I like Mormons.
Besides the fact that I admire their capacity to produce huge families, I relate to them in that back-to-the-junior-high-cafeteria kind of way.
You see, I grew up Baha'i. Baha'is and Mormons have an awful lot in common. For one, everyone thinks we are weird freaks. We were teased by the same kids in school – for us Baha'is, it was the "buh-whaaat?", closely followed by the widened eyes and "oh… one of those middle eastern religion things" – like we are going to whip out a head-wrap and start a Jihad right then and there. You know, because we just have to be related to radical Muslims, right? Mormons, they got the, "how many wives does your dad have?" or ribs on holy underwear.
Like Mormons, we had rules to follow that didn't make us popular with mainstream American culture: no pre-marital sex, no alcohol. Us Baha'i kids could have caffeine though! Haha. We were encouraged and often expected to go on a Year of Service – not the same as two years of missionary work, but in the same vein.
I always had Mormon friends. It's logical that I would, really. We shared a similar type of off-course existence, especially the Mormons who dropped out but still had a strong connection to their Mormon cultural roots. Like me, with my Baha'i roots.
The main differences were that Baha'i's tend to have small families – Baha'is don't have a belief in letting down the souls in heaven. There isn't tithing in the Faith either (and that has it's definite pros and cons). With the a myriad of slogans on the "Humanity is One Family" vein, there are just as many (if not more) Bahai's of colours other than white. The Mormons have "The Pearl of Great Price", the Baha'is have "The Priceless Pearl", Joseph Smith was killed in 1844; the Baha'i Faith was established in 1844.
What else. Baha'is believe in complete equality between the sexes so there no Priesthood – no clergy, for that matter. Baha'is don't have churches, Baha'is have Centers and Houses of Worship. Bahai's don't have a church President; there is the Universal House of Justice.
Differences aside, there is much I like about the Latter Day Saints. Here are my top 5:
1. Community: In this here and now of America, I think that besides the Amish, the Mormons are matchless in creating strong communities. Having grown up in the Pacific basin – a bastion of strong communities – I truly appreciate that. Strong communities support strong families and vice versa, which brings me to:
2. Family: I struggle with two kids, sometimes have no idea how I'm going to handle three. Then I turn around and see a Mormon mom calming packing 6 kids into one of those Sienna-type vans. I mean, how do you spell "order" and "efficiency"?- yes – M-O-R-M-O-N.
I love how they take what most of America freaks out about (-raising kids) and flip it on a dime. Those books about how to handle kids? They ought to all be written by Mormons.
3. Humor: Nobody can do whack like the Saints. Okay, Baha'is can give them a solid run for their money. In fact, maybe there should be some comic showdown: Bahai's vs Mormons?! I think it's that when there are a lot of tight parameters placed around people in the form of religious structure, there needs to be escape somewhere, a vent to let off whatever steam might be accumulating.Humor can be that vent.
4. Predictability: I know this won't gain me any points with Mormons that might be reading this. But remember: I am a Taurus and I'm born in the year of the Ox (= double cow). I roll in the bed of predictability like a pig in mud. I squeal in delight over things that can be counted upon, that are set, in stasis. Mormons are usually predictable: they wear certain types of clothes (and usually clean at that), they have a certain framework from which they view the world. They can be counted upon for the most part to be trustworthy and to try to do the right thing.
5. Honor: Without it being like a Klingon code, I think Mormons have a lot of honor. Inevitable, maybe, with your huge family, church and community looking at you, but Mormons tend to have a certain amount of dignity and honor that I find endearing and can relax in (see above).
Mormon friends are good to have. Like Midwesterners, they know how to make good group food and they share with abundance. They care about their neighbours. They care about their families. They are overwhelmingly decent people who strive for a type of wholesome life that I find admirable.