The Jackson Hole [Wyoming] Star Tribune reported Sunday that non-Mormon students at Brigham Young University believe they are at a disadvantage when it comes to the required Book of Mormon courses. Ninety-eight percent of the school’s students are Mormon, but the other two percent represent twenty other faiths; all students are required to take two courses on the Book of Mormon as well as additional religion courses.
A Buddhist BYU student from Taiwan said,
“Salvation, celestial kingdom, I’m not familiar with these words like the other students.”
Therefore, she — and other non-Mormon students — would like to see the school resume offering a nonmember Book of Mormon class, as it did until the end of winter semester 2005. Paul Warner, who taught the nonmember class until his retirement, said,
“We just went through the book in a basic way so they could ask questions and not feel threatened by returned missionaries, seminary graduates or long-term members in class.”
Several non-Mormon students have asked why the school will not resume the class for nonmembers, but have not received satisfactory answers. Therefore, they wrote a letter to the editor of the BYU campus newspaper in which they requested “an explanation for the decision, separate tests for nonmembers in regular religion courses and teaching assistants or TAs specifically for nonmembers.”
Another student responded to these requests a couple of days later in the “opinion section” of the campus paper with his solution to the problem:
“TAs are here. They are called missionaries.”
I’m not quite sure what this student meant. Was he saying that LDS missionaries are available to tutor nonmember students so they get good grades on their Book of Mormon course tests? Or that LDS missionaries are not only called to proselytize but also to serve as teaching assistants to BYU professors? Or was he suggesting that the way to breeze through the Book of Mormon classes is to convert to Mormonism? Is that the way to get better grades at BYU?
Whatever the problem-solving student meant, the non-Mormon students weren’t too crazy about the idea. A student from Singapore said,
“We don’t want missionaries persuading us. We have our own religion. It’s not that we don’t want to learn about Mormons, we just don’t want to be graded on the same curve.”