Episode #7: Mormon Identity Part II
KAREN: Hello and welcome to the Wish You Knew podcast. I’m your host, Karen Bortvedt. This is part two of our interview with Keith who identifies as Mormon. I hope that you all were able to learn a lot from last week’s episode. Today, we continue with a question that I think is very relevant to the time. One of our listeners asked essentially about race issues. So, we will cut directly to the interview and see what Keith has to say.
KAREN: Another question that came up, that has nothing to do with divorce, was someone asked if I could ask you specifically about black people and the church's historical position on skin color, which led me to try to poke around and understand what they were talking about. From my very basic research, some of the things that came up were: Brigham Young was one of the first leaders instrumental in starting slavery in Utah; white people weren't allowed to marry black people until 1978; men of black African descent couldn’t rise to the priesthood. Are those all accurate statements? Could you explain that?
KEITH: No, I appreciate you bringing it up. Especially with what we've got going on in the world today, with the NFL, and systemic oppressions. I can't attest to Brigham Young's stance of slavery. I've read books, I've read documents, I’ve read things where Brigham Young… because at that time, slavery was an accepted practice. Every religion was practicing slavery, it was not an uncommon practice. (That) didn't make it right, and men will make their own choices. Brigham Young is documented, and many, many times... Brigham Young had very strong opinions and shared a lot of them. But in our church, when a person speaks as a prophet it is doctrine. When a prophet speaks as a man with an opinion, then that is all it is. It's not doctrine. I don't have to follow it, I don't have to believe it, I don't even have to care. There's a documented discussion one time with Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, who said man would never land on the moon. So people use that as an argument that prophets are false. Well, he's a man who made his own opinion and thought certain things.
But in the LDS faith, you can always be baptized into the Mormon church, have full fellowship within the Mormon Church except (for) the priesthood. Until official declaration September 30th 1978, I have it here in front of me, that's when they made the decision to allow black people to hold the priesthood. My understanding of what happened with that whole situation was as one of those times [where] the church had been wrestling with the idea "why couldn't they hold priesthood? why can't they do this?" I think a lot of it was broken into [sic] tradition. I think it started at the beginning of the church and it just kind of carried its way through. and [In] the 30s and 40s, the church was really... the leadership, what we call the First Presidency, which was the prophet and his two counselors and the Twelve Apostles, were petitioning - i.e. praying - to God to give them an answer, and they got it in 1978.
So that's one of those instances where, as a person... as you asked, one question about polygamy, if it was legal, would the church do it? In 1978, that's 15 years beyond the Civil Rights movement, and they still were holding off until 1978. The church does what it does, because it does it when they believe God tells them to do it. It is a[n] unhappy thought in my mind that there was ever a time that a brother could not hold - and I don't say that as in a racial connotation, everybody is a brother and a sister to me - that a brother couldn't hold a priesthood, I don't understand it. I don't know that I would ever have agreed with it, but it was what it was. The church did it, and it's not that way anymore, but it was like that until 1978. The church said, “No you can't hold the priesthood. You could get baptized, you can do everything, but you can't hold the priesthood.” Women were in the Relief Society, women did all that stuff; boys grew up through the young man's program. They could hold the Aaronic priesthood, but they could not hold the Melchizedek priesthood. That's a common misunderstanding, is [that] they could hold the lesser of the two priesthoods before 1978. So, they could be baptized and they could baptize, but they could not be elders in the church, which would not allow them to go to the temple. So, it's a difficult topic I think, but it's a truth that my church did.
KAREN: You mentioned again in that answer the word "prophet," and I should have asked you to clarify that long ago. For those who don't know, what does that mean within the LDS Church?
KEITH: We believe that a prophet on the Earth today is the same as a prophet like Moses or Noah or Elijah in the Old Testaments [sic]. A Prophet is the leader of our church, he's a mouthpiece for God, and Jesus Christ, on this Earth. What he says in the capacity of a prophet we take as literal doctrine and the literal request of what God would want from his people on Earth. So for us he is everything that everyone would expect a prophet to be... Old Testament standards, New Testament, others... I can't think of a prophet in [the] New Testament, other than Christ himself was considered a prophet too... and in the Old Testament, a prophet is God's mouthpiece to the world.
KAREN: This ties in very nicely with the next question, about being a mouthpiece to the world. LDS members are possibly one of the most visible groups worldwide, actively trying to evangelize. Someone asked, what makes you so sure your religion is the "right" one? What makes you so sure that your way to Heaven is better than the others?
KEITH: Wow, I heard that question so much on my mission. I'm going to make a brassy statement: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the most correct Church on this Earth. That is what we believe, that is what I teach, that is what I believe. I believe all religions - and the LDS faith teaches this - all religions have levels of Truth. Some have more than others, but we believe that the LDS faith has all [of] the Truth that is available to man this day. Hence we have the Book of Mormon, and the Bible, and the Doctrine of Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I don't believe that my way to God is any different than anybody else's in the respect that: you cannot be saved by works. A lot of people argue, Mormons believe (in) works. No. The scriptures teach us that faith without works is nothing but dead, so if you're not going to work for your faith, you don't really have faith. You might preach it to people but your heart is going to tell you, you don't have faith. [Be]cause you're not working for God.
Now, I'm not here to judge the intent of a person's heart, only God can do that. But we all believe, all Christian faiths believe, you must be... you must ask God or Christ to save you. We believe that. Not literally: you have got to get on your knees and ask him to save you. But you do have to get on your knees and profess that Jesus is the Christ, God is your Father, and that the Holy Ghost exists, and that you want to follow their teachings.
We believe that baptism is required for that. We believe that confirmation of the Holy Ghost is required for that - for this purpose of Salvation - because that's your outward commitment to God; that I'm actually doing this, this is my belief. It's one of those things where you're baptized as an outward statement, it solidified your commitment to God. Receiving the Holy Ghost solidifies your commitment to God. Failure to do those things is a failure to commit to your faith. That is why we believe that baptism is so important. If you're not willing to get baptized, then are you really willing to live His plan. Sounds harsh, but it's the same thing. If you're really not willing to be faithful to your spouse then should you really get married?
So, the same thing with baptism within the LDS faith. I believe that the LDS faith has the most accurate depiction of what God has in store for me. Again, all churches have some Truth; some have more than others. I believe God requires us to sacrifice. If you're not sacrificing, you're not growing. If you're not growing, you're not helping. If you're not helping, you're stagnant, and God does not want us to be stagnant. He wants us to move forward; He wants us to grow; He wants us to be better; He wants us to love people; He wants us to love Him; He wants us to serve and just be better. If you're not sacrificing, you're not getting better. A lot of people comment, “Well you know what? I'm happy with my faith. I don't have to give 10% of my income. I don't have to be at church for three hours every Sunday... hours of meetings during the week and give up two years of my life... I don't have to do those things because I don't want to, and God doesn't require it.” You know what? If that makes you happy, follow that. But you're not growing. In my mind - it's kind of a brassy thing to say, I agree but - in my mind you're not growing. And if you're not growing, you're stagnant and that's not good for you. It's not good for a person to be stagnant. The LDS faith pushes, and it requires sacrifice, and it requires faith. I mean, every month I fast for two meals. So, [the] first Sunday of every month I give up breakfast. I don't eat food or drink water for 24 hours. For a guy like me that's kinda hard sometimes. I get hungry, I get thirsty, and I don't do it [eat or drink] because I'm proving to myself, and to my Father in Heaven, that I'm willing to sacrifice certain aspects of my life in order to glorify Him.
I think it's wrong when someone says the Mormons have the "best" plan, or the “best” set of beliefs. I think we have the correct plan and the correct set of beliefs. If you're willing to follow them you'll find nothing but happiness and joy. If you're willing to look at the blessings that you're entitled to... everything requires a challenge. Pain and suffering happens to everybody, but if you understand what is in store for you, then I think it's easier to handle loss and pain and the struggles and challenges and... Mormons get fired; Mormons lose their jobs; Mormons die; Mormons get killed; Mormons murder; Mormons go to jail; Mormons make mistakes. But I think it's important to look at the eternal aspect of things. And I think that's what my faith teaches me the most. Am I looking at my eternal outcome, or am I just focusing on today?
KAREN: Is the fasting that you mentioned “Keith thing,” or an LDS “thing”?
KEITH: It's an LDS “thing.” When you join the LDS Church you're taught that fasting is done... so fasting is a great thing actually, [that] people don't understand the whole aspect of it. When we fast we give up two meals and the church asks, “Hey, the money [that] you would spend on those two meals: donate to the church.” The church has one of the largest welfare programs in the world. If you ever go look at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, or if you ever Google "church welfare system," we'll put Costco to shame. I mean [laugh] we have a lot going on. The LDS Church said that if, even with Hurricane Harvey, you can read articles about Mormons Helping Hands, “helping hands mormons” or something like that - “yellow shirts” - Louisiana has got it, Florida's got it, Puerto Rico's got them. The church is huge on welfare. Huge, huge, huge on welfare. And it is all funded from fasting. The church asks the members, say, “Hey what would you spend on two meals for your family?” “I'd spend 20 bucks…” “Great!” We give that to the church. On top of our tithing. I spend $50 bucks a month on fast offerings. The fast offerings [are] specifically held for the welfare program. So that's why we do it, and the church asks us.
Now if you have physical limitations, i.e. you're pregnant, you’re diabetic, you have dietary concerns, then the church says, “Okay, instead of giving up food and water, how about you give up TV? How about you give up the Internet? How about you give up something just to teach yourself to sacrifice for the greater good?” That's what fasting is all about. That's why I love it, it's like I said, the welfare program... I mean, if you have a member of the church that doesn't have any food, they can go shopping at what we call “Bishop's Warehouse,” and every city's got one. The bishop fills out a form and says, “How many loaves of bread do you want? Cheese, milk, eggs, meat, toilet paper, diapers, baby formula, whatever you need ... fill it all out, go down to the store, they hand you all the stuff, and you go home with it; it doesn't cost you a dime.”
KAREN: Does that extend just to church members, or do[es it extend to] people outside the church, that fall on hard times, as well?
KEITH: Anybody. I filled orders for people that were not members of our church. The only thing [that] the church asks is that you come do an act of service. So we might ask you, “Hey, we'll give you food, come help us vacuum the building, or clean the building on Saturday. That's all we want, no money. Help us pull weeds for an hour. So-in-so down the street from you is a member, they're old, they need some yard work done, can you go do that?” We give people an opportunity to earn their food without having to spend money, and still keep their dignity about them. and so It's a great program. The church doesn't… the first time you get the service from the church, it’s pretty much, we're hoping you'll come and help us. But if you don't then fine, but it's not like we [will] deny you a second or third or fourth or a fifth time. If you need help, we'll help you. Irregardless of your situation, if you need help, we'll help you. If we find you taking advantage of us, we cut you off. But if you truly are in need of help and assistance, then we're here. We'll do it.
KAREN: That's very cool. You had mentioned the idea of “works,” which somebody had actually asked a question specifically about, which now makes more sense to me. You're making me so much smarter Keith! [laughter] The person asked: if your faith is based on works and merits of your own doing and actions, how do you reconcile leisure time? Would that be considered sinful; if you were at the movies instead of a homeless shelter? I'm genuinely curious about this.
KEITH: That's a great question. God expects us to sacrifice, but not kill ourselves in the sacrifice that we do. We don't believe that works save us. I mean that's one thing I can't preach enough: works do not save people. Faith in Christ saves you, but your faith in Christ is strengthened through the works that you perform. Salvation is a gift. But with any gift that you're given, you make an effort to keep that gift. If you're given... if you buy a new TV and a remote, by golly, you're going to keep an eye on it. You're going to try and keep it safe, and not get broken, and make an effort to keep those things running well. If you're given a gift from a child, you're going to hold it and love it and appreciate it, because your child gave it to you. Salvation is the same way: it's a gift. So I get bothered when people say, “I've given 60 hours of service this week,” and I've only given five. The amount of service you give is not dependent on your level of Salvation or your level of Awesomeness. I've got six kids, I travel a hundred days a year, I'll be lucky if I can spend five hours in a homeless shelter at all, throughout the entire year. I do my service: I see a guy on the side of the road, I'll stop and see if he needs help. That's my service. That's what I can do. My wife makes applesauce and gives it to our neighbors, that's what she can do. She's got six kids to take care of. She doesn't want to work, so she she doesn't, and I'm happy for her. She does what she wants. When I hear people ask that question and they look at it that way, it bothers me because that's not how you should look at service. That's not: how much have I done to be awesome? It’s: you do what you can.
There's a song in the church that's called, “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” In my mind, that is an important question: Have I done any good? Have I helped anyone in need? If so, I've done the right thing. I don't have the opportunity every day, but when it's there, I should take it. That's what the church has taught me. I don’t know that there’s a doctrinal statement that I could find somewhere, but the church has taught me that I help where I can, when I can, and the Lord sees that and the Lord appreciates that. There are days where I should help more because someone needs to be moved, but I'm tired and I'm lazy and imperfect... and I'm lazy... imperfect... and I'll make the mistake. There [are] other days where I'll build an engine for a guy because he needs it done, and he doesn't have any money, and I can do it because I have the tools and the knowledge. So it's a trade-off.
KAREN: I think if everyone held that perspective towards service, the world would be a very different place.
KEITH: I tend to agree with that. I wish more people looked at service that way. Just, “Hey, have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” That's it. It's just that easy.
KAREN: Some days I'd settle for, “Have I tried not to do any harm in the world today?” [laughter] I'll set the bar even lower than you, Keith! [laugh] So, this is the last question that I think is about sort of a general rumor of the church that floats around. Someone asked, when a righteous man - specifically male - dies, how does he become a "god" of his own world, when there is only one God?
KEITH: Okay, oh I love that. I love that question. I love this topic. It's one of my favorite topics because it's an amazing belief that the LDS faith holds. When people ask that question, there is only one God, and this is how I explain it to people: how many dads do you have? You have one dad. Period. If your mom remarries, you still have one “dad,” one person caused you to come into this world. You may love him or hate him, that's your choice. But you have one “dad.” Someday you have the opportunity to become a dad. But you'll always have one dad, who will be that child's grandfather. But now you are a dad to a child. Now, are you better than your dad? No. Are you worse than your dad? No. Are you equal to your dad? You can become equal to your father. So that is what we believe happens when you... when a righteous man dies and he is sealed to a woman, that they have the ability to become like God. That they will then at that point have the opportunity to create their own worlds, based on what they were taught by their Father. So when I hear people say, “There's only one God, you can't become God,” you're right. I never will be God. I don't attain [sic] to be God. I attain [sic] to be a father. I'm a father of six. Nothing would make me happier in this world than for my four boys to become fathers, and for my grandsons to become fathers, so that I can look at them and say, ”Look at my family. I was a small part of this. I brought four boys into the world, now they each bring in two boys, that multiplies. But I'm just one man. Just as our Father in Heaven is one God.” He is the only God I will ever worship, He is the only God I will ever acknowledge, but my boys see me as their father. They don't call my father "father," they call him "grandpa," but they call me “dad.” Because I'm “dad.”
That is the best way, in my mind, to explain the God question that people ask. I don't believe I'll be God. The church doesn't teach “I will be God,” but I can become a god, like God, over my own world, over my own children, over my own family, just like in this life. and The church teaches us quite a bit that this life is a time to prepare to meet God, but it's also a time to understand God. Families are essential in understanding our Father in heaven. A child will choose to love their parents or hate their parents based on their own decisions; based on outside influences but ultimately you make your own choice. Just as you either accept God, within whatever religious Faith you have, or you will push away God. Whichever degree you follow, you follow. So when people ask me that, in my mind, that's what becoming "a god" is. I'm a father. I'll be a father again someday. That's what it is. So I hope that clarifies for some people how Mormons look at it, because that's the best way I've ever understood it. Nowhere in scripture do you find that the Mormon faith teaches that you will “become God,” or you will be greater than God, or you will be better than God, or that you'll forget God. It all says, “like God.” That's it. So I will be “like God,” which translates into, “a god of your own world.” Great. I will become like God, I will have the same privileges and understandings that He has. Anything I do will glorify him. If I live my life just like your kids, they glorify you, and their kids will glorify you, and their kids will glorify you. When I die, if I live a life worthy of it, and I get to my special kingdom, and I get the opportunity to become like God, then I will create worlds and I will look at God and say, “Look at what I've done for you. Look at what you've taught me to do; look what you've done for me, look how happy you've made me. Thank you. I want to do more for you.” And it glorifies Him. Does that make sense?
KAREN: Yes, that's very well explained.
KEITH: Thank you.
KAREN: Someone else asked, has the Mormon church ever made mistakes?
KEITH: [laugh] Members of the church have. I hold on to this belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. The Church of God is perfect. The men that run it are not. The people that are in charge of it are not perfect and they will make mistakes, and God allows us to make mistakes so that we can be judged. Just as He allows people to kill people, He allows people to die, He allows people to do all these horrible things in this world so they can be judged by their own actions. I believe that the church members have made mistakes. I don't believe that the Church has made a mistake, but that the members have. Mountain Meadows massacre is an example. The church did not endorse Mountain Meadows massacre. Members of the church panicked, and they made a bad choice, and they killed a bunch of people. You have members that make mistakes, and they talk on behalf of the church, but they do not represent the core beliefs of the church. So I don't believe that the gospel has made a mistake. I believe that members in the church have made the mistakes. I have seen it with my own eyes. I’ve made mistakes. I've pissed people off. I've caused people to leave the church because I said the wrong thing. That doesn't make the church wrong, it makes me wrong. I made the mistake. People need to look at that and understand that people are imperfect. It's... you have to look past that. There is no perfect Church on this Earth. The churches on this Earth are not perfect, but the message is. It's how the message is delivered, and who delivers it, is what people put their faith in all too often. Put your faith in God, not in the man teaching you. Put your faith in God, let Him answer your questions, let Him guide you and let Him drive you. Let the man teach you, but go to God with your questions and concerns. The LDS faith teaches that when a prophet speaks, if you have a concern, pray about it. Come to your own understanding. The church has never told you you have to be a member of the church. You choose to be a member of the church. You choose to follow it. That's your choice. And, if you don't want to, that's okay, that's your choice. I look at it that way: that the gospel is not wrong, the people are.
KAREN: Can you tell me what the massacre is that you mentioned?
KEITH: Yeah… I didn't know if anybody was going to bring that up. [The] Mountain Meadows massacre was back in the late 1800s; the LDS Church had moved to Utah Territory and there was a militia being sent out to kill all the Mormons. Governor Lilburn Boggs in Missouri actually took out an extermination order, saying you could kill a Mormon and not get prosecuted for doing it. The Church was fleeing from Missouri to Nauvoo to Utah, to get away from the persecution. Oddly enough - fun fact - the Mormon extermination order was law until the 70s, until the mid 70s. It's crazy when you think about that, I mean the Mormon faith was trying to be exterminated [sic]. Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered many times, poisoned, you had... I mean he was murdered in Carthage. Because of that, the members of the church were always fearful because they were like, “Hey we're going to Utah because our prophet says we need to go there, but it also gets us so far away from civilization, and hopefully everybody just leaves alone and lets us do our own thing.”
There was word out that there was a militia coming to Utah to wipe out the Mormons. As they were approaching, there was a group of Indians and members that were overly panicked and had sent word to Brigham Young, saying, “Hey look, these people are coming what should we do?” and before Brigham Young answered them, they slaughtered an entire trainload of people; men women and children, they were killed, by Indians and by Mormons. It is a dark part, but it's a fact that happened. If you Google “Mountain Meadows massacre” you'll find many books and articles about that. There was even a movie made about it.
I don't believe that the church said “kill the people.” I believe members of the church panicked and killed the people. It's an ugly history, but it leads right into the question: yes people in the church have made mistakes. Big ones.
KAREN: The same person had also asked, how do you know [that] they're not making mistakes? Which I feel you sort of answered, but I would like you to respond so I'm not filling in your gaps. [laugh]
KEITH: [Laugh] No worries. You know? I pray about it. James Chapter 1 Verse 5 says that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, [that] giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. And I live by that.
I have had people tell me things that I didn't believe. Leaders in my church... I struggle with the whole Boy Scouts of America issue right now, you can ask my wife. It bothers me. I am an Eagle Scout. I love the Boy Scouts, I've been a member [for] 18 years. I've been a Scoutmaster. I struggle with it. I struggle with the core belief of the Scouting program, I don't have a problem with gays being allowed into the Boy Scouts, I have a problem with the Boy Scouts reversing a century-old tradition for the purpose of making money. That's how I see it. People will disagree, but that's how I see it. Again, I have no mean, ill will feelings toward any person in this world - in respect to their preferences of life - but I feel like when a group of people have to give up core beliefs in order to make money, or in order to bow to politics, then I don't want to be a part of it. I have a problem with that.
Having said that, I have been told things by people that I don't believe, and I take them to task. I've had people quote stuff in church and I'll say, “Where did you get that?” “Well, I read that in a book.” “What book?” “Well…” I'm like, then you can't teach it. You can't tell people this is what the church teaches if you can't show me where in a church printed document... I mean we have three magazines - well several in multiple languages - but inside the New Era and The Friend are church magazines, and anything in those are cleared through the church. You can take them as what the church would teach, preach, and doctrine of our church. You can take it in those magazines, or in the scriptures that we use. If it's printed by the LDS Church then it's church statements. Anything outside of that... Deseret Book is not a church thing. I stress that often. My current position within my church, I'm what we call a Sunday School President, so I'm over everybody who teaches in the congregation.
My job is to make sure the curriculum is there, that they're teaching correctly; that they're not interjecting too many opinions as doctrinal claims for the church. It's to make sure that they're discussing what is consistent with what the church would want. I tell people, if you don't agree, pray about it or research it. I've seen people make mistakes, and I've called them out, and I pray about it. I believe that God answers prayers, and I believe that He'll tell me that, “Yes what you're hearing is true,” or “No, what you're hearing isn't,” and then it's my job to further investigate it. If it's not true, why isn't it true? What's wrong about it? And carry it from there, and then formulate my own decision and formulate my own process of dealing with it. The Boy Scouts, in my mind, is a perfect example. I'm struggling with that. My sons are in Boy Scouts and I just struggle with it. But the church supports the Boy Scouts. I don't. But the church does.
KAREN: So now I think we're getting on maybe some easier questions.
KAREN: What is your least favorite question from non-mormons? Maybe it's along the same path; maybe same answer, maybe different answer: what is it that you find really offensive that we might say unintentionally - we being non-mormons - unintentionally, comments that we make, that you find offensive and we might not think are offensive?
KEITH: I think when the… people choose to be offended, in my mind. So, I answer from that standpoint; so people understand my answer. If you're offended it's because you choose to be. In my line of business I get yelled at, sworn at, cussed out, threatened... trying to offend me and I don't get offended because I choose not to. What bothers me, or will offend Mormons, is when you mock their Temple ceremonies, and you mock their garments, and you mock sacred things like marriage, and you mock things of that nature. Mormons will find that to be a problem because these are sacred things that we take seriously. They're not a game, they're not a joke. It's very personal, very private, it's between me and God. So when you talk to a Mormon, call him a Mormon, call him an LDS, call him whatever you want, they shouldn't be offended by that.
Mocking leaders of the church...a lot of people get offended when you mock Trump - or don't mock Trump - people get offended. I mean it's, it's their choice. We hold those things sacred and they're important to us because it's a part of our culture. Joseph Smith is an important figure within our church. He was the guy that founded our church under the direction of God. So for us, I think, be respectful of the Mormon beliefs, as odd as they may seem to you, respect them. Don't mock them. And when you do mock them, expect an unhappy response or an uncomfortable “cricket moment” because you hear the [cricket sound] sound in the background from the crickets, because no one thought that was funny.
I tell people that; that's my thought. As for me, that's what bothers me, is when people mock what I find to be sacred and personal. It's my temple experience, my garments... my relationship with my wife is as sacred to me as what happens in somebody's bedroom. You don't share; you don't kiss-and-tell, because you want to respect the people that you're around. It's a private moment, and I look at the church that way. So for me it's the temple, and it's my internal beliefs, and if you mock Joseph Smith and all... I've heard all kinds of jokes and all kinds of things about that. It bothers me because he's important to me, just as your mom or your father may be important to you, or your dog may be important to you. You don't want them to be mocked. But ultimately, like I said, temple ceremonies are the biggest thing that Mormons have a problem with, when you're going to upset them. Want to upset a Mormon fast? Make fun of the temple, make fun of what they do in the temple. They don't like that. [laugh]
KAREN: What for you in the faith is most challenging?
KEITH: Not watching rated “R” movies. [laugh] That and swearing. That’s a great question. I think the simple things are those. I swear too much, I love war movies, and most of them are rated “R,” the church asks us to abstain from any media that is not conducive to our beliefs. Murder, and violence, and swearing, and nudity, [are] all against our beliefs. I stay away from the nudity side of it, but I love rated “R” movies, Saving Private Ryan, things like that I love. I think the other challenge I have, I think, within the faith are the current BSA (Boy Scouts of America) situation, and I have a problem with... the church teaches us that we need to keep all of the laws of the land. The church will baptize and introduce people into the church that are not legally in this country, and that is a conflict in my mind. I don't understand why they do it, but they do. When I was baptized in the church they said, “Do you keep the laws?” “Oh yeah.” “Okay, great.” If you're not here legally, you're not keeping the laws, by the sheer fact that you're not here legally. Yes, you might pay your taxes, and you might follow it, but you're not... and then the church baptizes people anyway, and brings them in with the belief that, if you baptize them, then they will strive to be better and follow the laws and do the right thing. I struggle with that one. I also struggle with... I know you asked for one thing but I can't think of just one major struggle I have. There's lots of things that I struggle with, little things, but I say the biggest one is, as I said, is the Boy Scouts of America situation right now. That's the biggest one, is the Boy Scouts of America situation right now. What's the church going to do, and why are they doing what they're doing, and I don't understand it. That for me would be the biggest, because I love the Boys Scouts so much, and I love the church, and they seem to be at odds with their core beliefs.
KAREN: What do you like most about your faith? I won't limit you to one, so if you have more than one feel free to share more than one. [laugh]
KEITH: [laugh] I love the eternal belief I have. I love the comfort that it brings to me. I have been to lots of churches, I've done my research in that respect. My favorite class in college was religion. I loved religion. I did my paper... my final was on Mormons and Seventh Day Adventist: Similarities and Differences. I loved it. I went to their church, took my kids; had a great time. Really enjoyed that experience. But every church I've been to, they're lacking in the eternal perspective, in my mind. It, from my point of view, is a doom-and-gloom [sic]. The LDS faith teaches me hope and joy, and I have great comfort in that. I have great comfort in knowing that I’ve got eternal life, I've got eternal kids, I've got so much to look forward to, and for me that makes sense. It makes sense that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings. Where in other churches, they can't quite explain it, or they have a unique view of that. The LDS faith, in my mind, is very simple, very basic, and I love that. So for me that's it. It's the simplicity in the faith, and the basicness of it, and it makes sense to me. It just makes sense. I love it. It's very freeing. I don't have to ponder for hours on end about insignificant items. I know what I know and I'm comfortable with it.
KAREN: So there [are] just two final questions and I'll give them both to the same time in case they have a same answer. So, one person just asked if there was anything you would like to say that no one asked you about; and then the last question that I end every podcast with is, what are three things you wish we knew?
KEITH: Well I appreciate it. You know, that's a good, great question. Really is. In my mind the top three things I wish people knew: number one, we're not polygamists; number two, I can drink Dr. Pepper, it's okay, I can drink caffeinated sodas, Coke, Pepsi, it doesn't matter, I can drink it; and number three, is that we believe that God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, serve one purpose and that's for all of us to return to live with Him. That the main purpose of our lives is to return to live with God, to be like God, to have all the blessings and opportunities that He wants us to have as any parents would want for their child. and Those are probably the three things... two are light-hearted, but the third is quite serious my mind. I just want people to know that Mormons are peculiar, we know that. But we all agree that God loves us; Jesus Christ died on the cross for us; the Holy Ghost is a still, small voice, that it’s a comforter; baptism by fire, whatever you want to call it. We all believe that. We're all God's children because of it, and I think people should focus on that more than: whether or not you're wearing Jesus Jammies or “spiritual underwear;” or polygamy; or the Book of Mormon versus the Bible. Those things are insignificant in respect to loving your brother and your sister that was given to you because God created us all, and we're all equal. At the end of the day, we're all equal. I don't care what color you are, how tall you are, how short you are, where you're from, how long you've lived, when you died. We are all equal, and we all owe it to the same Being that created us. To give Him the respect He deserves by treating your fellow man in the way that you would treat your siblings. I think if people would focus on that last item, I think the world would be a better place. Whether you are Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah's Witness, Islamic, Muslim, Sunni, ISIS, whatever it is, if you focused on that one item, I think the world would be a much better place. That would be it for me.
KAREN: Well since you have said we are all siblings, my brother, I thank you for sharing! [laugh]
KEITH: [laugh] Well I thank your audience and you for giving me the opportunity to share some of what the LDS faith has, and I appreciate your podcast I look forward to hearing it.
KAREN: Thank you very much. A HUGE Thank you to Keith for taking all the time out of his day to complete that interview that you have listened to over the last two podcasts. For those who enjoy listening, as always feel free to share, rate, and review the podcast. Any feedback you can give is great! Because we are trying to provide a platforms for various people to share their perspectives, it is always important to have various perspectives and folks listening. So, definitely forward it on to anyone you think may be interested. Coming up, most likely next week, we will see how scheduling goes, we’re going to have an interview with someone who works with survivors of domestic violence. If you have any questions for someone who has survived that experience, or questions about domestic violence, this month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We are hoping to help contribute to that conversation and raise some awareness. As always, you can submit questions through different platforms, through Facebook, through Twitter. You can send them via email. You can post them on the website. Until next time, remember: People are people are people. Keep Listening. Keep Learning. Keep Loving.