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Mormonism and culture/Attitude toward others
The attitude of Mormons toward others who are not of their faith
Jump to Subtopic:
- Question: Should Mormons reject "wayward" family members or those who leave the Church?
- Question: Do Mormons actually believe that they are morally, ethically, spiritually superior to others?
- Question: Does the Church disregard people's own cultural traditions?
- Question: Are Latter-day Saints taught to look down upon or reject those who are not of their faith?
Question: Should Mormons reject "wayward" family members or those who leave the Church?
The Saints are encouraged to love everyone, particularly family members, despite their choices
Some insist that the Church teaches such principles as:
- those who are less faithful to Church teachings should (or inevitably will) receive less love
- we should reject those who reject the Church
- children reject the Church through the fault of parents who "don't have enough faith."
These issues are also more generally relevant for those who seek help from FAIR, since readers may be struggling with family members who have left the Church because of anti-Mormon materials.
The Saints are encouraged to love everyone, particularly family members, despite their choices. They must never seek to control or compel another, and must leave matters of faith to the influence of God and His spirit.
There is no Church doctrine which teaches that sincere parents are condemned for their childrens' choices
There is no Church doctrine which teaches that sincere parents are condemned for their childrens' choices; indeed, there is great hope for family members who reject the Gospel.
The charges that family members must 'force' others into obedience for fear of their own salvation turns LDS doctrine on its head.
One third of God's spirit children rejected Christ
LDS doctrine considers humans to be the literal spirit children of God. The LDS doctrine of premortal existence also mentions the fact that a third of God's spirit children rejected Christ to follow Satan (D&C 29:30). Biblical patriarchs such as Isaac (Genesis 26:34-35) and Jacob (Genesis 38:7, Genesis 38:12-26) had descendants who brought them great grief through wickedness. Book of Mormon prophets, such as Lehi (1 Nephi 2:11-12), Mosiah , and Alma (Mosiah 27:8) had "wayward" children, as did many unnamed parents (Mosiah 26:1-2, 3 Nephi 1:30).
Thus, a "wayward" child is clearly no sign of parental failure: if so, God and some of His greatest prophets would stand condemned.
Modern leaders of the Church have taught the same doctrines:
If couples live their married lives properly, training their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord as they themselves will live, it is quite unlikely that their home will produce delinquents, transgressors, or criminals. 
Not "impossible," but "unlikely." President Kimball also taught that even the “finest youth can fall" (p. 230). He recounted:
Parental training often brings rebellious children back…. The current of our life, as defined and developed in the lives of a family by the righteous teaching of parents, will often control the direction children will go, in spite of the waves and winds of numerous adverse influences of the world of error.
I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin, and even actually fight God. In this they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best to set in movement a current and to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent, and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community. The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realized, by the current of life in the homes in which they were reared. 
Note that many, not all, of these children of “good families” “are likely to” return. Present failure does not mean a parent is unfaithful. President Kimball makes the point explicit:
There is no guarantee, of course, that righteous parents will succeed always in holding their children, and certainly they may lose them if they do not do all in their power. The children have their free agency ... What we do know is that righteous parents who strive to develop wholesome influences for their children will be held blameless at the last day, and that they will succeed in saving most of their children, if not all. 
The influence of a parent’s faith may well only be seen “in the next life”
The influence of a parent’s faith may well only be seen “in the next life.” And, it is only “at the last day” that this can all be judged aright by God.
Cautioned Elder Marvin J. Ashton:
With heavy hearts and broken spirits the parents of a wayward child were recently heard to say, "Where did we go wrong? What have we done to displease the Lord? What is the Lord trying to tell us? Is this the reward for trying to be good parents? Why us?"
These were among a flood of questions that came as they agonized over the serious misconduct of their child. Their comments and attitude reflected a frightening blend of resentment, frustration, and self-condemnation.
It was evident that this distraught couple was not to be calmed or reassured by scriptures or personal observations. Because the child had transgressed, they were adamant in their feelings that God was displeased with them. Their attitude reflected bitterness and loss of self- respect. Momentarily they were letting themselves be consumed and destroyed by the trying circumstances.
In their present tragedy they were not seeking counsel or comfort; rather, it appeared, they were looking for someone who would suffer with them and join in the chorus of "If there is a merciful God, why does He allow this to happen?" We must remember that all suffering is not punishment. It is imperative that we do not allow ourselves to be destroyed by the conduct of others. 
"Wayward" family members are not always children
Through all ages of the gospel, family members who reject the Gospel have not only been "wayward" children. The person in Abraham’s family who seems to have struggled most with living the gospel was his father, Terah. Abraham 1:5 Adah and Zillah had a "wayward" husband in Lamech. Moses 5:53 Jacob “did mourn out [his] days” Jacob 7:26 because of the apostasy of his two oldest brothers, Laman and Lemuel. Of course, these kinds of relationships continue today. They were prophesied by the Lord himself. Matthew 10:21 Many of us can find "wayward" family members by looking up and sideways on our family trees as well by looking down.
When family members who are not our children take leave of the gospel, those left behind experience the same kinds of feelings of pain, remorse, and guilt felt by parents of such children. We question ourselves and our way of life and wonder what part of the "waywardness" might be our responsibility. In our own ways, we cry like King David, "would God I had died for thee." 2 Samuel 18:33 These are not the feelings of unloving people. These are the feelings of people who love very deeply.
Coping with this situation is very much a grieving process where we spiral in and out of complicated cycles of denial and sadness and even anger. In addition, people who face the rejection by family members who those were once their teachers and mentors in the gospel can experience senses of betrayal and abandonment. All of this is painful but none of it can be equated to a loss of love. These feelings are common and normal and they can be overcome through the grace of Christ. It's a sublime process that defies reason and perhaps psychology but we can feel happiness after our loved ones "strayed from the path" even if it takes a miracle.
Parents should have an increase of love toward "wayward" children
Parents should have an increase of love toward "wayward" children:
What kind of a mother [or father] are you that you only love her when she does what you want her to do? That is selfish, self-centered, qualified love. It’s easy to love our children when they are good; but when they make mistakes, they need our love even more. We should love and care for them no matter what they do. It doesn’t mean we condone or approve of the errors, but we help, not condemn; love, not hate; forgive, not judge. We build them up rather than tear them down; we lead them, not desert them. We love when they are the most unlovable, and if you can’t or won’t do that, you are a poor mother [or father]. 
Note the prohibition of “qualified” love, and anyone who exhibits such an attitude is a “poor” parent. Unconditional love, contrary to what some claim, is enjoined upon Church members especially for wayward children:
It is absolutely essential that people embrace the saving principles of the gospel if they are to enter the presence of the Lord pure and clean. The catalyst which moves them to embrace these principles is always love—unconditional, unfeigned, felt to the very core by the giver and the receiver. It is the kind of love shown not by what people say but by what they do. This kind of love has the power to melt the hardest heart, to create a change in the most vile sinner, to bring men and women to their knees in humble worship. 
One must use no force, no compulsion, no efforts to control
Above all, one must use no force, no compulsion, no efforts to control (D&C 121:35-44).
Trying too hard to be helpful, some parents set their children’s goals for them, and then they don’t allow them the freedom to make mistakes—or the blessing of learning from them. They attempt to maintain their power and influence by force, instead of “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge…“We were to blame for a lot of our son’s behavior,” one mother laments. “All we meant to do was correct him, but we were always on his back, always putting him down.”… “Any forcing would drive our daughter away from us,” another parent says. “We want to keep her close, so for now, we’re just taking it easy.” 
Is this a difficult task, to love a family member with whom we do not agree? Not at all. It makes personal interactions more complicated and can change the emotional charge on them but that is not the same thing as diminishing feelings of love. Loving someone who's wayward is very much like the feeling of loving someone who is physically ill. The spiritual peril devout Church members perceive their "wayward" family members to be in actually intensifies our feelings of concern and charity.
We yearn for those who have distanced themselves from us just as the father in the Lord's story of Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32 yearned for his missing loved one. In the parable, the father sees the son coming toward the family home. "And when he [the son] was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." The expression of love from the father happens before the son has any chance to open his mouth to show why he's approaching. The father doesn't know yet that the son has come home to repent. For all he knows, the son might be approaching to rob or mock him or entreat for more money. But it doesn't matter to the father. He runs out anyway without any conditions. That is the Christ-like ideal for which family members strive. While the beliefs and behaviors that make someone "wayward" remain abhorent, the person him- or herself is cherished. If anything, departure from gospel living makes them even more precious to the believers in their families.
However, getting along from day-to-day with someone with whom we don't agree can be challenging.
Lesson number one was the realization that I cannot change others; I can only change myself. As I have matured in facing the lifelong challenge with independent children, I find that my prayers are different than they used to be. I used to try to exercise faith by saying, “Heavenly Father, please help my children to change. Help them to become aware of the harmful effects of alcohol or sexual promiscuity, and help them to recognize the truths of the gospel.” But now I am more likely to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by saying, “Heavenly Father, I know Thou lovest my children. Help me to feel about them the same way Thou dost. Help me to love them better. Help me to understand Thy plan as it applies to them. And help me to be patient.” 
Such forbearance is not easy, and comes only as a gift of grace:
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. Moroni 7:47-48
What will happen to family members who reject the Gospel?
Lorenzo Snow taught a doctrine of hope:
If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity. 
President Snow is very clear: this promise applies in the eternities—unless the critic believes he is already a “king and priest to [his] God” who has received “a resurrection” there are no grounds for despair.
This doctrine goes back to Joseph Smith, as Orson F. Whitney taught:
You parents of the wilful and the wayward! Don’t give them up. Don’t cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend…the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. … They will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God… 
And, President Howard W. Hunter gave perspective and reassurance on these issues:
[E]veryone is different. Each of us is unique. Each child is unique. Just as each of us starts at a different point in the race of life, and just as each of us has different strengths and weaknesses and talents, so each child is blessed with his own special set of characteristics. We must not assume that the Lord will judge the success of one in precisely the same way as another. As parents we often assume that, if our child doesn’t become an overachiever in every way, we have failed. We should be careful in our judgments. 
Question: Do Mormons actually believe that they are morally, ethically, spiritually superior to others?
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets
The critical book One Nation under Gods claims that Latter-day Saints believe that they are "morally, ethically, and spiritually superior to non-Mormons." (page xxiv (hardback); page xviii (paperback)). The author cites Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:269. and Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 236. to support his claim.
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets. Brigham Young's quote reads:
We are placed on this earth to prove whether we are worthy to go into the celestial world, the terrestrial, or the telestial, or to hell, or to any other kingdom or place, and we have enough of life given us to do this. And as I frequently say, and think more frequently, it is a disgrace for the Latter-day Saints to say, "Let us lay hold now, and have a reformation." We should never cease reforming and seeking to the Lord our God; and wherein we can better any trait in our lives, let us go to with our mights and reform ourselves, and not ask an Elder to come and preach reformation to us....
I remarked to brother Kimball last Sabbath, that this people are the best people that ever lived upon the earth; I am actually a good deal inclined to think so. Do not marvel at this remark. How long did it take Enoch to purify his people—to become holy and prepared for what we want this people to be prepared for in a very few years? It took him 365 years. How long has this people lived? It will be 27 years on the sixth of next month, since this Church was organized. What do you think about this people? I say that the virtuous acts of their lives beat the whole world. Were the children of Israel ever so obedient to Moses, as this people are to me? No, they never began to be; for obedience they could not favourably compare with this people. Moses led his people forty years in the wilderness in rebellion, fighting, stealing, whoring, and every manner of iniquity; and their evils where so great, that God cut every one of them off in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua. He did not suffer one of them to go into the land of Canaan, except the two I have named; they never revolted from Moses, but held up his hands all the time. They never turned away, not even when Aaron, his half-brother and right hand man, made the golden calf. When Aaron gathered up the earrings, and finger rings, and jewels, and made a calf, and led the children of Israel astray to worship an image, and say, "These be thy Gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," while Moses was in the mountain talking to the Lord, Caleb and Joshua did not turn away; and if they were in that company, their souls shuddered while the people were making that calf.
Brigham Young praises the people not for being morally, ethically, or spiritually superior, but for being more obedient to the word of the Lord through prophets
Were Enoch's men as obedient and advanced as far as this people in the same time? I think not. Let this people continue to make the improvement they have made, and it would not be 165 years before they could take this part of the country and go off, should it be necessary, until the earth is purified. Yet Enoch had to live and strive, and toil during 365 years, in order to bring his people under the principle of strict obedience. This contrast is encouraging to this people.
Now let me tell you that there are hundreds of men and women in this community that believe they ought to repent, but cannot find out for what, cannot tell wherein to do differently, from what they do, and do not know what to do. Do you do everything you know to be right and pleasing in the sight of God? Yes, say hundreds and thousands of the people. Do you do anything you know to be wrong? Hundreds may reply, "We do not know that we do, but we do not feel as though we enjoyed as much as we should." Hold on, do not get away from us. If you were now in the enjoyment of the things you have a presentiment of in your own feelings, that in the anxiety of your own hearts you are longing for, if you could get all that in your possession, you would not stay here; we should lose you, for you would be too pure to tarry in our society. Do not be in a hurry; let us stay together and fight the devil a little longer. Some of you think that by next fall you must obtain all that the Elders preach, if you do, you will go behind the vail, and we cannot have your society.
With many, a presentiment arises in their hearts like this, "We want something wonderful, or we must do something that we have not done. We must revolutionize our lives; we must reform," but they do not know wherein. Serve God according to the best knowledge you have, and lay down and sleep quietly; and when the devil comes along and says, "You are not a very good Saint, you might enjoy greater blessings and more of the power of God, and have the vision of your mind opened, if you would live up to your privileges," tell him to leave; that you have long ago forsaken his ranks and enlisted in the army of Jesus, who is your captain, and that you want no more of the devil.
Brigham goes on to give comfort and encouragement—the Saints have many weaknesses and difficulties. Despite this, Brigham encourages steady, consistent Christian discipleship. He reassures the Saints that they are "in the army of Jesus," and by "serv[ing] God according to the best knowledge [they] have," they need not worry about their ultimate fate.
These are not words directed to those smug in self-satisfied assurance of their moral or spiritual superiority but to people who know their weaknesses but strive through Christ to serve God.
Joseph Fielding Smith does not praise the Saints because they are "ethically, morally, or spiritually superior," but because they have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and followed it faithfully
We are, notwithstanding our weaknesses, the best people in the world. I do not say that boastingly, for I believe that this truth is evident to all who are willing to observe for themselves. We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people. The reason is that we have received the truth, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not to us a dead letter, something perhaps to be followed on the Sabbath day and forgotten on the six other days of the week, but our religion is an everyday religion. We are expected to live in accordance with the principles of truth every day of our lives, for these principles are just as true in the middle of the week as they are on the Sabbath day (citing Conf. Rep., Apr., 1951, pp. 152-153; DC 6:6; DC 11:6; DC 12:6; DC 14:6.)
Note that Joseph Fielding Smith does not praise the Saints because they are "ethically, morally, or spiritually superior," but because they have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and followed it faithfully—obedience is. The gospel transforms weak people into better people.
Elder Smith continues:
CONDEMNATION FOR SLOTHFUL SAINTS. The man who has received the truth and yet will not walk in it deserves the greater condemnation. A member of this Church who will indulge in the use of tobacco, who will violate the Word of Wisdom, who refuses to pay his tithing, to keep the Sabbath day, or who in any other way will not hearken to the word of the Lord, is not loyal to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints....These shall receive the greater condemnation. (p. 237)
Once again, a decision to accept the gospel and its precepts or not is the deciding factor, not moral, ethical, or spiritual superiority.
Question: Does the Church disregard people's own cultural traditions?
Sometimes acceptance of the restored Gospel requires a convert to put aside traditions which have been culturally ingrained
It is claimed that the Church disregards people's own cultural traditions, and that it does not assign any value to native cultures, their histories or mythologies.
Sometimes acceptance of the restored Gospel requires a convert to put aside traditions which have been culturally ingrained. This is not an effort on the part of the Church to destroy someone's traditions, but rather a willing change on the part of the convert to live the principles of the Gospel. Where native cultural traditions are uplifting, the Church promotes them, such as the case with the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.
To claim that the Church has no regard for diverse local cultural traditions is painting with a very broad brush
To claim that the Church has no regard for diverse local cultural traditions is painting with a very broad brush. There are many types of cultural traditions. Some are good and uplifting, and some are not. The Church does not attempt to "homogenize" its membership in various parts of the world. The style of worship may vary, but the principles of the restored Gospel are the same in any part of the world. Certain practices that are traditional may be incompatible with or prevent acceptance of the Gospel, which others may actually fit nicely with new beliefs.
Some cultural religious traditions prevent acceptance of the Gospel
[T]wo realities hamper the growth of the Church: traditions and poverty. The first reality, deeply held cultural traditions, discourages individual family members from changing religions. “Life will be different for someone who joins the Church,” says Elder John B. Dickson, President of the South American South Area until August 1997. “They will need to learn new religious traditions.” In a country rich with tradition, change comes only with sacrifice, and in the past many new members found the obstacles overwhelming.
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The Indian citizens of Fiji also have strong cultural traditions. Many Indian parents do not allow their children to date, and arranged marriages are common. When a woman is married, she becomes a member of her husband’s family and a servant in her mother-in-law’s home. While she lives there, her father-in-law has the final say on what she does. This may hinder a young woman from joining the Church, even though her husband, who is not required to secure his father’s permission, does join. Most Fijians of Indian descent are Hindu, and some Indian Church members are ostracized when they give up the beliefs their families have held for generations. “My personal philosophy,” says Peter Lee, a counselor in the Fiji Suva Mission presidency, “is that if one’s culture is not going to hinder progress, then we should keep it. But if it’s a tradition that will hinder the work of the Lord, we need to take a stand on what we should or should not do. Otherwise we’ll never move forward.”
Some cultural traditions are not compatible with the Gospel
Many people’s dispositions mirror the cultural traditions that they internalized while growing up. The widespread consumption of alcohol, immodesty of dress and behavior, and cohabitation without marriage are but a few examples of cultural traditions alien to the spirit of the gospel. So it is that the “wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers” (D&C 93:39). These traditions seem natural because most people in a given society engage in such behaviors, but the commandments of God are based upon revealed truth, not popular preferences. Thus, King Benjamin warned his people that “the natural man is an enemy to God,” and he exhorted them to put off the natural man, or in other words to reject unholy traditions and to undergo a mighty change in their natural dispositions by yielding “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19).
Some cultural traditions can be integrated with the Gospel
Mormonism had a familiar ring to the Maoris. It must be remembered that by the time LDS doctrine was introduced to the Maoris, they were but one or two generations removed from their pre-Christian religion. Although most Maoris had given up the past, they still remembered many of their old traditions and practices. Even before Mormonism, the Maoris had turned to millennial faiths and various adjustment cults in an effort, generally a conscious one, to bridge the gap from the past to the present. Mormonism, too, emphasized the coming time of peace which would be ushered in by the Savior. Of great importance to the Maoris, as they discovered Mormonism and used it to make the adjustment to the pakeha world, was that the elders did not reject Maoritanga, Maori cultural traditions, in their entirety. The missionaries, too, believed that the Maoris were being brought again into a fold from which they had strayed, but from which they had not wandered too far.
Some cultural traditions facilitate acceptance of the Gospel
Two cultural traditions make the gospel “good news” to the Koreans: their religious beliefs and their great family love. Korea has a popular religion, established in 1909, called Dae jong. The beliefs, theologies, and teachings of this religion are very similar to those of Christianity. For example, Dae jong teaches that there are many gods, but one is most high and glorious. His son (Dan koon) acting as his mediator, is the spiritual source of help to the people. These ideas remind us of our Christian concept of Deity.
Question: Are Latter-day Saints taught to look down upon or reject those who are not of their faith?
Mormons have always been taught that a dismissive attitude toward the beliefs or faith of others is sinful
The attitude that one ought to look down upon or reject those who are not of their faith is an abhorrent one. Members of the Church, of course, do not always live up to these high standards. But, there can be no doubt as to what the standards are:
What does the Lord expect of us as Latter-day Saints? What does He expect of me as a member of this Church...There is no room in the heart of a Latter-day Saint for bitterness, for unkindness, for animosity to any other of the sons and daughters of God. They may not be of our faith, but we owe them an obligation to treat them as sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. 
Mormons have always been taught that a dismissive attitude toward the beliefs or faith of others is sinful. (Indeed, the Book of Mormon condemns in the strongest terms those who adopt such an attitude: Alma 31:16-19, Alma 31:27-35).
Joseph Smith: "We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true 'Mormons'"
Said Joseph Smith:
Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true "Mormons." 
Gordon B. Hinckley: "There is no room for arrogance in our lives. There is no room for conceit in our lives. There is no room for egotism in our lives"
Warned President Gordon B. Hinckley:
There is no room for arrogance in our lives. There is no room for conceit in our lives. There is no room for egotism in our lives. We must be humble before the Lord. He has so declared, and if we will do it, He will hear our prayers and answer them with a blessing upon our heads. 
Of the specific conceit which some claim they are taught, President Hinckley said:
Be respectful of the opinions and feelings of other people. Recognize their virtues; don't look for their faults. Look for their strengths and their virtues, and you will find strength and virtues that will be helpful in your own life. 
It's hard to see how looking for "strengths and...virtues" in non-members to help an LDS member's own life constitutes ignoring or deprecating all non-believers.
President Hinckley further said:
There is no need in any land for conflict between diverse groups of any kind. Let there be taught in the homes of people that we are all children of God, our Eternal Father, and that as surely as there is fatherhood, there can and must be brotherhood. 
He denounced bad feelings and behavior toward non-Mormons:
Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can't all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all stumble occasionally. We all make mistakes. I paraphrase the words of Jesus in the Lord's Prayer: "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
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There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others. Let us not dwell on the critical or the negative. Let us pray for strength; let us pray for capacity and desire to assist others. Let us radiate the light of the gospel at all times and all places, that the Spirit of the Redeemer may radiate from us. 
Members and non-members have the same status before God. This does not support the idea that members are to "hold themselves aloof."
Ezra Taft Benson: "God, the Father of us all uses the men of the earth, especially good men, to accomplish his purposes"
God, the Father of us all uses the men of the earth, especially good men, to accomplish his purposes. It has been true in the past, it is true today, it will be true in the future. 
President Benson then quoted Elder Orson F. Whitney from 1928:
Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of His Church to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else…God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous for any one people…They [other churches] are our partners in a certain sense. 
Joseph Fielding Smith: "the Lord would pour out his blessings and his Spirit upon all people and use them to accomplish his purposes"
Joseph Fielding Smith discussed the prophecy in Joel that God would pour out his spirit "upon all flesh":
Now, my brethren and sisters, I am not going to confine this prophecy [Joel 2:28-29] to the members of the Church. The Lord said he would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh. That does not mean that upon all flesh the Holy Ghost should be sent, and that they should be participants in the blessings which those are privileged to receive who have been baptized and endowed and become members of the Church; but the Lord would pour out his blessings and his Spirit upon all people and use them to accomplish his purposes....
There has never been a step taken..., in discovery or invention, where the Spirit of the Lord (that is, the Spirit of which Joel spoke, the Light of Christ, not the Holy Ghost!) was not the prevailing force, resting upon the individual, which caused him to make the discovery or the invention. The world does not understand that, but it is perfectly clear to me; nor did the Lord always use those who have faith, nor does he always do so today. He uses such minds as are pliable and can be turned in certain directions to accomplish his work, whether they believe in him or not. 
M. Russell Ballard: "I encourage you to build personal, meaningful relationships with your nonmember friends and acquaintances"
I encourage you to build personal, meaningful relationships with your nonmember friends and acquaintances...If they are not interested in the gospel, we should show unconditional love through acts of service and kindness, and never imply that we see an acquaintance only as a potential convert...We must not reserve our kindness and affection only for our fellow members. We must be sensitive and not oblivious to the feelings of those whose views may differ from ours. Considering the early history of the Church in these latter days, unkindness or indifference toward others should be abhorrent to members of the Church. I bear my testimony that "God is no respecter of persons"; we should follow his example in all of our associations with our fellowmen. 
David B. Haight: "we are commanded to do what to many is a more difficult commandment—to love all, even enemies, and to go beyond the barriers of race or class or family relationships"
Besides loving God, we are commanded to do what to many is a more difficult commandment—to love all, even enemies, and to go beyond the barriers of race or class or family relationships. It is easier, of course, to be kind to those who are kind to us— the usual standard of friendly reciprocity.
Then are we not commanded to cultivate genuine fellowship and even a kinship with every human being on earth? Whom would you bar from your circle? We might deny ourselves a nearness to our Savior because of our prejudices of neighborhood or possessions or race—attitudes that Christ would surely condemn. Love has no boundary, no limitation of good will. 
Jeffrey R. Holland: "I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another"
Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn't measure our talents or our looks; He doesn't measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone... 
Neal A. Maxwell: "Love is the only answer"
Love is the only answer, as Thomas Merton points out, to the searching question asked by Gandhi when he said: "How can he who thinks he possesses absolute truth be fraternal?" 
Russell M. Nelson: "Learn to listen, and listen to learn from neighbors"
Learn to listen, and listen to learn from neighbors. Repeatedly the Lord has said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour." (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19.) Opportunities to listen to those of diverse religious or political persuasion can promote tolerance and learning. And a good listener will listen to a person's sentiments as well...The wise listen to learn from neighbours. 
Brigham H. Roberts: "God raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men"
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established for the instruction of men; and it is one of God's instrumentalities for making known the truth yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend. ... All the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God's children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them. 
- Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness (Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1969), 236. ISBN 0884944441. ISBN 0884941922.
- Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 334, emphasis added.
- Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 334.
- Marvin J. Ashton, Be of Good Cheer (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987), 16–17.
- Jack H. Gosland, "Reach Out to Our Father’s Children," in Conference Report (April 1981), 79. or Jack H. Gosland, "Reach Out to Our Father’s Children," Ensign (May 1981), 60.
- F. Melvin Hammond, "Parents, Never Give Up," Ensign (January 1994), 47.
- Marvin K. Gardner, "Keeping the Door Open and the Stew Hot: Loving and Helping a Wayward Child," Ensign (August 1982), 9.
- Anonymous, "I Won’t Give Up on Them!," Ensign (February 2004), 44.
- Lorenzo Snow, "Preaching the Gospel in the Spirit World," in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 3:364. [Discourse given on 6 October 1893.] GL direct link
- Orson F. Whitney, "Afternoon Meeting: (A Word for the Wayward)," in Conference Report (April 1929), 110.GL direct link
- Howard W. Hunter, "Parents’ Concern for Children," Ensign (November 1983), 63.
- Judy C. Olsen, "https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/02/argentinas-bright-and-joyous-day?lang=eng Argentina’s Bright and Joyous Day]," Ensign (February 1998), 36.
- Shirleen Meek, "Fiji: Islands of Faith," Ensign (December 1990), 32.
- Spencer J. Condie, "A Disposition to Do Good Continually," Ensign (August 2001), 13.
- R. Lanier Britsch, "Maori Traditions and the Mormon Church," New Era (June 1981), 38.
- Sang Han, "Encounter: The Korean Mind and the Gospel," Ensign (August 1975), 47.
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Meeting, Jakarta, Indonesia, 28 January 2000; cited in Liahona (February 2001): 28.
- History of the Church, 5:517. Volume 5 link
- Gordon B. Hinckley, at a meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 4 August 1998, cited in Liahona (Aug. 1999): 14.
- Gordon B. Hinckley, cited in Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 536, 576.
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations," Liahona (June 1996): 3. off-site
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Need for Greater Kindness," General Conference address, 1 April 2006. off-site
- Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report (April 1972), 49.
- Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report (Aprili 1928), 59.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 176–178. (italics in original)
- M. Russell Ballard, "The Hand of Fellowship," Ensign (November 1988), 28. (emphasis added) off-site
- David B. Haight, "Love All," Ensign (November 1982), 10. off-site
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Other Prodigal," Ensign (May 2002), 62. off-site
- Neal A Maxwell, A More Excellent Way: Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1967), 31.
- Russell M. Nelson, "Listen to Learn," Ensign (May 1991), 22. off-site
- Brigham H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. (1907), 1:512–513. Vol 1 GL direct link Vol 2 GL direct link