I read a comment on another blog that said that Mormons are not friendly to women, gays, and Jews. I wanted to respond, but this blog post had probably 1000 comments, and I felt my reply would just get lost in the midst. I also wasn't sure the author of the blog would appreciate this discussion, which veered greatly from her original topic. I decided that even though they most likely won't read my blog, I would respond here anyway.
First of all I must add my disclaimer that not all members of our church are friendly. We all have personal weaknesses. We have high standards in our church, but not everyone has grown sufficiently to live up to them. I can only give general observations, because for every group that is friendly, someone can surely give an example of someone in our church who isn't. But if everyone lived up to our beliefs, we would all be friendly.
Are "Mormons" unfriendly to women? Some people think that because women in our church don't hold the Priesthood, that church leadership is being chauvinistic. But what they must understand is that we believe this to be God's policy, not man's. In fact, if given the chance, I'm sure the male leadership of the church would be more than willing to hand over the reigns. Those who have served in our church will freely admit that it is a lot of work. It is also a lay leadership, and their service isn't compensated monetarily. Why would a man give up his free time to serve in the church if he isn't compensated with money? It comes from obedience, and out of a desire to serve God. But it is a LOT of work, and I'm sure they would be happy to share the load. But as it is, women in our church are given GREAT responsibility. We serve in many different positions, and are also not paid for our time. I think almost every woman in the church would agree that we have plenty of work to do already, and aren't interested in taking any of the Priesthood positions.
I personally have served in many different positions in the church, and have found the men to be extremely respectful. They have respected my opinions, and have asked me to freely share my opinions. They have always been grateful for my service, and have expressed that gratitude often. I have sat in the counsels of the Priesthood, and have been asked to give my input. One church leader even said that women were the "crowning creation". (Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley "The women in our lives" October 2004) If that isn't woman friendly, I don't know what is.
Are "Mormons" friendly to gays? I can tell you personally that I know several gay members, and from what I have seen, everyone is friendly to them. That doesn't mean we accept their lifestyle. In fact, a gay lifestyle goes against the teachings of our church. But we believe they are our spirit brothers and sisters, and we accept them as such. We do not accept same sex marriage, but we accept those of same gender attraction. Our church guidelines do not allow someone who is having sex with a members of the opposite sex to be a member of the church. But we still welcome them to attend our Sunday church meetings. We also do not believe that someone should have sex with someone of the opposite sex unless they are married to them. If those people disobey this commandment, they too can have their membership taken away. But they are also still welcome to attend our Sunday meetings. This isn't a matter of being friendly or not friendly, it is a matter of rules and God's law.
Are "Mormons" friendly to Jews? I think before I can answer that, I must comment that I think that there are many Christians who dislike Jews because of the crucifixion of Christ. In our religion, we believe that the Jews really are a covenant people of God, and that the promises made to them in the Bible will be fulfilled. I have posted before an article by Ezra Taft Benson that really sums up our views of the Jewish people. Personally, I think holding a grudge against the Jewish people is like holding a grudge against all caucasians because of their ancestor's practice of slavery. Those who committed the offenses should be the ones punished, not their posterity forever after.
I hope that people will think more carefully before making blanket statements about our religion. We are not all the same, even though we share the same beliefs. Some of us are better at living our religion than others. That doesn't detract from the truthfulness of what we believe. I hope that everyone who attends our meetings will feel welcome, and that those who are interested to learn more will ask us, instead of listening to those who aren't well informed about us.