Secular Student Alliance to host ‘Meet the Mormons’ to discuss religion

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – Two very different groups of people are scheduled to meet on campus Nov. 2 to learn about one another’s religious beliefs.

The Secular Student Alliance is hosting an event called “Meet the Mormons” to discuss the Mormon faith with two Mormon elders. The event, scheduled for 6 p.m., is free and open to the public but the location has not yet been announced. There will be flyers around campus in the next few weeks for more information.

The two elders, Dace Daniels and Keaton Hiatt, both of Utah, are scheduled to give a presentation and answer questions.

Kayla Watson, junior computer science and cyber security major and SSA co-president, said she has many questions for the Mormon elders, such as their views on sexuality, piercings or tattoos and the LGBT community.

“Just because someone has different beliefs from you doesn’t mean that they’re bizarre or that you can’t talk to them or that you can’t find some way to communicate,” she said. “I would like to see people seek that out more.”

“My views on sexuality are very liberal,” she said. “I just think you should do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. So, I’m curious what they think about that. As with a lot of similar religions, I don’t think they have very positive views on homosexuality, but I’m interested in what they would say.”

Watson said it’s important for people of other religions and belief systems to come together and have these types of events because it’s easy to discriminate people due to a lack of understanding about their faith.

“It’s important to hear their reasoning. I think the reason behind those beliefs is often more complex than people really think,” she said. “There’s just a lot of hate in the world, and I think it comes from misunderstandings a lot of times.”

Rachel Evans, member of SSA and UCM alumna, said it’s important for secular and non-secular groups to come together.

“Coming from a religious background myself, I do know the kind of fear and distrust that religious people do have for people who don’t believe,” Evans said. “I think it’s important because it opens the door for them to see that we are people and opens the door for us to see that they are people. There comes a point where we have been so distant from religion and we keep looking at it through such a critical lens that we forget that they are people, too.”

Evans said another reason she is excited for this event is because she wants to learn more about Mormonism in general.

“It’s interesting to hear the perspective of people that are living it and actually believe the religion,” she said.

Daniels and Hiatt are on their two-year mission trip in Missouri from Utah. They are residing in Warrensburg but also travel around the area to Lee’s Summit, Sedalia and other cities.

They have been in Missouri for 18 months so far, helping people who come to their congregation in Warrensburg at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 1515 SE state Route DD.

“It’s an opportunity for us to share our beliefs with others in a non-knocking door way,” Hiatt said. “We believe our teaching is important to help someone to understand clearly.”

Daniels and Hiatt said they believe it’s important for people to hear clashing viewpoints to be well-rounded and learn about new things in general to fight ignorance and hate.

“Sure we all disagree on things but honestly we’re all human,” Daniels said. “When you actually get to know someone, you realize they’re pretty normal.”

The Secular Student Alliance is a campus group of atheist, agnostic, or nonreligious students. They meet at 6 p.m. Thursdays in Union 125. For more information, email cer83560@ucmo.edu.

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