Of the 16,193 students who attended BYU-Idaho during Fall Semester 2014, 42 were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students of non-Latter-day Saint denominations made up 0.25 percent of the university’s student population.
Living in an area and attending school with so many members of another religion has allowed them an insider’s view of the beliefs, culture and lives of Latter-day Saint students at BYU-I. These members of other denominations have also experienced what it is like when Latter-day Saints find out they are members of other faiths.
“I’ve had some people just think it was cool that I decided to go here, and they were just really supportive and would answer my questions,” said Miriam Steiner (name has been changed at her request), a BYU-I student who was raised Lutheran and is considering being baptized into the Church. She said she chose to come to BYU-I because she liked the environment and appreciated the Honor Code.
Steiner also ran into situations she did not like when people found out she was not a Latter-day Saint.
“Some would always be making an effort to go out of their way to share their testimony and to ask me why I wasn’t baptized yet or what was the problem that was causing me to take so long,” she said. “I had a girl tell me that it must be hard to find out that my baptism was invalid and that it didn’t count for anything.”
Steiner said this comment hurt her.
“I felt that my baptism was valid, and no matter what anyone said, it was special to me,” she said.
Nate Williams, a BYU-I religion professor, teaches an Introduction to Mormonism course to students who usually are not Latter-day Saints or who are converts to the Church. He said that the majority of the students he teaches like the openness, kindness and outgoing nature of people at BYU-I. However, they can also face difficulties here.
“They really wrestle, I think, with feeling judged,” he said.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.