Reflections On an Interfaith Household

“She won’t join the church because we won’t let her practice polyandry.”

That’s what my husband told the Stake President at his last interview. We’ve gotten a little tired of well-meaning, missionary-minded Latter-day Saints asking us why I’m not Mormon—as though “Mormon” is the correct answer and I’m somehow deficient for having missed it—so we’ve begun playing a game of how much we can shock people with our answer when they ask. The polyandry thing is holding up pretty well.

We need not mess around with my fellow evangelicals in a similar fashion; just hearing that my husband is one of those accursed cultists is usually enough to bring a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot expression to their faces.1 Spoken reactions range from, “Wow. Now how did that happen?” to “Bless your heart, we’ll have to pray for him.” I don’t at all mind people offering to pray for my marriage, but I’d rather have them ask me what in my marriage needs prayer. There’s better things to pray for than just my husband’s general Mormon-ness.

That said, treatment from our respective faith communities hasn’t actually been all that bad. Mormons seem to have some kind of code (written or unwritten, I’m not completely sure) for accepting interfaith families into their communities, though the fact that I’m a freak with a degree from BYU in spite of never having been Mormon usually throws people for a loop. And while my particular flavor of interfaith marriage is a bit of a shock to the evangelical system, marriages to unbelievers aren’t. Paul devotes a good section to it in 1 Corinthians and even assures people that “the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.”2 The same verse promises that the kids in an interfaith union are holy, too. Not such a raw deal when you think about it.

So how does a Mormon-Evangelical interfaith household function? Here’s how we roll:

  • I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol. I’d kind of like to sometimes, but I was already abstaining from them as a BYU student at the time of my wedding, so I figured it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice to keep doing what I was already doing.
  • Regardless of who is working, our tithe gets combined and then split 50/50, half to each church.
  • Our daughter alternates which church she attends every other week.
  • Once a month I visit the LDS church. Once a month he visits my church. We try to maintain at least some level of contact with the other person’s faith.
  • We have home teachers. We have Family Home Evening every Friday night, alternating lessons from the Bible and the Book of Mormon for it, with guitar-led evangelical worship songs for the music.
  • I read to our daughter from the TNIV New Testament and Psalms every night, and usually my husband listens. He says he’s going to start reading to her from the Book of Mormon every morning, but he kind of sucks at doing it. We don’t really teach the D&C or PoGP in our home; I figure if our daughter wants to learn about those, she’ll have to learn at her father’s church.

The question people usually want to know is, how are the children handling it? Aren’t we going to bork them spiritually?

So far we just have the one who is three years old, but she’s handling it well for her age. She recognizes both faith congregations and loves them both. She likes the nursery workers from both communities. She likes having the Bible read to her and listens pretty attentively for a three-year-old. She doesn’t like FHE; we’re working on that. Only time will tell how she handles it as she gets older and realizes the differences between the two communities.

The dance we’ve choreographed for making our two faiths work within our household is intricate, and in so much as it brings our family together I think it’s been a success so far. I’ll admit it though: we do not share a deep, spiritual connection, and it certainly isn’t for lack of trying. I try to share with him when I come across a passage or speaker or a book that excites me, and he’ll try to do the same, but it’s clear to me now that the things which inspire me spiritually just don’t have the same effect on him, and vice versa. Our reactions to each other in this department tend to be polite but detached. If there’s any reason to avoid an interfaith marriage, it’s this.

On the other hand, our emotional connection is deep, our friendship unquestionable, and when our interests aren’t shared they’re often complementary. He was unflinching in agreeing to move our family across the country to Chicago so that I can attend an evangelical seminary, and I can’t imagine being married to anyone who’s more fun or more fiercely devoted to me and my daughter. Many people in same-faith marriages can’t say the same.

I know that there are other T&S readers who have interfaith marriages. Feel free to share your stories, because I’d love to hear them.


[1] Except, of course, in Utah, where most evangelical Protestant churches are used to the presence of a few interfaith couples.

[2] 1 Corinthians 7:14 (ESV). I’m aware that some people don’t believe Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. I’m not one of them.

97 comments for “Reflections On an Interfaith Household

  1. I found this post intriguing. You are equally yoked, it seems to me, within your efforts to support and sustain each other in your spiritualities.

  2. Jack, I’m sure you and your husband are an inspiration to hundreds of couples. You have a lifetime of fireside presentations ahead of you explaining (to any faith group) how you make it work.

  3. interesting. My wife and I are new to this, since she has been a member of the LDS church since she was 13, and I was in the church for exactly 12 years before my resignation this past January (we are both 41).

    I suppose our road has been easier since we don’t have children, and don’t have to answer awkward questions at home. But each of use has a network of supportive friends where our choice of places to be on Sundays is essentially a non-issue.

  4. it’s clear to me now that the things which inspire me spiritually just don’t have the same effect on him, and vice versa.

    You don’t need to be in an interfaith marriage for that to be the case.

  5. I remember you from a Greek class with Huntsman (I believe the writings of John). Sounds like you and your husband have an excellent relationship built on respect and your common faith in Christ.

  6. BJM,

    I forgot you has asked.

    My wife is an atheist. Sometimes, when she’s in a particularly good mood, she’s something more like agnostic. She has loathed the church, in part because of how she interprets her upbringing in a former Mormon colony in Nevada. Not so much now, we were recently able to sit together by the reflecting pool there by the Salt Lake temple, and she said something like ‘I can see how this might be good for some.’ That whole thing seemed unreal to me. Generally, she will look the other way when we drive past a meeting house.

    There is, for me, a kind of spiritual loneliness. The deepest thing about me is something I can’t share with the person closest to me, and that rakes at my heart. I relate to what you say about the one reason to avoid an interfaith marriage. But, also, like with you, our friendship – though it has had moments of being strained, especially in the last year – has some bedrock to it. We have remarkably similar views and tastes in many things. We watched a movie the other night and cut it up together and laughed all through, and that is typical. We have things about our nature that are very similar, and it has become apparent that we share those things with our son, and we have kind of become a wonderful three headed beast. Where are natures diverge, the differences seem to be complimentary. She is particularly easy about the kind of rootless way I like to live life. In this, for me, she is one in a million. And I find charming rather than frustrating her complete lack of connection to other people and society in general.

    Good luck to you guys. :) ~

  7. I am curious: what rules have you set for your children regarding joining one of your faiths (or another)? If your daughter came to you at age 8 and said “I want to be baptized” what would you say (I would be interested in a hypothetical in which she simply wanted to be baptized because everyone was doing it and one in which she seemed to have a real faith and had picked one religion as right for her)?

  8. ESO ~ My husband and I actually disagree on that point. I think 8 is way too young to decide between two competing faiths and he thinks 8 is just fine. The plan is to play it by ear and decide then.

    However, the baptism question can at least theoretically be postponed because she’s a girl and not getting baptized won’t effect her participation in the LDS community. If we have a boy in the future, we’ll have to decide by age 12 or he’ll miss out on ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood. One possibility is to baptize them in both churches; I’ve known some people who have done this.

    TYD ~ Whoops, dumb mistake; I was just discussing the authorship of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus with someone the other day and I got them mixed up. You’re correct, even liberal scholars tend to agree that Paul wrote Corinthians. I’ve edited my post to strike out that line.

    And here I thought I was being good and covering my bases so that somebody wouldn’t quip, “You know, Paul didn’t write…” Ah well.

  9. I should probably say, I got baptized at age 12, so at a minimum I’d like my kids to wait until then. Point in fact, I’m looking at attending a church in Chicago which doesn’t allow baptism until age 12 minimum, though I doubt we’ll still be in the area in 9 years when our daughter turns 12.

    I’d be happier if they waited until they were 16, but I don’t have any rules set in stone. I just think 8 is too young.

  10. I’ll admit it though: we do not share a deep, spiritual connection, and it certainly isn’t for lack of trying.

    my husband and i have been together for 32 years, and it’s pretty clear to me that these kinds of connections wax and wane over time for who knows how many subtle, intricate reasons. your relationship has a sound basis, and you two work actively at staying connected. because you do, you might suddenly look back at the past years and realize it really is there.

  11. I hate to rain on your parade, but I predict a high likelihood this arrangement will be very difficult on your child(ren) later on. Three-year-olds are flexible and accepting; fourteen-year-olds much less so.

    Not only will they get constant-if-subtle pressure from both faith communities, but I worry that they will feel a part of neither community. Not to mention the great confusion of hearing conflicting messages every other week, and the sense that selecting either one means going against one parent.

    My (anecdotal, limited) experience with people raised in two traditions is that they end up committed to neither–either out of fear of offending a parent, or of having imbibed the belief that selecting one to commit to isn’t that important. (Which makes sense, if you think about it, since that is what they were raised with.)

  12. I have NEVER heard of a dual baptism solution; I am pretty sure that would not sit well with the LDS local leaders.

    I have known families who set a different age at which a child can choose baptism: 16 and 18 seem most popular. I suspect you are correct that it is easier for girls, although that year in Primary can be hard as all the class members celebrate each other’s baptisms. You probably will, but I would encourage you and your husband to talk to the Primary presidency and the class teachers about your daughter not being baptized that year (if that is the choice you make) and encourage them to use language that emphasizes that 8 is the age at which people can start being baptized, so your daughter doesn’t start to feel badly that she is the only one left out.

  13. It sounds like you’re working things out quite well.

    I do agree with #14 that as a child grows older, they will most likely have a harder time with the arrangement. I knew a wonderful interfaith couple in Texas with an arrangement much like your own. The father was the ward missionary leader (his wife got a kick out of that). As their children got into their teens it became more difficult for the parents as each child decided which church, if either, to attend. It caused friction and frustration with the parents and became pretty difficult on their marriage. As a result, both became less convicted in their faiths. It was sad to see.

  14. I would interpret the alleged confusion of Which religious norm is right (if either)? — as a teaching moment about the different interpretations of belief out there and a way to communicate the parents’ bottom line essentials of being a good person and being sincere, with yearnings toward God and truth.

    (Oh and (please don’t throw tomatoes at me but) from my generalized observations of households and from reading between the lines of Jack’s post, since the mom’s convictions are anything but weak, I believe the dueling pressures toward norms on daddy’s or mommy’s side of the theological divide are not now nor will ever be absolutely even.) [Quickly ducks.]

  15. Bridget said: The question people usually want to know is, how are the children handling it? Aren’t we going to bork them spiritually?

    Heh. As someone who is both biracial himself and in an interracial marriage*, people often tell me (so helpfully), “Wow, when you have kids, they are going to be so confused about their identity.” My response is usually, “Funny, when I was growing up everybody seemed confused about my identity except for me; so I expect my children will confuse you too.”

    “Other people” like things to be black & white, with clearly delineated separation. It’s not just possible to survive in an interracial or interfaith relationship, you can thrive and be happy, contrary to the objections of some. Kudos to you for finding a comfortable middle place, Bridget.

    * By definition I always would have had to be in an interracial marriage unless I had located a woman of my precise ethnic background!

  16. I echo what Rob Perkins said (5). My husband and I are both LDS but have very different personalities and interests. The things that inspire me are rarely the same ones that inspire him. I tend to question everything, and he feels more comfortable going with the status quo. We sometimes struggle to connect on a spiritual level because of this difference.

    It sounds like you’ve made some really good compromises and accommodations for each other, which is wonderful. Every good marriage has its share of those!

  17. I agree with #14 as well. There is a huge difference between a younger child and a teenager. Back when I was involved with the stake YM’s program we had a couple of families in the stake like this. The kids were confused about religion and they were almost always inactive in both faiths by the time they were 16. Nuance usually works better with adults.

    My view is the whole situation is a minefield for both parents and children.

    Jack in your #10 you mention that there are no issues that a girl has to deal with when she is 12 because she is not baptized. There is actually. She will be unable to attend the temple with her ward and do baptisms for the dead.

  18. PS Oh, and it will never happen, but I would be so, so happy if our LDS services incorporated Evangelical-style worship music. It is my favorite thing when I visit my friends’ family members’ churches to sing along with that music. You’ve inspired me to start using it for our FHEs.

  19. My mother was raised in an interfaith household — her father was Jewish, and her mother was Christian (Protestant). She joined the LDS church at age 20, and has been very active in the church ever since.

    So, depending on whether one considers Mormons to be Christians, that’s a data point which may or may not support Julie’s theory. :)

  20. While it is true that a situation like Jack’s obviously comes with some very real difficulties to be worked through, it is what it is. And as Rob Perkins pointed out, differences of belief within a marriage are hardly unique, even for those spouses within the same religious tradition. So, I think that I can probably speak for the vast majority of folks here in saying that we certainly wish Jack well in her efforts to have a meaningful relationship with her spouse, her children, and with her chosen church. Thanks for giving us a peek into this aspect of your lives. And all the best…

  21. Very interesting, precisely the subject I’m studying right now, but in the 17th century to see how such situations began in the western world (with the Reformation). Regarding the kids: kids I know who grow up speaking two languages generally flourish in both. I don’t think that’s so bad. And I don’t think the outcome has to be the nihilistic one, thus that they will identify with neither. Besides, every kid is different; kids growing up in a single-religion household can also be confused about their religious identity, or reject it. Thus I see no need to offer dire predictions but simply to hope for the best, as I would for any family. Seems like your situation has some real advantages too.

  22. My observations of similarly situated families echo Julie’s and others’ comments, with the following additions. The kids of interfaith families (at least the ones I have personally known), where one of the faiths is Mormon, tend to take one of two roads — converting to Mormonism fully or not converting to either religion fully. My sample size is only a few families, but the “one true church” thing usually causes enough cognitive dissonance to force a choice of joining up or not joining anything else. But that is just my observation based on a few families I have known.

  23. I like the way you’ve striven to manage this so far.

    I do have one suggestion for your husband. There was a woman who moved into my ward once a number of years ago. Her husband wasn’t LDS; I don’t know what if any faith he professed. Anyway, near the beginning of her stay in our ward she stood up at the beginning of a GD class and explained that she did not want people to try to convert her husband, that they were satisfied with things as they were. As near as I can tell, everyone respected her wishes in the matter.

    Without that public disclaimer, people are going to assume that she’s secretly dying inside wanting her husband to join, and that she would welcome and and all missionary attempts to make that happen. And more often than not that is in fact the case. So making a public disclaimer right up front that you really don’t want that strikes me as a good thing to do. Some people will try anyway and ignore your wishes, but at least in my ward it worked like a charm.

  24. Anecdotal observations of whatever patterns may or may not illuminating . . . . . as isn’t it true that in order to arrive at the most representative sample, there’d need to be instituted criteria precisely matching Jack’s family’s situation? In fact, this would not only involve removing from the population-for-study any couples where either parent is less than fully immersed in hi/r own faith tradition but also removing from observation any couple that is not one parent evangelical Protestant and one parent LDS. (Although if two separate studies were run, one involving a populations where one spouse was Evangelical and the other not and the other involving a population where one spouse was LDS and the other not, perhaps illuminating data could be generated that way; still, obviously the best population to use would be one that matches Jack’s situation as precisely as conveniently possible.)

  25. RE: Julie’s #14, My Dad was Methodist(innactive) and My Mother was Catholic(active) and none of their children are active in one of those faiths now. So maybe…

  26. Boy, I gotta say. The doom-and-gloom “just wait till your kid is a teenager” comments on here seem…how to put it…less than useful.

    Let’s be supportive and caring and grateful that this family is committed to each other, committed to God, and committed to making a tricky situation as obstacle-free and positive as possible.

    And heck. I was recently in a leadership meeting where the stake presidency was lamenting that about 80% of LDS kids will fall away from the Church–at least for a time–anyway. So it’s not like having a single-faith home is a golden ticket to helping kids avoid religious doubts and problems.

  27. Regarding Julie’s concerns in #14, let me share a little bit about myself.

    I was raised in what I call a “bad Protestant” home. My parents considered themselves Christians (Dad was an inactive Baptist and Mom an inactive Nazarene), and if you asked them about it they would assert that they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but the only time they ever went to church was around Christmas and Easter. We didn’t read the Bible together, we didn’t pray together, and they didn’t do anything to teach me about God or Christ. The first person who ever told me about Jesus was a Jehovah’s Witness woman who came to my house when my parents weren’t home on a cold, snowy night in Anchorage (I don’t know why she was tracting alone).

    On top of that, my parents were verbally and occasionally physically abusive. When I was 9, an 11-year-old girl I knew was kidnapped, raped and murdered. So I grew up with a pretty profound sense that the world wasn’t a very nice place and very bad things could happen to children.

    When I was 10 we moved from Alaska to Washington state and for the first time in my life, I had other relatives living close enough for me to visit. That was when I met my evangelical aunt and converted to Christianity. Throughout my teenage years I was usually the only one in my household who had any interest in going to church.

    I guess the point of this is, I think children are a lot more resilient then we give them credit for. They put up with so much garbage that adults inflict on them. I’m not naive; I understand that my struggles growing up absolutely pale in comparison to what other people have gone through. But my daughter doesn’t have parents who beat her or tell her she’s completely worthless or threaten to give her up for adoption when they’re angry at her, and she lives in a household where Christ is preached. Those are luxuries I didn’t have growing up.

    So when people say that they worry that we might be pushing our daughter away from both religions, I guess I always think, “Huh. If that’s our biggest parenting concern, I think we’re doing pretty good.”

    While I appreciate anecdotal evidence of other interfaith families, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable switching our game plan just on anecdotal evidence alone because there are so many variables. As Justmeherenow (#28) touched on, how similar were the couples involved to our situation? How active was each of them in their respective faiths? How regularly did the children attend each congregation? Did they engage in regular family faith activities together (family prayers, FHE, etc.)? Did the children ever express interest in attending one faith exclusively, and how did the parents react to that? Did the parents raise them as “nothing,” or did they encourage them to identify as children of both faith traditions (which is what we do)?

    My husband and I have talked about what we would do if she decides she wants to attend one faith exclusively. He’s fine if she becomes evangelical; he’s already in love with one evangelical woman, so why not two? I’m fine if she becomes Mormon. I hope you guys like rockin’ evangelical Mormons though, because I’m sure that’s the only type of Mormon any kids of mine could ever be.

    #15 ESO ~ The dual-baptism solution was first suggested to me by someone who had been baptized both Catholic and LDS. I agree, local leaders might not like it, but I also don’t think they’d be able to stop us.

    I can already say though that I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to get baptized evangelical just because. That has to be something she truly wants for herself.

    #20 bbell ~ You know, I’ve been married almost six years now and you’re the first person who’s ever mentioned the proxy baptisms thing. I guess that’s true, though only a huge concern in the [likely] event that we live near a temple. If the nearest temple is hours away, it won’t be too much of an issue.

    #30 Katie ~ I understand the doom-and-gloom comments, actually; I think they’re reasonable concerns and they’ve been expressed to me elsewhere.

    You’re correct about the single-faith home thing though. I can think of quite a few parents, both LDS and evangelical, who raised their children in a single-faith home and still had them rebel or stop attending church when they got older. It’s definitely more likely that a single-faith home will yield faithful children, but there are no guarantees.

  28. Jack,

    On multiple baptisms in 2 faiths. Local LDS leaders can if they so choose stop you on this. It all depends on who is your bishop and what their attitude is. I am not sure why you think that they cannot stop you. They have the keys literally and figuratively and usually what a bishop says goes as far as ordinances are concerned.

    Also if you do live hours from the temple its likely that about once a year the YM/YW will caravan to the temple for baptisms. it will be a very big deal in the ward. Much bigger then if you live close to a temple. These trips are huge social events for YM/YW.

  29. bbell ~ Does the church usually require new members to contact their old congregations and have their names taken off the rolls? Does it keep tabs on when other local churches in the area are performing baptisms?

    As far as missing YM/YW temple night, I imagine my daughter isn’t going to make it to every social there is for both churches for the simple fact that they’ll sometimes overlap. We can worry about how much it will effect her when we get there.

    However, if the LDS church is either going to demand her exclusive membership or else ostracize her from ward social events, well, that sounds like a scenario that could backfire either way. Such social events could motivate her to seek LDS church membership exclusively, or she could say, “The people at Dad’s church won’t let me participate unless I stay away from Mom’s church and that’s not right” and it could drive her into evangelical Christianity. All I can say is, wait and see.

  30. Jack,

    I am not talking about YM/YW temple night. If you live many hours from a temple they will go on 2-3 day trips that involve hotel stays and other fun activities. Just sayin…

    Also I doubt you will be able to hide another baptism from a bishop. If your daughter is older when you want her to get baptized there will be a interview process that will involve the bishop and local missionaries. Like I said different bishops will do different things regarding multiple faith baptisms. It really depends on them and their inspiration combined with their individual personality. I would not suggest to many polyandry jokes if you want smooth sailing with local PH leaders. One of the big keys regarding your ability to handle this issue is going to be your relationships with multiple local PH leaders.

    In practice despite what I just wrote most likely local leaders will allow her to get baptized.

  31. Jack, I’m wondering if you or your husband have had fantasies of converting the other after marriage. I’ve known a number of LDS who marry someone who is not religious – I have little doubt that, in spite of their obvious love for them, they are always hoping their partner will convert.

    And I have actually seen men or women join the Church after 20,30 or even 40 years of marriage, but I think it can also be an unhealthy way to live (constantly hoping). Its complicated I suppose.

    I guess the broader question: Is that something you hope for deep down inside? Do you think he does?

  32. Also Jack,

    bbell does have a point about the older-than-8 baptism in the church. Once your daughter is 9, the missionaries are required to teach her like she is an adult convert. She’ll also have to have an interview with a missionary who will ask questions like…”Do you sustain the President of the Church as Prophet, Seer and Revelator? Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?”

    It seems as though she would have to essentially proclaim her testimony of the Restoration (Jesus called JS, he brought forth the BoM etc.) If she really believes that – I’m not sure she would even want a dual baptism.

    Ultimately, I’ve seen more than a few families make it work and yours seems to be on a good footing. I’m not trying to give you doom and gloom – just some things I’m thinking about.

  33. I can’t imagine the LDS church demanding her exclusive membership, etc. What would be the point? And I’m not sure (but I could just be ignorant) why she wouldn’t be allowed to be baptized in two faiths. This is a unique situation, and I think basically, depending on the bishop, it could be accomodated. Am I wrong on this? Would it compromise her baptismal covenants? As a primary leader, I am always happy to have a child in primary no matter what the circumstances.

    I suppose she will have to make some decisions as she gets older, as each church has some pretty big differences in “answers” to the big questions. One believes in premortal life, baptisms for the dead, eternal families, one does not. And then there’s Early Morning Seminary…

    Interesting things to think about. Good luck, it sounds like you have a sweet and wonderful family. Oh, and I live in the Bible Belt, so I’m plenty okay with rockin’ evangelical Mormons.

  34. I’m amazed that some of you think dual baptism is a viable option. CJ Douglass nailed it in #36.

  35. On your question about how practiced Mormons are in having interfaith families in their midst, I would suggest that it is a frequent occurrence, especially outside of Utah. It is not at all infrequent for just one or two members of a family (such as children or one parent and one child) to join the LDS Church but the others to not be persuaded. In some cases it is a sitatuation that lasts all their lives, such as with the wife of Congressman Tom Lantos of California, whose daughters, without her pressuring them, ended up joining the LDS Church and raising families with LDS spouses. No thinking Mormon in a ward would ever want to offend the non-Mormon spouse; those who most hoped the spouse would join the LDS Church would be very conscious of not being offensive, and others would naturally be accepting.

    I am actually more interested in the fact that you and your husband seem to not get excited about the same facts or ideas of a religious nature. I can understand you not caring about, say, the publication of the Joseph Smith Papers or other things related to LDS history. On the other hand, I am puzzled that you aren’t interested in LDS views on topics related to, say, the New Testament. As you have pointed out, the range of beliefs among Protestants is broad enough to overlap with many LDS beliefs, as is demonstrated in the way both Mormons and Protestants react positively to most of the writings of C.S. Lewis. Concepts like theosis, pre-mortal existence, God experiencing emotions, a physical resurrection, all of these and more are places where Mormons have similar beliefs to many Protestants. And of course there is the great commonality about the identify of Jesus Christ and the reality of his atonement and resurrection.

    I know that Professor Roger Keller at BYU, a former Protestant pastor, believes that his career as a pastor was truly a “calling” through the Holy Ghost. It seems that, if you two choose to, you can find broad areas of common interest and real common belief, while still staying within the compass of your own chosen faith communities.

  36. There are definitely two different situations. The 8-year old dual baptism and the 9 or older dual baptism. Complicating things would be which baptism came first – the LDS one or the other one. Obviously the Church baptized individuals already baptized in another faith all the time. We view the other baptism as an invalid one and the LDS baptism as being the proper one with the correct authority. So anyone seeking an out-of-LDS Church baptism after receiving an LDS baptism would have some serious questions raised about their testimony of the restored gospel and commitment to the Church – at any age.

    An 8-year old ‘child-of-record’ already baptized into another faith would have a pretty easy time getting an LDS baptism. They would get asked those questions about their acceptance of Joseph Smith and current prophets as well as the Book of Mormon and the priesthood authority. If they can answer them honestly in the affirmative, I know of no Bishop who would deny them baptism. As stated before, if they do answer them in the affirmative, why would they want an different baptism? A 9-year old or older will require the missionaries and the discussions. Not the worst thing in the world. I’ve known more than a few 8-year olds from ‘inactive’ homes that would have benefited from the discussions. They will also face those same exclusivity questions.

  37. #39 RTS ~ What makes you think I’m not interested in the LDS take on the New Testament? I used to work as a research assistant doing work on the Gospel of John for the BYU Religion Department. I’m interested in all things Mormon, but I’m especially interested in LDS church history, so I’d probably be more interested in the publication of the JS papers than the type of research I was doing when I worked for the Religion Department.

    I have some loose ideas for what to do my MA thesis on and I imagine it will have something do to with the history of the relationship between Mormons and other Christians, but we’ll see.

    Question concerning post-age-9 baptism interviews: Is an absolute affirmative answer required? Do they never baptize people because they believe in Jesus Christ and they want to participate in the Mormon community, but they aren’t completely sure they believe JS was a prophet?

    Remember, I suggested the dual-baptism thing because it had been suggested by people who did it themselves, so either they lied on their interviews, they didn’t understand the implications of things like accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet, or there’s loopholes here.

    EDIT: Oh, and I had Roger Keller for RelC 353, Gospel & American Christian History. He was definitely one of my favorite professors, and it was a great class. I also heard him speak on the apostasy when I volunteered at the FAIR Conference in 2004. Looks like I even introduced him for his talk at the conference. I totally didn’t remember that.

  38. Never is a strong word. Are the Bishops and/or missionaries who might not take such a strong strand? Probably. I would guess not many. Baptism (to the Church as a whole – individual interpretations are guaranteed to vary) means more than ‘I want to participate with you’. It means ‘I accept the Church as the restored and complete gospel’. It’s one reason why I do not think it is a horrible thing to wait as a child to get baptized.

    As for people who did the dual baptism thing, they likely fall into all three categories you mention. Some may have lied because they didn’t feel that the Church standards on this are correct. They have their reasons for wanting membership and give the answer they know the interviewer expects. Some surely do not understand the implications of what they are doing. And some problem get an interviewer who doesn’t understand the implications and/or creates a situational loophole (for a variety of reasons – some potentially selfish).

  39. If your daughter wasn’t a baptized member of the Church, she would be able to go on temple trips, but just not into the temple (past the recommend desk). I’m the ward YW pres, and we’ve had non-members accompany us to the temple and stay in the waiting room before. She wouldn’t miss the other “fun activities” that the youth sometimes get to do when they travel far away to the temple (I live in San Antonio where there’s a temple in town, so on temple trips, we only go to the temple and nothing else, but I guess they might do other things where people have a ways to travel). And it bothers me a little bit to hear a youth temple trip described as a social event. It is much, much more than that (I was actually sort of offended by the thought, which even really surprised me). Also, I’m curious if you would ever try to persuade her that Joseph Smith was NOT a prophet? That’s your right, you’re her mother after all. And I’m not trying to accuse you with the question, I’m just curious.

  40. Missionaries are generally pretty happy to baptize people and are willing to grant wiggle room in a number of areas.

    Missionaries don’t have the only say in the matter.

    Look, as a practical matter — get baptized evangelical, then Mormon, in that order, and no one will bat an eye.

    And as for exclusive participation in YW events? Please. Many youth miss 1-2 weeks a month for a whole host of reasons. Splitting time between two churches may be unique to some youth leaders, but it’s no different than the kid who blows off half of their youth activities for soccer or volleyball.

  41. I think that the dual-Church family plays out better with Catholics and Mormons, actually. It seems that I’ve met more families who actively manage those two faiths than other combinations. And baptism isn’t an issue.

  42. Regarding temple trips-as-social events:

    This stems mostly from the past, where temples outside Utah were few and far between, and you might have to take a 2-3 day trip to do baptisms (and you’d probably get a couple of baptismal sessions in). We took a trip every couple of years to Washington DC to do baptisms. It was a big event.

    Now, with temples dotting the country/planet, in the US it’s easier to find a temple within 5 hours. In most “big” cities, you can find a temple within an hour. Texas has temples in Houston, San Antonio, Lubbock, and Dallas. Members in Texas aren’t more than 4-5 hours even in the most remote of branches. The bulk of members in Texas are within an hour or 2. These temple trips tend to be “business as usual” — and it’s not quite the social event of the summer like it may have been when there was just one temple in Texas 25 years ago.

  43. Agreed with Julie–those suggesting duel baptisms do not have an understanding of the Mormon view of Baptism.

    Yes–people who were baptized into other faiths as babies or in previous faith conversions are baptized as Mormons, but by accepting Mormon baptism, they are not just accepting Jesus, they are accepting membership into the LDS Church by our understanding that it is the Church of God on earth.

    Your suggestion that at 8 or 9 or 12 or 16 your daughter might be baptized at an evangelical congregation one week and the LDS ward another doesn’t jive with our religion. It is not that the local Bishop attends all the other Baptisms in town to ensure none of his congregants are getting baptized, it is that the Baptism recipient should have a mature enough understanding of the religion that they were joining that they would recognize the covenants LDS converts make cannot include devotion to another Church.

    Your husband, I would hope, would not be comfortable performing an LDS baptism that was an effort to run around local authorities.

    RE: temple work. Perhaps your husband does not attend much? Like bbell said, for youth who live far away (fewer and fewer with the smaller temples fanning out), Temple Trips will be like a retreat or lock-in–generally a major bonding opportunity. Those who live closer likely have bi-monthly temple trips on a weekday evening. Not as fun, but still bonding. Certainly, it is not the end of the world to miss out on these–it will all depend on how connected your kids are with the other youth and what their desire to do Temple work is.

  44. I don’t want to set myself up as the expert on Baptism–it is possible those suggesting duel baptisms instead don’t understand the situation proposed.

  45. So, the last I checked, there was a line on the baptismal recommendation form where the *bishop* had to authorize the confirmation. I’m assuming, based on observation, that applies to converts as well. The bishop may not have to perform any of the baptismal interviews, but there’s a deliberate check on the process.

  46. With regard to dual baptisms, there are many possible permutations.

    One could approach Mormon ordinance of baptism as one having attained the age of accountability at eight years old, enabling one to accept membership in the restored church and avail oneself of the gift of the Holy Ghost, believing all of these things efficacious. Then one could nonetheless, it could be imagined, tell evangelicals that although one already holds oneself as baptised — “What the heck, baptise me again, anyway, if it would make you evangelicals feel better.

    But, let’s face it: alternatively, one could approach Mormon ordinances rather as would some kind of an evangelically-tinged, “new order” Mormon, while leaving open the possibility of an eventual conversion as an evangelical, as one who completely of one’s own volition would accept Jesus and His blood and the blessings of His Holy Spirit (at which point one could be baptised in acknowledging entrance into the church of Christianity).

    To the outside view, either avenue could well look very similar to the other — indeed, it might be only the young person involved who would know for sure which version more accurately described h/ir path!

  47. I think it’s preposterous to say that someone who doesn’t go on temple trips will automatically be ostracized. She will still be able to go to Youth Conference, Stake Dances, Girl’s Camp, and any other non-temple youth trip. Why would failure to participate in one type of activity mean automatic social outcast status?

    Now, people may be idiots and ostracize her because she isn’t officially a member, but that’s something we really need to work on.

    Regarding baptism, I think she should be baptized in the LDS Church if she believes the LDS Church is true, baptism in another church notwithstanding. If she later decides to be baptized in another church, the LDS church certainly can’t stop her. Nor would they stop her from active fellowship in the LDS church (unless they were idiots).

  48. #49 ESO ~ Perhaps your husband does not attend much?

    I don’t think you should assume anything about my husband’s temple participation based on what I write here; I’m a temple-phobe and I stay the heck out of anything involving him and the temple. As far as this matter goes:

    ~ He grew up in Sioux City, Iowa; I’m not sure where the nearest temple was, but I’m pretty sure it was 5-8 hours away. He says his ward youth only made a trip to the temple once a year and he isn’t that worried about our children feeling ostracized due to lack of temple participation.

    ~ He doesn’t think the dual-baptism thing is a good idea. He’d prefer they only get baptized in the LDS church if they’re ready to attend it exclusively. I only believe it should be considered if they want to continue participating in both faith communities and they’re feeling ostracized by the things they can’t do without being baptized—temple trips, Aaronic priesthood callings, passing sacrament, etc.

    the Baptism recipient should have a mature enough understanding of the religion that they were joining that they would recognize the covenants LDS converts make cannot include devotion to another Church.

    Here’s my problem with this: LDS families routinely baptize their children as soon as they turn 8. I’m told that there are caveats wherein the family can wait longer if they don’t feel the child is ready, but I have never seen an LDS family take advantage of these caveats. I’m not saying it never happens, just that it very rarely does. Most of the LDS families I have known have had their children baptized within a month of their eighth birthday, even children with Down Syndrome and severe autism (more on that in a moment). It isn’t a false statement to say that most children born in the LDS church get baptized at age 8.

    So you’re basically telling me that most 8 year-olds are considered to have a mature understanding of the LDS religion and the covenants they are making. That may sound nice on paper, but as an outsider I find it absurd. I remember being 8. I would have given whatever answers the adults wanted me to give, and I don’t believe for a second that most 8-year-olds who are baptized Mormon understand what they’re doing.

    BUT then there is the fact that children with mental disorders which clearly prevent them from understanding the LDS gospel are allowed to be baptized, at age 8 if the wish. Why? So that they can participate in ritual and feel like they’re part of the LDS community. You can tell me, “But those are special exceptions which require case-by-case accommodation.” Well, so is my interfaith family situation.

    What you and bbell seem to be warning me is that my daughter is going to be socially ostracized in the YW program if she doesn’t swear absolute allegiance to the LDS church by age 12. I see two possible problems with this if it comes to that: (1) it will encourage her to make a fake conversion to Mormonism for social reasons, or (2) it will drive her away from future consideration of the LDS church—are either of those what the church wants? After all, the evangelicals won’t be telling her that she has to come exclusively to their church or else she doesn’t get to come minister to the homeless.

    I imagine that if her local LDS leaders are smart, and she still wants to participate in both faith communities at age 12+ without settling on one or the other, they will either: (1) allow the dual-baptism solution as a special accommodation, or (2) bend over backwards to involve her in non-temple events and make her feel wanted. And for the record, I have known interfaith couples whose children participated in both faith communities throughout high school, so it’s definitely possible.

    But if the local LDS leaders don’t want to accommodate her, what can I say. I’ll be happy to encourage her to attend the evangelical church more often, where she’ll be welcome at all of the youth activities regardless of what rituals she’s participated in.

  49. “After all, the evangelicals won’t be telling her that she has to come exclusively to their church or else she doesn’t get to come minister to the homeless.”

    No, but they might be telling her she’s going to hell if she is baptized LDS. You guys are going to make this work, and the biggest reason I can see, BJM, is your own openness and adaptability. I really think it is admirable. But don’t pretend that the cultural problems you are going to face are going to come entirely or even mostly from the LDS side of things. Once you are away from Wasatch culture, you’ll find many many wards who will accommodate all kinds of different arrangements. (I should know because I’m a walking different arrangement.) ~

  50. I don’t see any reason why she’d be ostracized from any youth activities, unless there are just some rude people in your particular ward. Are you worried there will be strife about this in your marriage around the time she turns 8, even though you seem to have things worked out right now? What if she only wants to attend LDS services? What if she wants to serve a mission? Get married in the temple? What if she rejects Mormonism altogether-how do think that would affect your husband? I guess you could write about all this for days…

  51. Not at all ostracized! I have never used that word. I am not the least bit concerned with how others in the LDS ward perceive your daughter–there is very much variation and plenty of kids in your situation or others that might not include baptism.

    I am concerned that your daughter might feel odd believing (presumably) in things she cannot participate in. I think that the adults and youth your daughter interacts with will not have any problem with her (almost) full participation in church life. I think your daughter might have a hard time with it.

    RE: Baptism at 8
    I agree that the option to baptize at 8 is taken lightly by many LDS–it is virtually a given, which is hardly evidence of conversion. What can I say except that that is not how I intend to have baptisms treated in my family?

    I have known many families wherein one parent or another insisted that children be significantly older for baptism–it is no problem.

    My assumptions about your husband’s temple attendance is not based on anything you have ever said, just on my experience with interfaith couples (including those where both partners are nominally LDS, but one member is less active or less committed). In many such couples, the LDS member scales down temple participation because it is something their partner cannot participate in and they don’t want to do stuff they can’t discuss. Others don’t want to devote so much time to something which the partner cannot be a part of. For others, the temple focus on eternal families is a source of pain.

    If your husband had scaled down temple participation, you might not have realized how central it is to Mormon practice, that is all.

    Again, temple participation or the lack thereof is NOT something to ostracize someone over. Just that someone who truly believes that Temple work is important may be pained at not participating.

  52. #55 Thomas ~ You’re absolutely right. Trust me, my #1 concern with any church I attend is that they’re sensitive to my interfaith situation and they treat my husband’s church with respect. I don’t want to attend a church that holds classes on “cults” or special seminars on “what Mormons really believe.”

    When I was 17, I wanted to go to the October General Conference with the Laurels at the local LDS ward, a road trip from Washington to Utah (this was in 1999). I was the first person to hand in my permission slip. I was totally excited about it.

    The night before the trip, the YW president called me up. She said she’d made a mistake; she wasn’t supposed to let me sign up for the trip because I was a non-member and the church’s insurance wouldn’t cover me if something went wrong. She said she was really sorry but there was nothing she could do.

    I was crushed. It sounds silly now, but I balled. I really wanted to go to Salt Lake City. I called up the bishop and told him, and he said he would talk to the SP about it. Ten minutes later, he called me back and said they’d obtained special permission so that I could still go. (That’s me at Temple Square with the Laurels, 3rd from the right in this picture.)

    Believe it or not, I have a lot of faith in the LDS church’s ability to accommodate an interfaith family. I really do.

    #56 HeidiAnn ~ I really appreciate your comments. To answer your questions:

    Are you worried there will be strife about this in your marriage around the time she turns 8, even though you seem to have things worked out right now?

    Not really. I’ve told my husband that unless I’m incredibly satisfied with her maturity and her ability to discern the situation, she isn’t getting baptized at age 8. There is no negotiation on this; the church won’t do it without my permission.

    Baptism by age 12 is do-able. I’d kind of prefer she wait longer, but I got baptized at age 12, so who am I to tell her “no”?

    What if she only wants to attend LDS services?

    Then I’ll let her. Again, I’d prefer she attended both congregations until age 12 minimum, but I don’t have a firm rule on this.

    What if she wants to serve a mission?

    I would enthusiastically support her. I am deeply envious of the LDS missionary program.

    Get married in the temple?

    Assuming current policies still apply, and she wants to get married in the temple first, I would prefer she at least hold an elaborate ring ceremony afterward. I’m not going to be one of those non-member parents who gets bitter about not being able to see the sealing. I understand that if she converts, it’s coming.

    What if she rejects Mormonism altogether-how do think that would affect your husband?

    He’d be sad, but like I said, he’s already married to one evangelical woman he’s absolutely devoted to. There’s room to be in love with two.

    ESO ~ Thanks for clarifying. I hope I didn’t sound too defensive; I’ve sometimes had people imply that my husband must not be very faithful/active since he’s married to me, and that’s why I was worried about your temple practice question. I don’t feel very comfortable discussing his temple activity here though.

    I’m actually glad people have brought up the concerns with the dual-baptism option and missing out on early temple proxy; I will keep them in mind when things play out.

  53. I don’t think anyone thinks someone would be ostracized. Don’t worry about that.
    I think, however, children see things in a black and white kind of way plus they will be getting a black and white kind of doctrine from two different churches. You may find that the only way to help your child bridge the two is to ultimately undermine both of them. However, this isn’t the worst problem a parent has to face and I am sure you and your husband will negotiate the challenge the best way you can.
    As for children getting baptized at eight, of course no eight year old (or even adult) truly understands everything. However, it is stressed that the person being baptized believes that it is the true gospel and is making a promise to the Lord and becoming a member of the church. A child who is mentally challenged in some way is often allowed to be baptized if they have that desire and the accompanying belief. A child who is baptized out of tradition is likely also to have that belief.
    A child that is in your daughter’s situation would be a slightly different story since she would not necessarily automatically feel like she is joining the correct church so it will require her to make a “choice.”
    I think you and your husband have a wonderful, respectful marriage and are negotiating the challenges of different religions excellently.
    My husband may be the same religion but when it comes to spiritual and personal feelings, he doesn’t always get me. You can read a scripture one year and it means something different the next. A married couple does not have to be on the same wavelength all the time. Despite the same religion we have differences (some are gender oriented like me wanting to talk to process things and him not truly understanding why I want to talk about my feelings for quite so long…including spiritual feelings) and we are still very happy together.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  54. Not at all–I think you have responded very evenly. I admire your resolve to make it work and wish you the best. I hope it will be an easy path for your kids–with communication it can be.

  55. bbell wasn’t warning about being ostracized. He was responding to the claim that for a 12-year-old girl, being baptized or not has no effect on her participation in the LDS Church.

  56. People with mental impairments that prevent them from understanding the implications of the covenants they are making are not supposed to be baptized–I am sure it happens, but it is not supposed to. That means, I suppose, that their understanding must be equivalent to an eight-year-old’s. . .

    I have heard that some churches accept LDS baptism as sufficient to meet their requirement for the ordinance. They appearantly do not treat it as the doorway to church membership as we do.

  57. He’s fine if she becomes evangelical; he’s already in love with one evangelical woman, so why not two? – BJM (#31)

    Be careful Jack, as a Mormon he might be looking for three or four? ;)

    With regards to the dual baptism thing, I would agree with those who have stated it all depends on the local leadership at the time. I have had bishops who wouldn’t have cared, and, I believe, may have even encouraged it, and I have had other bishops who wouldn’t allow it in a million years.

    I also agree with you in waiting until your child is older. Like you said, an eight year old really doesn’t have the capacity to fully understand what the baptism really represents. Neither do 12-year-old boys really understand the priesthood. When both parents are members, it really isn’t important because that understanding will come with time and generally isn’t much of an issue. However, in a situation like yours, having two parents who are devoted to their respective religious views offers your child(ren) an opportunity to see and compare both religions. The danger comes when they see evangelicalism demonized by Mormons and vice versa. IMO, that’s what leads to a lack of commitment to either tradition, they’ve been taught that both are bad. If you can avoid that and let them see that both traditions have value they’ll be healthy adults, even if they choose a completely different tradition. Are you ready for a member of your family to practice Buddhism?

  58. I was very active in church throughout my teenage years but I never attended a temple trip. It didn’t make a difference to anyone in YM/YW that I hadn’t attended.

    I agree that 8 is way too young for baptism. I think I was still too young when I was baptized at age 11. IMO, even kids who are raised in strong LDS families from infancy are too young at age 8 to grasp the concepts and commitments involved in baptism. I think letting H choose when she’s older (somewhere between 12 and 16, as you suggested) is a good idea.

  59. Coming from the perspective of one who is fresh out of the YW program… the fact that your daughter may not be a baptized member will likely not affect her social life in the church in any way. Obviously, this will vary from ward to ward, and stake to stake, but the wards I have been in have often had girls who weren’t baptized or even members. The ward I am currently in had two non-members at our last Girls Camp. One of them is investigating, but the other has been coming to Mutual activities for a year now because she thinks that they’re fun, and she’s good friends with my younger sister and some other girls in the ward. She’s as much a part of the program as any of the other girls- and that’s without any interest in Church membership, or any family members in the Church.

    On another note… not that this will add anything to the conversation, but I certainly am enjoying the discussion about “duel” baptisms(having mixed up duel and dual in a spelling bee once, it’s something I notice easily).

  60. Hopefully every YM/YW program will have some non-LDS who participate frequently. Some will become Latter-day Saints, and most will have some good experiences with friends added to their teen-age years. That’s quite apart from what it means to an individual to be baptized.

    I began attending LDS primary when I was 10 years old, and sacrament meeting more and more frequently in the months that followed. At 12 years and four months, I was baptized, and being called on then to do “the things the other boys already did” was the least of the difference that it made. In LDS teaching, baptism is the gateway that one passes through to begin a path of discipleship following Jesus, and until until one is baptized, all the lessons and actions are only preparation to reach the point to take step one.

  61. I think that baptism should be taken seriously, and that social pressures and a desire to fit in at youth activities are very bad reasons to be baptized.

    My mother always told me to use her as an excuse in situations I was uncomfortable to be in. If I didn’t want to go to a party, I could say “my mom won’t let me”, even though she would have trusted me. Jack, I would encourage you to let your daughter do the same thing. If she feels peer pressure and she is not ready to be baptized, let her use you as an excuse even though the real reason is her own feelings. It is so much easier to say “my mom won’t let me” than “I don’t feel ready for that commitment”.

  62. Nobody thinks including me that your daughter will be ostracized for not attending ward temple trips. That is your spin on the idea. You asked what consequences to activities there could be in YW’s for a non-baptized 12 year old. The temple trips are the only thing I could think of that could be affected. One of my Home teachees is a 20 year woman. She attended church, seminary, Youth conference, and YW’s for may years from age 12-18. When she turned 18 she got baptized. She currently is my 7 year olds Primary teacher. The only thing she could not do prior to baptism was attend the temple.

    Another note. If she turns 18 and is still unbaptized she will cease to be a child of record and will be removed from the church rolls eventually

  63. I think the dual baptism idea has real potential — it allows the child to feel like a complete member of both congregations or faiths, which is what the parents trying to preserve the choice for the child want. The other option that would keep the balance and fairness in place would be baptizing the child in neither faith, which would tend to distance the child from both congregations or faiths.

  64. From an LDS perspective, I would have a lot of conflict with a “compromise” on baptism or waiting to have a child baptized until age 12, 16 or older. I want my children to have the gift of the Holy Ghost at age 8, even if they don’t completely understand the covenants or the doctrines of the church (which they won’t). As someone who believes in this doctrine, there are very real blessings attached to baptism, and that it’s just not a ritual or a demonstration of commitment. I guess this is where interfaith marriage starts to get really murky to me. How do you compromise on things that you see as being necessary for your children to help them navigate these decisions, not to mention adolescence in general? I wouldn’t want it but kudos to you and your husband for working out something for your own family.

  65. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with #70. This expresses what I have been thinking all along. Even though I know that my 7 yr. old will not understand everything about the baptismal committment he makes come this November, I want him to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. My belief is that this gift makes understanding grow. I know you may disagree about the way the Holy Ghost operates in a person’s life or the necessity of receiving that gift the way that it is given by LDS, but that is what a member of the church believes. You have to do what you feel is best for your family, and that is between you and your husband and the Lord. I just want to share my thoughts.

    My father is agnostic and my mom is Presbyterian, and I’m LDS. My parents were married when she was not as active in church, it was just sort of that college period where sometimes people are doing other things with their weekends, and my father wasn’t raised going to church. Anyway, she always told me, “Don’t let anyone ever tell you it doesn’t matter [if you and your spouse don’t share a faith], because it does.” I don’t think there is any question that your husband has enough love in his heart for 2 evangelicals in the household-of course he does. I don’t think there’s any question that your daughter will be welcomed in YW with open arms, whether she joins the church or not (or whether or not you do). I can’t tell you how much I wish I could share the experience of church membership with my family (of origin). I tell them about things of course, but there isn’t that connection over it that I have with other members of the church who “really get” what I mean. There is definite sadness there. Do I think they’re condemned because they aren’t members? No. Do we have a good relationship? Excellent. But that longing is always there, where I know we could be closer, but just that one area is lacking. Of course, that one area colors everything about who I am, and everything I do and say. It’s a part of me.

    I’m sure that your husband’s “mormoness” is part of what you love about him, because he wouldn’t be who he is without it, and he’d probably say the same about you. I hope everything works out for y’all.

  66. BJM, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, but I think there’s an elephant in this room: you mentioned people asking why you’re not Mormon, but…why aren’t you?

    I’ll assume you’ve read the Book of Mormon and know our doctrines very well. Have you just never been interested in praying about its truth? Is there something about the church that turns you off to such a prayer? Do you feel that such a witness–or the idea of there being a single true church–is not necessary? Or something else?

    In short, what’s your story here? Mormons love conversion stories, but I think a lot of us are also interested in non-conversion stories, if that makes sense. There’s no agenda or judgment intended here, just friendly curiosity in whatever your experiences have been. I think a lot of people out there are familiar with the church but don’t seek out a testimony of it because they’re simply not interested, period. And that’s fine.

    I think a post giving some background on this from your perspective would be fascinating. I know on my part that I don’t want to criticize, only to get to know your point of view. Hopefully nobody else would use such a post as a spring board for any debating or pressing you to do something different. Sorry if the whole topic would be too personal, but surely all of your readers are thinking about it.

  67. Huston, you should just check out Jack’s blog for those answers. She is well-known in the bloggernacle, as are her positions, which is why I think she was invited to guest post here.

  68. #35 CJ Douglass ~ Sorry, I should have answered you earlier. I don’t think Paul and I ever stop desiring the other’s conversion, and once in a blue moon we take a shot at it. However, when we first started dating, one of the first things I told him was that his happiness could not be dependent on hope for a future conversion; he had to love me as an evangelical or it was never going to work.

    I actually wonder how the LDS community would react if I converted my husband. I get that my marriage to a Mormon gives me a sort of “in” with Mormons, even moreso than my degree at BYU does, and I wonder if I’d still be considered the friendly interfaith bridge-builder if I did get him to convert.

    I can tell you though… fear of rejection from the LDS community wouldn’t stop me from converting him if I had the chance. :P

    #62 Eric Boysen ~ I checked the CHI. It says that special needs people do not need to be baptized, but it never instructs that they shouldn’t.

    Non-LDS churches almost never treat baptism as a gateway to local church membership; it’s considered pretty strictly a baptism into the body of Christ and not the local denomination. They’ll perform it without requiring church membership and they’ll accept the baptisms of other churches when a person joins. However, if someone has never been baptized at all, then they’ll usually require it prior to church membership.

    #68 bbell ~ I wasn’t trying to spin anything. You brought up that a girl child would be effected by lack of baptism due to inability to participate in proxy baptism; I acknowledged that I had never thought of that. However, I still question whether that’s going to be a major deal, and I’m getting a lot of conflicting data on it. Some people are making it sound like it could be quite dire and some people are making it sound like it can easily be circumvented. Alisha (#64) is my old roommate and I trust her opinion a lot.

    Currently the closest temple to us is the Bellevue temple at 42 minutes away. When I get home I’m going to call the local YW President and ask how often the Young Women make trips to it. I’m genuinely curious.

    However, the original point was that lack of baptism is going to effect a male child a whole lot more than a female child, and I still think that’s true. If missing out on occasional ward temple trips should be a concern, missing out on ordination to the Aaronic priesthood, being set apart as a deacon, teacher and priest, and administering the sacrament weekly in addition to the ward temple trips should definitely be a concern. Which is why the dual-baptism option was ever suggested to me in the first place.

    #69 Dave ~ I’m glad you liked it. There isn’t a lot of material out there on LDS interfaith marriages, but there is material on Jewish-Christian interfaith marriages, and one of the things they stress is that children shouldn’t be raised as “neither” (see the article here). So anything I can do to help my children identify with both traditions until they make a decision, I’m totally up for.

    #70 & 71 Amanda & HeidiAnn ~ What the church teaches about the Gift of the Holy Ghost has always been a foundational sticking point for me on my rejection of Mormonism. In 2001, I was a freshman at BYU and Kylie Turley was my writing teacher, and I did a paper for her class called “The Gift of the Holy Ghost and Why Non-LDS Christians Have It.” I’m grateful for Mormons like Roger Keller who spent significant time as evangelical Christians and have acknowledged that there was no discernible difference between the guidance they got from the Spirit as a non-member and the guidance they receive as a Mormon. Other Mormons who are former evangelicals have told me the same. Still, the church clearly teaches that there is a difference, so that’s always been a problem to me.

    Nevertheless, you’ve basically said that you wouldn’t be comfortable compromising on the religion your children are raised in, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Inability to agree on how to handle the kids is the #1 reason people say “no” to interfaith marriage.

    #73 Hudson ~ I don’t really like talking about why I’m not Mormon. I mean, it just seems so negative. I love talking about why I am a Christian, and I love talking about what God has done for me, and I don’t mind sharing why I prefer evangelical churches to other Christian churches (though my identity as an evangelical is secondary to my identity as a Christian).

    If you really, really want a shortlist:

    1) I don’t believe Joseph Smith did what he said he did. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but that’s what it comes down to, and I don’t think you can be Mormon if you reject Joseph Smith.

    2) In Mormon terms, I have a testimony of my (Protestant) baptism and the Spirit’s indwelling presence. I’m not going to deny either of those things and say that I need someone else to perform/invoke them again. If I agreed with everything else in Mormonism, I still wouldn’t join for that reason.

    I may not get to comment on this post again. Thanks everyone for the feedback.

  69. I’m the only convert in my family to the LDS Church. In my Pat. Blessing it explains the difference between the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Influence of the Holy Ghost. Anyone, Christian or not, may feel the Influence but it comes and goes.
    The Gift is given by correct priesthood authority to a baptized member of the Church and it means that instead of just feeling the influence every now and then, they now have the gift of being able to have it with them always. But that isn’t a guarantee that they will always have it with them–they have to live worthily and be in tune or they won’t always have it with them.

  70. So, Mary, the influence of the Holy Ghost comes and goes on a whim? But the gift of the Holy Ghost only goes if you’re living unworthily? Assuming that even LDS Christians are unworthy at least sometimes, wouldn’t that mean that there is really no difference between the “gift” and the “influence”?

  71. I just wanted to pop in to say that YM temple visits didn’t seem to be a huge deal back in my teenager days. I’m a born and raised Methodist, but I grew up in southern Idaho, so many of my friends were LDS. Honestly, as an outsider, the biggest thing I got angsty about was that I knew my friends got together for YW on a weekly basis, and I never got to go (well, I could have, but I didn’t). The temple trip itself was obviously a fun deal for my friends, but I always heard them chattering more about getting to shop at ZCMI or The Gap more than anything. I attended my share of stake dances, and that seemed to provide plenty of socializing opportunities as it was.

    As an aside, I’d just like to add to what Morgan Lee said in response to mary…it’s pretty patronizing to tell your apostate colleagues that their experiences with the Holy Spirit don’t have the quality or quantity of those that you get within the church. As Jack mentioned, those who have been converted to your church tend to reject that premise. So I think you’d do better to focus on how the church influences your ability to discern those experiences (perhaps facilitating the full gift of those encounters) rather than framing it as a matter of the rest of us getting some knock-off version.

  72. Jack, I totally dig you and your patience. Several times throughout this thread I’ve gotten a headache from rolling my eyes so hard. Thanks for sharing all this.

    Just to add my two cents to the girl/boy consequences debate, in the ten years that I’ve been serving in YW, plus the eight years I was a YW, in the many many stakes and wards around the country (including Snohomish and Lynnwood, WA! I had no idea you were in my old neck of the woods) not being baptized is not that big a deal and it’s not even unusual. I think every ward I’ve ever been in has had at least one girl who participated in everything but the temple since she wasn’t officially baptized. That usually was a result of parents not being on board with conversion so she was waiting until she was 18. It’s not exactly new.

    In my experience, it’s way way harder to include a child of divorced parents who share custody. Those kids seem to feel like getting too involved in one ward over another indicates a parental preference. But in your case the other parent would actively support involvement, so you guys will be fine.

  73. re Dave # 69, it seems at first blush that dual baptism might be a possible avenue but I think that will only work if the Evangelical baptism is first. If a Latter-day Saint gets baptized into another church, that is grounds for excommunication.

  74. This is probably straying off topic, but I really recommend checking out what Roger Keller said about the gift of the Holy Ghost in Q3 of his 2004 FAIR Conference talk (towards the bottom).

    I’m not trying to sound harsh, and I am trying to put this as charitably as possible, so here goes: I’ve heard the gift of the HG/light of Christ explanation a hundred times, and I know that Latter-day Saints who give it mean well, but it’s one of the most condescending things LDS people tell me on a regular basis. “Influence every now and then” doesn’t describe my experience with the Holy Spirit, nor does it describe the experience of many, many non-LDS Christians out there. “Constant companionship” does not describe the experience of many Latter-day Saints. I understand the LDS need to make a distinction, but this distinction is a poor one. Always has been, always will be.

    An LDS friend of mine who spent years as an evangelical basically put it to me this way in e-mail: “The difference is that with confirmation we’re entitled to the Holy Spirit if we live righteously — but through His grace God doesn’t necessarily keep others away from the Holy Spirit.” Which is a pretty frank admission that non-members can experience the Holy Spirit’s influence just as much as Latter-day Saints can.

    I wish more Latter-day Saints would see it like that.

    #78 reese ~ Thanks much for your input.

    I forgot to say earlier, in spite of my polyandry jokes, I have a really good relationship with my husband’s ward. So far I’ve always suggested that we both meet with the bishop and introduce ourselves when we move into a new ward. Earlier this year I spoke in F&T meeting, and Paul tells me that it still comes up when he mentions who his wife is, so I think I’ll make it a policy to speak in F&T meeting when we move into a new ward and once-a-year-ish.

    #79 john f. ~ Are you suggesting that they might excommunicate my 12-year-old? Or are you suggesting they’d discipline her father instead?

  75. I don’t see how a father could be excommunicated because his child chose to convert to another religion.

    However, the Wikipedia article on excommunication does say,

    A 2006 revision to the [LDS] Church Handbook of Instructions states that joining another church is also an excommunicable offense, however merely attending another church does not constitute apostasy.

    Is joining the Christian faith joining another church (remember, Jack has pointed out that being being baptised by an evangelical Protestant does not involve joining a particular denomination but the body of Christ)? Perhaps so, I don’t know.

    Another random thought I have is that, from what I understand, baptism generally isn’t considered by evangelical Protestatns as being required in order for a person to join the body of Christ (although it may — or may not? — be required in order to join whatever particular evangelical group or whatever particular evangelical congregation(?? I don’t know! — )

  76. What I mean is that I someone’s having been baptised at some point may(?) be required in order for them to join a particular evangelical group and/or congregation, I’m not sure.

  77. “The difference is that with confirmation we’re entitled to the Holy Spirit if we live righteously — but through His grace God doesn’t necessarily keep others away from the Holy Spirit.”

    I think this statement gets at the difference better than the oversimplified gift v. experience dichotomy. But it also solidifies that there is a difference.

    These types of birthright gifts or entitlements are very common amongst covenant people throughout the Scriptures, but the price for neglecting them is perilous. It is very true that non-covenant people throughout time have often had greater access to the gifts of the spirit than covenant people because of the unrighteousness of the covenant people. Where much is given, much is required.

  78. Re wiggle room on multiple faiths: I still go to Catholic Mass sometimes and I take communion there when I go. I think of Catholicism as my undergraduate religion and Mormonism as my post-graduate religion. I don’t have to reject Catholicism entirely to be LDS. It’s like I got more added on. Nothing important was really taken away. So I still consider myself Catholic just as I’m still an alumnus of my undergraduate college. I’m not sure what the pope or the prophet would say to that but I went over their heads and cleared it with the One who is the boss of both. =)

    So I’m in favor of the dual baptism solution. I don’t think it should be a problem.

  79. Tatiana, your approach sounds about right to me but the question is whether it works in reverse, i.e. if after having been baptized Mormon Bridget’s daughter can be baptized into a protestant sect. The technical answer is no — it is grounds for excommunication, which is only common sense.

    The real question is whether Bridget’s faith actually requires baptism and, if so, on what grounds. Is a work required for salvation?

  80. John (#79 and #85), yes the wording about being baptized into another church as being grounds for excommunication is now in the CHI (only the last few years). But that is intended for adult members and it doesn’t appear to be mandatory. I cannot see any bishop applying it to a newly baptized 8-year-old or, if the second baptism is done later, to an LDS teenager. Can you? Seriously? Especially if the purpose of the parents in a mixed-faith marriage in pursuing dual baptism was to make the child feel a part of their Mormon ward (as well as the other congregation).

  81. When the time comes, pray about it, have the child pray about it, have the spouse pray about it, have your spouse’s bishop pray about it, and have your pastor pray about it?

  82. Bridget asked “Question concerning post-age-9 baptism interviews: Is an absolute affirmative answer required? Do they never baptize people because they believe in Jesus Christ and they want to participate in the Mormon community, but they aren’t completely sure they believe JS was a prophet?”

    I haven’t read through the comments completely yet, but I can affirm anecdotally that the missionaries are looking for a pretty firm affirmation of JS as prophet and TSM as the current prophet, seer, and revelator. My husband is considering baptism, but has for about 9 months gotten hung up on his weak testimony of JS. Otherwise, he can answer all the other baptismal questions in the affirmative (except the one that is supposed to be answered in the negative). The missionaries have been pretty clear he needs to feel like he has a testimony of JS before they’ll proceed with baptism.

    I’m pretty sure this is not the case with every situation, though.

  83. Jack, I’m still working my way through the very interesting comments (only on #34 right now), but here is where my beeper goes off: baptism in two different churches.

    To me, it’s much less about “she can’t go on temple trips” (which, yea, are a really big, fun, stinkin’ deal in some places), but about integrity.

    I don’t know what baptism means in your church, but in the LDS church it involves particular covenants. I realize you probably know that already, but I don’t see how you can suggest to your daughter that she would/could/should/might make those particular covenants in the LDS church and then make some other commitment elsewhere. It seems very likely that they are contradictory.

    Does it keep tabs on when other local churches in the area are performing baptisms?

    You can’t just show up at any old stake baptism and get in line. :)

    But my initial thought came upon reading this:

    We’ve gotten a little tired of well-meaning, missionary-minded Latter-day Saints asking us why I’m not Mormon—as though “Mormon” is the correct answer and I’m somehow deficient for having missed it…

    This struck me as a bit disingenuous. Since I always love reading your stuff, as you know, I think I must have misread. Of course believing Mormons believe it’s “the correct answer.” And, or course again, they think you are missing something to have missed it. To me this is obvious and to be expected, isn’t it?

    Don’t you, for example, think you have “the truth” or at least “more truth” than Mormons? (I’m hard-pressed to think why you would belong to a church or ideology that you thought had less truth.) And don’t you think Mormons are missing something?

    FWIW, every evangelical Christian I ever met thought I was deficient for being a Mormon and–the ones that liked me–wanted to get me saved right quick. How Christian would it be to think someone is missing the salvational picture and NOT want them to find “the correct answer”? :)

  84. Raymond mentioned Roger Keller. He was in my Orem ward when I was a kid (along with Aurthur Henry King and a great assortment of interesting folks). Great man. I loved his conversion story.

    I’m told that there are caveats wherein the family can wait longer if they don’t feel the child is ready, but I have never seen an LDS family take advantage of these caveats.

    My bishop and his wife in Boca (and our dear friends) did this. Their oldest son (same age as my oldest daughter) wanted to go to a bunch of different churches before he decided. So he was a number of months past his birthday when he wanted to be baptized.

    I hope you weren’t serious with the

    (1) it will encourage her to make a fake conversion to Mormonism for social reasons, or (2) it will drive her away from future consideration of the LDS church—are either of those what the church wants?

    It’s making me squirmy.

    There are “perks” to membership. Just like I got to get married in what my non-LDS Boca friends called “the castle” for free. Oh, except that it cost 10% of my income for life plus a whole lotta other stuff. So should we let everyone get married in the temple so they won’t be tempted to fake conversion so they’ll have an awesome wedding photo?

    Or, to your other complaint, we should remove exclusivity in everything because it might drive people away?

    After all, the evangelicals won’t be telling her that she has to come exclusively to their church or else she doesn’t get to come minister to the homeless.

    I assume that’s because there aren’t any particular requirements for such ministry, just as there aren’t for working at the humanitarian center or the cannery. Right?

    But will your church let me preach a sermon every Sunday? No? Well! You’re just encouraging me to pretend to believe as you! Or, no, you’re just driving me away!

    Christ was into esoteric teachings, too. :)

  85. #89 & #90 Alison ~ It’s good to see you again. I think we’ve covered the “covenants” problem pretty well throughout the comments. Some people think there’s wiggle room on that and some people don’t.

    Regarding people asking me why I’m not Mormon, I’d like to quote something Elder M. Russell Ballard said at the October 2001 General Conference in a talk called “Doctrine of Inclusion.” He said (emphasis mine):

    I believe it would be good if we eliminated a couple of phrases from our vocabulary: “nonmember” and “non-Mormon.” Such phrases can be demeaning and even belittling. Personally, I don’t consider myself to be a “non-Catholic” or a “non-Jew.” I am a Christian. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is how I prefer to be identified—for who and what I am, as opposed to being identified for what I am not. Let us extend that same courtesy to those who live among us. If a collective description is needed, then “neighbors” seems to work well in most cases.

    Now I don’t really mind being identified as a non-Mormon in certain contexts. I mean, my BYU tuition bill always said “Non-LDS Tuition,” not “Neighbor Tuition.” :P And I don’t at all mind that Mormons have an interest in converting me; you’re correct, evangelicals have the same interest in converting Mormons.

    I do mind when people ask why I’m “not Mormon,” because I’m not a “not Mormon;” I’m an evangelical Christian. I don’t think anyone at my church has ever asked my husband why he’s “not evangelical” or “not Christian” or “not a believer.” Evangelicals don’t really have the mindset that ours is the only correct way to follow Christ. We may think it’s the best way, but we’re generally content to let our Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and mainline Protestant brothers and sisters be. We have other approaches to evangelism than “Why aren’t you Christian?”

    Besides, some Mormons think I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do right now and don’t want to convert me. Haven’t you heard of “The Jack Clause“?

    Regarding exclusivity and membership, this is just one of those differences between Mormons and evangelicals. In evangelical churches, local church membership usually doesn’t confer any ritual or participatory benefits. Baptism and the Lord’s supper are offered to all believers in Christ apart from membership, and all youth services and projects are open to the youth regardless of membership. Kids can even go on mission trips to other countries without being members of the local church—I did it when I was 16.

    Now I’m not actually saying Mormon exclusivity is bad in itself. I just think that it calls for some adaptation where an interfaith family is concerned, either by allowing for a more ecumenical interpretation of those baptism covenants or by the local leadership doing their best to make the child feel included in spite of being unable to participate in ritual.

    So should we let everyone get married in the temple so they won’t be tempted to fake conversion so they’ll have an awesome wedding photo?

    You mean the photo outside the temple, where everyone is allowed? I’m pretty sure non-members can get one of those if they really want to. When I was getting married, I was sorely tempted to go to an LDS temple and have a photo taken of me and Paul in our wedding get-up as a gag. Maybe at our 10-year vow renewals…

    But will your church let me preach a sermon every Sunday? No?

    I’m not sure I see your point here, Alison. Mormons don’t let non-members preach sermons “every Sunday,” either.


    One thought does occur to me though: you won’t find evangelicals excluding a child from a Mormon-Evangelical interfaith household because belief in Christ is all that we’re asking to participate in our rituals. Mormons are at somewhat of a disadvantage because they’re essentially asking for belief in Christ and belief in Joseph Smith.

    However, if we were talking about a Jewish-Christian household, and a child who believed in YHWH but was unsure of her belief in Christ, then we’d probably see some exclusion. I can’t imagine a child who doesn’t have faith in Christ being given a believer’s baptism or allowed to take communion.

    So with that analogy, I can see where the people who think dual baptism is a terrible idea are coming from.

  86. Let me just say that this is a fascinating discussion and I am terribly impressed by Mrs. Bridget Jack Meyers.

    I don’t mean to imply that I agree with her on all counts. But to take the withering responses posted here is commendable. Not that there has been any rancor. But to expose ones personal life in this way and allow others to examine it so openly is hard enough. She’s taken it s step further by doing so with grace. Well done.

    One comment regarding children of interfaith couples. I think may here are confusing children from NONCOMMITTTED interfaith families with Mrs. Meyers child. Obviously both parents in this relationship are committed. So in my opinion nearly all bets are off. I have in my church experience almost no exposure to such a family.

    Your journey will be an interesting one. I don’t mean to treat you like a spiritual lab rat, but I do hope you’ll continue to inform and share as you have here. Thanks so much.

    FYI, I am an active, believing LDS. I guess I just find this story so compelling because I see a need for the LDS to learn to accept a wider spectrum of believers in our midst. At the same time we need to do so without compromise of beliefs. It’s culture I am completely willing to compromise on.

  87. Jack, the website of the Jewish woman who was raised in an interfaith Orthodox Jewish-Episcopalian household was interesting. And I also liked the idea from Elder Ballard about speaking positively. So, let’s not concentrate so much on the pitfalls of a child’s being different. [And I’m sure, anyway, that commenter HeidiAnn is right when she says, “I don’t think there’s any question that your daughter will be welcomed in YW with open arms, whether she joins the church or not (or whether or not you do).”] But let’s instead concentrate on how a child might feel nice to “fully” participate — or, of course, at least, as as much as possible — in one or another, or even both, of the child’s faith communities.

    Would there be anyway possible to find a way to harmoniously “finesse” the intricacies of you and your husband’s theological differences? Eg Mormons don’t have to get baptised at 8; evangelicals don’t have to be baptised in a specific congregation. Therefore, raise your child evangelical Mormon — through one baptism that both parents would hold as valid.

    You believe a child should wait until s/he is particularly moved to accept Christ, so do go ahead and allow hi/r to do so. Should you believe your husband’s beliefs sufficient enough for him to be saved, allow him to baptise your child at that point in a Mormon baptism (which in your mind would be a “Mormon/evangelical” baptism); and tell you pastor that your child has recieved hi/r Christian baptism at the hand of her father (since you’d already checked out, years before, your pastor’s take on just such an eventuality, having planned ahead).

  88. you won’t find evangelicals excluding a child from a Mormon-Evangelical interfaith household because belief in Christ is all that we’re asking to participate in our rituals.

    Bridget, haven’t you been listening to your Evangelical co-religionists? According to them, we Mormons don’t believe in Christ at all because, according to them, we believe in a “different” Christ. This stems from Mormons’ belief in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament, as opposed to the Evangelical belief in the Jesus Christ of the creeds (the One Substance Trinity).

    I don’t think you have a solid case that Evangelicals are going to be fine with your daughter simultaneously being a Mormon because they’re going to think the same about her that they think about me and my co-religionists — they will claim that her belief in Christ on her “Mormon” Sundays isn’t actually belief in Christ at all.

  89. I am also terribly impressed with Mrs. Bridget Jack Meyers and her graceful patient handling of this discussion. I currently find myself in an interfaith EV-LDS family not of my own choosing. I know that antidotes don’t prove anything, but we can still broaden our perspective and get some ideas from them. I offer three stories.

    1. I knew a lady back in the 1980’s who was in her 90’s and once a rock of the ward in Biloxi MS. Her story as I recall was that her husband came down there from Utah with the military and married her but she didn’t join the church. As the branch grew into a ward, he had many leadership assignments and she helped him, becoming fully integrated into the Mormon tribe. She became a Primary president and then YW leader as she raised their children. New people moved in and eventually most ward members never realized she was not a baptized member. At a stake conference, Elder Bruce R. McKonkie called on the wives of the Stake Presidency to speak extemporaneously and to relate their conversion and baptism stories. She was first and she stunned the audience with her open acknowledgement that she had never been baptized. Bruce R. could not let that pass and he hopped up next to her at the pulpit. He was pretty tall, towering over her thin 5 foot frame. He challenged her to gain a testimony and be ready for baptism in 30 days. She countered that she had already gone through the motions of all of that. But she was willing to be baptized that very day if he was willing to perform the ordinance himself. How could he refuse, even though he had not brought any extra clothing? They had a hard time finding a pair of white pants long enough for him, but after the conference meetings they had a baptism. Then Bruce R. went to her house and ate dinner dressed in her husband’s bathrobe while she washed and dried his white shirt and garments before he got on the plane for the long flight back to Utah.

    2. A young Mormon boy fell in love with an evangelical girl from South Georgia. She was willing to marry him as long as he convinced her young Pastor that he had been saved and was a good Christian. He went to the interview/interrogation and said whatever he had to say to impress the Pastor and almost all of it sincerely. The only problem seemed to be that the Pastor did not recognize his Mormon baptism as valid. The girl suggested that the Pastor could re-baptize him that afternoon down in the river behind the church. It was raining hard and he was going to get wet walking her home anyway. When the Mormon boy came up out of the water, he immediately asked the Pastor a question. Since this congregation of evangelicals practiced re-baptism every summer and it didn’t really matter who did the baptizing and he was about as clean and right with God as he was ever going to be, would the Pastor mind if the Mormon boy re-baptized him? The girl thought this was an excellent idea and not wishing to offend her (and thereby miss out on earning his fee when he later married them) the Pastor allowed the Mormon boy, who held the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, to baptize him. Celestial bean counters are going to have fun sorting that one out.

    3. My then 11 year old daughter met a girl in the Metro orchestra whose mother was inactive LDS and lived near us. The orchestra played on Sunday afternoon and it was convenient to carpool with each other. Soon the two girls were going to church before rehearsals together. Within a few weeks the new girl was fully integrated into our ward. Her father was the agnostic son of an evangelical minister and would not allow his children to join any church until they were adults. So she was not baptized, but you would never know it listening to her talks in Sacrament meeting or her comments in class. A year later my daughter requested that I have the honor of doing youth baptism in the temple with her. That was a highlight for my daughter and brought back vivid memories of her own baptism only 4 short years before. Then I was stunned to see the little girl from orchestra dressed in white stepping down into the font with me. I was certain she had not been baptized herself and yet was allowed to do it by proxy for someone in the spirit world. Later I asked my daughter if her friend had been baptized while we were away or something and she said no. But the Bishop had made a “little mistake” giving her a recommend. The Bishop was the founder and chief executive of a prosperous business and not prone to “little mistakes” of this magnitude. I think he did it intentionally because he felt like it was the right thing to do. (Perhaps he heard the girls singing my daughter’s parody of a favorite hymn she called “We Thank Thee Oh God for the Handbook.” Perhaps not.) Later this family moved away but when the girl was 15 she informed my daughter digitally that her father converted to Mormonism and agreed to be baptized. Then he was given the Priesthood at the water’s edge and allowed to baptize all of his children. This story does not have a good ending. I ran into the mother a few months ago. She and the younger girls in the family were moving back to the area. They had divorced and their boy was staying with his dad who had gone back to an evangelical church. The little girl in the orchestra was accepted into a prestigious college and was one of only a handful of active LDS students on the campus, destined to marry outside the faith like her mother, in all probability.

    I think you will do well in besting the challenges ahead of you and your family and I wish you the best, Mrs. Bridget Jack Meyers.

  90. Mike, if Jack’s husband were able to take a page outta the young Mormon suitor of the south Georgia girl’s book, that would be amazing (if he would be able to do so saying “whatever he had to say to impress the Pastor” — it all sincerely)(?)

  91. #96 JMHN

    I was not there and I am not a evangelical Pastor, but it might have gone something like this.

    P: Now, lets get down to business. Do you realize that you are a sinner?
    M: Yes, (gives some examples).
    P: Do you believe Jesus died for your sins on the cross?
    M: Yes.
    P: Are you willing to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?
    M: Yes.
    P: Do you believe Jesus Christ rose up from the grave and is alive today and can change your life?
    M:Yes. of course.
    P: Are you willing to allow Him to wash away your sins in His Blood and for His Spirit to come into your heart and change your life and thereby be rid of all of your sins?
    M: Yes. Yes, I would.
    P: Then let us pray together and you do just that.
    M: (Prays and reiterates the ideas above with sincerity and depth of feeling).
    P: Are you going to study the Bible and find a Bible-based church community to help you live your life for Christ?
    M: Yes, and Yes (thinking his LDS ward does that).
    P: Are you willing to assume the title of Christian and not be ashamed of Him and tell others about His saving grace?
    M: Yes, (thinking isn’t that pretty much what full-time LDS missionaries are supposed to do?)
    P: Not all churches require this, but I find that submitting to baptism as a outward demonstration of an inward change of heart is important. Would you be willing to do this?
    M: Yes, I already have, when I was 8 years old.
    …(discussion about whether his LDS baptism is valid or not)….

    I am somewhat of a Mormon maverick often in the opposite direction as most evangelicals. I have had many frank discussions with evangelical Pastors and although they say you can never really tell what is in a person’s heart; by everything I say I believe and also by my life choices, they find that I meet minimal requirements to be a saved Christian. One described it as being “washed in the blood” in addition to being “washed in the water.”

    We have to get over suspicions based on ignorance and semantic differences which are not really differences at all. I have a long list of what is for evangelicals heretical beliefs on important subjects that I acquired from my Mormon background. But we are very close to the same place on the most basic salvation doctrine.

    One thing that quickly gets us into trouble is our exclusiveness, the idea that we are absolutely right and everyone else is wrong. Not only right, but also exclusively authorized. We tell other religious people that even if you happen to be conceptionally correct, you have no right to perform any essential rituals or do anything except grope in the darkness until we convert you. Then we wonder why our ideas are not respected when we have exhibited little respect for theirs. Doctrine does matter to evangelicals, but the cocky certainity that we have all the answers and all the authority and this makes us the best is another thing. I believe there is much that we Mormons could borrow and learn from comtemporary evangelicals.

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