“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 political neutrality, questions that help journalists get at the heart of Mormonism, the Church’s global reach, the complex operation required to broadcast Church messages across the world, the Church’s youth seminary program and an unfortunate remark about Latter-day Saint temple garments.
During the BBC’s “World Have Your Say” program last week, a panel of several Latter-day Saints answered listeners’ questions about their faith. Questions covered a wide range of topics, including Church growth, temples, diversity within the Church, interfaith relations and separation of church and state.
Concerning relations with other faiths, one panelist said:
There are good people all over this world and there is wonderful truth. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Judaism or Sikhism or in the Catholic Church, or Buddhism, or wherever it is — there are some wonderful truths that are there. We take truth from wherever it is. … We honor and respect all other religions all across the world.
Regarding the separation of church and state, another panelist noted:
While we will respect other people’s participation in government and we feel members of the Church should be involved in government, we don’t believe government should be used to impose our religious beliefs on others. (See MormonNewsroom.org’s political neutrality video.)
The discussion concludes with panelists describing the Church’s core beliefs, which include Jesus Christ and family.
Listen to the entire discussion at BBC.co.uk.
Patheos.com: “Is Mormonism Ridiculous?”
Taylor Petrey, an assistant professor of religion at Kalamazoo College, says the questions that should be asked and answered during this “Mormon Moment” include:
How does Mormonism handle the big questions? What is the meaning of life, of death, of the terrible and the good in the world? How do Mormon notions about the cosmos affect ethical decisions toward others? What do Mormon narratives about the past and the present offer their adherents?
Petrey also notes that presenting peripheral doctrines as the core of the faith “reveals the inability of people to ask the right kind of questions about religion and to discern how religious people construct their worlds.”
Read the entire article at Patheos.com.
Read more about the Church’s core beliefs.
Deseret News: “Do Mormons really want recognition as a 'mainstream' religion?”
Responding to Noah Feldman’s Bloomberg article regarding Latter-day Saint assimilation into the broader culture, Joseph Walker says the Church “doesn’t seem to be downplaying its distinctive practices and beliefs as much as it is trying to help journalists understand how to approach them.”
Walker says proof of this is “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” a MormonNewsroom.org commentary first published in 2007 and recently republished on the site’s front page. The commentary encourages journalists “to pursue their inquiries into the Church by recognizing the broad and complex context within which its doctrines have been declared, in a spirit of reason and good will.”
Read the entire article at DeseretNews.com.
Read MormonNewsroom.org’s “Approaching Mormon Doctrine.”
Inside Higher Ed: “An Acceptable Prejudice?”
Thomas C. Terry, an associate professor of mass communication at Idaho State University, asks why some are biased against members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Terry points to personal associations with his Latter-day Saint neighbors to prove that they are decent, service-oriented people.
When I first moved to Pocatello, I lived in a cul de sac and seven of my nine neighbors belonged to [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. Nobody tried to convert me. They invited me to church picnics — no pressure. My next-door neighbor spent nearly two hours one weekday morning (he was late to work) helping me restore my snow blower to life after five years in the humid South. Another helped flush and fix my sprinkler system. A third returned my dogs after they’d escaped. Several just showed up with family members to help me move in. A fourth one tossed me the keys to his Cadillac after the transmission in my Suburban disassembled on my driveway. “Bring it back when you don’t need it anymore,” he said.
These are not the faces of intolerance and prejudice.
Read the entire essay at InsideHigherEd.com.
Salt Lake Tribune: “When in Rome … you’ll soon see a Mormon temple”
The Tribune provides a glimpse into the Church’s global reach with an in-depth piece on Latter-day Saint history in Italy, interfaith relationship with the Catholic Church and forthcoming temple in Rome.
The Church’s Rome Italy Temple, the article notes, is a symbol that seems to say, “Mormons have arrived on the world stage and are here to stay.” Statistics back this up: more Latter-day Saints are located outside the U.S. than inside, and 70 of the Church’s 137 operating temples are in other countries.
Read the entire article at SLTrib.com.
Read more about the difference between the Church’s chapels and temples.
The Augusta Chronicle: “Students graduate from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints program in Evans”
Kelly Jasper writes about the Church’s seminary program, including 16 students’ recent graduation from the program at Evans High School in Texas.
“In four years, students memorize 100 Scriptures and work their way through the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and the church’s Doctrine and Covenants,” Jasper says.
Alyssa Urbanawiz, one of this year’s 16 graduates, explains how this year’s seminary study of the Old Testament strengthened her faith. “For the first time, I have seen how God interacted with people in the Old Testament,” she says. “I gained a better sense of how God interacts with me.”
A 60-second video supplements the article and features seminary student Maddison Dayton’s explanation of the seminary program.
Read the entire story at Chronicle.Augusta.com.
Learn more about the Church’s seminary program.
The Herald Journal: “Broadcasting to the world: Technology powers LDS Church connections”
The Herald Journal’s Matthew K. Jensen details the complex operation required for the Church to broadcast messages to Latter-day Saints across the globe.
Jensen quotes David Larsen, a supervising engineer over Church satellites and transmission, who gets at the heart of why the Church puts in such effort to spread its message.
“The goal is that everyone on earth have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Larsen says. “We want everyone to hear that message. It’s a message of joy and peace and hope that can bring families together and make lives happier.”
Read the entire article at HJnews.com.
Getting It Wrong
In addition to these stories that get it right, the following article includes an unfortunate remark about Latter-day Saint temple garments.
ABC News: “Mormons! The Least You Should Know”
ABC’s Gregory J. Krieg article includes several correct statements — Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ, the Church does not practice polygamy, Mormons do not drink or smoke — and points readers to learn more about the Church from Mormon.org.
We appreciate Krieg’s effort to clear up misconceptions with this article, but one topic that he touched on deserves further understanding. He refers to temple garments in a way considered derogatory and offensive to Mormons. The Church asks all media to report on the subject with respect, treating Latter-day Saint temple garments as they would religious vestments of other faiths.
Read more about Latter-day Saint temple garments at MormonNewsroom.org.