I got recognized on TRAX last week. It was early morning and I was sitting across from an older couple dressed for Temple Square or the LDS Church Office Building.
You know what I mean — white shirt, prim dress, necktie, conservative haircut, etc. Yeah, fellow Mormons.
My fellow Mormons didn’t quite have me figured out yet. I could tell they were working on it, though. They whispered and stared whenever they thought I wasn’t looking.
When I moved aside to let someone through the aisle, the words “Salt Lake Tribune” became visible on my bag. That did it. The woman’s lips instantly thinned in disapproval.
Her: “You’re the one who writes those rude articles about the church.”
Me: “Pat Bagley, ma’am. Pleased to meet you.”
Merle and LaDawn (names I invented, but are probably real close) weren’t exactly pleased to meet me. During the next couple of minutes they struggled to remain Christlike while still giving me a piece of their collective mind.
The woman said she knew all about me. Her daughter, who was in danger of losing her testimony, routinely sent them links to my Faith column in the hope of offending them.
It worked. They were offended. They were offended that someone who would write the things I did would actually go to church and claim to be Mormon. The woman ran through a quick list of objections to past columns.
Using the term “Nazi Mormon” was an insult to faithful members. It wasn’t a sin for Mormons to lick our lips on Fast Sunday. There was no such thing as “13 Particles of Faith” in any church book she had ever read.
Knocking on doors with a dog dressed like a missionary was wrong. General authorities spoke the way they did in conference because they were led by the Spirit, not because they had been to a Holy Ghost finishing school.
Finally, the woman had been a Primary president and would have me know that the noise generated by Mormon children in sacrament meeting didn’t sound anything at all like Tasering monkeys in a parking garage.
There was a lot more. When she finally paused for breath, her husband added his two cents, “Hey, you aren’t Pat Bagley.”
I conceded that some of what they said might be true. Heavenly Father’s mother-in-law probably wasn’t Satan, and it was possible that the Savior really would be wearing a Mr. Mac suit and a necktie in the Second Coming.
“Then you shouldn’t try and make people think otherwise,” the woman said, triumphantly. “You’re hurting the church. You and our daughter should ask yourself why you do it.”
I knew the answer to that already. It was, frankly, an easy one. Her daughter would probably even agree with it.
“It’s how Mormons like us cope with going to church with Mormons like you.”
That was the end of the Christlike part of the conversation.
The couple got off in a huff at the next stop. We weren’t even at Temple Square yet.
I try to avoid these kinds of gospel discussions. Not only do they frequently end up sounding like bishop interviews, but also someone always gets his or her feelings hurt. And it’s never me.
Robert Kirby can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.
Watch Robert Kirby on ‘Person 2 Person’
Robert Kirby will be interviewed by Shauna Lake in a “Person 2 Person” segment Sunday at 10 p.m. on KUTV 2News.