You need to know that Wikipedia reports Utah as being the most homogeneous state in the Union, with 60% of the population base being reported as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS members). It is more like 50%-60% in St George I believe.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the experience of other people being impacted by LDS people and its churches teachings is what is being discussed in this question. Also, I want to disclose that I am LDS.
I increasingly, when searching for information and venue stats/reports about the area, I run into stories of others who report their experience of living here. In the past, I've read some reviews of people who have been affected both negative and positively. However, just as our TV news often focuses on the negative, it somehow gets an inordinately higher report than the good news. Similarly, I think there can be more the negative reported possibly than is actually existent over the positive. I consider why most would even be inclined to make a report- sadly it I think it is often when things are negative and not positive. This has made me want to help others looking to relocate to this area from other backgrounds to properly see the whole picture- to set the record straight.
Basically, just like anywhere, you can have good neighbors or not so good ones. We, here in the St George Utah area, are not immune to the possibilities that may have nothing to do with religion.
Much of the LDS peoples presence in the area applies somewhat to vicinity of historic migration- the early pioneers were LDS (Mormon). So, it is a bit more historical in nature and not just the ideology of a people holding only to its own beliefs. As the world had grown more accepting of others who are different, it is the same here. Granted when you see each other at church every Sunday, you might tend to talk to that neighbor over the fence a little more, whatever the religion, sport or common interest. It is not exclusive LDS caricature.
But let's look under the hood at the beliefs that influence the "holding to its own" vs. the "opening up more to others" interplay. First, one of the 13 Articles of Faith of the per-dominant LDS faith says "We claim the privilege of worshiping the almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may".
Non-distinction, tolerance, respect and love seem to be the main consideration given any individual or class of people when it comes to LDS deep down beliefs. Peoples seem accepting by nature of being a person, not a person of a particular religion.
However, the human tenancy and brains tenancy to class certain people into a certain group or another is all the same here as anywhere. Yet, I maintain it is based on the more hurried lifestyle of urban America, more than any impact of local belief system. More and more we come home and talk less with the neighbor in our yard, and more with our TV's, our entertainment centers, our painted garage floor that we could eat off of, and sometimes our kids. Sadly, we drive into the garage, shut that cave-like door down after a long day, to retreat into our homes.
It is as it should be, when to be more neighborly- it almost has to be a belief. This is where I think the local belief system, while indoctrinate, lends to a "more friendly people" than normal, in my own personal estimations.
After talking about a genuine side of being probably more friendly, you need to be prepared for how your LDS neighbors are also taught to be 'available for sharing' if need be. There is enough of a total life style involvement in the faith of the LDS member, that there has become an overly mysterious element or mystique that often needs to get resolved in peoples minds, involving the LDS people, being a little peculiar then. That may tempt many who come here to eventually want to know more [or less] about their neighbors. And while neighbors are taught to treat others by the Golden Rule, they also do have some teachings about being available to share the faith if an occasion arises. But let's be fair, actual sharing, quite frankly, is not very often; my guess on average, the subject might be broached, on the high side, maybe once every two years for the average citizen surrounded by LDS neighbors, employees or friends. It might even be indirect, like in terms of an invite to a social function. Members while taught to share, have also been taught to not wear their religion on their shoulder. Think of it this way, there is such a large commitment that is made inside the faith, that any member ascertains there would have to be a genuine interest in order to sustain any kind of sharing experience anyway.
Another dynamic looms larger than the predominant religion, as to ascertain ones desire to move here, if you are a retiree. That factor involves more of a Life Cycle Evaluationthan it does a religious one. To be retired and living in a mixed neighborhood of Families and Retirees, goes to the luck of the draw. As a Retiree I might ask myself, "Will I get more families around me or more retirees if I move into this neighborhood?". So, remember, while religious affiliation may play a role as to the big families, having more kids IS exhausting in and of itself. And if being responsible to all those kids would take your neighbor completely sometimes away from YOU, it is not reflective of an alienation process. Rather it is a Life Cycle Process. All the more reason, if I were a Retiree, I'd be asking a local Retirement Professional, "Where are the areas that seem to be areas where it might be composed of 'mostly retirees' if not an exclusive 55+ neighborhood?". I am just such a specialist and have even made a map that features areas I think that entail that, with the listings automatically populated inside it, updated in real time. All you have to do is ask/text me for it at: 435-632-0250.
Also, we have one larger 55+ community of Sun River, set up with all the amenities, that is increasingly becoming more heterogeneous. Ask them, but I would estimate only 20% (vs. 50-60%) of the people being of an LDS background.
Please be aware that perhaps over half the stores shut down on Sunday, there are very few coffee or alcohol places or pubs; and the main street life, shops, cafes, is only a couple blocks long or so. We do have strip malls, and all the various varieties of drug stores, hobby shops, stores, alternate hardware and commercial outlets.
I happen to know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches values that are very much a friend to the common person and are all part of the "golden rule". I am here to tell you, after pretending to some objectivity, my bias, of how passionate I am about the unique culture of our area being inclusive of all people from all faiths or backgrounds and that taken in total, of the other variables contributing, that any faith here, represents being an asset and not a liability to people of other faiths or non-faiths and backgrounds.
I am open to any questions in this area and I, Brian Habel, as your REALTOR®, feel like it is just a non-issue and as such am open to any and all and the myriad of questions people seem to ask about this area. So ask away!
Mostly... I am just all about real estate when doing real estate. Mostly I just discuss homes and home values, areas such as Greater St George or Hurricane Valley, events, sometimes stores and restaurants, things to do, and the such- that really do have nothing to do with religion at all. This FAQ is for getting this other full on education under foot for those 'out of townees' who really might appreciate this having been addressed. I'm hoping more for the appreciation of helping these few 'relocatees' get a feel for the "unique" culture here, than anything else. Find out more about me or the area here at our blog.
I'm trained in our local real estate contract paper work, negotiations and appraisal skills. I receive ongoing training and like to focus on ongoing education. I am sensitive to issues surrounding exploitation of different minority groups. I like to consider that I've been trained to be sensitive to peoples from different ethnic or socio-ecomomic or religious backgrounds. Having obtained a Masters of Arts in Counseling in my college years and history qualifies me to say I've had some experience in this- it was a mix of liberal and conservative education. I'm experienced in the real nuts and bolts of negotiations, house showings, and key information gathering that makes a real estate transaction successful. I have great relations in the real estate community that often helps immensely as well. Please call/text me anytime for your real estate needs or to ask any questions about this area at: 435-632-0250, my cell phone. Thank you!
School Version: 9c) How does the LDS (Mormon) culture affect social circles of acceptance within the local school system?
This is a crucial question that is fair to ask since there is a per-dominant religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area.
Perhaps the best way to address this question is to assess to what extent the children and youth see religion as the basis for acceptance or non-acceptance at large. While there is a predominant pressure within the faith to conform to standards and rules, they tend to be keeping within the nature of what is decent and cordial and nice. In other words, a wholesome view of respect toward others is so taken on the whole, that it is my belief that it is largely a non-issue at school. Also, I think it would be only the more rare perceived injustice that might try to incite exceptions to this.
Inside the LDS faith, the youth age 12 and up meet on a weekly basis for what they call Mutual, usually mid-week, which is an activity night structured around activities conducive to sports, games, values teaching, camping, hiking and the likes. Because these kids see each other more often, naturally you'd wonder if they aren't prone to be close knit to the default exclusion of others. Some of this could and probably does happen, if all be it on a superficial level. While on the surface there could be some of that going on, I'm going to peradventure that it often the opposite effect could be in play. For instance, in other areas of the country you have youth leading themselves, like in social stigma groups or clicks, for instance.
These youth are all taught good manners and values on a constant basis. I might be living in my own la la land I acknowledge. Still... and I know I'm going out on a limb, but I think there is more an opposite affect toward others that are not part of their group, they get treated more cordial, than if there was not any predominant religion present. Personally, I see an absence of so many of the problems I grew up with in my more heterogeneous school systems, particularly with regards to bullying and making fun, enough for me to speculate only, because I am LDS- but that I think that most other/non-denominational youth AND children here have just the opposite experience, a better chance to feel more accepted and appreciated. The LDS faith is also very missionary schooled and minded, that the example and treatment of others, to include "tolerance", fosters a recognition to the values they teach, as having won others over, with that example of genuine friendship that is common to humanity. Now, I know for sure this is probably not always the case [nor the correct caricature]. I'm just going out on a limb to say in more cases than not.
In all fairness, to play out another side, there is a possible down side in more recognition of the mere incidence that friends tend to gravitate to each other as a basis of what is already friendly. It may be a challenge in some instances to break into that social circle. To some degree, that can be true, but only because those kids may see each other more at church or weekly activities. Kids will be kids and generally speaking, I don't think there is any kind of social segregation of any kind that is not directly related to just that factor alone, of seeing each other more. However, keep in mind that another 40-50% are non-LDS, a fairly large crowd do not share this orientation, so that other opportunities abound. So with regards to the religion, mainly because tolerance and respect are the better rules of the day, that kids do not see religion when they go to school, they see other kids. Also, with regards to the predominant religion, it is not any more isolating of others, that I know of, than if it was a different religion. The same scenario can play out for adults.
I am LDS, and have heard from a non-LDS real estate assistant, that it is a lot like living in a skiing town when you don't ski- just like that would not be a big deal, it is not a big deal here either. I'm sure exceptions abound, but there are chances anywhere, we might have all had that experience with the unkind school bully or brat, it just comes with the territory no matter where you are at. Particularly when we were children we acted like it, such that when we became adults, we put away childish things. At least for me, I hope and count on it being so.