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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah Steeped in Religious Stereotypes

El Observador
(Daily Utah Chronicle file photo)


(Daily Utah Chronicle file photo)
(Daily Utah Chronicle file photo)

Big families, stay-at-home moms, Republicans. These are only some of the stereotypes with which people label Mormons.


While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the dominant religion in Utah, it’s not the only one associated with stigmas. Religious people around the U and in the Salt Lake City community face similar labels.

Ian Allgier, an undeclared freshman, said he feels students here are too opinionated in judging people of faith.

“I think people see religious students on campus as prudes who don’t want to party or do anything fun,” Allgier said. “People think all religious students do is sit in their dorm rooms and read the Bible together.”

Pastor Dean Shriver of the Intermountain Baptist Church in Salt Lake City said the best way to combat stereotypes about religion is to be open to ideas and beliefs that are different from your own.

“Once we label someone a bigot it’s then easy to dismiss them without listening to what they honestly believe and why,” Shriver said. “In saying this, I recognize that Christians too are pretty good at labeling and dismissing. We can all do better.”

Shriver said people often stereotype his Baptist community as “legalistic, narrow-minded and mean-spirited” because the religion doesn’t endorse gay marriage.

Because of the religious climate in Utah, many students have strong opinions about Mormonism. Emily Van Allen, a senior in urban ecology, said she has nothing against the LDS Church but doesn’t like when its members tell her she’s a “sinner” for swearing or drinking coffee.

“I have my own beliefs,” Van Allen said. “I do think Mormons are good people, but they do get stereotyped as being judgmental and prudish.”

Nathalia Padua, a freshman, said there should be some middle ground. She believes religions are supposed to be peaceful and not judge each other.

“Sometimes I think religions stereotype other religions as being wrong or extreme just because they don’t believe the same thing that that religion preaches,” she said. “From what I understand, the one concept that all religions teach is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we all really did, these stereotypes wouldn’t even exist.”

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