Al Fox, the "Tattooed Mormon," appeared on the cover of the March/April issue of LDS Living.

Al Fox, the “Tattooed Mormon,” appeared on the cover of the March/April issue of LDS Living. (Magazine on sale at http://tinyurl.com/njhv6b)


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

There’s been a good deal of  media buzz lately about a charming young convert who joined the LDS Church several years ago. Al Fox wasn’t sure why God had called her to Mormonism, or why she felt a pull to move to Utah when many people warned her about the social judgments that she, as someone sporting armfuls of tattoos, might face all along the Wasatch Front.

And on her very first day, standing in line at Cafe Rio in SLC (which, if you haven’t been there, you should try), that kind of judgment happened. She was holding a biography of an LDS prophet while waiting in line to order, and a guy remarked on the irony that she of all people should be reading that of all books, given the way she looked.

Ouch.

She wanted to cry out to him: Did he have any idea what it had cost for her to convert? Could he even imagine the difficult road she’d taken to get to Utah? And there she was, practically still dripping from her recent baptism, and he felt free to judge her.

The way she chose to handle it was probably far more mature and spiritually wise than such a comment deserved:

I turned to this man in Café Rio. Introduced myself. Shook his hand. I smiled so big and simply said, “I just got baptized, this is my first day here!” I said it with happiness. I said it with pride. With confidence.

Good for her.

However, I don’t think that the burden of spiritual maturity should have been on her shoulders in the first place. No, that burden rests with those who who’ve had access to what Mormons call “the restored gospel” all their lives, who have gone to seminary, served a mission, learned the scriptures . . . and who choose to ignore Jesus’ regular refrain about not judging.

In my emails from readers I seem to get several notes a week from Mormons and ex-Mormons who have stories to tell about being judged. Some of these stories break my heart.

The ones that hurt in particular are from bright young 20somethings and 30somethings who have left the Church. Their reasons for doing so (at least among the ones who contact me) seem to fall into three basic categories:

  1. They learn things about Mormon history or theology that cause them to question their faith.
  2. They feel judged for such questions, or for their relationships, bodies (immodest dress/tattoos/multiple piercings), sexuality, churchgoing habits, etc.
  3. They are bored by Church, especially sacrament meeting.

What I find among many orthodox and active Latter-day Saints is a stubborn refusal to take any responsibility for these young people’s pain.

“Oh, they’re just choosing to be offended,” seems to be a common response.

But how many times do we need to blame the victim before Mormons as a people realize that  judgmentalism is a sin whose wage is death? How many young adults do we need to lose before we admit there is a problem?

Over at the FMH blog this week, there’s an interesting discussion about the stagnation of LDS growth in the U.S. and Europe. The widely divergent research on LDS growth or non-growth is a topic for another blog post, but for our purposes here we can at least verify that LDS growth in the U.S. has slowed significantly from the halcyon days of the 1980s, and that many of the people who are officially counted as Mormon no longer self-identify as such.

And that loss is not “their” problem. It is not even the Church’s problem. It is a problem of the body of Christ. (See 1 Cor. 12:21-23) That body is lesser for their absence; there is a phantom limb that ought to be there.

Don’t get me wrong. There are very legitimate reasons why people leave Mormonism, and some of those decamping are going to be out the door no matter what other members do or do not say.

But judgmental comments should never be one of the reasons for their departure.

 

 

 

40 Comments

  1. Mairi Madailin Scott Douglas

    I’m a convert, a Gael, and I have a tattoo. No one has ever judged me nor made any comments. Like for Maori people, I consider tattoos part of my Gaelic heritage. As long as I don’t go to the Sacrament Meetings naked and painted blue…

    • The blue paint should not pose a problem, at least for me. ;-)

      You may find this poem interesting – about a faithful Mormon mother whose hair is blue. Be well, Kathleen

      http://mormonmidrashim.blogspot.com/2013/05/natural-coloring.html

  2. “Oh, they’re just choosing to be offended,” comes from this talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/and-nothing-shall-offend-them

    It is a common belief in our church that people stop attending because they chose to be offended, or because they wanted to sin. In more than 20 years as a member, from the people that I have met that left the church, only a very small percentage left because they were offended, and most of them in the same ward (they had a terrible bishop). Many people joined the church because they were under pressure (from missionaries or relatives) and stop attending once the pressure disappears. Others (as you already mentioned) leave because they feel disturbed when they learn the real history of the church that is rarely taught on Sundays (different versions of the First Vision, Joseph Smith poligamy that included marriages to women already married to other men, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using a stone in a hat, Joseph Smith was a treasure hunter, the Adam-God doctrine from Brigham Young, and many other things).

    • I am always fascinated by those who talk about how they learn the “true” history of the church. It always comes from “anti” sources. Because imperfect people exist, some will say things that are cruel. I’ve had a few things said and done to me over the years that I have found offensive or hurtful, but I know the truth and I will not allow an insensitive person to make me give up something I cherish…and I must add, the nonsense you posted above is just that NONSENSE.

      • Cecollie, I’m wondering if by “the nonsense you posted above” you were referring to the part at the end in parentheses? If so, I am very sorry to inform you that it is not nonsense – it is 100% true, and completely verifiable using only church-approved sources. Mormons have come to use the word “anti” to mean anything that paints the church in a negative light…even if it’s the truth. Unfortunately David is correct – these things are not taught in church, as evidenced by the fact that you laughed at them and called them nonsense. And I hate to tell you, but those things are just the tip of the iceberg.

        • I have to agree with the comments made by “Not Nonsense”. I am a convert to the LDS Church, but have been a member 2/3 of my life–that’s 46 yrs. I have heard very strange things said in books, at Church, and other places and have wondered about them. They aren’t reason enough for me to be offended or to not come to Church (I hold a current Temple Rec.); but I have on occasion thought “are we being taught the things that really happened, or just what the Church wants us to hear.”? If so, why would that be?

          • I’m a member who has been very bothered about church history that I did not know was factual. To the point that I question the truthfulness of the church and it’s mission. This continues to be a valuable experience as I learn. One of the truth’s that is very important to me is this; whatever question(s) I have regarding the church’s doctrine, existence of God, or many other topics is the absolute fact that an answer is there. You go to the source to research and ask, ask and research, but continue this process. I can only promise that I find answers by this process and helps me to know the truth and gain a conviction of it. The unexpected result is – I become less judgemental, more understanding of other’s convictions and reasonings, etc. In the end I feel more like the type of people I believe Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are.

  3. Inside and outside of the Church, judgement and blaming others for being offended has existed. When I was baptized in 1979, my cousin spoke and told me to remember, “the Church is perfect, but its people are not. If you are waiting to be offended, you won’t have to wait long.” He was correct. Over the years, I’ve cringed as I hear some of the things that come out of people’s mouths — both inside and outside of the Church. You have to ask yourself, “what were you thinking?”

    As Saints, our role is to love, to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for our brothers and sisters, where they are able to experience the pure love of Christ through us. Our role is not to judge — leaders, and the Lord have that responsibility. I say this twice for myself and once for anyone who may be reading this, but when we begin to judge, we need to stop ourselves and respond as we would want someone to respond to us. We do not know the pressures, or life story, of many people We don’t know their pain, the pressure that they are under, or the personal battles they fight. For some people, just getting out of bed and showing up is a huge effort. We can transform lives, beginning with our own, if we can learn to love others as the Lord loves us.

    • And your cousins’s comment for the win.. “If you’re waiting to be offended, you won’t have to wait long,” is a great concept… a lot of people are looking for a good reason to leave the gospel after a while. That general joy at the first initial change wears down a bit, and they stagnant in learning and want to go back to smoking, etc….and it’s easy to find offense then.

      But it also stuns me when people think they can say whatever they want under the blanket of “judging righteous judgement,” not realizing or caring the harm they’re doing. So I particularly love the second part of your reply also…

        • It’s funny you say that. I grew up(was baptised at 8) in the church, my parents were converts we were sealed as a family and i recently was sealed to my husband in the temple. We both at this time in our lives are being less active, I tend to work sundays and when we do go we go to sacrament and tend to skip SS and RS/PH. I have tattoos(plan to get more), he supports me in them and we both support LGBT people and even go to PRIDE to show support. I remember my second tattoo(the first most people see) and my bishop/Stake president met with me to tell me my decision was wrong in getting it and that I shouldn’t. It’s half and half with people.. some tell me I’m bad and try to give a tattoo intervention(and are serious as if I were an alcoholic or drug addict) but others don’t even care. I think we both are bored of church, sadly, it’s gotten repetitive and over about 8 months I really don’t see the joy of going other than visiting with people I like. I can’t even pay attention to talks or lessons.. they do nothing for me.

  4. It’s an interesting topic, to judge or not to judge. I think that we as people judge everything and everyone, it’s human nature! If my 15 year old daughter wants to date a 30 year old man, I’m definitely going to judge him and say “no, this is not happening!” I think it is just common sense! I think it’s good to judge! The Savior judges us, the bishop judges us, shouldn’t we follow their examples!? I judge everybody, but I KNOW, that I don’t know all the facts, I judge on what I see with the limited knowledge that I have. And I know I might be wrong!

    As an excommunicated member, due to an affair that I chose to do, I believe that we should judge! When I meet you for the first time I will judge you, I might make the wrong judgement, it might be a stupid judgement, but rest assured, I will assess your actions and your words, and make a conclusion.

    And having said all of this, I expect you to judge me. Whether you want to or not, you will. So judge me as you will. You may be right, you may be wrong! You’ll never know my full story, even if you know me for years, you’ll never know exactly how I think or what I choose to think, but you will judge the best you can. Good luck to you.

    Judge not lest you be judged, I’m going to judge you, so please judge me back! I welcome it. It will be misinformed, but I think that you’ll be doing the best with what you know.

    The best attitude to have is that I probably will not care about what you think, my life is not going to be ruled by others’ thoughts, whether they be correct or not.

    • I agree to a certain extent. I think that we should pre-judge very lightly. My snap judgements have been proven wrong so many times that I am more open to letting the persons actions and words over time do the talking. Usually a one on one conversation with the person will open both of us up to where I can really start to assess who they are. Ironically it is when they also really get to know the real me.

  5. If you want a loving, nonjudgmental church where the focus is on loving and serving the Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t find it in today’s LDS Church. I’ve been a member all my adult life until I realized I could progress no further. There is little joy and spirit, and even less focus on the Lord in the church. I don’t have an explanation, but I’ve seen a steady decline over the last several years.

    The Church is no longer growing, but is losing members, and most new members are not truly converted to the Gospel before they’re rushed into baptism. More missionaries won’t fix what’s ailing the church. More media campaigns won’t answer the questions that searching souls have about Mormon history and doctrine.

    People are hungry for the words of Christ, but are not finding them. I finally came to the point where I know I can progress spiritually any further as a member of the LDS Church. It’s not a matter of feeling judged or being offended that’s important to me. I hunger for a real relationship with the Lord, and fortunately, being born into the Catholic faith, I have a home to return to. I’m blessed to attend church now where there’s a warm, inviting spirit in the parish and where all the focus of the Mass is on the Savior, and knowing I don’t have to be perfect to be deemed worthy of His love.

    • Dear Paul,

      I have great respect and admiration for my Catholic friends. I can tell you, however, that I have found loving and caring members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and enjoy their company weekly. I experience a deep joy and love for the Savior, Jesus Christ in my worship there, as well as an increasing emphasis on Him as my Lord and God. I have experienced incredible growth in the church units that I have attended, including among good Hispanic Latter-day Saints who have augmented their Catholic faith with what they tell me is more good.

      I believe that the records indicate continued, though somewhat slower growth than in the 1970’s and 80’s. As one who sought answers about Mormon history and doctrine over half a century, both as a member and as a holder of a graduate degree in History, I can assert clearly that I found answers that reinforced rather than detracted from my faith.

      I am happy for you that you are happy. I testify that many of us who have chosen to remain as members of the LDS Church also experience great fulfillment in what we know to be true. I wish you well.

    • I’m truly sorry that you feel that way. I am almost 46 years old and have been an active member my entire adult life and have found everything you said to be the complete antithesis to what I have found in the church. I have found loving, fellowship and a focus on Jesus Christ. I love being a member of the church. I agree with you on one point, too few are truly converted…or CHOOSE to stay converted. You find the Lord where you choose to. It’s there if you look for it. I’m sorry you chose to leave.

  6. Tracy Hall Jr

    I believe that boredom is a warning to us of selfishness. When we find ourselves bored, we should pray for charity. That “boring” person at the podium in sacrament meeting, whether a frightened teen or a member of the high council, is a son or daughter of God. Just minutes ago, we renewed our covenant of baptism and promised to ALWAYS remember Christ, even when facing death by boredom. As “dripping wet” renewed converts, we may invoke the Spirit to let us experience others as Christ experiences them. He is never bored with us.

  7. “and who choose to ignore Jesus’ regular refrain about not judging.”

    Which “regular refrain” was that? Perhaps the one found in John 7:24:

    “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

    When people are anxious to quote Jesus about not judging, one can be fairly certain there is something wrong with what they’re doing, not that they’re concerned about being righteously judged.

    They also conveniently forget the part about “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

  8. I think the concept of judging righteous judgment is a right concept… but very poorly implemented in an imperfect society. While we are directed to judge righteously, does this mean we are a) able to say whatever we judge with no judgement in return, b) absolved from our pride in seeking to assert our control over another individual by forcing our will upon them? When we say “You should know what you’re doing is wrong and sinful and I’m going to tell you in no uncertain terms where you stand with God,” we presume we KNOW where another individual stands with God, rather than concerning ourselves where we are standing. That’s the danger involved. With anyone, young person, new convert, any individual, presuming that they will enjoy or continue to feel well supported in an environment where folks are shamed into righteousness rather than shown righteousness by example… that’s just foolishness. (Or leftovers from pre-rennaisance old world morals. This was common historical practice, and guilting into supposed righteousness is a terribly difficult practice to get away from, even in a half dozen generations)
    You cannot shame a person or cajole a person into change and righteousness… or, rather, you can, but you can only make a temporary change. Any attempt to provoke modesty, chastity, complying with the Word of Wisdom, honesty, or any other doctrine through Shame (“you really should wear longer skirts, you know.” “why do you have tattoos? don’t you know the doctrine on them?” “Why do you drink/smoke/whatever? did you forget the rules?”) is not going to provoke a lasting change. There is no lasting change without a change of heart, not a change of appearance. As long as any of us is focused on the outward appearance and not looking upon the heart, any changes we will be capable of provoking will be changes to the appearance, but not to the heart, and thereby will be not only visually superficial, but superficial in longevity as well. (And greatly resisted. Try it with any teenager and see. Or rather, don’t.) Any changes we provoke with love, by setting and example and allowing the gospel to slowly permeate the lives of those around us, while teaching correct doctrines, until they have that change of heart which provokes a change in countenance and in lifestyle….will be permanent, because they will be _internally_ provoked, instigated by self, not outsiders, and then supported by the community, not shoved to it. If every program in the church worked upon that concept (as the new youth program is trying to teach its teachers to do, imho) or provoking a mighty change of heart, internal change not external change, then this will no longer be a problem in the church as a whole….just in individuals who have not necessarily made the heart change, but have conformed their external structures to the gospel to fit in.

    Judging righteous judgement means that we see things that must be avoided, pitfalls, and the things we will not do because we have chosen a different part. It does not mean that we walk about generally chastising the world around us because _we_ are so awesome and enlightened that everyone else is going to hell and we are not. That’s not even our actual doctrine, so the less we live like it is, the closer we get to the true doctrine. And the further we get away from Westboro Baptist Church danger zones of shaming into change….no matter how powerful your testimony of Christ is, a shame into change cannot provoke lasting growth.

  9. In my own experience, it seems as if people who were born as members of the church, and have spent their whole lives as such, simply fail to realize how difficult it is for converts.

    Al Fox is a wonderful young woman who has received a great deal of attention. She speaks regularly all over Utah. She’s popular and sort of a novelty. However, this is not the case for most people who make the commitment to Mormonism at a later stage in life.

    There’s a rush to shelter and surround those who are learning the lessons from missionaries to be be baptized. During this period, members of the ward flock to support a potential convert. However, after baptism things change. Once you become a member all that support ends.

    If you don’t fit the standard mold, and your family composition doesn’t include a man, you’ll soon find yourself in a rather awkward situation. On Sundays, you’ll see other members in their cliques passing out invitations to events in which you are not invited. You notice people using disingenuous casual remarks, and blank stares.

    Those three hours of church can be the loneliest three hours of the entire week.

    Soon enough, you may find yourself wondering if you missed out on some important elements during those weeks before baptism when the missionaries were teaching you.

    You may question just what it is that you claim you believe in.

    You may wonder why you joined this church at all.

    The standard phrase “The Gospel is perfect, the people are not” is often nothing more than an excuse for bad behavior and judgment.

    The LDS church is male centered and family orientated. If you don’t happen to have a husband, you’ll spend hours listening to talks on the importance of the priesthood in your home, something you don’t have.

    When you bring up this discomfort, you’ll hear thoughts like, “You may not have a husband in life, but…” or “Call your home teachers”, neither of which is comforting.

    When you lack a husband, your family cannot be sealed. Try explaining this to a child attending primary that continually focuses on the importance of eternal families.

    The list of things that trouble you may grow and you’ll begin to wonder why you joined the church. If after analyzing and evaluating your experience, you may decide to stop going to church.

    I thought I wanted to be Mormon.

    It didn’t work out for me.

    I know I am not alone in this experience.

    I know plenty of people who consider joining the church or who do convert find themselves in a position where they are uncomfortable and confused.

    We feel unaccepted. Unwanted. Alone.

    • I support the Church but I also support your comments. I am a firm believer that so many times the letter of the law gets in the way of common sense and being practical. It can and should exist within the Church. Folks need to be more sensitive because the folks who come into the Church today are not like they were 20-30 years ago. Diversity and backgrounds have changed dramatically and sometimes the loss of membership is a result of something that can totally be avoided. Maybe even in your case if you felt that no matter what you had a friend or felt supported and accepted you would still participate? Who knows?

  10. We all have to learn these lessons, sometimes the hard way. Al Fox probably would not have gotten tattooed if she’d had the Gospel in her life as a child. Even the greatest of the Lord’s apostles had to be taught to no longer be judgemental (Acts 10:13)

  11. This is one of Jana’s very best columns. Al Fox is awesome and changing lives. Many in the Church and outside of the Church will judge her because of her tattoos. Let us remember that the Savior judges the heart.

    I’d like to gently correct one misconception in a previous comment. Joseph Smith did not marry married women, he was sealed to them in the eternities. Big difference.

    That said, my prayers and best wishes are extended to those who have been offended (bored) out of the Church. I wish I could sit down and listen to each of you as a friend whether you decided to return or not.

    • Except that the ‘sealing’ is the Mormon term for marriage, so in fact there is no difference. JS also lied about his other marriages to Emma. Hard to sell ‘Christian values’ when the founder of Mormonism in fact married (sealed) himself to women already married to other men and lied about those marriages. No amount of peppy ‘I’m a Mormon’ advertising will make up for the availability of uncomfortable facts available to anyone with internet access.

      That and many other reasons, including my homosexuality, were the reasons I left Mormonism. I narrowly avoided suicide. For homosexuals, Mormonism is a dangerous, dark unwelcoming place, and any gay person is well advised to run, not walk away from it. Hope, peace and understanding begin when you leave Mormonism.

    • More Gentle Correction

      Rodney, just wanted to chime in with Namakaokona about Joseph’s polygamous/polyandrous marriages. They were, indeed, sexual in nature, as evidenced by all of the children born as a result of them. Not to mention thirteen of the women who were married to Joseph swore in court affidavits that they’d had sex with him. One of Lorenzo Snow’s plural wives had his child when she was 14 and he was 57! It doesn’t make sense that the polyandrous marriages were simply necessary to ensure that the women were sealed to someone, as many of the women were already sealed to their husbands, not to mention sealed to Brigham Young after Joseph’s death. By marrying (11) women who were already married, Joseph went against his own revelation (D&C 132). He also disobeyed D&C 132 by not informing his first wife, Emma, of many of the marriages. In fact, his first plural wife was 16-year-old Fanny Alger, who was working in the Smith home at the time. Emma was so mad when she found out that Fanny was immediately fired. At least 29 of the plural marriages occurred before he even [supposedly] received the revelation that instated polygamy. There is so much more than this that the church not only doesn’t teach, but goes out of its way to hide. I didn’t even find out until my mission that he’d practiced polygamy!

  12. I really like this article. It really touches on a big problem within the LDS church. Some members take themselves so seriously its actually sad. I mean what kind of person tells another they shouldn’t read the words of a living prophet because they have tattoos? Al Fox welcome to Utah you just met a real life Pharisee. Jesus was after all crucified by his fellow Jews wasn’t he? Makes you wonder what his fellow Mormons would do to him today?

  13. “…DO NOT MARK YOUR SKIN WITH TATTOOS. I AM THE LORD.” LEVITICUS 19:28, THE HOLY BIBLE.

    Tattoos are demonic, unclean defilements DUDs that indicate alcoholism, sadomasochism, and hard drug abuse.

    • Perhaps you need to get out (of yourself) more. Do you eat shellfish or wear fabrics of mixed materials? Or is that part of Leviticus too inconvenient? Of course, selectively using the OT to bludgeon those you don’t like is the hallmark of Mormonism–thanks for the continual reminders to those of us who left why we did.

    • Do you realize the history of tattoos.. and I mean the actual history.. past the navy men ? Samoa one of LDS filled islands, their historic culture is tattoos.. they were meant as a right of passage and meant things such as “warrior” “father” or even where they were from.. they were identifying marks for those who might not have spoken the same language but you knew about them because of their tribe’s marks. Native americans also. SO many cultures have a foundation based with tattoos, celtic, irish, native american indians, hindus, Islanders(hawaii, samoa, new zealand. and many more) There was a time when your statement would be 100% correct but today.. it’s not. I have my family, my values, positive messages and beautiful pictures on my body. People like me don’t get tattoos for others.. we get them for themselves.

  14. Wow! Some of these comments made me cringe. Do you really think that the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter Day Saints resumed itself at the USA? I am French, and a convert (in 2005). Ok, the flame of the begining is a little less hot but I hope it didn’t lose its brightness.
    The more I read about some “issues” in the Church, the more I think Jesus would say “hypocrites” and “pharisians”! I have studied History in College so I know that all offical stories are written in a “certain way”. What matters about the Church is the place God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost have in our life. Do we try to study the Gospel and apply it in our everyday life? Do we test our willingness at following God’s commandements (and also the prophets talkings)? Do we grow spiritually to be able to understand the true meaning of the Covenants? If we try to find the bad in someone or in something, we will find it. Satan will always be glad to give a hand for that: it will serve his purpose of blackening our hearts.
    Thank you Jana for writing this post. It’s true that judgements and disinterest, pride and malice can be found in the Church. Not because God is like that. But because humans have free-will. They chose to do so. And they hurt people. When we will all be so high spiritually that no comments ever would make us cry, weep or turn against all of our beliefs, we (perhaps) could say “He chose to be hurt” or “Why are you here? It’s not the place for you!”. Well, I think we won’t say it. because we will be too full of God’s love and wisdom that these type of remarks would totally be unworthy of us.
    I see in my Wards members for a long time who leave the “flock”. Because they do not understand things, or they think the Church ask to much of them, or they want to do different things, or in some cases that they have been wrongly judge. As I am not our Heavenly Father, I don’t know what is the truth and what is not in what they say and show to their fellow sisters and brothers. Nevertheless, I have seen and heard them ask questions. Some of them were vital for their faith to stay strong. But they didn’t have received the appropriate answers. or the answers didn’t pleased them. Some questions were about details and the History of the Church and weren’t “salvation material”. They grew anxious of finding more details and they lost the sight that the first place the Gospel had to have in our life.
    When someone wants to go away, they will always find how. As Jesus said “Many are called, but few are chosen” (I hope the translation is right…).
    We have to act in the same way the Christ would have acted. In showing our love for him, our desire to go on and our strong will to be good to other and to look ourselves in a mirror regurarly to find the things that could be bettered (being angry, or lazy, or too gossip, or hurtful or liar, etc)
    I have many flaws. I work on them. But one thing is sure: I will never denied the Fulness of the Gospel and the Plan of salvation. Totally impossible for me. I have looked for it all my youth and now that I have it, I keep it!
    Best regards from France!

  15. When I read the post on Al Fox’s blog a few weeks ago, my initial reaction was that I’d like to find the guy who made the comments to her and punch him in the throat. I got over that a few minutes later when I figured that wasn’t the response God or Jesus Christ wanted and wasn’t the response she hoped to generate either.

    People judge others, that is going to happen. There is nothing that can be done to stop that. However, we must not let that judgement get in the way of being good people and reaching out to others.

    We want to judge the person who comes to church on Sunday smelling like cigarettes and dressed poorly as being unrighteous and unclean? Fine. But go over to that person and say “Hi, how are you, I’m *so-and-so* and I’m glad to see you here today.”

    Judging people is one thing. Making them feel unwelcome is quite another. We can judge people without making them feel like they are not welcome in our congregation. My current ward is a very “stagnant” ward in that a huge majority of the ward has always been here, I have not. There were a number of audible gasps from the congregation several weeks back when, from the stand during Ward Conference, our Stake President said “you guys are not as friendly as you think you are.” We must all reach out to people, even (and especially) those who we judge to be unrighteous or unclean.

    • Mairi Madailin

      John :)
      Last year I showed up in church not dressed in my Sunday bests. I was sick like a dog and I just had surgery. My clothes were drab but clean. No one objected nor remarked. Every one was happy I managed to show up.

  16. There is a whole lot of judging going on here, not the least of which is judging Mormons for how they supposedly judge others.

    Mormon’s are discouraged from getting tattoos partly because of what they used to mean, but mostly because the body is beautiful to the point of being sacred and doesn’t need any more adorning than a friendly smile, a gentle heart, and clean clothes.

    My son-in-law has a cool tattoo on his arm that makes his biceps look even bigger. He is a wonderful father and loving husband and I am very proud of him. Tattoos don’t keep you out of the temple or exclude you from any church activity.

  17. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Since the idiot who accosted the woman at the restaurant saw she was holding an LDS book, he should have realized she was likely investigating the Church, and done his duty as a member missionary to encourage her.

    On the other hand, how much do we know about HIS backstory? Maybe he wasn’t even an active, believing Mormon, and was being cynical, criticizing her NOT for having a tattoo, but for reading a Mormon book!

    People who are members of the church but feel the need to pronounce public judgment on other people are themselves clearly broken. Despite the best efforts of leaders and teachers over years of time, they have not read the scriptures with understanding and realized that God highly values people who, at first encounter, look like enemies to God: Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah, the high king of the Lamanites, Zeezrom. Let us try to teach them by example that we need to forgive others so we can be entitled to the blessing of forgiveness by Christ, to remember Christ’s parable of the pharisee and the publican.

    While some people in the LDS church are judgmental because they are unable to empathize with new converts, the Mormons who serve as missionaries know darn well how much people have to sacrifice to join the church. I think one of the benefits of the increased number of female missionaries will be to increase the understanding among members of what it takes to convert someone, what it takes to become a convert, and learn to be grateful for each one. They will have learned to love them as tattooed Catholics, and hip hop unemployed guys, and will know how to love them as striving Mormons.

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