By Kent Larsen
Black LDS Woman Tells Her Story In Essence
MONARCH BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- A black LDS woman is one of three women
that joined "nontraditional" religions who told their stories in the
December issue of Essence, a magazine for Black women. Paulette
Maddox, an active member of the Monarch Beach Ward according to the
article, says she joined the Church in 1994 because it felt right,
"My spirit just felt like, This is so right."
Raised a Baptist in Turner, Arkansas, Maddox drifted away from
religion before moving to California. A chance conversation with her
sons' barber led to missionaries visiting her. "He asked me if I went
to a church," Paulette recalls. "I said, `No, Sam, but I guess I
really need to." The barber gave her name and address to the
missionaries, who ordinarily wouldn't have gotten past the fence of
her gated community.
Maddox says that she felt she should listen to the missionaries from
the start. "As soon as they walked in, I knew they were God-sent,"
she says. "It was how I felt in my heart-- there was a kind of joy
and love that I felt. They had a very sweet spirit about them." While
she visited other churches at the time, Maddox says they didn't feel
the same. "In each place I went, my spirit said, This is definitely
not the place. Not that there was anything negative about them, but I
didn't feel the warm coziness. I felt like, This is fine for them,
but it's not for me." In just a few months she joined the LDS Church.
Since then, Maddox says she has accepted the normal requirements of
Church membership. She attends church each Sunday, accepted callings
to work with the cub scouts, pays her tithing and follows the Word of
Wisdom. She has also learned how to answer the anti-Mormon comments
of her friends, who questioned why she would join a Church with a
racist and sexist reputation. But Maddox says that the racism is in
the past, "There was never a revelation that said they couldn't be in
the priesthood. That was just one of the racist practices of the
And she says women and men have different, gender-specific roles in
the Church, which Maddox says isn't sexist, "I see that there is an
order of things, and we are assigned different places," she says.
"The priesthood and the sisterhood are different, but one isn't
better than the other. The women, as far as I can see, are not put
down." She also likes the way the Church respects her non-member
husband, "If they offer me a calling, they tell me to discuss it with
him. The church doesn't want to cause friction in the family."
Maddox says that the Church has made a big difference in her life.
Before joining the Church, she didn't see a purpose to her life. "I
didn't see the big picture-- I wasn't sure there was a
big picture," she says. "But now I know I am a very special daughter
of God. I feel God's love, which is so exciting because I didn't
Leaps of faith: Finding Her Truth
Essence pg131 Dec00 P2
By Tamara Jeffries: Essence senior health editor
Three women-a Buddhist, a Quaker and a Mormon-find a spiritual haven
in nontraditional religions