“Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right” presents several recent news articles, blog posts or videos that, in our view, provide accurate and fair reporting on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as those that misrepresent the faith to readers. Don't forget to discuss these stories on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Today’s edition of “Getting It Right” includes stories about the Church’s political neutrality, family history efforts, belief in Jesus Christ and global reach. Another article does not make the important distinction between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and splinter groups that practice polygamy.
Salt Lake Tribune: “Romney bid an opportunity, challenge for Church”
Thomas Burr, the Tribune’s senior Washington correspondent, provides a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the challenge a politically neutral Church faces in addressing politically motivated questions during this period some journalists have called the “Mormon Moment.”
Burr includes several comments from the Church’s media relations director, Michael Purdy, who notes that political interest from journalists “creates challenges for us. We are happy to address questions about the church but do not want to weigh into the politics. Some do not want to separate the two.”
Read the entire story at SLTrib.com.
Also see MormonNewsroom.org’s political neutrality video.
Read the Church's political neutrality statement.
The Birmingham News: “Church leader: Church doesn't support any candidates or party”
Following a visit to Latter-day Saints in Birmingham, Alabama, Elder Larry W. Gibbons of the Seventy tells The Birmingham News’ Kent Faulk that the Church does not “support any political candidate or any political party. The church would take a stand on a moral issue but not support a political candidate.”
Faulk also provides Elder Gibbons the opportunity to explain that the Church’s core doctrine is rooted in Jesus Christ.
“We believe, first and foremost, in God the eternal father and his son Jesus Christ,” Gibbons says. “We try our best to follow Christ.”
Read the entire article at al.com.
NBC 10 Philadelphia: “Who Are the Mormons?”
NBC 10’s Steve Highsmith attends a symposium hosted by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Latter-day Saint panelists answer questions and correct misperceptions, including the fact that the Church’s core doctrine is belief in Jesus Christ and that the Church does not practice polygamy.
Highsmith calls the event “a warm, engaging evening, perhaps the beginning of future discussions.”
Watch the entire video at NBCphiladelphia.com.
Patheos.com’s “Black, White and Gray”: “Tracing Your Ancestry? Thank a Mormon!”
Jerry Park, an associate professor of sociology and an affiliate fellow of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, says “you may want to send a thank-you to [The] Church of Jesus Christ of [Latter-day] Saints” for its genealogy efforts.
Park makes these comments after watching a recent episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots. The program shows that, thanks to the work of Latter-day Saint genealogists at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, researchers were able to discover records that contain information about one celebrity's family back to the 1200s. (The Family History Library portion of the program starts at the 40:55 mark.)
Read Park’s entire post at Patheos.com.
Washington Post: “Are Mormons Christian?”
In a recent opinion piece published in the Washington Post, Brigham Young University professor Robert L. Millet writes that the Church “is built upon the person, power and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is our King, our Lord, and our God.”
Read Professor Robert L. Millet’s full article at WashingtonPost.com.
Patheos.com’s “Speaking Silence”: “How Do Mormons Understand the Gospel?”
While acknowledging that Latter-day Saint doctrine differs in some ways from that of other Christians, Brigham Young University professor James Faulconer also notes important common ground.
“There is little difference between us in our understanding of the gospel,” Faulconer says. “We share the message that Jesus died for our sins, that we can be saved from ourselves to live as children of God rather than his enemies (Rom. 8:14; Mosiah 3:19).”
Read the entire post at Patheos.com.
The Herald Journal: “Church a nice blend of familiarity, uniqueness”
Following a trip to southeast Asia, Emilie H. Wheeler writes about the uniqueness and familiarity in Latter-day Saint congregations across the globe.
Describing Church meetings in Singapore, Wheeler says:
The lessons, conversation and viewpoints were fascinating. The lessons, while on the same gospel principles discussed here in Cache Valley [Utah], were given in ways that incorporated their very different lives. A new Stake High Councilor talked about his conversion experience years prior and mission among his own people. The Relief Society teacher discussed a marital challenge that could have happened to anyone throughout the world.
The Church is indeed a global faith, with more members outside the U.S. than inside.
Read the entire article at HJnews.com.
Getting It Wrong
In addition to these stories that get it right, the following article includes misleading reporting about the Church and polygamy.
The Philly Post: “Pennsylvania and Mormons Go Way Back”
While we appreciate that journalist Victoria Wolk includes information about Mormons’ belief in Jesus Christ and the Bible, she also says, “Mormons don’t typically have a half-dozen wives.” And, although her following paragraph correctly says the Church “has denounced polygamy for more than a century,” we wish that Wolk had made an effort to make the important distinction between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and splinter groups that practice polygamy.
The Associated Press Stylebook says, “The term Mormon is not properly applied” to any group but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also, using the term “Mormon” for any group other than Church members confuses the issue with those who may read the article. Furthermore, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) stated the following about polygamy in the Church’s October 1998 general conference: “I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church.”
Read more on MormonNewsroom.org’s “Polygamy” topic page.