When a pair of Mormon missionaries, wearing black and white badges emblazoned with “ELDER,” arrived at our doorstep in Ogden, Utah in 1977, Mom taught me how to slam the door. She armed me with a Bible, a cross necklace, and a wicked dose of self-righteousness. Convinced Mormons would carry us off to hell, Mom chauffeured me to and from a series of parochial schools, where I met an array of religious characters: a Catholic nun who kept a chart of transgression; a Lutheran confirmation teacher who advocated using urine to baptize a dying person in the desert; a pregnant, ex-nun who taught sex education.
Safely tucked away in the suburbs of Washington DC years later, I found an invitation to a Mormon event for girls lurking in my eight-year-old daughter’s backpack that reignited my childhood insecurities about being an outsider in Utah and forced me to examine my own religious intolerance. Gentile Among Saints offers a humorous and insightful look at faith and family in a diverse world.