November 16, 2012

Mormon students reflect on interpretations of faith on campus

A panel of Mormon students shared their experiences as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and explained some of their key beliefs in Stuart Hall this past Wednesday night.

One topic that the panelists discussed was persecution and prejudice against Mormons. While they all said they are generally accepted in the broader community, they feel they are perceived as different from other Christians.

The panel also addressed a common question brought up to Church members concerning the consumption of caffeine. Officially, it is not allowed in the Mormon faith, although according to the panelists, practices vary. Second-year Miranda Cherkas said her family simply avoids hot drinks, such as herbal teas and coffee. A Mormon audience member, who was drinking a Coke at the time, said that his family actually doesn’t abstain from drinking caffeine.

Audience members asked about the tradition of young Mormon men and women becoming missionaries. The panel explained that missionary work, which can be performed by men and women, is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged for young men.

Spencer Duncan, a graduate student in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, spoke enthusiastically about the two years he spent serving as a Mormon missionary in Puerto Rico.

“I cannot adequately express the impact that it had on my life,” he said.

Jacob Johansen, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, discussed the belief in living prophets, which is important to Mormons. He said they believe that today there are prophets who are able to receive revelations from God, similar to Moses and Isaiah of the Old Testament.

These living prophets are key leaders in the LDS church and are able to declare new doctrine, he said. However, according to Mormon beliefs, every person can receive personal revelations for their own lives.

Speaking about her experience being Mormon on campus, Cherkas said “the best thing to do is to be open, honest, and sincere with those around us about our faith.”

Fourth-year Emily Greenwood added that students often treat her with respect for following her beliefs.

The other panelists were third-year and Latter-day Saint Student Association president Paul Hawkins and graduate student Nolan Pope.

The discussion was hosted by the Latter-day Saint Student Association.