Disagreement with a retreat leader. Advice please

I was at a retreat with some Catholic college students and during some downtime a friend asked what Mormons believe.

I responded that they deny the trinity, have an incorrect form of baptism, and have some very strange views on the afterlife. I then said, “In relation to other Protestant sects, they have some of the weirdest doctrines.”

That drew a disgusted look from the woman that ran the retreat and this statement, “I have Morman friends and they are some of the best people ever. They don’t do anything on Sundays and are dedicated to their family.”

I ended the confrontation by saying, “The Catholic Church doesn’t consider their beliefs Christian.”

in response I was told, “They are good people.”

How could I have better handled myself in this situation? I could have explained the difference between being a Christian and being a good person but I didn’t think it was appropriate. I didn’t want to make this woman feel disrespected in front of a group of young people but I wanted to make sure that the student asking the question got an honest answer other than, “We’re all friends.” because I feel like that leads to relativism and a lack of true discussion.

What should I have done better? Please give me some advice.

From what it looks like, and from my own experience in similar situations, anything you responded back with (aside from what you did say) would have upset this lady, but do not let that stop you from saying that their ‘goodness’ is irrelevant when it comes to the Church’s position on Mormon doctrine.

What you said is correct, and I do hope that that information settled with everyone on the retreat.

Yeah, I don’t think you could have made a “better” answer… you handled it pretty well. As long as you stated the mormons’ beliefs without directly looking angrily/defiantly at the group leader (as if intentionally contradicting and spiting her) then you did the right thing.

I worked with many Mormons during my career. The vast majority have been “good” people, excellent workers, and fine neighbors. They have some very good social practices and match our own beliefs on two key concerns, pro-life and anti-same sex marriage. They do have a number of theological differences with us. I wish more Catholics would live as close to the tenets of Catholicism as closely as most Mormons live to the tenets of their religion.

It sounds like she was arguing a different argument.

" The sky is blue."

“But I love my husband.”

“Yes, but the sky is very blue today.”

“He is a great man.”

“Do you feel we are talking apples and oranges?”

You never indicated that Mormons were bad people. Simply that their belief system was different than ours. You were arguing apples and oranges.


A Big Amen to that!

Do you disagree with the woman’s statement that they are good people. She obviously was offended with your assertion that they are weird people. The fault lies on you. You shouldn’t have passed judgment on the Mormon faith to begin with. All you should have done was explain their beliefs and left it at that. There is nothing I hate more than a Christian who is willing to judge other peoples solely on the fact that that Christian has their faith. Faith doesn’t give you a right to condemn or judge within your words. But a Christian is the one who will be judged because they are supposed to be the perfect model of virtue. Take a little criticism and learn to tame your tongue for next time. Don’t ever call people weire or intend to offend because that is judgment and condemnation within your words.

How did he pass “judgement”

1 person asked “What they Believe?”

What was the response he had to give according to you…“They are nice people?”

Noo he simply stated the facts of what are the tenets of that religion.

If someone is offended by that it really is their problem…

His judgmet was that he said they were weird. That’s why the woman was offended. Its offensive to call someone weird. Didn’t you read my post, that you ask your question?

I always start off with the affirmation that I’m not saying bad things about people, or passing judgment on them. So, to tell the truth, I would probably start with, “Mormons are generally very honest and authentic people who hold to their faith with a lot of vigor and integrity. They’re generally very nice people. But…”

(And then lead in with the facts about their belief system from the Catholic perspective.)

Unfortunately, when you make factual statements that reflect on a person or their beliefs, some people can’t get around the assumption that you’re attempting to say that they’re bad people. :shrug:

Perhaps, when your retreat leader objected, you could have agreed – “oh, yeah, they are definitely nice people! I wish that we, as Catholics, could project such a clean-cut, solid, faithful lifestyle the way that many Mormons do! But, I’m just talking about religious beliefs, not about whether the Mormons we know personally are decent folks…”

Is your intent to diminish someone, make them less than by saying, “but…”? Is it to elevate your belief system above theirs. You can’t just say, “They are good people and this is what they believe…”? Murder is in your heart when you say “but” because I know its intent–self-justification.

You did nothing wrong. A lot of people confuse the goodness of others with the correctness of their beliefs. Somehow, we have gotten to a place where if you bring up what is wrong about a belief or religion is that you are bashing the people who believe in it.
Maybe you could have said (this is all hind sight so have it next time) that yes, she know Mormons and they are nice and sincere and good people but what you are pointing out is how their beliefs measure up to what the Catholic Church teaches. Good and sincere people can believe very wrong things, it doesn’t take away from their goodness or her friendship with them.

Sacred Heart, what point are you trying to put across? The OP was asked about the Mormon’s beliefs, and he/she gave as succinct an answer as possible. Yes, the OP said their doctrines were “weird” but to suddenly react with anger to that is an overreaction.

I think Gorgias gave a very good, and better way of managing it, but you even disagree with that.

I think that in a situation like this, when you assume that there is no one to insult, (among Catholic friends) you are able to be a little more free in speech in give your personal idea of another religion’s personal beliefs.

You are escalating a simply act of describing another religion slightly negatively to murder! Come on now, that’s excessive.

I believe the comment was about “weird” doctrines not weird people. Comapared to " mainstream" protestantism and Catholicism their doctrines do appear decidedly different. This is a factual statement and depending on the way it was delivered does not appear disparaging.
I’m sure that Mormons might view Catholic doctrines as different possibly even “weird” compared to their beliefs. That being said, “weird” is likely not the best choice of words.

The student who asked the question deserves an honest answer. You are right, the Catholic Church does not consider them Christian. That doesn’t mean that they are not loving, kind people. The Mormon’s I’ve known over the years have had high moral standards. That doesn’t make them Christian. I know a few JWs. They are loving and kind as well. That doesn’t make them Christian. I know atheists who are loving and kind. Again, that doesn’t make them Christian. You and I both know that no matter what you said or didn’t say it would have been twisted against you. Keep speaking the truth.

Love you my friend.

Do you not believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church?

Highlighting mine.

The OP never said they are weird people. Go back and read the post again. He said that their ***doctrine***s are weird, not that ***they ***are.

It would help if you did not jump to conclusions and pass judgment based on false assertions. Perhaps you should “learn to tame your tongue (or your typing fingers) for next time.” I assume you are willing to “take a little criticism” since you insist that the OP do so.

Do you believe in the Exact Truth, the exact truth? Do you know everything there is to know about truth? Compared to the Absolute Truth, don’t your beliefs seem wrong? Then how can you judge a people that knows as little as you do?

My point is take a look in the mirror sometime. You may see an image that you cannot bear to see.

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