I have lived in Boise since I was a little kid.  I’m also a member of The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  When some people consider a move to Boise, they wonder how “Mormon” the community is.  Well, here’s your answer.

16% of Boise residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (according to City Data).  So chances are good that if you live in Boise, there will be one Latter-Day Saint living on your street.  However, Latter-Day Saints are certainly in the minority–even amongst religions in general.  44% of Boise residents say they are affiliated with a specific religion, which means fewer than half of all active religious people in Boise are members of the church.

Boise has many Mormon churches around the Treasure Valley, and there are Mormon temples in Boise as well as Meridian.

The official name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”  While some people incorrectly call us as the “Mormon Church,” we prefer the full name of the church so as to emphasize our belief in Jesus Christ.

How Does the Latter-Day Saint Culture Affect the Boise “Vibe”?

Boise is a wonderful place to live.  If you love the outdoors, you’ll love hearing that Idaho has more public land than any other state except Alaska.  We love fishing, hunting, white water rafting, mountain biking, dirt biking, and camping.  We destroy any football team who dares enter the blue turf at Bronco Stadium, and we like our guns.  But all of that is just generalities.  I know lots of people who despise the outdoors and who (gasp) don’t watch BSU football.

One thing is for certain, though, it is definitely pronounced “Boy-See” and never “Boy-Zee.”  If you say “Boize”, we’ll know immediately that you’re from California 🙂  (That was a joke).

Boise is quite the melting pot of races and nationalities.

Boise is a very family-oriented community.

Contrary to popular perception, most Boiseans have never even met a potato farmer.

I’m not really sure how much of Boise’s vibe is affected by Mormons.  Personally, I think it has to do a lot more with just the conservative people who live here.

Idaho has always been a very conservative state in terms of politics, morality, and its general view on life.  So to the extent that this also coincides with Mormon culture, then yes I’d say Boise is a very conservative place.  If you’re a raging liberal, hate guns, love abortion, and like the idea of a welfare state, then it’s going to be difficult to fit into the Boise political culture.

However, Mormons do not have a designated political leaning.  Harry Reid was the minority and majority leader in the US Senate and is a Mormon.  At the same time, Mitt Romney, also a Mormon, was running for president as a Republican.

As for shopping, most stores are open in Boise on Sundays even though Mormons don’t shop on Sundays.  Most stores sell alcohol and coffee even though Mormons don’t drink coffee or alcohol.

Do Latter-Day Saints Keep to Themselves?

I have occasionally heard non-Mormons say they felt like the Mormons keep to themselves.  I wouldn’t agree with this, but I do think there are things both Mormons and non-Mormons can do to integrate with each other more.

Honestly, I think the only real issue is that people seem to spend time with those who are like them.  As a Mormon, I have certain values and goals in my life.  I also live by a personal code of conduct that includes things like not drinking alcohol, going to church on Sunday, etc.  Some of those things make me different, and it’s nice to be with others who understand that.

This “peculiarity” of Mormons could lead to two things: (1) Mormons could want to be with other Mormons because that’s where they feel understood.  This may make others feel like Mormons only keep to themselves.  (2) It could lead others to feel like Mormons are different and exclude them.  I have seen BOTH of these scenarios play out in Boise.

I do think Mormons need to be careful not to do anything that could make it seem like Mormons keep to themselves and don’t include others.  But similarly, I think some people just never seek to understand Mormons at all, and exclude them because of that.

If you are reading this and are a non-Mormon, my advice to you if you see this situation is to simply learn to understand what it means to be Mormon.  You don’t have to go to church or get converted or anything.  Just at least understand why we are the way we are.  Talk to a Mormon and ask some questions.  If you do, you’ll really help toward making Mormons feel comfortable and understood around you, and the divide will be gone.  In my personal experience, I have been great friends with plenty of non-Mormons who were respectful and supportive of my religious affiliation and we got along great.  I also knew those who were really antagonistic and weird about it, and it made the relationship difficult to develop.

Both Mormons and non-Mormons need to work to understand and include one another.

Generally, this is not an issue at all in Boise.   I have friends who are not of our faith and we get along just fine 🙂

9 Comments

  1. I was really good friends with a Mormon gal in college. I truly enjoyed our time together, as long as we’re both agreed to keep our differences to ourselves. I got where, if she said, “we believe in …” I’d say, “oh! WE believe in…” This was usually a Good reminder!

  2. Sorry but I had no prejudices against mormons until I moved to Boise. They have invaded state government – hiring other mormons instead of more qualified applicants. They cruelly exclude and isolate non-morman children in their neighborhoods and schools. They are judgemental and believe they are superior to anyone else, even when proven wrong. I really wish they weren’t here.

    1. You’re judging an entire religion of people based on a few things you’ve seen in individuals. You don’t know me, or my family, or all of the thousands of members of the church in the city. It’s wrong to assume negative things about those people who you don’t even know–because of their religion.

      I don’t see a Muslim and assume the worst. I don’t see a Catholic and assume the worst. I see an individual. It’s not right to make blanket judgements of everyone who is a member of a religion because of the actions of another person who professes the religion.

      People have been judging and castigating one another based on religion for thousands of years. When will it end? Why can’t we just accept that all religions have people who do wrong things, but to not assume things about people because they believe something different?

      1. Being judgmental is human nature. It’s hard to separate a person’s beliefs from characterizing them. It’s not always wise to separate the two. I’m a Christian, and I’m very proud of that. When a member of your faith calls me lost, and it has happened, it has been surprising. I don’t have anything against Mormons, in the same way that I have nothing against Jehova’s Witnesses, Islamic people or Budhist people. I just don’t agree with them and in the end, God will judge.

    2. Well..we were contemplating a move to Boise this fall. This might help with our decision. We attended a LDS church in our state for about a month or two and decided it wasn’t for us. We did see this exclusion of our son as soon as we left. The boys were kind to my son but he was excluded from play and never invited to anything..ever. My husband runs a small business and was also dropped from over a dozen members schedules the next month. It was very strange. We still talk to one member of the church once a year. Sad to hear this as we realize our business couldn’t thrive here if we were LDS. Why are they so clickey ?Christ’s love is for all. Wish they would drop this recruitment style Christianity. Oh, also my son was in boyscouts right before the church dumped them for their own program. We agreed Boy Scouts was getting weird. My son wanted to stay in his troop after we decided not to attend the church. We waited for the phone call but never heard from them. We met a new member of that ward in a store through casual convo and they said they had started that program months ago. We went the night of the meeting and they looked like they saw a ghost. None of the boys even interacted with my kid. It was sad and disheartening. We don’t drink, smoke or do drugs so there was no reason to worry about our characters. The LDS neighbors in our hood say hi and that’s about it. Used to be invited over to their homes all the time. FYI a lot of them drink. Anyway. Thx for the honest comment. The LDS have such good ideals but need to expand that love they have and not alienate people from towns.

  3. Interesting that locals pronounce it Boy-see. My grandmother was originally from Idaho Falls and said Boy-zee! Has this always been the case amongst the natives, I wonder. It comes from the French word boisé meaning ‘wooded’ and the letter S is pronounced Z between two vowels in French. This is actually the case for many English words as well, as in rose, prose, rise, reason, etc. Apparently Western American accents are changing and words like these are often pronounced with an S sound by younger generations. Would be fun to listen to old recordings of people from Boise.

  4. Sorry, Jim but I lived in Boise too and I happen to agree wholeheartedly with Lin Muller. I was extremely involved in many social activities of a volunteer nature. I headed St. Luke’s Hospital’s major yearly fund raiser for 2 years….no Mormons on my committees. Ditto can be said for the Zoo Board, the Symphony Board, the art museum board, etc, etc. No Mormons involve themselves in any civic activities. I was warned not to let my children get close to any of the Mormon kids in the neighborhood because as soon as they hit 8 or 9, they are no longer allowed to have anything to do with your children ever again. And there was never an explanation. Who gets hurt? YOUR kids. They never attended any neighborhood cookouts and nobody expected them to. I stopped bothering to wave at my Mormon neighbors if we passed on a road when I realized they just weren’t going to ever wave back.
    What the previous poster commented is entirely true. They have an extremely annoying attitude that if you aren’t LDS, then you are somehow subpar to their self installed superiority. Everyone I knew gave them wide berth…they are narcissistic and annoying as Hell when you must deal with them whether you like it or not. They become extremely haughty if you don’t agree with what they want. ‘Don’t you know that I’m Mormon? Sit down and accept what I say!’ Yeah, right, buddy. I think not, you arrogant prick.
    Mormons are without question the most standoffish and extremely unpleasant neighbors I’ve ever had the misfortune to live by and it’s too damn bad if you don’t agree.

    1. Sheila, it seems that you’ve developed some deep prejudices based on the actions of a couple individuals you’ve met, which you’re apply to an entire religion of people.

      “No mormons involve themselves in any civic activities.” That statement is ludicrous. I personally was very involved in civic activities in Boise. Several mayors and many city councilors I personally know are members of the church. Many of our state’s congresspeople are members of the church. I personally worked with countless local charities in representing the church. I personally went and invited every church in the Star/Middleton area to participate in service projects for the city together.

      “I was warned not to let my children get close to any of the Mormon kids in the neighborhood because as soon as they hit 8 or 9, they are no longer allowed to have anything to do with your children ever again.” What in the world!??!? My kids played with many kids who weren’t members of our church. I grew up in Boise and did the same. I worked in our youth program and all of them had friends who weren’t members of our church. That’s simply not true.

      “They never attended any neighborhood cookouts”. What? I always went to neighborhood events and saw half of our church congregation there.

      You have made some VERY hasty generalizations about all members of the church that are simply not true. You have seen very few anecdotal experiences and have extrapolated that to an entire religion of people. That’s not right. It’s not right to do that to someone based on their race. It’s not right to do that based on their religion.

  5. Thank you the statistical info abt Boise.
    I am writing from the UK.

    I am a ‘Gentile (term for non ‘Later Day Saint’. Also ‘2c’
    Canyon county where the more agriculture % of LDS live.

    Surprised to hear Merdian has a Temple now too. Toured the Boise one prior to being ‘Sealed.

    5 generations of my family are buried in the 80 long Boise Valley.
    Closest in age sister and her 5 children (minor joke) Husband I assume by now a ‘Bishop’.

    Part of the ‘keep to them selfes’ friction, is due to the strength of doing business only with other ‘Saints’. The having your own ‘phone book’, presumably w yellow pages. Brilliantly reinforcingone of the benefits related to the comprehensive requirements.

    LDS discriminated against suffered in the mid 1800’s are. intentionally arranged as a ‘country inside a country’. Constantly reinforced totally self sufficient, a obvious powerfull incentive of benefits.

    Please edit out your crude judgmental comment that any one ‘loves abortion’, not all women with more mouths to feed than they alone provide for, have the ‘Bishops Storehouse’ stunning perfect internal church ‘welfare program’…employment and all! Your own tribunal court for ‘fallen aways’ indiscretions, Trying to prevent them from becoming ‘Jack Mormons.

    I resist wondering out loud abt your infamous St Geo, UT current hm. Notably not Boise all your life and world travel but doing what?.

    I suggest tempering your apolistizing not judging others from a totally inclusive birth to grave, one way or no way system your loyalty I have read in print.

    My sister found identity as queen of her family, the price I see in her face hurts me knowing how hard a convert must work to get to her ‘sealed for all time husbands’ world where everyone else will be for sure too.

    I just have never figured out what age and how will who reconize each other.

    I doubt this will stay up and intend to not rise to any debate.

    I really wish everyone had the safety net for any eventuality being a member provides those who pay 15% of their income to keep going.

    It is a wonder to have coexistenced with so long. Deeply frighting the creativity sacerficed, free choice slim to none.

    2c

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