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 Post subject: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:57 am 
God
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Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:16 pm
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Location: Lehi, UT
Last week I was at work and we have some technicians working on our fire alarm system. They were checking out different points, and were just outside me office. One technical was a young man in his mid-twenties. Where he was standing, he could see my diploma on my wall, which was from a Utah school (not BYU). Here is how the conversation went:

Him: Did you go to <school name>?
Me: Yes I did.
Him: In Utah?
Me: Right.
Him: Are you from Utah?
Me: Yes, I grew up there. I just moved out here last summer.
Him: Are you LDS?
Me: No.
Him: Oh.

At which point he walked away. Now, I cannot image a single other instance where someone would ask such a point blank question about religion. I find that with non-LDS people, they will walk all the way around the barn (if and when they care it all, which is rare) without pulling the trigger on the question. Religion is usually considered highly personal.

Telling also, is that his entire interest in the conversation stopped immediately. Here we were (judging by his Utah accent) two strangers in a strange land who hailed form a common homeland, and his interest immediately stopped when I said I wasn't LDS. I have passed him in the halls several times since and he won’t make eye contact.

Is my suspicion that this is a Mormon thing correct? What is it about the religion that makes people break usually social taboos and fell like they have license to ask such questions within 20 seconds of meeting a client?

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:05 pm 
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In my experience there is no social taboo about inquiring about religious background, and furthermore, my experience is with academics and scientists who you might expect to be disinterested in such things. On the contrary, whenever I mention growing up in Utah or attending BYU, I am asked whether I am Mormon. This has been my invariable experience over more than a decade living outside Utah. People want to know, and then they want to know my feelings about Mormons -- do I agree that they are a curious bunch, what's up with polygamy and temples and garments, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:17 pm 
Seething Cauldron of Hate
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I'm quite commonly asked, when people find out that I'm living in Utah or that I'm teaching at BYU, whether I'm Mormon. This comes from all sorts of people, prominently including (not surprisingly, given the nature of my work and of my contacts outside of Utah) academics.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:23 pm 
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The Dude wrote:
In my experience there is no social taboo about inquiring about religious background, and furthermore, my experience is with academics and scientists who you might expect to be disinterested in such things. On the contrary, whenever I mention growing up in Utah or attending BYU, I am asked whether I am Mormon. This has been my invariable experience over more than a decade living outside Utah. People want to know, and then they want to know my feelings about Mormons -- do I agree that they are a curious bunch, what's up with polygamy and temples and garments, etc.


Yep, that's been my experience, too. When I moved to Houston, everyone in my department knew I was coming from Utah, and it was always the second or third question I got asked. When I moved from Houston to College Station, no one asked anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:07 pm 
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Actually when non LDS where I live learn I am from Utah they frequently ask me if I am a Mormon, often early in a conversation.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:15 pm 
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Sounds like the guy was just immature. Even when the LDS I've been introduced to find out that I'm "inactive", they don't walk away from conversation. They might look a little uncomfortable for a minute (or the rest of the evening), but they don't just cease to speak. But then again, it's been a while since I've been around anyone other than my LDS friends.

That does sound like something that a newbie from UT in my old singles ward would do. Those kids came out to intern on the hill, and outside of work, few of them had anything to do with non-LDS. They often considered their work time to be a time to set an example for the church, and gave testimony about it. But outside of that, they didn't have much to do with the locals. In fact, in that ward there were only 3 LDS who were from the area, all the others were kind of turned off by the atmosphere.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:36 pm 
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It's usually the first question after telling someone I'm from Utah, and that's just because Utah=Mormon in most people's minds. No other state's citizens are asked their religion, because no other state has an identity as strongly linked to a single religion. (It's sort of like people from Alaska immediately being asked what they think of their Governor.)

But I really don't know how to answer the question. I'm no longer a member, officially, but I was born and raised LDS, so I am definitely of the Mormon background. I usually just say "no," but if I sense actual interest, I'll say something like "not anymore," or "I was raised as one," then explain some of the details.

It's more than just a religion. It's a culture. I am a product of the Utah/Mormon culture, even though I no longer believe in the teachings of the LDS religion. It would be nice if there were a convenient way of saying that. I always get the feeling that people are asking more about cultural background than current membership.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:41 pm 
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A guy once asked me if I was polygamous back when I was LDS. He seemed a little disappointed when I said no. :confused:

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:20 am 
tired, less active investigator
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You are living in a weird area of the world..

For three years in my present workspace, and for five years in the previous one, and 20 + 20 before (in the army), I hadn't the faintest idea about the religion of my workmates - by their words.
I have judged it only by their opinion about other areas/topics.

BTW mainly they were atheists (from the apatheist branch of them). Maybe I am lucky.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:43 am 
Master Mahan

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:13 pm
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I have never lived in Utah, but when people have asked how many siblings I have (i.e., quite a few), and when I've told them, they have sometimes inquired into my religious background.


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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:47 am 
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Mister Scratch wrote:
I have never lived in Utah, but when people have asked how many siblings I have (i.e., quite a few), and when I've told them, they have sometimes inquired into my religious background.


Data logged, we're narrowing down the identity of the elusive Scratch.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:47 am 
Mister Scratch wrote:
I have never lived in Utah, but when people have asked how many siblings I have (i.e., quite a few), and when I've told them, they have sometimes inquired into my religious background.


OK, I've gotta know. :wink: How many siblings do you have?


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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:28 pm 
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ludwigm wrote:
You are living in a weird area of the world..

For three years in my present workspace, and for five years in the previous one, and 20 + 20 before (in the army), I hadn't the faintest idea about the religion of my workmates - by their words.
I have judged it only by their opinion about other areas/topics.
.


I think it was your superior discernment.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:34 pm 
John Larsen wrote:
Is my suspicion that this is a Mormon thing correct? What is it about the religion that makes people break usually social taboos and fell like they have license to ask such questions within 20 seconds of meeting a client?


I'm pretty sure it's not so much a "Mormon thing" as a human thing. About a 100% sure. We tend to be tribal. But it really doesn't say much for the LDS man you encountered.

Didn't he even offer to bake you a cake?


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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:09 am 
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Location: Koloburbia
John Larsen wrote:


Is my suspicion that this is a Mormon thing correct?


It is generally considered bad manners elsewhere to inquire about your religious status - especially when first meeting someone. Apparently the novelty of meeting someone from Utah outweighs traditional manners. :sad:

In Utah, it generally is the dread question included with each new introduction, signaling whether the asker will have anything further to do with you socially, if you decline their invitation to convert.

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:17 am 
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Location: In an Utrecht coffeehouse with my lady friend
I just travelled from Munich to Brussels, then to Bruges, and back north through Rotterdam, to Amsterdam and I am now back home.

I must have had 20 good conversations about Salt Lake City and Mormonism with people from all around the world during this two-week trip.

Good times.

Everyone wants to hear the gold plates story and I have a lot of fun telling it to them. :cool:

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 Post subject: Re: Mormon Conversational Boundaries
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:43 am 
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I'm rarely asked about my religion, but then, I'm not from Utah. I also get the feeling I give off some kind of "religion is nonsense" vibe (all part of the "anything supernatural is nonsense" vibe) which would also preclude people from asking me about it.

But I've told people on several occasions that I was raised mormon, with a knowing smirk and below-the-surface laugh, and that it's likely one of the more insane religions around. I'm also happy to report that I never really believed it, or at least, I grew out of it at around the age of 12. I just act (appropriately) like it's something from my past that adds a bit of color to my character, but in the end, is as meaningless as having attended boyscouts or watching The Brady Bunch.

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