I Was A Teenage Mormon Zombie


I was born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormon, as some prefer to call us. I grew up in the suburbs of Maryland just outside Washington D.C. so I was a religious anomaly in my schools. Yet, I blended in very well and grew up having close associations with those of all faiths and creeds. I was a very typical teenager. So it was that on a hot summer night in the early 1970’s, a few buddies and I went to a double feature at a local movie theater. The movies we selected to see that night were two horror flicks. The main feature was a movie entitled “Frogs.” The name tells you all you need to know about the quality of the movie. The second billing that night was a campy movie, directed by the then unheard of George Romero. It later became a “cult” classic. The movie was called “The Night of the Living Dead.” The grainy black and white movie was filmed on a cheap budget and in a semi-documentary style. It was a style that gave it a realistic look of a handheld camera of the day. It was a creepy movie about flesh-eating Zombies who were terrorizing the countryside. If you happened to be bitten by one of these Zombies, you became one. The story centered on a surrounded house of terrified humans attempting to fight off the Zombie population. I have since seen this movie a number of times on late night television. I find it somewhat comical that I could have been frightened back then by the images of those flesh-eating “Zombies.” Yet, it is a movie that remains unforgettable in my mind. The image of those Zombies, half dead and half alive, eating people was disturbing. So imagine my surprise when I recently found out that “I was myself,at the time, a teenage Zombie,” but didn’t know it. Here’s the story:

“Is being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the religious equivalent of being a zombie?

Matthew Johnson, pastor of the First Baptist Church Smithton in Belhaven, N.C., seems to think so. In a column in the Associated Baptist Press, Johnson points out that the most frightening scene of any zombie movie is when the hero is confronted with a loved one who has been turned into a zombie. The zombie might look like the hero’s mother . . . but it isn’t his mother anymore. It is now a mindless monster that wants to eat him alive.” That’s the part that reminds Johnson of Latter-day Saints.

“From the viewpoint of many Southern Baptists, Mormons are Southern Baptist zombies,” Johnson wrote. “Mormons hold the same family values as Southern Baptists. They talk about Jesus like Southern Baptists. They send out missionaries like Southern Baptists. They baptize people like Southern Baptists. But they believe the wrong things about Jesus, God and the Bible. For many members of the (Southern Baptist Convention), Mormons’ foreign/familiarity leaves them with the same creepy feeling that we all get when we watch a George Romero movie.”(“Are Mormons Like Zombies”, Joseph Walker, Deseret News, Nov. 8, 2011)

I am sure that Mr. Johnson doesn’t represent the views of his entire church, but it is comical to me that all those years ago I was scared by the Zombies in that horror movie, and now I find out that I am one! I am one of “them” out of “The Night of the Living Dead”! Well, there is no question that The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is “different.” And frankly, if it wasn’t different than “main stream” Christianity, there would be no point in being a member of it. We are similar to our brothers and sisters of other faiths in many ways. Yet, we claim to be the restored church of Christ with modern revelation and additional scripture. Some of our core beliefs differ from those of our cousins in the faith. But, lest anyone be mistaken, we are firm believers in the divinity of Jesus Christ and in his role as the Savior of the world! Our entire mission in life is to bring souls unto him.

I left the movie theater those many years ago terrified of something that didn’t exist…Zombies! Our church and its doctrines are presently under enormous scrutiny because of the times we live in. From press reports and statements like those above, it is clear that there are still many people who believe in “something that doesn’t exit” regarding our faith. Our best hope is that, if we as members continue to live our lives according to the commandments and precepts as taught by Jesus Christ, our good friends in the faith will come to a better understanding of who we are, and that fear is not something they need have of us. The day will come when the words of Paul will be fulfilled and all believers will “come in the unity of the faith.” (Ephesians 4:13) Till then I’ll keep checking the mirror for signs of lifeless eyes and changes in my appetite that tend towards…well, I’ll keep checking!

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