Anyone who knows me knows that I am an atheist. Not an agnostic, or “spiritual but not religious,” but a real live, bona fide atheist. Something else they know is that I abhor 99% of organized religion, particularly those of the fundamentalist variety. I am a Unitarian Universalist in practice, and completely atheistic in belief. This, among many other reasons, is why the idea of me spending time with missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is likely the last thing most people would think I would do. Also, usually, they would be right. However, temporarily living with someone who is currently converting to Mormonism meant that I was thrown into the situation of spending time with them. Believe me, it made for a most interesting evening.
Things started out innocently enough, with me sitting at the table writing online while they talked. General pleasantries were exchanged, and they settled into the sitting area with my roommate. They began with a prayer, which I refused to bow my head for. When they were done praying, the leader of the group, we’ll call him Peter, politely told me that I was welcome to participate. I declined, just as politely. He went on to inquire as to why I had not at least had enough respect to bow my head in prayer. I informed him that I did not believe in any god(s). He seemed taken aback at that answer, but plowed on, asking what I thought of the LDS Church and the Book of Mormon. This is when the shit really?hit the fan.
I told Peter what I knew about his religion, and none of it was good. I reminded him of the fact that the core tenet of it was based upon the writings of a known, well- documented, transparent charlatan, Joseph Smith, who had been run out of town in Missouri for being a con-man, which is how the LDS church came to be based in Utah. Further, the only reason the practice of polygamy was stopped (read: run underground), was because it was the only way for Utah to be granted statehood. I went on to remind Peter that the only reason their church began allowing African- Americans to hold positions in the church in 1978 was the fear of losing their tax exempt status for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lastly, I reminded him that there are still, to this day, racist and misogynist practices that would make any decent person cringe.
Of course, my bringing of facts about this batshit religion into the cold light of day made Peter very angry. My roommate and his other missionaries sat there stunned at my knowledge of the truth of his church. However, as all fundamentalists do, he had an answer for everything, and began blathering on about god never meaning for the races to mix, and about them following biblical principles with regards to religious practices surrounding women. He brushed the racism away by saying that there are many African-American Mormons.
Thankfully, the amount of anger that my introduction of facts caused sort of cut the evening short. I am never out to convert people, but, when you bring bullshit to my home and throw it in my face, I feel like its fair game to go for the intellectual jugular. And, go I did, and I feel like I won this round. I do, however, think it will be awhile before I decide to beat my head into a wall again by arguing with fundamentalist religious nuts. And that, my dears, is how my night with the Mormon Missionaries went.
Shannon Barber is a self- described queer feminist and activist for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and secular rights in America. She is a lifelong lover of words, though her educational background is in computer science. She currently writes for 3 liberal websites, and keeps her own humor blog for lesbians. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.
?Edited by AEK