For a number of decades the British public has been presented with the ‘melting pot’ phenomenon. Multiculturalism has received mixed reviews and has lead to a lack of understanding and an increase of ignorance. When it comes to the issue of immigration, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is often synonymous with fear and intolerance. In turn, this leads to racial marginalisation and radicalisation from both sides. In both the public sphere and the political arena, the natural phenomenon of multiculturalism is received with unnatural responses which distort the outcome, for example: curbs and controls, projections and estimates, targets and tough measures.
Recent events and events yet to come are continuing to threaten British tolerance towards non-nationals. Now more than ever the British government would do well to adopt what I call ‘The Mormon Model of Multiculturalism’.
An ‘All Inclusive, Integrationist’ Model
“Members of the Church live in a wide variety of political, social, and economic conditions. Wards and branches also vary in size and leadership resources. These conditions may require local leaders to adapt some Church programs” – Handbook 2: Administering the Church.
With over 14 million members worshipping in 29000 congregations throughout the world, the Church adopts a policy known as ‘uniformity and adaption’. The doctrines, ordinances and practices of the Church are uniform, wherever you worship. The sacrament is administered in the exact same way, as dictated by scripture in Spain as it is in Sweden. The commandments, core curriculum and doctrine remain consistent throughout the whole Church.
The Church does recognise that local circumstances can affect the format, implementation and execution of certain activities, meetings and callings (assignments). Although there may be slight changes in the day to day running of a Church congregation, the day to day running of the whole Church does not change. Borders and barriers do not prevent the application of the doctrines of the Restored Gospel.
This integrationist and flexible approach ensures the Church’s identity and cultural integrity remain consistent. Church members are free to allow their local cultures to influence the over-arching culture of the Church.
Church Services In Spain
When we were choosing which Spanish city we wanted to study in for 6 months, one of our main criteria was the size and geographical proximity of a Church congregation. Valencia has 3 wards (large congregations) in the city centre and a whole army of full-time missionaries seeking to establish ward number 4. The Church has the same signage on the door, the same services and the same songs (albeit in Spanish). Our records were transferred from the UK and received in Spain. There is a Bishop and a whole hierarchy of members ready to welcome us into their sanctuary.
Despite this uniformity, we know that we are in a new country. As a reflection of the local culture, the services always start late (the Spanish are never early), things take a little longer (ok, some members take a lot longer bearing their testimony or teaching a lesson) and there are never a lack of comments in lessons (Spaniards love to talk). The Spanish personality isn’t left at the door and the culture left in the car park. The Church doesn’t want or expect its members to be robots.
I personally love how the Church adapts its programmes to suit the local needs of the members. In the UK we can sing the national anthem (it’s hymn number #341), we can observe a moment’s silence on Remembrance Sunday and we can invite royal monarchs to worship with us. The Spanish can eat tapas in the cultural hall and host talent nights showcasing the best Flamenco dancers.
God created individuals with the ability to act for themselves. The Church encourages its members to become disciples of Jesus Christ (by keeping His commandments) and to express themselves through their talents. And it works. Marvellously.
Latest posts by Ethan Wilkinson (see all)
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- The Mormon Model Of Multiculturalism - 29 September 2013
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