We have a new interview today so please welcome Sarah. Sarah is a Mormon and I know you'll enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Sarah's Introduction:
Hi my name is Sarah, I was born and raised in England, and lived there until I came to America on vacation and met my future husband. I decided to miss my plane home and marry him instead! That was five years ago and I spend most of my days happily exhausted trying to keep up with our two ridiculously cute kids who are 2 yrs old and 7 months old.
1) What religion do you practice?
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days. Members of our church may be more commonly known as LDS or Mormons (we are sometimes referred to as Mormons as we believe in a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon, in addition to the Bible).
2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
My family were members when I was born, they had joined the church in the 1960's in Wales. In our church when you are 8 you can decide to be baptized if you want to. We believe that you are innocent until that age, and that from that age you become more accountable for your choices before God. I made the choice to be baptized at 8 and although I was raised a "Mormon", I always had the choice whether or not to follow the church's teachings. I have always believed in Jesus Christ, even as a young girl, and have always 'felt' that this church was organized by Him. I have attended other churches with friends at various times, but the feeling hasn't been as powerful there. When I was a missionary (for my church) we took a lady to church with us, and she said as soon as she walked through the doors it felt like she was coming home. That's how I feel, and that's why I'm Mormon.
3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
Let's see. I think I would mainly be classified as conservative, but it all depends on the subject matter.
4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
I would say conservative views tend to be more traditional, moderate more modern. I don't really know.
5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
Whether their opinions about something change more often, or if they are more fixed.
6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
Heaven/paradise to me is a place where we live with our family members, it's where Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father reside. It is where you go when you have been judged and resurrected. It's a place where you are free from pains and sicknesses, our bodies will be perfect there. A place of happiness.
7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
No, I don't believe that everyone makes it into Heaven. Paul talks about there being different degrees of glory, likened to the sun, moon and stars (1 Cor. 15:41), so this is Heaven, with different levels within it. There is also 'outer darkness', which I guess I would classify as 'Hell'.
8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I actually think many religions would be a good fit for me, as many, if not all, religions offer insights that can benefit individuals. The reason why I have chosen to belong to this church is because I believe it is true.
9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Sunday would be classed as a holy day. We go to church on the sabbath, and the focus is on worshipping, spending time with your family and helping/visiting those in need. Another day, which isn't really a holy day, but is an evening set aside from other nights, is Monday. Our church has designated that as a Family Home Evening night. Usually the family would have a little lesson on a gospel principle, play some games or do an activity, have a song and a prayer, and of course eat yummy treats! Aside from those two days we follow the holy days Christians typically follow, as in Easter and Christmas.
10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Absolutely. I have had friends of practically every faith there is, and some with no faith at all.
11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I have celebrated Hanukkah and the Passover with friends before. I don't think I would have a problem joining someone to celebrate their holy days.
12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I'm assuming this is the 'Sharia' law and 'burqa'? I don't know too much about the Sharia, except that it is the Islamic religious code, their guidelines for how to live their life, that they get their teachings from the Qur'an as opposed to the Bible, and that the burqa is clothing that muslim women wear to cover their bodies whilst in public. I am obviously a Christian, and so put more weight in the bibles teachings, but I also think it's important to be tolerant of others beliefs. Our church teaches that we should let others worship 'how, where and what they may'.
13) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Women in our church do not hold the priesthood, but they do hold 'callings' within the church. For example, as teachers or Presidents of different Auxiliaries, such as Primary, which provides Sunday instruction for the children aged 3-12yrs, or in the Relief Society which is the church's women's organization for women 18+ in the church, to name but a few. I have absolutely no problems with not holding the Priesthood. We have many opportunities for service in our church, we are treated as equals and seen as daughters of God. We do not have any paid ministry, and the Priesthood is not seen as something that increases your worth over someone who does not have it, it is viewed as an opportunity to serve, as the Priesthood can only be used to bless the lives of others, not on yourself.
14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
The only time it segregates is for a portion of the sunday meeting at church. Church is split into 3 sections: Sacrament meeting, which is for the whole congregation, then Sunday School, where the adults will meet together, the 12-18yrs will meet together, and the under 12yrs old will go to primary. The last block the adult women will meet separately from the adult men and will go to their Relief Society and Priesthood classes. The instruction in there is taken from the same gospel manual, but is usually taught by someone of the same gender. The same will happen with the youth, the girl's will go to Young Women's and the boys to Young Men's. I think it is a great way of doing it as it allows you to bond and make friends more easily with the other women, in my case, and the lessons can be personalized a bit better to the needs of the class, i.e. mothering.
15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I think my religion does affect my life greatly. It's to the point though that I don't need to question my decisions with 'what would the church have me do?'. I feel like I have the principles/values within me and so they are now part of me, and I make my decisions based on how I feel about them.
With regard to abortion and gay marriage, my views are the same as my church's. With abortion I don't believe it is the right choice (unless the health of the mother is in jeopardy, or that the baby is the result of rape or incest). Having had children I feel this even more strongly now, we have also had two miscarriages and I can honestly say that I can feel the baby's life in me, that it's a person, not just an embryo right from the start. I say, wait the 9 months and see if it's a person or not, and see if they want to live, give them the choice, because they will become a 'them' not an 'it'. Aside from a religious stand point, I have a few friends who have adopted as they were unable to have children, and the waiting lists are so long, there are so many loving options for those babies, parents who have been praying and yearning for them. Adoption is a selfless act, and I believe it would be much more healing for the mother than having to deal with the feelings an abortion can leave them with. With gay marriage, we believe that God unreservedly loves all his children, and that we should love one another. We also believe that God has defined marriage as being between a man and a woman (with no sexual activity outside of marriage).
The church however, openly supports other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment. I think our church's stand on it is based on love ultimately, but that is not recognized most of the time. Both of these are sensitive topics as they involve areas which are can be a source of pain or conflict for people.
Ultimately, I would reiterate that we are all children of God, and that whilst we may not always agree on things, we should always be loving and treat each other with kindness.
16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion? Honestly, I would rather they married someone who had the same ideals, and religious beliefs. It would produce more harmony in the home I think. However, if my child felt that what they were doing was right, I would be 100% supportive of them. I want to raise them to make their own decisions, so that means trusting them too.
17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
No. I think where you go (i.e. which degree of Glory) after this life is determined by our works and God's grace.
18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? I.e. who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I can't think of someone in the public eye who claims to speak for our religion. There are public figures who are members, like Steve Young, Mitt Romney, Stephenie Meyer, The Osmonds, etc., but they have never claimed to speak FOR the Church, as far as I am aware of at least....
19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime?
I suppose the only time was when I was a proselyting missionary for 18 months for my church. We had some rocks and water thrown at us a couple of times. Aside from that I have never been persecuted in my every day life. In fact, everyone has been really respectful. Hate crimes come from intolerance and misunderstanding, and I feel our religion is definitely misunderstood sometimes when people believe that we practice polygamy, are not Christian or are anti-gay, which are all incorrect.
20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Never. I feel the opposite in fact.
21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Having faith in the Savior gives me peace of mind. My religion is one of the vehicles to help me come closer to Him.
22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No. I believe we existed before we were born, and will live after our body dies, but, all as the same person. I don't think there are do-overs for this life, but that during this life we can repent and change and learn to overcome our weaknesses. If I knew I would go through this life again, where would be my motivation to be the best I can be now, I would just give up and hope for better luck next time!