Immersed in Baptists

You may have heard that the Baptists are coming to Utah this summer, and they’re holding a convention, and they want to save our souls, and yada yada yada. Some of you may be concerned about this, so I’ve prepared some helpful tips in talking to the Baptists when they come knocking on your door.

These tips are patterned after the many “How to Deal with Mormons”-type pamphlets that I’ve seen in my many years as a religious scholar and theologian.

First of all, you have to understand that while the Baptists may use some of the same terms we use, they understand them to mean very different things. For example, when they say “Christian,” what they mean is, “Anyone who believes only what the Bible says, and nothing more.” This comes from the verse in the Bible that says, “And they were called Christians; which meant they only believed the things contained in this book, even though this book hasn’t been written yet.”

There are other terms they use that may sound familiar but which have different meanings for them. “Soda,” for example, is what we in Utah commonly refer to as “pop.” Do not be confused by their trickery, as they will try to use these terms to throw you off guard.

When the Baptists ask you questions and try to draw you into a debate, remember not to be contentious. Instead, answer their questions politely, and explain your feelings on the issue. Here are some examples of how to respond to their questions:

QUESTION: Did you know that the Book of Mormon had a spelling error in it, and that they fixed it, and that therefore your church is not true?
RESPONSE: Why, no, I did not. Would you care for a glass of juice?

QUESTION: Did you know that Joseph Smith once held a job as a paperboy, and that therefore your church is not true?
RESPONSE: Oh, my. That is a shocker. I’ve just baked some brownies; would you like one?

QUESTION: Did you know that Brigham Young once muttered something in his sleep that sounded like “men living on Mars,” and that therefore your church is not true?
RESPONSE: Land sakes. It’s a beautiful day out, isn’t it?

QUESTION: Did you know that your church is not true?
RESPONSE: No. Please elaborate while I fix us some Postum.

Another thing the Baptists will do is use testimonials from former LDS people — supposedly “strong, active members” — who have now become Baptists. These testimonials usually go like this:

“My name is LaVerDeen Jensen. I was born in Beaver Fork, Utah, and raised in the Mormon church. I was a very active Mormon. I went to church every Sunday. Sure, I’ll admit, I usually sat in the back and made fun of the speakers, but I went, and I read and studied the Book of Mormon thoroughly, all the way from Third Lehi to Second Marconi. I was puzzled when my church leaders told me never to read the Bible, that I shouldn’t even TOUCH it because it had the cooties, until I realized that they never actually said this; it was merely something some anti-Mormons told me later. But still, in retrospect, I think they said it, and so it must have puzzled me.

“I held many high and powerful callings in the church, such as Hymnbook Coordinator and Chapel Cheerio Sweeper-Upper. I read books by my favorite general authorities, such as Jack Weyland and Steven R. Covey. But to get a fair and balanced view, I also read books by non-Mormon experts, such as ‘The Mormons: Satanic Cult, or Devilish Sect?’ and ‘The Mormons: Evil Empire, or Dark Ministry?’ and ‘The Mormons: Scum-Sucking Weasels, or Weasel-Sucking Scum?’ Reading these books helped me understand the church better, because they were written by experts — people who had never set foot in a Mormon church before, and who had never read the Mormon scriptures, but who nonetheless were experts.

“Then one day, I was watching CBS, trying to find out more about the programs on NBC, and I had my Amish friend over, giving me advice about what kind of car I should buy. Just then, my home teachers came by and said the most outrageous thing. They said the Mormon church believes in something called a ‘temple,’ which is a place where ‘ceremonies’ are performed. I had been a member all my life, and I had NEVER heard this! Why had the church leaders tried to keep this crazy and weird doctrine a secret from me? Is it because they knew as soon as I found out about it, I would leave the church? Must have been, because that’s exactly what I did.”

In conclusion, be nice to our visitors, and have plenty of baked goods on hand. Who knows, maybe we can bridge the gap between our two faiths through something as simple as banana bread. And even if not — mm-mmm, that’s good eatin’!

Of all the things I have ever targeted with my satire, none has been so deserving of it as anti-Mormon literature. I barely scratched the surface here, but I think I made clear how ridiculous, how weak, and how illogical most of it is.

Of course, if people have legitimate questions or problems with LDS doctrines or practices, their concerns should be addressed and treated seriously. But when we speak of "anti-Mormon" literature, we are usually talking about material written by people who are NOT interested in understanding the Mormons any better, but rather in tearing the church down, for whatever reason. It is those people, and their vendetta-oriented pamphlets and books, that I intended to mock here.

And ultimately, there's a bit of a point to this column: Be nice. The Baptists and the Latter-day Saints disagree on a great many things, but there's no room for contention or arguments anywhere, and I hope people realize that. Stand up for what you believe in, and bear witness of what you know to be true, but after that, shut up and have a brownie together.

A whopping six years later, I received this e-mail from someone who stumbled across this column online:

You seem to have a severe case of head in the sand. Your advice on Baptists is to offer baked goods? [Actually, I think that was in jest, this being a humor column and all. But when did the presence of baked goods ever HURT a discussion?]

I am certainly glad to have left the company of people who, like Baptists, believe they have found the one and only way to God.

Joseph Smith like Paul was a self appointed politician who's ego has outlived its usefulness just as the Mormon Church has done.

No one needs an intermediary to find God. But you certainly need a restraint.

I don't know what that last part means, so I can't really make fun of it. But in regards to not needing an intermediary to find God, I agree. And when this guy does find God, maybe He will let him know that writing abusive letters to adherents of other faiths doesn't really do much for his own soul.