Today’s “Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right” features two Religion News Service articles — one about the Church’s interfaith outreach, the other about the service Mormons provide in their communities. We also include an article from the New York Times about how the Church helps transform lives.
Religion News Service: Evangelicals and Mormons Finding Common Ground on Faith, Family and Religious Freedom
Reporter Adelle Banks writes about the Church’s relationship with evangelical Christian leaders to help support the important issues of faith, family and religious freedom.
In the past two months, the Church has welcomed to Utah Southern Baptist leaders Richard Land and R. Albert Mohler, along with Assemblies of God Superintendent George O. Wood. Church leaders also traveled to Washington, D.C., in September for the inauguration of Russell Moore, who succeeded Land as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“It’s clear where we disagree,” Moore tells Banks, “but we’re standing together in the public square for religious liberty.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ director of interfaith outreach, John Taylor, agrees, noting to Banks that “there’s a realization among faith groups generally that despite doctrinal differences — and we have doctrinal differences, there’s no question about that — we do have areas of commonality.”
And Banks notes that more outreach is scheduled in the coming months: Evangelical leader Ravi Zacharias, who spoke at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004, will be at Brigham Young University in January, followed by another appearance by Mohler in February.
- Respect for Diversity of Faiths
- Religious Freedom
- Homage to the Home: Why Society Needs Strong Families
- Baptist Leader at BYU: Religious Freedom Is Threatened
- Cardinal George Addresses Religious Freedom in Speech at BYU (2010)
Religion News Service: Do Mormons Serve in Their Communities?
In response to Religion News Service blogger Jana Riess’s comment that Mormons in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area should do more at the congregational level to help those not of the faith, local Church public affairs volunteer Geoff Thatcher describes the service the Church is already providing and that it always seeks to do more.
He cites local Mormon congregations’ participation in the Feed Ohio initiative in September, where they joined other faiths to collect over $50,000 and more than 35,000 pounds of food. Thatcher also points to 2012, when 10 Latter-day Saint congregations in the Cincinnati area joined a food drive with Covington, Kentucky’s Be Concerned food pantry.
Thatcher then notes that much is happening outside the public eye. For example, the Relief Society (the Church’s organization for women) in Liberty Township hosted a baby shower last week for mothers at the Elizabeth New Life Center in Sharonville. Other congregations regularly host emergency preparedness fairs in the community, pull weeds, paint park benches, tidy up cemeteries and help in the wake of natural disasters.
Of course, these examples represent only one area in a global faith of 15 million members. Thousands more acts of service — some public, some private — take place around the world every week.
“Could we and should we do more?” Thatcher concludes. “I think any good Christian would always answer that question with a resounding and enthusiastic, ‘Yes!’ As followers of Jesus, we rejoice in the opportunity to join others in the community to (in the words of Mormon scripture) ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees’ (D&C 81:5).”
New York Times: The Church Helps Transform Lives
Reporting from a Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona — an area where she says “unemployment is rampant, domestic violence is common, and alcohol is often used as an antidote to heartaches and hardships,” journalist Fernanda Santos notes that “a growing number of Navajos have been turning to the Mormon Church.”
Why? Some converts in the area tell Santos that becoming a Latter-day Saint “has brought them closer to the fundamental Navajo values of charity, camaraderie and respect for the land.” One man says he was buoyed as a boy by the Church’s message “that I had a great heritage, that I have potential.”
Santos’s reporting is important because it helps readers understand that faith is more than a Sunday affair — that it can, in fact, change a person’s perspective, help them become self reliant and ultimately transform their everyday lives.
Read the entire article at nytimes.com. (May require subscription.)