I could never actively attend the Mormon church…it is just full of cookie-cutter Mormons. Everyone is the same, and that makes me the “odd-man-out”…
I’ve thought about that comment for awhile now. It came back into my mind when I listened to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf share the following:
If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church. (“Come, Join with Us”, Conference Address, October, 2013)
So, if a person who isn’t a Mormon showed up on Sunday, or if they are a Mormon but haven’t been to church in years, or if they’ve disassociated themselves with the LDS church for some reason, would they feel “out of place”? Would they really find themselves in a sea of “cookie-cutter Mormons”?
Answer: As much as anyone else would who attended that day.
I’ve attended a number of different LDS wards in my life: A few the home town of my youth, a large number in Texas, a couple in vacation areas, and a medium number in Utah. What I’ve come to find is that every single ward in different. They all have the same organizational structure, sure, but they are filled with different people and families. What’s more, in any given ward or branch, every person is so different. There just isn’t a “cookie-cutter Mormon”.
Case in point: In one ward I lived in, I encountered the following: single parents, married parents, married people with no children who were trying to have children, married people with no children who didn’t want children, single people who were not parents, white people, Hispanic people, black people, Asian people, wealthy people, poor people, people who were pro-choice, people who were pro-life, people who supported gay marriage, people who supported traditional marriage, gay people, straight people, people who weren’t sure if Joseph Smith really was visited by God the Father and His Son, people who had strong convictions of Joseph’s claim, people who looked for ways to serve others every single day, people who were racists, people who felt like they were more faithful than others because they had large families, people who regularly studied the Koran, people who were kind to others all of the time, people who were Republicans, people who were Democrats, people who suffered with depression, people who thought depression was fake, people who were wonderful and even people who cheered for the Dallas Cowboys…all in one ward, living side-by-side and worshiping together at various levels and with various degrees of commitment. And those are just the things that were on the outside. Dig a little deeper into people and you’ll find an endless list of qualities and characteristics that add to the diversity.
The point is, come and join with us. You’ll fit in fine. There will be people who are kind of like you, and many who are not. But they aren’t like each other either. Surely there are consistencies within large groups of Mormons that won’t fit your specific views or circumstances, but as you come to know the people filling the pews each week (and those Mormons who aren’t), I think you’ll find that the LDS church is a diversified and wonderful group of people…anything but “cookie-cutter”…