On the 24th of July, 1847, Brigham Young led the LDS pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. Immediately they built a city founded on the faith that brought them halfway across the country alive. Their devotion and inspiration gave way to Salt Lake City, Home of the Mormons.
A city with such a religious history has more room for those harsh of faith. Indeed here we find more LDS members judgmental of any not their faith than you will find in any other place. Because of the high concentration of LDS members, most are not exposed to other faiths until their bias is firmly planted. These people are making grave mistakes in refusing to learn, or even accept the faith of another as right for them.
There are multiple ways to find God. Each religion has a unique methodology and doctrine based on this idea of growing closer to God. The Muslim faith is a key example.
Earlier this fall, I had the privilege of seeing a personal exploration of the meaning of God. The Utah Cultural Arts Center hosted an exhibit called “99 Most Beautiful Names”: a sculptural representation of the names of god in the Qur’an. The hours spent studying, formulating, and sculpting a relationship to God are present in the small etchings on the glass of each piece. The individual exhibits were taped together to formed a northward pointing star. This symbolizes the artists’ certainty that every detail of God’s existence affects the growth of a person. Each piece rang with a spirit of reverence and peace.
The only other spectator I ran into spent no more than five minutes blazing through the entire exhibit, grunting in disappointment at the lack of apparent value. I doubt he spent time contemplating what each plaque said, each representing one of the names of God. This man reminded me of those who rush through life, unable to take the time and examine and understand what another faith teaches. Their lack of knowledge prevents them from seeing why that faith helps that person, and not another, giving way instead to callus judgment and bias towards any religion not immediately clear to them.
While I firmly believe in the LDS faith, I know that other religions teach similar doctrines. The LDS and Muslim faiths both refer to God similarly, the LDS by El or Elohim, the Muslim by Al or Allah. Both believe strongly in the importance of prayer day and night. Both highly value modesty, and require respect of others.
The LDS faith teaches that all men, women and children are descendants of God, and deserve our respect and love, unconditionally. Our latest Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley made time to visit with religious leaders like The Pope. He never discriminated or told them that their religion was wrong, but instead shared his beliefs while listening to theirs.
I encourage you to study the religion you distrust. You will find that other faiths aren’t dull or inaccurate, but rather that they all hold a part of the truth. Be rid of this judgmental quality blinding you to the whole point of religion: to help us individually become a better person and draw closer to God. Whether that comes from praying five times a day or by making one’s faith their lifestyle, it shouldn’t matter. No two people can trek the same path to God.