Soon-to-be Episcopal bishop: Don’t let LDS Church define us

The first time the Rev. Scott Hayashi served Utah’s Episcopal Church, he was puzzled by some parishioners’ tendency to define themselves by what they weren’t: Mormons.

He even remembers pointing out the silliness in a sermon at Ogden’s Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where he was rector from 1989 to 1998.

“I asked, ”˜Does this mean if the LDS people are against gambling, we should be for it? If the LDS people have the Mormon diet and believe whole grains, moderation in eating and getting exercise is what you should do, that means we should eat all high-fat foods and not exercise? If the LDS people are against smoking, that means we should all be smoking like chimneys? Does this make any sense?’”‰”

The next bishop for Utah’s 5,200 Episcopalians now frames the question this way: “Shouldn’t we have an identity that is formed on the positive, as opposed to being against something?”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Mormons, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops

24 comments on “Soon-to-be Episcopal bishop: Don’t let LDS Church define us

  1. Ian+ says:

    Maybe that’s a natural tendency for Episcopalians wherever they are a minority. A former Bp of Kentucky (not the one just retired) published a pamphlet promoting TEC as the alternative to the majority denomination in the state, suggesting that if Southern Baptists became TECkies they could start drinking and gambling (on horses– it’s Kentucky, after all).

  2. palagious says:

    Atheists have the same problem. They define themselves by what they are not.

  3. AndrewA says:

    It is interesting that the Church of Ireland is generally considered a very Low Church province in a RC country, while the Episcopal Church of Scotland is a considered High Church in a Presbyterian country.

  4. A Senior Priest says:

    But both the LDS church and TEC Dio Utah are rich. They have that in common. And the TEC-Utah’s previous bishop was only baptized (invalidly) a Mormon, which invalid baptism was never rectified, meaning that none of the Christian sacraments she received and (supposedly) administered could possibly be valid, unless one is a Receptionist. So they have that in common, as well. And even then, if she didn’t really believe that stuff like Virgin Birth, Substitutionary Atonement, Jesus as Son of God, and so forth, the Receptionist theory wouldn’t work, either.

  5. Jason S says:

    Of course it’s not just the LDS. I couldn’t count the number of sermons I’ve heard that make the point – sometimes subtly and sometimes not – that TEC is the church for “smart” Christians, and not stupid Christians like Baptists or “fundamentalists,” or the church for people who can think for themselves, unlike the automatons in the Catholic church, etc. There used to be a whole series of officially sponsored advertisements based on this theme that I always found very arrogant.

  6. episcoanglican says:

    Forward in Faith needs to hear this. It is always important to first define your group by what you are rather than by what you are not.

  7. Maurice Frontz says:

    I think one of the major problems of the ELCA is our tendency to define ourselves as being “not the LCMS.” It’s very possible that the converse is also true. And as a self-described evangelical catholic Lutheran, it is always difficult when Lutherans insist upon defining themselves as “not Catholic.”

  8. Pb says:

    In Georgia we are an alternative to “virulent fundamentalism.” Kinda makes one proud.

  9. Bill McGovern says:

    I don’t know. I think today I’d rather be a LDS than an Episcopalian. Neither are Christian but the former has a more palatable world view.

  10. Jeff Walton says:

    Reminds me of a fellow parishioner at my old church in Seattle who praised TEC as a church “for thinking people”. Apparently she viewed other Christians as not thinking.

  11. Ross Gill says:

    I couldn’t count how many times I’ve heard that Anglicans (I’m Canadian) don’t park their brains at the door. But I’ve visited a number of churches of other denominations and have yet to see receptacles for people to deposit their brains before going in the door.

  12. Alta Californian says:

    ACNA also needs to guard against this. I once briefly attended a Province of Christ the King 1928 parish, that had been independent of TEC essentially since 1978. 30 years later they were still continually defining themselves as “not TEC”. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t stay there. Mind you as a child I attended a LCMS parochial school and the Lutherans were still defining themselves as “not Catholic” after nearly 500 years.

  13. R S Hopper says:

    Jason S write: [i]I couldn’t count the number of sermons I’ve heard that make the point – sometimes subtly and sometimes not – that TEC is the church for “smart” Christians, and not stupid Christians like Baptists or “fundamentalists,”[/i] In all my many days — and there are many — I’ve never heard this from an Episcopal Church pulpit.

  14. Ian+ says:

    The former Bp of Nevada (do I really need to name her?) believes in the intellectual superiority of Episcopalians.
    “TEC– it’s not for dummies!”

  15. bettcee says:

    Although I love to hear the choir sing during Sunday services there are times when I wish everyone in the congregation would sing the melody of the hymns even if it does make us sound like Baptists.

  16. A Senior Priest says:

    I agree #13, RS…. I’ve certainly never preached that or even heard it preached. However, there seem to be a lot of people who have heard it! And, of course I’ve read that loud and clear in Mrs Schori’s sermons. Not that I have ever heard her speak live, Deo Gratias.

  17. Utah Benjamin says:

    In all fairness, this is actually an issue in many Utah non-LDS churches, including Evangelical ones. We call it the “fortress mentality.”

  18. SC blu cat lady says:

    I have seen this sentiment (TEC is a thinking man’s church- No need to check your brains at the door,etc) in many posters.

  19. Undergroundpewster says:

    What a brilliant idea! I hope it catches on in EDUSC. Accentuate the positive! It might make for a short sermon. Shorter than what we hear now….

    “Here in the upstate of SC, we are so unlike ‘those people’ (fundies) in DSC. We are diverse, we are reconciliatory, blah, blah, blah…”

  20. InChristAlone says:

    2 things,
    1) I’ve heard this this ‘we actually think’ sentiment from pulpits that I would consider orthodox (quite unfortunate)
    2) I find it interesting that people are so against this notion of defining ‘who we are’ by ‘who we are not’ since the 39 articles ooze with ‘we are NOT Romish and we are NOT puritan’ Just a thought.

  21. tired says:

    I thought Rev. Leroy (Flip Wilson) had already defined TEC. Positively, no less.


  22. Dale Rye says:

    For those of you who never spent some time in Utah (I had that experience as a small child), it is hard to express how utterly dominant the “Saints” are in the life of the state, particularly if you get outside the capital. The same is true of the rural LDS-majority communities in adjacent states. My family were almost run out of our neighborhood until the developer discovered that a restrictive covenant against “Gentiles” was not enforceable. At one point, only about 10% of the population was Protestant (Roman Catholics run second). The largest newspaper, largest TV station, and largest university are all LDS institutions. (Not only the other churches, but also the second-largest paper, TV station, and university all consciously define themselves as non-Mormon.) The church and state welfare offices are located across the street from each other just off Temple Square. The government building (and department) is much smaller, because the Saints won’t accept help from outsiders. It is nice, though, to live in a community that is clean, tidy, and largely smoke-free.

    It is also hard for people who haven’t encountered LDS theology to recognize how different it is. Capsule description: In a universe a long time ago and far, far away, a particularly nice man and his loyal and submissive wife were rewarded for their virtue by becoming the God(s) of our universe. They still regularly have sex, with their children being the souls who are awaiting birth. Men have a duty to find an equally loyal and submissive wife, so that we can produce bodies that those pre-existent souls can occupy. If we and our wives are particularly good at that (and otherwise following the guidance of the LDS hierarchy), we can become the god(s) of our own universes someday.

    Living in proximity to a community that is so dominant, and so divergent from majority notions in the rest of the country, makes it really hard for a local minority to define itself except in terms of what it is not.

  23. NoVA Scout says:

    Dale’s comment is a valuable dose of context. My sister converted to Mormonism while living in Utah. She was very seriously involved in the religion for about a decade until she moved to another part of the country. It was as if a spell fell away at that point. The ubiquity of the religion in the demographics, civic culture and politics of the region means that the Reverend Hayashi’s comments should be viewed in that context. Not sure how the Episcopalians = “thinking people” meme comes into it unless one has overdosed on anti-TEC rhetoric from other theaters of conflict.

  24. Utah Benjamin says:

    Dale and NoVA: good points. Even though LDS influence is decreasing in Utah (I believe because of so many non-LDS folks moving in), it’s still hard to explain to people what it the culture is like here. As I said above, it’s hard for any church to resist defining ourselves by what we are not here in Utah. That’s why the focus must continually be on the Jesus of the Bible and what he accomplished on the cross.