I read a very interesting article on a teacher who is non-Mormon that taught a college course in Germany on Mormonism.
She discussed the attitudes of many of her students when she brought up the topic of Mormonism. Having been a missionary in Germany nearly 20 years ago, I wasn’t surprised to hear some of her examples such as Mormons being cultish, blasphemis, Mormons are only interested in other people to convert them, and so on. One stereotype I hadn’t heard, but can see why they said it was Mormons being overly concerned about money. The kicker was when she said a missionary came in and told the class God brought the Berlin Wall down in 1989 because East Germany was willing to allow Mormon missionaries into the country.
As I removed myself from looking at that situation from a Mormon perspective and put myself into the situation of one of the students, I can completely see where the stereotypes come from. Many of us as Mormons appear cultish in that we clump together and don’t associate with people of other faiths. If we do associate with them, we try to proselyte to them and if they don’t accept, we dust our feet off and move on.
Regarding the money stereotype, the scriptures always talk about obeying God and then being prosperous. Perhaps we put too much emphasis on the being prosperous part and not obeying God part.
Finally, I feel there is also a sense of Mormons feeling they may be a bit better than other people in other faiths since we’re in the “one true church” and all good things that happen in the world are a result of the good Mormons (as alluded to by the missionary in the example).
I hear Mormons scoff and complain sometimes at the fact that people have these stereotypes towards us, but maybe we are the ones who create those stereotypes.