I was making small talk with my partner in chemistry lab and the inevitable question came up. “So ? uhh ? where are you from?”

Since I’m from Utah, I thought it would be safer to start with the state and then try for the city if I got a positive response. “Actually, I’m from Utah,” I said, anticipating his next question. This time, I was surprised.

“Wow,” he responded, “so where exactly is that?”

Since I came east to attend UR, I’ve found that the first question about where I’m from is usually followed by a second. Because my home state was founded by a specific religion, the classic question tends to be, “Are you Mormon?” My answer? Yes. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly referred to as “the Mormons.”

I’d like to tell you a bit about my religion. Joseph Smith, the first president of the church, when asked what he believed, came up with thirteen statements of belief that outline the basic doctrines of the church. The first one says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

A friend of mine was a bit nervous when she first met me because she had heard that Mormonism was a cult and was afraid we would suck her in. Others have asked whether I am Christian.

As noted in the full title of the church, we are, in fact, Christian. We believe that we are saved through Christ, but only if we are obedient to God’s commandments.

I am often asked about the “other Bible” that we teach from, which is called the Book of Mormon. The scriptures used by members of the church include both the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Book of Mormon, which is a record of ancient people in the Americas as translated by Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon, which is another testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ, is one of the cornerstones of the LDS church.

So, is it really true that we don’t drink? Not only do we not consume alcohol, but we don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes as part of what we call the Word of Wisdom, a revelation give during the early days of the church. This health code is one thing that sets us apart.

What started as a religion localized in the West has grown to be a worldwide faith with over 11 million members.

Yes, I’m Mormon and this is some of what I believe. If you have questions, feel free to e-mail me. For those of you who are still wondering, Utah is two states east of California, between Nevada and Colorado. Watch for us in February when we host the Winter Olympic Games.

Taylor can be reached ktaylor@campustimes.org.

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