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Refusing The Good Samaritan

It’s one of the most widely known and beloved stories in all of holy writ and it’s told by none other than the Savior, Jesus Christ himself. The parable of The Good Samaritan began when a lawyer asked how he could inherit eternal life. The scriptures stated that one should love God with all his heart, and love his neighbor as he loves himself, so the lawyer asked, Who is my neighbor? ? The Lord responded;

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. ? Luke 10:30–36

Then the Lord asked, “Which of these three… was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” When the lawyer answered, “He who shewed mercy on him”, the Lord commanded “Go, and do thou likewise.”

It’s a wonderful story illustrating the need for compassion and pure love for our fellowmen, despite nationality, race, religion, or any other status that sometimes divide us.

In an effort to reach out to the greater community and be of service, one of the women in our congregation started a community service group. This particular woman happens to be one of the sweetest, most sincere and most Christlike women I have ever known.

Under her direction, many women have come together to provide, among other things: entertainment and fellowship for the elderly in nursing homes, Bible stories and crafts for children in a homeless shelter, interfaith giving of meals, clothing, baby needs, supplies and fellowship at a home for unwed teenage mothers and interfaith choral concerts.

In the greater Kansas City area, City Union Mission is the most widely known, if not the largest organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless, poor and down-trodden. Assisted by scores of volunteers and donations from businesses, city governments, local police and fire departments, charitable organizations, schools, churches and more, the mission provides shelter, food, clothing, counseling for drug and alcohol abuse, life skills coaching, support groups and other resources. Being Christian based, they also offer religious guidance and instruction,and happily proclaim the number of people that have turned to the Savior through their efforts and good will.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what we thought when our community service group tried to organize an opportunity for us to share our love and concern for the many women and children that temporarily live in the shelter. But as soon as the center learned that we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, our offer was turned away with “We don’t work with Mormons.”

Stunned, our group organizer tried to reassure the mission that we weren’t going to be passing out copies of the Book of Mormon or asking them to meet with Mormon missionaries. We wanted to do crafts with the children, read books, bring art supplies for the center to keep and give encouragement to the mothers who surely had a sense of hopelessness in their current situations. The blatant response was that they didn’t want us to have contact with the people! Still undaunted, (and more tolerant of irrational and un-Christian like behavior than I am) my friend asked if there was anything we could do that didn’t involve direct contact and suggested that we’d could help sort through donated clothing items. Nope. Our help wasn’t wanted in any way, shape or form, and I’ve been perplexed ever since.

Does the mission not know that there are Mormons in local city governments, on the police and fire departments that give to them? Don’t they know that Mormon kids go to the schools that collect for them? Don’t they know that Mormons make up a significant portion of the local Boy Scouts of America troops who also donate to them? Are they unaware of the fact that Mormons have jobs in local businesses and donate money and items through their employers to help their cause? When they figure that out will they need to throw away any dollar bill, piece of clothing or canned food item that may have had contact ? with a Mormon, just in case it was polluted with “Mormon cooties”?

Do they refuse help from our Christian brothers and sisters, the Catholics, who are also falsely accused of being cultish non-believers? Do they refuse resources from Jewish organizations, or is it just Mormons? I’m curious to discover the answer. I have the sinking feeling it’s the latter.

Obviously, the center sees Mormons as “The Bad Samaritans”. But what is a Samaritan, anyway?

Samaria was an area inhabited by gentiles who were later joined by Israelites who had escaped during their time in captivity. Over the years they’d mixed and married into each other’s culture and religion, “polluting” the bloodline and faith. This was abhorrent to the faithful Jew, resulting in a bitter disdain between them and Samaritans. This made the Lord’s parable all the more remarkable; that someone who would normally be considered the enemy, would stop and show compassion on someone that he would normally consider his enemy.

Mormons certainly aren’t comparable to Samaritans. But just to make a point, what if we were? Wasn’t the moral of the Savior’s story (the same Savior that the Mission claims to believe in) that we are our brother’s keeper? That even a Samaritan can be a good neighbor and having a charitable heart, show Godly compassion and love? Did the Lord give any indication whatsoever that the poor, naked man left to die on the streets should have refused the help of someone he believed was a heathen?

How would that version of The Good Samaritan go?

A certain man went down from St. Joseph to Kansas City, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain Baptist that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise an evangelical Christian, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Mormon, as she journeyed, came where he was; and when she saw him, she had compassion on him, And went to him, to bind up his wounds, feed him, clothe him and help care for his children who were left by the side of the road, crying over their wounded father.
But when the beaten traveler discovered that the compassion came from a Mormon, he cried out with a loud voice, “Get thee hence Mormon, I don’t want your help.”

Interesting, because that isn’t the modern-day equivalent of the story that Jesus Christ taught.

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • mlinford August 18, 2007, 2:41 pm

    What a soberingly sad story. I’m amazed that there is still such prejudice against the Church. Wow.

  • jennycherie August 18, 2007, 6:39 pm

    yikes. very well written, as always, Tracy. I think this should be submitted to the Kansas City Star.

  • jennycherie August 18, 2007, 6:45 pm

    You know, I can’t hep but wonder how those who are helped by City Union Mission feel about this. Are they aware that help is being turned away out of bigotry? What is their reason for not working with Mormons? I know there is no way to find out but I really want to know. It’s such a ludicrous concept. They forever ask for help so they can help others and yet refuse it from us because, why? We’re different? We’re not worthy? We might contaminate them with our peculiar ways?

  • facethemusic August 18, 2007, 6:57 pm

    I think this should be submitted to the Kansas City Star.

    Actually Jenn, I’ve already made an abridged version for exactly that purpose.

  • hucklemist August 19, 2007, 1:37 am

    Evangelical leaders preach for profit..Mormonism threatens that concept…evangelicals are
    at war against Mormon doctrine…and no they won ?t accept Mormons…ever….not as long
    as they hold on to their evangelical beliefs…which they must do to hold on to their jobs. They are prophets for hire…false prophets. Money is the root of their evil and Mormonism is their enemy. This I do believe.

  • jennycherie August 19, 2007, 7:22 am

    Posted By: facethemusic

    I think this should be submitted to the Kansas City Star.

    Actually Jenn, I’ve already made an abridged version for exactly that purpose.

    I’m so glad! I should have known you’d think of it. . . really, brilliantly written.

  • agardner August 19, 2007, 1:15 pm

    Apparently we used to have a similar thing here in Southeastern Louisiana. The community where I live has a thanksgiving dinner that all of the Christian churches host, and for years they would not accept LDS participation or donations.

    Then Katrina hit, and the community saw how giving and helpful the LDS people can be. They used our buildings, our food , emergency supplies, organizational skills, leadership, etc., and the community took note. In fact, one gentleman in our ward who was involved with the bishop’s storehouse at the time, told me that the mayor of our city personally apologized to him for the way Mormons were treated in the past here.

    Since Katrina, the LDS community has been much more welcomed. Last year I was one who helped with the community Thanksgiving dinner. I know a lot of people in our ward gave food and time to put this dinner on. In fact, when I worked my shift, about 1/2 of us were from the ward…and there were about 20 churches participating!

    Sad that it took a disaster…and sadder yet that we still are not where we would like to be as far as being understood in the community. But it is nice to now be able to participate in community events.

  • east-of-eden August 19, 2007, 5:28 pm

    I am still picking my mouth up off the floor after reading this!!???

    Are you serious? It’s the 21st Century, where have these people been? Mormons are ok, we’ve been ok for a few years now, geez-louise!

    I think it’s good you are submitting something to the paper about this. I was going to suggest some sort of PR campaign about this, but then I thought, that might not be Christlike, but then again, are we not supposed to go out and dispell the myths? If this were me, I think I’d be flipping out mad!

    And here is a question, when you were told no, was it by the head of the organization or by someone on the bottom of the food chain? Could they give a really good reason why the Mormons were not welcome to help? It’s a very sad commentary though, think of all the fun people and help they are missing out on.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 19, 2007, 5:40 pm

    Honestly, gals, I’m surprised that this is all that surprising to ya’ll! Have most of you really never dealt with this?

  • facethemusic August 19, 2007, 8:32 pm

    when you were told no, was it by the head of the organization or by someone on the bottom of the food chain?

    Unfortunately, it was by their head volunteer coordinator — a rather high position in the organization.

  • Lewis_Family August 19, 2007, 9:41 pm

    Dude from past posts I see that it being the 21st century doesn’t seem to mean much, hello rock throwing?

  • SilverRain August 20, 2007, 4:33 am

    What is sadder to me is that the religions could be switched, and the story placed in Utah, with no significant loss of truth.

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 5:34 am

    Do tell, Silver. Are you saying that if the church was collecting items for the poor and needy
    that it wouldn’t accept help from a Baptist? The church does collect fort he needy, it does accept from anyone who will donate, and it gives to anyone as well. My mother in law made 36 of those leprosy bandages, and even made some of the crocheted altar dressings for the temple, when St. Louis asked for those, and she’s Lutheran. And did you know that it isn’t always church members who make your garments? Did you know that the Church has some of it’s manufacturing done outside of the United States and hires the poor locals from the area that are NOT members of the church, to help build their communities by providing them with jobs? (They sew them, and “things” are added later by members)
    Don’t be such a tease, Silver. You can’t say something so imflammatory without any explanation then walk off. You’re going to have to back that one up.

  • SilverRain August 20, 2007, 4:36 pm

    Perhaps we accept donations from other faiths, but we don’t accept the people from those other faiths. How many Utah children have been told they cannot play with so-and-so because they are a certain way that is not the same as we are? How many times do Mormon lips talk about how horrible such-and-such people are because they do not believe as we do? How many Utah jobs have not been offered to people because they were not Mormon? How many “Happy Valley” children find themselves on the outside of social circles because they are not LDS? How many non-members, upon finding themselves “accepted” by those of our faith, find that rather than being accepted, they are actually conversion projects, only to be dropped once hope of conversion is lost?

    I was merely trying to point out the beam before we start pulling out motes. I’m a firm believer in trying to purge myself of faults before cavalierly ridiculing others for theirs.

  • jennycherie August 20, 2007, 5:28 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainPerhaps we accept donations from other faiths, but we don’t accept the people from those other faiths. How many Utah children have been told they cannot play with so-and-so because they are a certain way that is not the same as we are? How many times do Mormon lips talk about how horrible such-and-such people are because they do not believe as we do?

    That is not the *church* organization doing anything, that is members who are being a bit ridiculous. What Tracy spoke about was an *organization* (not the individuals who participate in that organization) which has a policy of not allowing any help from Mormons. I would imagine that many of the individuals who volunteer in that organization and are overwhelmed by the needs of others would be shocked to know that help is being refused.

    Posted By: SilverRainwas merely trying to point out the beam before we start pulling out motes. I’m a firm believer in trying to purge myself of faults before cavalierly ridiculing others for theirs.

    WHOA!! cavalierly ridiculing others??? There was no ridicule whatsoever in what was posted. and again, this was a problem with the *organization* and not with *individuals*. If you find this fault in yourself, by all means, purge away. But don’t assume that because you have seen such faults elsewhere that this is in any way related to what Tracy posted.

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 10:49 pm

    we don’t accept the people from those other faiths.”

    First of all, whose “we”? On whose behalf are you speaking? Church members?

    How many Utah children have been told they cannot play with so-and-so because they are a certain way that is not the same as we are?

    Depending on which of the many various directions “a certain way” can take you, I don’t know that your statement proves your point. If the neighbor kid does drugs, my kids won’t be allowed to play with them. Now if you meant to say that a parent tells their child they can’t play with the kids next door because they are Catholic, Bhuddist, or whatever, then that’s another thing. But still, that’s not the Church, that’s someone with a serious problem.
    But, I was speaking of an entire organization that unilaterily wipes out Mormons as people who are ‘worthy’ to donate to the poor. Not only will they not allow us to serve food in a food line, but we can’t sort through used clothes in a back room somewhere. And you’re comparing THAT to a few snobby, holier-than-thou Mormons that might live somewhere in Utah?
    You said that the situation I described could have happened in Utah without a significant loss of truth, but nothing that you said even compares. I was speaking of organizational bigotry. The difference is night and day. It’s one thing (though still not right) for an individual member of the church, of his own will, to tell their child they can’t play with the Jewish child next door. But it makes for a VERY “significant loss of truth” to speak as though an individual’s false notion, is the same thing as it is on an organizational level. If your comparison was accurate, then there wouldn’t be any difference betwee a few individual Mormons saying that homosexuality is okay and shouldn’t be consdiered a sin, and the CHURCH saying the same thing. But there’s a big difference.
    I’ve been an active member since I was 6 years old – I’m 39 now and I’ve never in my entire life known a member who wouldn’t allow their children to play with someone just because they were of another faith. And I lived in Utah for awhile. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t people who have done such a thing, but you speak as though it was common place rather than the incredible exception it would be.

    I was merely trying to point out the beam before we start pulling out motes. I’m a firm believer in trying to purge myself of faults before cavalierly ridiculing others for theirs.

    Excuse me? “Cavalierly ridiculing others”? I’ll hold my tongue.

  • SilverRain August 21, 2007, 4:47 am

    Look, I’m sorry I insulted any one. That wasn’t my intent. It was simply to offer another perspective.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 11:26 am

    Posted By: SilverRain How many Utah children have been told they cannot play with so-and-so because they are a certain way that is not the same as we are?

    I have debated this issue ad naseum and, honestly, don’t want to get into it again. I’ll just say a couple of things. Probably. :devil:

    I have lived 29 years of my life in “Happy Valley.” I moved there when I was four. Moved away when I was 27, moved back at 37. I was very social, in case you’re wondering. In those 29 years:

    • I was never forbidden to associate with non-members.
    • Two of my best friends in elementary school were non-members, even though 98% of my school was LDS.
    • I never KNEW anyone who was not allowed to play with non-members.
    • The only counsel I recall on the matter was being encouraged, repeatedly, to include non-member kids in everything.
    • In my high school (Mountain View, in Orem) most of the non-LDS kids took seminary BECAUSE they wanted to hang out with their LDS friends (LDS friends who, incidentally, were not forbidden association with non-LDS kids).
    • I have never known a single parent who did not allow their children to play with non-members.

    Yes, it’s anecdotal. But so is most of everything you’ll hear. And yes, I’m sure some people do this. But given my experience, I think the exclusion is not nearly as prominent as some believe. If it were rampant, I think I might have come across it at least once or twice personally, rather than just always in rumor about how nasty Utah Mormons are.

    How many times do Mormon lips talk about how horrible such-and-such people are because they do not believe as we do?

    Again, I’ve never heard this. Honestly. I’ve heard discussion about religion and I’ve heard questions about other religions, but never have I heard any member say a nonmember was “horrible” (or any similar terminology) for believing differently. The worst things I have heard from Mormons are when converts have sometimes felt they have the right to bash their former religion. That happened a few times in Florida and the bishop tried to prevent it.

    How many Utah jobs have not been offered to people because they were not Mormon?

    I don’t know, but when we opened our office in Utah County, we had 13 employees and only four were LDS, as far as I know.

    How many “Happy Valley” children find themselves on the outside of social circles because they are not LDS?

    Probably a lot, but I think this is often misrepresented. *Why* are they “on the outside”? Is it because Mormons can’t stand non-Mormons? No. It’s because most social circles in “Happy Valley” are grounded in the commonality of church service and membership. That’s where people meet and so when they do socialize, they socialize with people they KNOW, rather than people they happen to live by.

    In my ward we have personally socialized outside of church with a total of three families that I can think of off the top of my head. In six years. And ALL of those were people we had other common interest with. Lindsays: homeschooling. Jacobs: politics. Hansens: music/arts/kids are friends. Oh, and Chipman’s invited us to a party once. That means there are some two hundred or so that we have never socialized with. Yes, I know lots of their names. BECAUSE I see them and work with them on Sunday. But am I really MORE inclusive of them than I am of a neighbor two miles away who I don’t know?

    When I lived in Florida, almost my entire neighborhood was Jewish. We were “on the outside.” Was it BECAUSE we weren’t Jewish? I don’t believe so. In fact, if you looked closely at the associations, generally they were NOT geographical associations, they were synagogue associations, or work associations, or other group associations that carried over into the neighborhoods. And there were Jews in the neighborhood who didn’t socialize with the other Jews, because they had nothing in common other than being Jewish.

    My point is that my experience is that, in this day and age, FEW people find their general associations through their neighborhoods, because neighborhoods aren’t very connected. They find them elsewhere through common interests. So I guess I find it problematic to EXPECT Mormons to behave in an entirely different manner than most in their culture. Are we really evil for finding our friends the same way most Americans do?

    Frankly, I find that in spite of this fact, and in spite of the fact that Mormons tend to be really busy with church service, big families, etc., they they still TRY to extend themselves outside those circles an awful lot. In fact, a commendable amount. How many people say, “You know, I’m really busy and I have a lot to do, and no time, and already plenty of socialization, but I think I need to find those people in my neighborhood who might not have friends. I don’t know that they don’t, but since *I* don’t personally socialize with them, because I don’t know them, I need to make sure to invite them over in case I’m their only chance at having a friend.”

    THAT is what I see over an over among members. Wards host (plan, advertises, fund) a party, a rodeo, a dinner–and rather than calling it a “ward party,” it’s called a neighborhood event. Rather than going to the church, it’s hosted at homes so that it’s less awkward. Then they personally invite every single non-member in the boundaries. Yes, in Happy Valley. I see neighbors hosting dinners and holiday celebrations and inviting all their neighbors. Yes, in Happy Valley. We have organized funerals for nonmembers. We have taken meals to nonmembers who were sick or in mourning. I see people looking for ways to do something that is difficult and awkward for most…inviting socialization with people they don’t even know. I can tell you that no matter where I lived, I have never been invited to the home of someone I did not know for a social event.

    I have, however, been told I was going to rot in hell more than once. But that’s another post. :devil:

    Of course we can improve. We can ALWAYS improve. But I sincerely don’t believe that the LDS people generally–or Utahns in particular–are really a bigoted, mean-spirited, thoughtless lot. I find just about the opposite.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 11:35 am

    I hadn’t read Tracy’s response and wasn’t intending to pile on here. This is just an ongoing sore spot with me.

    Wanted to address another point. You know, just “a couple.” :surprised: Tracy mentioned this briefly.

    It’s funny what you can hear in online forums that you won’t hear to your face. A few years ago there was an exchange in a forum for residents of my city. One man posted, very bitterly that the stupid, blankety-blank Mormons wouldn’t let their kids go to his house to play. Note that their kids could play WITH his kids, just not at his house. He went on and on about how nasty Mormons were.

    Now, being a regular of that forum, I had read his posts for months. From the time he moved in, he posted things like, “No #%$@ Moron is going to tell me what to eat and drink. When I want a beer, I HAVE a beer and I’ll have it on my front lawn. And when I’m done, I smash the can and throw it in the #$%# Moron’s yard. I’ll drink whatever I want you self-righteous @#@%.”

    Yea, so according to “Joe” neighborhood kids can’t play at his house BECAUSE he’s not a Mormon.

    I once asked him if he could think of ANY other reasons why they might not want their kids around him and he claimed there wasn’t any other explanation. I tried to explain the concept of respect for other’s religions. I pointed out that when I lived in Florida I would not have swung a ham over my head in the culdesac and then thrown the bones on my neighbors driveway. He didn’t seem to make the connection.

  • Oregonian August 21, 2007, 1:47 pm

    I first thought about joining the church after moving to Utah for a year of college and meeting all the Utah Mormons!

  • SilverRain August 21, 2007, 5:15 pm

    Well, I have encountered all of the above. I have been the target of some of the above. I was a target of some of the above in my current ward because I dared to suggest that we shouldn’t be eating as much meat as we do in a WoW discussion, and then the next week I suggested that it is a bad idea to control your college-aged children’s behavior to the point of calling their professors when they aren’t awarding a desired grade. That isn’t even a “serious” doctrinal disagreement to spark that sort of behavior from “believing” Mormons.

    My ex-roommate has stories that amazed me, and I thought I’d seen/heard it all. He grew up in Moab, a non-member.

    So I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t change my mind based on the fact that you haven’t seen this behavior. Might I venture a suggestion that perhaps you haven’t seen it for the same reason that some people didn’t see you being bullied as a child? It is often hard to recognize subtle treatment when it isn’t directed at you.

  • SilverRain August 21, 2007, 5:16 pm

    I also neglected to mention the castigation my husband, a convert, has suffered since coming to Utah. That is his story to tell, should he wish.

  • mlinford August 21, 2007, 5:36 pm

    SilverRain, I’m sorry to hear that your experiences have been like this. I’m more like Alison and haven’t seen or experienced this kind of treatment. I do know it exists, though, because Elder Ballard spoke about it once.

    Perceptions and assumptions can be very dangerous and unfair. There are some of our members who may fail to reach out with friendly smiles, warm handshakes, and loving service to all of their neighbors. At the same time, there may be those who move into our neighborhoods who are not of our faith who come with negative preconceptions about the Church and its members. Surely good neighbors should put forth every effort to understand each other and to be kind to one another regardless of religion, nationality, race, or culture.

    Occasionally I hear of members offending those of other faiths by overlooking them and leaving them out. This can occur especially in communities where our members are the majority. I have heard about narrow-minded parents who tell children that they cannot play with a particular child in the neighborhood simply because his or her family does not belong to our Church. This kind of behavior is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot comprehend why any member of our Church would allow these kinds of things to happen. I have been a member of this Church my entire life. I have been a full-time missionary, twice a bishop, a mission president, a Seventy, and now an Apostle. I have never taught nor have I ever heard taught a doctrine of exclusion. I have never heard the members of this Church urged to be anything but loving, kind, tolerant, and benevolent to our friends and neighbors of other faiths.

    The Lord expects a great deal from us. Parents, please teach your children and practice yourselves the principle of inclusion of others and not exclusion because of religious, political, or cultural differences.

    But I do think it’s very important to note that just because some members may act inppropriately doesn’t mean that is the way we are supposed or encouraged to act.

  • SilverRain August 21, 2007, 5:45 pm

    Perhaps not, but to me it then becomes a matter of degree.

  • Lewis_Family August 21, 2007, 7:39 pm

    I think the issue was how generalized your comments were. Instead of stating specific events you made statements that lead one to believe everyone in Utah behaved in such a manner. I think that is where the wires crossed.

  • SilverRain August 22, 2007, 4:43 am

    Well, I doubt that everyone in the City Union Mission treats Mormons the way described in the post.

  • jennycherie August 22, 2007, 5:40 am

    no one suggested that everyone in City Union Mission does — it is a problem with the organization. This is an *official* policy. That’s the point. You were discussing actions by individuals (who were clearly wrong) and Tracy was discussing the official policy of an organization (also wrong).

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