SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–After visiting the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and being impressed by the scope of Mormon hospitality and the appeal to the senses prompted by bright spires and clean-cut morality, many visitors may wonder, “So why aren’t they considered Christians?”
Carol Avery Forseth addresses this question and others in her memoir “Gentile Girl: Living with the Latter-day Saints.” Published by Crossroads Press in Fort Collins, Colo., in January 2002, the book centers around the two years Forseth spent at Brigham Young University as part of the “Gentile” minority. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), headquartered in Salt Lake City, consider those who do not belong to the church Gentiles.
Forseth decided to write the book after receiving many requests and realizing she could provide insight into Mormonism because of attending BYU.
“I discounted the idea at first, but the more people said it, the more I realized there was a story worth telling,” Forseth said in an interview. “There’s a lot of curiosity about the Mormons outside Utah, and I was privileged to have this inside look at the church by attending BYU.”
Forseth entered the university as a recently saved Christian who became lonely and oppressed amid people who hold such differing views. She left the university as a confident, secure woman who said she had learned how to peacefully coexist with Mormons.
This candid presentation of Forseth’s evolution and maturing allows the reader to empathize with her situation. Gentile Girl does not read like a boring textbook but is narrated in such a compelling manner the reader has difficulty putting it down. Through learning about Forseth’s relationships, personal struggles and challenges to keep focused on her faith, the reader is captivated and can’t help but learn about actual, up-close-and-personal LDS catechism and practices.
The book also includes three helpful appendices — additional sources, tips on how to treat Mormon friends and Bible verses that contradict Mormon doctrine.
Although various critics criticized the book for not taking a strong stand in either direction, the objective perspective enhances the book. Forseth’s ability to report what she experienced provides for an accurate and fair study of the Latter-day Saints.
Forseth had just become a believer and was baptized at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona when she found she was awarded a full music scholarship to attend BYU. While there, Forseth was involved with a fledgling Baptist Student Union and has since attended many Christian churches — among them Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Presbyterian and others all over the world.
Completing her undergraduate education at the University of North Texas, Forseth earned a master’s degree in English and then attended Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California. Forseth is currently working on a book about the time she spent teaching in Mongolia and China with her family.
And as for the Christian question, Forseth has a diplomatic answer.
“They certainly are by their definition,” she said. “But I believe that the Jesus they worship is significantly different from the Jesus of the Bible.”
Additional information about the book can be viewed at http://www.gentilegirl.com. It is available through LifeWay Christian Stores and other Christian bookstores across the country.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GENTILE GIRL and FORSETH FAMILY.
For a complete listing of all BP Olympic stories, visit: http://www.bpnews.net/bpcollectionnews.asp?ID=18 .