By Jack Urquhart
Dr. David Campbell told students and faculty on Thursday morning that Mormons are more likely to bond within their own religion than bridge with those of other religions.
In the keynote address of Brigham Young University’s Mormon Media Studies Symposium titled, “The Mormon Dilemma: The Pros and Cons of Being a Peculiar People,” Dr. Campbell, professor at the University of Notre Dame, used studies to show that while Mormons have a high level of religious activity and sense of identity, the Mormon way of life and attitudes of members exclude those not of the faith.
“Mormons have always drawn boundaries between who they are and who others are,” Campbell said.
Campbell spoke of the geographical boundaries that were created at the beginning of the Church and the inevitable boundaries that are created every time a group of coworkers goes out together and the Mormon rejects invitations to have a drink.
According to Campbell, the more worrisome boundaries that Mormons create are not the inevitable ones created by geography or beliefs, but the ones Mormons create by not bonding with and reaching out to others.
“Mormons are more likely to bond than bridge,” Campbell said. “They feel a strong affinity towards their own affinity and culture.”
On the contrary, Campbell cited studies to show that Mormons reach out through service more than all other religions. The Church also has a significantly high rate of retention, meaning that compared with other religions, those born Mormon are more likely to stay into their church into adulthood.
However, of the main religious traditions in the United States, non-members feel only less favorable towards Buddhists and Muslims than they do towards Mormons.
Campbell showed that the non-Mormons in the United States who have the highest opinion of members of the Church are those who have a close friend or family member who is a Mormon.
“What should Mormons do?” Campbell posed to the audience of students, faculty and reporters. “Our data suggests that Mormons ought to reach out — become close friends, not just acquaintances, of those not of our faith.”