Being Non-LDS in a ‘Mormon town’

Many would consider Rexburg a “Mormon town.” The town was first settled by Mormon pioneers, in 1883 and has since flourished, becoming home to an LDS university, a temple, and several LDS stakes.

But there is another side to the story. In the shadow of a large LDS majority, there those of other faiths with there own unique challenges, perspectives, and a love for this community. I spoke with several religious leaders and BYU-Idaho students of other faiths, and got their perspective on what it’s like to be in Rexburg, and be of another faith.

Schada Alkamari is a BYU-I student from Morocco. She is also a Muslim. She fell in love with BYU-Idaho because she felt it promoted values very much like her own. But it hasn’t always been without struggle.

Schada relates, “I was kind of shocked at how narrow-minded people can be sometimes and very judgmental. I would have thought people would understand what it is to be a minority, but they didn’t, because here they’re a majority. Sometimes they get caught in the idea that if it’s my true church, then if you’re from another church, that means that your church is false. Sometimes it’s subconsciously but sometimes it is consciously.”

Says Pastor Joe of Grace Baptist Church, “I think sometimes we just naturally, when someone is different, it’s easy for us not to try to just reach out and maybe learn a little better understanding. I spose that can really go both ways, don’t you think?”

Despite the challenges that those of non-LDS community sometimes face, most contribute positively to the community and create bonds of friendship with their LDS neighbors.

Says Father Camilo Garcia of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, “My invitation for them is to welcome them to come here to celebrate with us and to share with us what they have and what they celebrate as well. Each one of us and each one of them can contribute to the common good of our city of Rexburg.”

Says Pastor Joe, “I’m here to promote what I believe is the Gospel in Christ Jesus. So I think we can work together and live together and understand our differences, but still understand each other on an individual level.”

In the end, most agreed that it was most important to keep an open mind, learn about other beliefs, and be accepting of others.

Says Schada, “People have different parts of truth. So we just need to accept that idea. We need to not come across with the ‘You’re wrong, I’m right.’ Just accept the idea that there’s a different point of view and we have to learn from it. I can learn these things, and so can they, from other religions.”

'Being Non-LDS in a ‘Mormon town’' have 8 comments

  1. July 25, 2013 @ 1:53 pm Ryan Rasmussen

    I love this story! Great job I think was a great story to pursue. Very impressed.


  2. July 26, 2013 @ 1:45 pm Scott Butler

    Thanks Ryan! Glad you enjoyed it!


  3. September 19, 2013 @ 10:07 am Caroline Norwood

    I absolutely love this. I think, because the University town of Rexburg feels so LDS, we easily overlook the fact that we live in a world and even community of other faiths. It’s sad that we can be judgmental or narrow-minded as Ms. Schada said, especially when her desire to go to BYUI was because of the desire to be around such similar values. I’m glad this story was covered–students here in Rexburg, and even LDS members of the Rexburg community need to remember we aren’t alone in this town–and that’s not a bad thing! Thanks Scott!


  4. September 19, 2013 @ 10:42 pm Sam Preston Merrell

    I thought you chose a very interesting angle on this topic. I think all of us in Rexburg need to be reminded to be more open-minded. We speak of being Christ-like and now it is time for action! Thanks for sharing.


  5. September 20, 2013 @ 11:41 am Doug Collins

    Great article, puts into perspective that we need to put in more effort to meet and be comfortable with different people from different faiths.


  6. September 29, 2013 @ 8:45 pm Molly Sue Smock

    I love this.

    As a convert of a year and a half, I too feel separate from the LDS culture that is here in Rexburg. Often times people will say things that do not apply to me or my family because they are not members.

    I am so thankful for people that are able to be open-minded to others that are different than them, such as people who have not served missions, or those who are not focused on getting married in the next few years.

    We are all in this eternal journey together, no matter our faith, and we should support each other in doing so.


  7. September 29, 2013 @ 11:01 pm Whitney Majors

    Scott- thank you for interviewing these people and pointing out that we, as LDS members, are not the only ones that inhabit the city of Rexburg! I am more determined now to not just assume that everyone here is of our faith and to be more open minded in that aspect. It would be a terrible shame if people such as Schada or Pastor Joe became bitter against the LDS faith. I hope they continue to feel accepted and loved for the great people they are in this community!


  8. September 30, 2013 @ 2:27 pm kelleydee89

    This article was fantastic. Thank you for reminding everyone that just because someone is “different” doesn’t make them wrong and others right. Everyone has the Light of Christ in them and should be treated so.


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