the wrong path and losing their salvation, then the thing to do would be to love them and show compassion for their situation. I feel this pastor is trying to do exactly that and is drawing upon what Christ wanted us to get out of his teachings, which is: Love one another.