Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center

By Dennis Hinkamp

The five kinds of non-Mormons.
by Dennis Hinkamp

As I approach my 35th calendar year in UTopia I have taken to referring to myself as a Common Law Mormon. It’s an easy laugh but it also accurately describes how I feel. I try to counsel my younger non-Mormon friends, but realize they will have to learn for themselves.

Non-Mormons in Logan, where I live, and elsewhere in Utah fall roughly into these five sub-species. Like bird watching, it’s not always easy to spot the subtle differences. It is more of a self-sorting mechanism than a continuum. See which category you, your friends and neighbors fall into. It could be multiple choices, all of the above but unlikely none of the above.

Liberal Utopians: They drift through Utah on their way to a graduate degree, unplanned marriage or witness protection plan looking for that perfect liberal place. They mark their time in ski season increments. In the off season they imagine there must be a place where a freedom-loving citizen of the US can walk down the street wearing nothing but a tin foil hat while smoking a joint and not be discriminated against. I have been on this journey myself and you can’t even do this in Portland or at Burning Man. Give up the quest for the perfect place or form your own country.

Confused Conservatives: It must be tough to be a non-Mormon conservative here. While it is nice to be able to carry guns and have a lot of Republicans in government, what about all that Sunday stuff? Confused Conservatives tend to be driven to smoking, drinking, excessive facial hair and loud profane conversation in order to differentiate themselves from Mormons. This description can also be used to described many Mormon males during hunting season, so be discerning in your identification.

Hostages: These are the angry/bitter non-Mormons who believe there is no way out. Circumstances beyond their control such as a flat tire have forced them to stay here and stoically endure the daily oppression of Mormonia; sometimes for decades. Many Hostages have been imprisoned here longer than John McCain in Vietnam and are still waiting for someone or something to rescue them. They claim to be trapped by unsupportive spouses, the sagging economy of just about anything that Orrin Hatch does.

Mo-Curious: They are sort of like Jack Mormons but were never Mormons to begin with. These are the ala carte religious eclectics who want to pick and choose what parts of each religion they like and form their own Church of One. “I really like the LDS Church’s family values and welfare system but do I really want to be married for eternity?” they muse. “That’s worse than trying to decide on a tattoo.” The Mo-Curious are the same people who confuse being gay with having a flamboyant fashion sense.

UVAs – Utah Veterans Association: These non-Mormons are my people. The say “this is the place” but for different reasons than the state founders. We are in but not of Utah because we were not born here nor can we trace any relatives to the handcart migration. We can never be considered citizens, but just like putting in a number of years in the military, we are bound together by our common struggle.

And, really, it isn’t that much of a struggle. People like me are among the state’s most ardent and articulate apologists. We live contented lives barely distinguishable from the majority around us.

Still, we are a little different; just like everybody else.

Dennis Hinkamp knows that astute readers will recognize the homage to a Robert Kirby (Salt Lake Tribune) column circa 1994.

This article was originally published on November 29, 2014.