Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Edwards, January 20, 2002. Interview R-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Debate between Baptist and Mormon Church

Edwards discusses a debate held between the Baptists and the Mormons in Knightdale, North Carolina. According to Edwards, the debate entailed a civil exchange of ideas of such topics as the spirit world and characterizations of Hell. As elsewhere in the interview, Edwards comments here are indicative of tensions between Mormonism and other prominent religions in the South and the ways in which such tensions were articulated.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Edwards, January 20, 2002. Interview R-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARGARET EDWARDS:
We had a debate in where was it, in Zebulon not Zebulon, Knightdale, we had a debate between the Baptist church and the Mormon church. It was a very civil debate.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Was it televised?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
I don't think it was. It might have been. I don't think it was. But you could only go to the debate by ticket. So I got a ticket, but it wasn't but about four or five from our church that went, and I was one of them. They had a speaker, a teacher from Brigham Young University come out, and they had some people from Southeastern Seminary and from another college. They had three, and they had another professor from Utah. But it was very interesting, and it was very civil.
BARBARA COPELAND:
About the things that they had to talk about and the things that they had to say. It would've been a really good thing to capture all that on tape. Yeah, what were some of the things that they talked about?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Well they, the difference some of the difference that we believe in like the creation and stuff. They saw it differently. The Baptist saw it differently.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Than what the Mormons.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Yeah. It was a lot of things that we believed in it that the Baptists—.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Didn't agree with like the, would you say the after life.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
They didn't believe in that. The Baptists, they didn't believe in that because they say it's not in their doctrine and stuff.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Would you say—
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Sometimes the Baptists came down a little hard too. They came, and they took their little potshots.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Right. Would you also say that some of the things that they probably couldn't agree on were the spirit world? They talk about that pretty much too. The idea that the Latter-day Saints believe that we were spirits before we became into our bodies.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Yeah. We're spiritual children in Heaven.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Did they talk much at all about the concept of a hell, a Hades.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
I don't remember them talking that much about it.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. Because I think if I'm not mistaken within the Mormon church they talk about the outer darkness being cast into outer darkness is what they call it. I don't know that they really call it a hell. Like in the Baptist, the Protestant tradition they talk about the devil and hell and it being down below.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
They call it hell in the book of Mormon. They call it hell and the lake of fire and brimstone.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh they do. Okay. Okay. I thought there were some differences there between the two. Okay, so that must've been an interesting debate that you went to.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
It was. It was.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Was it just for one day? Or how long did it last?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
It lasted for one day.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Oh okay.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
It lasted about three hours.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Who would you say won the debate at the end?
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Well, the professor from Brigham Young I think they did well. I think they won, but the Baptists think that they did. I think they think that they did.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. But they left being friends once it was over.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Yeah, because it was civil, yeah.
BARBARA COPELAND:
That's wonderful.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
Because they had set the rules up nobody, no talking. It was a real nice debate.
BARBARA COPELAND:
I think things like that, they need to have more of those.
MARGARET EDWARDS:
I think so too.
BARBARA COPELAND:
For not only for the members, the church members themselves but also just for the wider community who don't know a lot about one religion or the other. I think it's good to be able to listen to good, civil conversations that people can get their points across and talk about something in a civil fashion.