Q&A: Questions and Answers


Responses are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“Kids at school are always harassing and making fun of me because they know I’m a member of the Church. What’s the best way to deal with it?”

New Era

  • Prayerfully decide whether you will ignore the harassment or talk about it with those who harass you.

  • As you stand up for yourself and your beliefs, don’t hurt or make fun of those who harass you.

  • Try to follow the Savior’s example. Be kind, patient, and forgiving. Being a good example is a way of sharing your testimony.

  • “Blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (3 Ne. 12:10).

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). The Lord’s disciples often have to endure persecution. Think of Nephi, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. The Savior Himself was mocked and “despised and rejected of men” (Isa. 53:3). Persecution occasionally still exists for Latter-day Saints today.

Two ways to handle this problem are to ignore the harassment or to talk to those who make fun of you. Either way, pray for guidance on how best to respond, and be a good example. You can also ask your parents for advice. If people in your ward or branch have gone through the same thing, they can tell you how they handled it.

You could ignore the harassment if you aren’t going to see those kids anymore after school ends. In the meantime, be patient, pray for strength, and try not to let it bother you.

But if you are going to see those kids for a while, consider talking with them about their harassment. Sometimes, those who make fun of Church members do so because they don’t understand our beliefs. They say things like, “You don’t believe in Christ,” or, “If you don’t drink alcohol, you can’t have a good time.” In that case, you could let them know that you believe in Jesus Christ and that you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. Or let them know that you choose not to drink alcohol, and you can have a good time without it.

When you are harassed, try to follow the Savior’s example in the way you react. The Lord didn’t get angry or try to get back at those who hurt Him. He loved them and didn’t take offense. When you need encouragement, read what the Apostle Peter taught about the Lord’s example in 1 Peter 2:20–23.

If you seek the Lord’s help in this trial, it can be an opportunity to strengthen your faith and to show those kids a Christlike example. Your life is the symbol of your faith in the Lord, says President Gordon B. Hinckley: “As His followers, we cannot do a mean or shoddy or ungracious thing without tarnishing His image. Nor can we do a good and gracious and generous act without burnishing more brightly the symbol of Him whose name we have taken upon ourselves. And so our lives must become a meaningful expression, the symbol of our declaration of our testimony of the Living Christ” (“The Symbol of Our Faith,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 6).

Elder Robert D. Hales

“There is meaning and purpose in our earthly challenges. Consider the Prophet Joseph Smith: throughout his life he faced daunting opposition—illness, accident, poverty, misunderstanding, false accusation, and even persecution. … Each of us must go through certain experiences to become more like our Savior. In the school of mortality, the tutor is often pain and tribulation, but the lessons are meant to refine and bless us and strengthen us, not to destroy us.” —Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Faith through Tribulation Brings Peace and Joy,” Ensign, May 2003, 17.

Readers

If I were in your place, I would try to bear the humiliation without retaliation, because they do not know what they are doing. I would try to be a good example and do my best to be exemplary in words and deeds. Fe’ofa’aki L., 15, Tonga

Take the situation as your opportunity to share the gospel through your example. The Lord admonished us to be patient in afflictions, that we may show forth good examples unto them in Him (see Alma 17:11). Leah N., 19, Philippines

Never verbally or physically threaten those who may abuse you. Looking back at high school, I could not have made it through some of the taunting I endured without having a fixed hope in the Lord and love of Him and His commandments. When you walk out the doors on your last day of school, you will never see most of those people again. Make the decision to walk out with your head high and your testimony strong, knowing that you were true to the standards of the Lord. Samuel B., 19, Québec, Canada

The method I use to solve the problem is to have a strong belief in our Heavenly Father. He may be allowing us to be tested so that we can become stronger. I believe that He loves all His children, and that is why He disciplines us. We should not think too much about what others say, because it may only confuse us or make us scared. However, we should continue to be a good example to our friends. And we should stand firm as a witness in all truth and live our lives according to the standards of what is right. Apechard S., 18, Thailand

I know how you feel. In my school, the children think that I am strange and that I am “too” good because I never swear or do inappropriate things. I felt very much alone, but I made friends with some girls who have good hearts, although they are not members of the Church. Today, whenever students need help with something, they come to me because they know that I am a member of the Church, that I would never lie, and that they can trust me. Ester K., 11, Brazil

You can confront the harassment in simple ways, such as praying for those people and trying to talk kindly with them about our Church and its principles. Always be an example of kindness and charity, and always show them that your faith is stronger than their criticism and mistreatment. I know this will produce results because I have put it into practice, and my classmates were able to understand me and respect me as a member of the Church. Karen P., 18, Paraguay

As members of the Church, we should help those who don’t know about the truth. My classmates made fun of me and said things about the Church. I felt bad, but I prayed with faith and asked my Heavenly Father to help me help them understand. I helped them, and now they support me. Ricay R., 14, Honduras

I know how it is to get harassed for being a member of our Church. It has been my experience that when you are not ashamed of the gospel and the Church and you stand up for your morals and standards, people recognize that they aren’t getting anywhere by making fun of you. Kids who harass you are just unfamiliar with what you are all about. Kelly E., 18, Utah

[photo] Photograph by David Stoker, posed by models