Non-Mormon Kids Cut Out of Fitting In

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Many non-Mormon teen-agers are of two minds. They have plenty of Mormon friends and yet have these long lists of irritations. Take Cortnee Lucero, 17, a senior at Woods Cross High and a member of the Abundant Life Assembly of God Church in Bountiful. She is one of the "preppies," often mistaken for LDS since that is the standard assumption about popular kids in Utah high schools.

She is annoyed when Mormon friends express surprise that members of her church practice acts of neighborly compassion, as if that is an exclusively LDS virtue.

Caryn Larrinaga, another Woods Cross senior, has learned to skirt the topic of religion with her many LDS friends. One former friend has not spoken to her since ninth grade, when Larrinaga refused to hear a missionary lesson so the friend could earn seminary credit.

Her mother, Christine Larrinaga, says Utah probably is the only place where kids are defined by religion, not race or social class.

The youth minister for St. Olaf Catholic Church in Bountiful, Larrinaga worries about kids who cope with Utah's divide by becoming vehemently anti-Mormon or delinquent just to make clear which side they are on.

"Those are the byproducts of the wall."

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Kristen Moulton
The Salt Lake Tribune
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