Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah

by Kyle May 2012

OK. 10 years ago I Leave the church. Now for the first time, all of my non LDS clients and friends could tell me how they really felt about the Mormon Faith. OMG.. was I shocked. I knew that their perception was NOT all that great.. but at least neutral I thought.. boy was I wrong. Virtually every NON LDS person I knew at some point told me how relieved they were that I finally left the Mormon church.

Most thought it was a cult.. and most never really knew why.. "an otherwise intelligent guy like me" would remain a part of it.

It was very eye opening.

I'm curious if others had the same experience.

Another poster mentioned this point in another thread.. I thought it was deserving of it's own topic.

I moved away from Morgdom when I graduated from BYU about 30 years ago. I live on the east coast. For the first 20 years I was active LDS.. bishopric.. the whole shebang.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
My experience:
-Some think it is a cult
-Some think it is just strange
-Some think there are good values
-Some think mormons are boring as hell
-Some could care the least and know nothing about the mormon church and do not care to know anything

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Most people that I know think its a cult. Friends are interested in hearing how crazy things are and often ask about the temple.


Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I've traveled a lot and lived in a lot of places. Most people, when they find out I used to be a Mormon, don't seem to really care. They don't really have an opinion and can't be bothered to form one.

It is like asking me "what do you think about Methodists." The honest truth is, I don't think about Methodists.

Mormonism likes to claim that non-Mormons love them. Ex Mormons like to claim that non-Mormons hate them. The reality that I've seen is that most people couldn't care less either way.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Many non-Mormons think Mormons are annoying. Most are just indifferent to Mormons.

Those who join, do so because they have some situation or need they think Mormonism can ameliorate. Mormonism attracts some of the "walking wounded" in society.

CA girl
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I had exactly the same experience. I was shocked when people I'd known my whole life, people who were like family, confided in me that they'd never thought much of Mormons and how happy they were that I'd gotten free of them. Several also said that they'd noticed the longer people were LDS, the more they seemed to become fanatical. None of my friends seemed sorry that I'd left or thought that I'd given up something good. None seemed to respect Mormons very much.

That being said, I think it's true this mostly applies to those who have Mormon friends or relatives, work with Mormon co-workers or otherwise interact with LDS people. For the most part, no one cares about Mormons. The religion is too small and too insignificant to have much of an impact on anyone. And they do too little good in the world to have impressed anyone. Most people just yawn them off.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Yes!! I think that is a big difference. The people who are not around Mormons much couldn't care less. That makes sense. The people both CA girl and I dealt with had known us for years .. AS MORMONS. They saw some of the weird things we did and believed as Mormons. They kept their mouth shut out of common respect for us when we were in the church. It's after we left that they confided in how happy they were to see us leave.

In any event.. the belief I KNOW the Mormons have of this great reputation they have.. it's a total Joke.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
A friend of mine back east honestly thought they used to eat their own babies back in the 1800's.

It's true, though. Most of my experiences with people in other parts of the U.S. don't know or don't really care about Mormonism.

Here in Utah, the only people that really like Mormons and think highly of them are Mormons themselves. Other people either hate them, ignore them, tolerate them, sometimes befriend the "nice" ones of them, or just don't care about them.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I agree that the perception of the LDS church along the east coast is not all that wonderful. It's regarded as fringe and at least mildly culty -- on the same end of the spectrum as the JW's.

However Mormons themselves are accepted or rejected based on their own merits. East coast Mormons tend to blend in well with the predominant culture since there aren't that many of them.

Where I live right now, there is a strong sense of personal privacy. Many communities would be outraged by random door knockers coming around to peddle religion. Fortunately the Mormons and the JW's appear to get that, and they are careful about where they proselytize.

mr. mike
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
To me, Mormonism is like Fundamentalist Christianity crossed with Masonic ritual and a smidge of 19th Century Spirtualist ideas topped off with a healthy dose of middling political conservativism.

Most people who were never involved with Mormonism give it little thought, except when they see a Temple, or watch the missionaries trudge by.

My never-Mormon perception of Mormons is that they are a harmful religion.
I think there are a lot of them from Catholics to the Westborough Baptists and more. But Mormons really bug me because of a very fundamental dishonesty in their daily interactions. (Not that I think all Mormons are liars -- it's the "I know..." dreck that really irks me.)
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I was a non Mormon until I became one in my late 30's so when I knew nothing about them I remember my thoughts.
1) they were hard to really know in a personal way
2) they were polite and distant.
3) the only time they talked about their beliefs were when they were asked questions about it. They felt the need to explain the strangeness
4) the regular person never tried to convert me. They had their own thing going and couldn't care less.
5) I used to say Mormons are such good people, not because I really believed it, but so that I could appear accepting of all types and so that I sounded like I was being gracious. I didn't really mean it deep down. Didn't think they were particularly warm or friendly at all actually.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
+1000 for outside the Morridor.N/T

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Most of my friends were baffled by my choosing to join the Mormon Church. They couldn't see what I saw in it (they weren't desperate).

When I left, I discovered that I had lost their respect, never to gain it back. Like I demonstrated such impaired judgment, they couldn't forgive it and consider me a normal person.

My family were even worse. Except for my mother, they continued to shun me for ever having left Catholicism. That I went back didn't matter.

I think people decide what they want to believe and then cram you into the most convenient box, regardless if it no longer (or ever) fit.

It's a great relief to understand that it's not really you they suspect or feel unsure about.


Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I was born and raised "in the field." Yes, Mormons are extremely self-important, and the truth was that most people would ask, "What the hell is a Mormon?"

My non-Mormon friends thought I was lucky to have such a cool group of Mormon boyfriends, and that our youth group would go on so many fun ski trips and camping trips. (That has all changed, now.)

Everyone who knows who Mormons are, think of them as Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishnas--obnoxious and pushy in trying to recruit new members, and preying on children and lonely people. Most non-Mormons are too polite to say it, but they think it is a cult. It is absolutely true that they do not consider Mormons to be Christians.

When I left the Mormon church, none of my non-Mormon friends thought anything of it, as most of them had changed churches several times. They would have never chosen Mormonism in the first place, so they thought my leaving was natural.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
So, you are trying to say that non Mormons respect Mormons? :)
CA girl
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
individual Mormons - yes. Mormonism - no.
I had an interesting experience last night. Was meeting a girl's parents for the first time and via the parental grilling that a young suitor gets it came up that I used to be a Mormon missionary. Rather than being apathetic, or judgmental, they were incredibly interested in my experience as a Mormon.

A couple of times they went on a rant about how admirable some Mormon qualities could be. Ugh... I definitely expressed my disagreement with that sentiment, though it was a very diplomatic disagreement.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
When I was TBM, I took a job as a server at a Utah Applebee's Location. I actually learned to despise TBM Mormons then. When I got a table of Non-mormons, or Jack-mormons, I knew I would get a great tip (a lot of time because alcohol was involved), and I did. The worst tip I got was from A TBM family, it was a family party of 12, tons of kids, huge mess to clean up, and very demanding. Their ticket was over $100 on food only (Water to drink)...I got a grand total of $0.86 as a tip from all of them combined. I learned the hard way that a majority of TBM people in the morgdor are rude, demanding, and cheapskates.

It was after this job where I really started to study why I felt bad about TSCC and my involvement. And then started to come out as a non-believer.

Stray Mutt
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I used to work in an office that included two Jehovah's Witnesses. Through my exmo eyes, they were a little odd. I was uncomfortable around them, even though they didn't look or act like the JWs that show up at your door. We had to remember to tiptoe around some things they wouldn't do, like acknowledge anyone's birthday. (Sort of like remembering not to ask a Mormon, "I'm getting coffee. You want some?") I imagine my reaction to them is similar to gentiles' reaction to Mormons.

Classic !!
I've seen this exact behavior before as well. For some reason many large Mormon families feel they deserve the world's assistance for their self imposed duty to populate the earth...

What did this rude group do? Round up to the next dollar for your tip? Incredible. Rude/Obnoxious buffoons. NO tip would have been better.. perhaps you would have thought they simply forgot to leave a cash tip or something.

If they can't afford to leave a tip.. eat at a fast food place!!

Then again.. I remember a Mormon family I knew that back when Burger King had the $1 whoppers.. they took their family of 10.. and would order 20 whoppers (2 burgers instead of fries) and 10 waters. LOL.. it was funny to see the look on the cashiers face...

Stray Mutt
Re: Classic !!
Kyle Wrote:

> (2 burgers instead of fries)

That reminds me of the time I visited my older brother. We stopped at McDonald's and I said I'd buy. "Whatever you want, it was on me." The kids were so excited that they could each have their very own fries instead of being forced to share.

It often depends on how close the associations are and how insightful the non-mos happen to be.
My nevermo husband had only met two mormons before he met me. Those two were mishies who toured him through the mormon extravaganza at the NY Worlds Fair. DH thought mormons were deluded but very nice, honest, forthcoming, responsible, and credible from that experience.

While we were engaged he lost all respect for mormons because of his experience with my TBM family because I sadly had to tell him that emotional manipulation and deceifulness are common and a huge part of church expectations and training.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I grew up back east...we would occassionally see a Mormon knock at the door. Once my mom gave the one an old bicycle we had. I had already married by that time. I think most of my relatives in Pa. just didn't have a negative or positive opinion about them but basically didn't want to hear any of their speil. I am hoping over these last 30 yrs. they have been educated more about them....all folks back east need to do some reading about this so called religion. I know the Southerners have.

In Pa. we have many Protestant faiths and all of us just leave the others be. Same with Catholics. WE have no issue with them. WE don't try to convert others from the denomination they have chosen. We don't talk bad about any mainstream church. If the Mormons moved in and started taking our kids (like they did mine here in the west and all the while I was trying to continue to NOT be prejudiced against others) there would be many outspoken people. Since that is a rare occurrence there, the people just let Mormons be.

I know one very religious Aunt of mine that said "They seem like such nice boys." She said this AFTER my daugther converted. If she had not been so old I would have given her the truth about those "nice boys" who through no fault of their own(usually it has been a BIC kid) encourage young gals and guys to leave their own family for a cult. Poor woman read books all the time...obviously missed a few titles.

I am hoping with this election more and more people educate their kids as to the facts about Mormonism. They need to learn. The truth about their tactics, their Temple, their male dominated society, and their founder and BY all need to see the light of day.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I'm not Mormon, never was, but I lived in SLC for 10 years - just barely got out after suffering some pretty serious workplace discrimination (which I'm still trying to recover from). Anyway I can tell you what most people outside of Utah think of Mormons. They generally don't think about them, since most have never really met one. Those that have tend to think Mormons are nice but a little weird and stiff. Non-Mormons outside of Utah are afraid of offending Mormons by swearing or accidentally saying something inappropriate. By contrast, non-Mormons inside Utah typically harbor deep seeded resentment against Mormons, largely because we feel we are not accepted as human beings because we think it's fine to do things that observant Mormons would never do, like drink alcohol and coffee, come out of the closet as gay or atheist, decide not to have children if we are women or vote liberal.
When I moved to Utah 10 years ago I never really cared what religion someone followed or didn't follow. I am now trying to get back to that innocent state of mind.
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
At my 40th high schoolclass reunion in 2007 (Southern Idaho town that is about 50% LDS) when I told a few classmates I'd left the mormon church, it took about 5 minutes to get through the grapevine. People I'd never really talked to in High School came up to me to congratulate me and tell me what they really thought of our little clique of mormon girls in high school...they thought we were bitches. Wow. It was so eye opening.
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Having lived in Idaho for quite some time, I could have cared less about the Mormon faith. Didn't care to know that much about it and never bothered me. The first time I was in SLC (when I was about 20) I thought it was a strange place with all the Mormon churches on every corner, the huge Mormon Temple Square downtown - it seemed very sterile.

Fast foward to today, I now am a bit more interested in Mormonism because I married a man whose daughter, as we now know, has been raised to be a TBM and has shunned us because we are not Mormon and do not believe in the ridiculousness of it. I'm getting a good education by reading RfM . . .

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I was talking to a non-mormon today (this is in the northern U.S.) and he told me that the mormon church is the weirdest thing they have ever seen--words mentioned--cult, polygamy, weird customs, secrecy.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Once upon a time, I didn't know anything about Mormons. They were a group of people that believed in a different bible. They really never hit the radar.

Enter college years. This is when there are several religious people out there trying to save your soul. This is when my negative perception of Mormonism came into play, but they were still largely unknown and didn't fully hit the radar. It's the fellow students who would invite you to their various church groups. When it became clear you were not interested, it was the Crazy Christians who would continue to do study groups, share notes, grab some lunch after class, or just say "hi." The Mormons would outright ignore you. One of your friends or acquaintances would seemingly drop off the planet. You ask one of your friends, "I haven't seen Gill in awhile, what's up with him?" "The Mormons got him." "Oh," and knowing nods are exchanged. I can't say polygamy and prairie dresses entered my mind-think here, but it was very clear, Mormons split off and don't blend with the diversity of "the real world".

Enter moving to a highly dominated Mormon area. Turns out the Mormons are quite normal and nice. This is where my positive perception of Mormonism took root. You think your interactions in the past were fringe fundies. This perception doesn't last long. You find this "normal" and "nice" to be mere window dressings, they're actually the most critical and persecuted people you have ever met. This is when you find yourself hiding the coffee pot and displaying Mormon themed paraphernalia on the walls so some 1st grader gets to attend your kid's birthday party and hopefully your kid gets included as well.

It's the Mormons that disappear with your kid for hours and are lost to communicate with you. You may not have been a "helicopter mom" before, but you sure as @#$%& are now. If you were already a "helicopter mom," you're now on "stealth mode" with these people.

I think most people see Mormons as wholesome, family-oriented people in a "not that I want to be one" sort of way. It's culty, hide from the missionaries, oh dear gawd, the new neighbor is a Mormon sort of dread, but if you leave me and my children alone, we can get on real fine.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
My non-mormon daughter lived in the Czech Republic a few summers ago. Knowing she was from Utah, her host family was relieved when she told them she wasn't Mormon. The first question they asked was "do Mormon's still practice polygamy?" HA! NEVER gonnna live it down!

Another host family in the same town got stuck with a Mormon couple. They were disappointed because they had looked forward to introducing their guests to the wonders of Czech beer. When the couple left they presented their hosts with a gift of appreciation......a Book of Mormon in Czech! Only Mormons would consider that to be an appropriate gift (or a gift at all!).

Particles of Faith
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
I live in the Midwest. I taught a 4 part Sunday School class on Mormonism in my Methodist church (it was originally supposed to be 2 parts but they were very interested). The reaction was very positive in general. We got into everything (race relations, polygamy, temple, Book of Mormon problems as well as the traditional history so that everyone had a common foundation). No one had an axe to grind. On the other hand no one wanted to become one either.

Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Yes, the Mormon girl cliques in high school!!. Horrible. They are anywhere there is a larger population of Mormons. Those girls DO NOT want to associate with nonmormons and it is hurtful. Are they afraid someone will tell the bishop on them? My daugther could not stand them....then 6 yrs. later she joined the cult. Go figure. It was a falling in love thing.

Odell Campbell
Re: Non Mormon's perception of Mormons - outside Utah
Most people outside don't know much about Mormonism. They usually think that Mormons are honest people, large families and are polygamists. The sometimes know about Joseph Smith and maybe the Book of Mormon.

I was surprised how little people actually knew. Those who were more educated about the Mormon church had usually negative thoughts about it seeing it as bigoted and controlling.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"