Today’s edition of “Getting It Right” includes mentions of the Church’s political neutrality, diversity, health practices, youth seminary program and the importance of reporting on the things that motivate Mormons to be good neighbors and citizens.
Columnist Doyle McManus includes the comment from Church Public Affairs managing director Michael R. Otterson that “the things that impel Latter-day Saints to be good neighbors and citizens are left unaddressed” in some media reports.
MormonNewsroom.org includes several resources to help journalists address these issues, including the commentaries “A Mormon Worldview,” “Permanent Things” and “The Religious Experience of Mormonism.”
Salt Lake Tribune: The Church is politically neutral
In a report about the Church in Serbia, the Tribune quotes Bill Silcock, a returned missionary and journalism professor at Arizona State University, who says the Church is politically neutral.
“Fundamental to our beliefs is that members should be active citizens and active in politics, but campaigning is never part of Sunday worship services,” Silcock says, “and no political candidate is ever endorsed over the pulpit whether in Belgrade, Budapest, Boston or Boise.”
Staff writer James D. Davis details the Church’s growth in south Florida, touching on the Church’s diversity, political neutrality and the fact that the Church no longer practices polygamy.
“Polygamy? Long outlawed,” Davis writes. “No tobacco, alcohol or caffeine? Don't do anything that harms the body. Romney? Good man, but the church doesn't endorse candidates.”
Star News: Correcting misconceptions about Mormons
Reporter Ben Steelman addresses several misconceptions about Latter-day Saints. Steelman says the Church does not practice polygamy; “African-Americans serve on Mormon church councils and work as missionaries”; Mormons wear temple garments “as reminders of certain covenants or promises”; and the Church “uses both the Old and New Testaments in worship and views the Book of Mormon as ‘another testament of Jesus Christ,’ which supplements but does not replace early scripture.”
Read more about Latter-day Saints’ basic beliefs in MormonNewsroom.org’s “Mormonism 101:FAQ” piece.
Columnist Lane Williams says although the Church has been the subject of news accounts since its inception, “it’s hard not to be astonished at the breadth, depth and beauty of coverage happening now.” He references a Lexis-Nexis search that shows some 23,000 mentions of “Mormon” in news articles during the past year.
Williams also says “it doesn’t take long to realize that the coverage of the church is rich, varied and filled with examples — good and bad — of how to cover the church.”
The MormonNewsroom.org commentary “Approaching Mormon Doctrine” contains a few simple principles to facilitate a better understanding for journalists reporting on the Church.
The Charlotte Observer: Seminary program helps youth grow
Writing about the Church’s seminary program, reporter Marty Minchin includes quotes that explain why Latter-day Saint youth in the Charlotte area choose to attend seminary.
A recent seminary graduate notes that the program has helped him “figure out what I believe for myself” and “do something hard and follow through with it.”
Seminary is the Church’s four-year religious educational program for high school students. Read more about seminary.
Getting It Wrong
In addition to these stories that get it right, the following article includes misleading reporting about the Church and its political neutrality.
Financial Times: The Church is neutral in matters of party politics
Writer Anna Fifield says “the missionary work that is at the heart of the Mormon religion … could be good preparation” for a “Mormon army” to elect a political candidate.
Because Fifield omits the Church’s position of political neutrality, these comments could give the impression that the Church itself is interested in that candidate’s election. This, of course, is not true. While the Church encourages its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics.
Read more about the Church’s political neutrality.