A few years ago a new family came into my ward. They moved from Texas and the wife had a strong accent from that region. Most Mormons from Texas I knew, mostly over the Internet, were as equally proud of that state as any born and raised there. Stereotypes flooded my mind of the typical Texas Mormon, and then of the Utah, California, and Mission field members. It didn’t take long for me to think of other Mormon groupings such as liberal and orthodox. Here is a list of those I can think of and short definitions:
True Blue Mormons – Orthodox members who don’t question authority or divinity of the LDS Church, go to Church on a weekly basis, are mostly married with children, and have or will go through the Temple.
Liberal Mormons – There are several subgroups of these. Each of them have their own defining reason for existence as a label. Most common are pro-gay marriage advocates, Feminists, Democrats, and Evolutionists. Many of them are believers in the divine authority of the LDS Church, but uncomfortable at times with that acknowledgment.
New Wave Mormons – Another name for them might be cultural Mormons, but that is a vague term that can cover any participant in Mormon life. The prominent feature is someone who doesn’t believe in the religion’s divine nature, but still actively defines themselves as members of the LDS Church. They are secularists in religious garb.
Utah Mormons – Are predominately religious and conservative, leaning heavily Republican. They are seen as having a myopic understanding of the world outside their own population. They are not very good drivers.
Idaho Mormons – Survivalists who like to think they are taking care of themselves without outside interference. They are seen as fiercely orthodox and loyal to the LDS Church when active, perhaps more than Utah Mormons at times.
Texas Mormons – The only difference between them and their non-Mormon counterparts is the religious belief system. Otherwise, they are proud of and have egos the size of the state they live in.
California Mormons – Proud they are not Utah and Idaho Mormons, and yet don’t consider themselves outside the general sphere of LDS influence. They are as diverse as the people in the sate they come from.
Mission Mormons – Generally they live in Canada and the United States and are considered of diverse characterizations. Many of them are transplants from the Mormon corridor because of jobs and education, but conversions over 100 years has changed that fact significantly.
South and Central American Mormons – Little is actually known of this group despite the high number of Intermountain and U.S. missionaries who served there. They are just as likely to join the LDS Church as no longer attend.
European Mormons – To some this is a rumored group as lost to history as the Tribes of Israel. Their faith, population, and political identity is contested if mentioned at all. It is rumored the European converts are liberal socialists who don’t hold much in common with the general membership. If you have seen one of these people, please call . . .
Obviously, the above doesn’t represent actual persons so much as perceived group identities. These are, I feel, common descriptions as expressed over the years by each other. Are there any labeled groups besides polygamist or non-LDS Mormons that are missing from this list? Is there better ways to describe the ones that have been included?
While pondering the above classifications, I am reminded of the Scriptures that continually call for a unity among the faithful. One example would be in Doctrine and Convenants 38:25-27 that reads:
25And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.
26For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
27Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
Paul is characteristically blunt in his call for unity, as found in 1 Corinthians 1:10 where he writes:
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Recognizing the enormous amount of differences in today’s Mormon population, is it at all possible to become a Zion people? What kind of faith and actions would be necessary to achieve a unity as demanded by Jesus Christ and the Apostles and Prophets? How much of a blessing or a distraction is diversity to the religious calls to a Zion community? For a people of faith who, like Israel before, are looking for a spiritual homeland, these questions are not easily dismissed. Perhaps there is too much diversity and cultural differences in today’s world for us to come together. In Scriptural history there was only two groups of people who ever succeeded. One was taken up to heaven and the other lasted for a relatively long time only after Jesus Christ came down, to be disbanded by a return to sin. Zion might remain elusive until the Second Coming unless there is a drastic change in faith and togetherness.