Time for the Baptists to Do Unto Mormons
What Mormons Have Been Doing to Everyone Else
Robert Kirby

The Southern Baptists are coming.

Judging from the rash of letters to the editor, the planned Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Conference in Salt Lake City this June is a matter for some con-cern. Feelings are high in what is fast becoming a gospel range war.

At issue seems to be whether Mormons really are the Lord's sheep. To the So-Baps, Mos look suspiciously more like spiritual cows or llamas or even badgers. and there simply isn't enough grass and water for all of us.

For crying out loud, where's Shane when you need him?

Rather than being annoyed, Mormons should feel flattered by the Southern Bap-tist visit. After all, the same outfit boycott-ing Disney because that company is nice to gays is coming to Utah even though Mor-mons aren't really Christians. At least they

think we're worth saving.

Severe theological differences notwith-standing, the Baptist meeting will not ad-versely affect most Utahns, unless, of course, you happen to be both of the things that Baptists find really objectionable: Mormon and gay.

NOTE: If you're gay and Mormon, you may want to plan some time away from Utah next summer. There's no telling what will happen if and when the dispa-rate (but loving) urges to boycott and evangelize meet in the middle. A gospel melt-down or something.

Awaiting the hallelujah onslaught, Mor-mons seem to have fallen into three distinct camps: Mormons who welcome the exchange, Mormons arming themselves, and Mormons focused instead on this year's BYU-Utah games.

Mormons who welcome the exchange, and I think there are only nine of us, see the Baptist visit as a chance for both sides to learn more about each other. If the theological issues don't get resolved, at least there will be the positive aspects of the cultural exchange.

Mormons girding themselves for a fight, and there are a few, tend to view the com-ing of the Baptists as Johnston's Army Part Two. It's just one more persecution in a wave of grossly unfair anti-Mormon troubles, all of which could be resolved if the stupid Division of Wildlife Resources would simply let us hunt Baptists this year without a limit.

Meanwhile, smart Mormons see the Baptist meeting for what it really is: a cun-ning plan by the University of Utah to di-vert attention away from this year's real struggle between good and evil: Cougars vs. Utes. Do not be fooled.

Rather than get all lathered about it, Mormons should understand rather than resent the fact that we have been targeted for enlightenment by the Baptists. After all, we have been doing it to the rest of the world for 150 years. And if the rest of the world doesn't exactly like it, we at least expect them to put up with it, Why should it be any different for Utah?

Every year, the LDS Church cranks thousands of missionaries out into the homelands of other faiths. A lot of frets and prayers go into worrying about how our sons and daughters will be received. We should take the time to use some of those prayers on ourselves, specifically regarding our reception of others,

If it will help, put a note on the refrigerator: "Be nice to Baptists." If you don't plan on listening to them when they come' around with their version of the Good News, at least don't be rude about it,


· Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kirby lives in Springville, The self-described "OxyMormon" welcomes mail at P.O. Box 684, Springville, UT 84663 or e-mail at rkirhy@sltrib,com.