It always amuses me when I hear someone lecture another person about "judging others". The fact is, everybody judges. It's a survival tactic. If people didn't have the gift of judgment, everybody would constantly be getting into trouble. Indeed, a well developed ability to judge can lead to wisdom and power... or, at the very least, a somewhat happier lifestyle.
This topic comes up again this week because I have been househunting from afar. As I search for new digs in our new state, I have to rely on photos and descriptions to judge whether or not I want to rent a particular property. My husband and I are not just looking for a place to live; we are also looking to hire a landlord. And like anyone in a business arrangement, we want to find a landlord with whom we can be mutually compatible.
Now... as it so happens, as I was looking at rental properties, I came across one priced at $1095 per month. There were plenty of pictures. I could see by the pictures that the people who occupied that house were devout Mormons. I don't know who actually owns the house, but I do know that the very religious wall art was an immediate turn off. And I knew that we wouldn't be renting that particular property. To be honest, I doubt we would have rented it anyway, but I have to admit the wall art was a deal breaker.
On the surface, perhaps that judgmental reaction I had makes me look like a bigot. But think about this. My husband is an ex-Mormon. He left the church several years ago and now lives a lifestyle that goes against the church's teachings. He doesn't do anything illegal, nor does he do anything particularly sinful. He does love his coffee, tea, wine, and beer, though. In fact, he brews his own beer. It could very well be that the folks who own that house were just renting to Mormons. It could be that the owners are LDS, but open-minded and only care that the rent check gets to them on time.
But based on our experiences with members of the LDS church, the fact that my husband went apostate could very well be an issue. This is a church that famously sends many of its young people on missions around the world, hoping to convert others to their way of thinking. Even if the house was just rented by Mormons, chances are good we'd get visits from missionaries looking for new recruits. My husband has been there and done that and doesn't want to go back to it, thank you.
When I related this story to another person, he berated me for being judgmental and silly. He brought up all the other religions of the world and the stereotypes that surround them. He asked, "What about all the Catholics with crosses on their walls? Or the Jews with their stars of David? Or the Baptists with their Bibles?" Two can play at that game. I asked him how any of those people might feel if they walked into a rental home that had murals of naked people painted on the walls? Or pentagrams etched into the ceiling? Or, say the homeowners were into kink and had installed a built-in dungeon in the basement? Would we expect devoutly religious people to just accept those idiosyncrasies without "judgment"? Probably not.
Chances are, if the folks who own that house are Mormons, they're looking for other Mormons to rent from them. They most likely wouldn't be comfortable with my husband's beer brewing, especially since he still has a quad on his bookshelf. They would probably want to be able to send their old friends by to check on the place and "return and report". In short, they'd want to rent to the "right kind of people". And as renters, we want to rent from the "right kind of people"... people who aren't going to be upset by the way we live our lives.
Besides... anyone who would set the rent at $1095 per month as opposed to $1100 per month is probably an asshole, anyway. But who am I to judge, right?