“Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right” presents several recent news articles, blog posts or videos that 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.
This edition of “Getting It Right” features a correction of an errant article from Slate.com from Religion News Service and First Things magazine, as well as a PBS NewsHour column about the Church’s respect for good people of all faiths.
*Religion News Service and First Things Magazine: Slate.com Article About Mormon Missionary Health Care Swings and Misses
Religion News Service commentator Jana Riess says a Slate.com article that claims the Church denies its 80,000-plus missionaries access to adequate medical care is "inadequate and one-sided."
Riess says the article — which erroneously bills itself as investigative journalism — stumbles in two ways. First, it is based on anecdotal evidence from a few dozen former missionaries, and, second, it omits key information that is available through a simple Internet search.
Riess points to a 2013 article in The Salt Lake Tribune that says the Church created a team of doctors and psychologists to help missionaries who return home early. Furthermore, the Church’s Missionary Handbook strongly encourages missionaries to counsel with leadership right away about health concerns and in emergencies to “get help immediately and then inform your mission president as soon as possible."
Nathaniel Givens at First Things magazine makes similar points in his rejoinder to the Slate.com article, questioning the reporter's fitness to cover matters of faith.
"Cherry-picked anecdotes, easily disproven false statements, and selective omission: is this what passes for 'a stunning investigatory story' at Slate?" Givens asks. "Somehow, I doubt that it would if the subject were anything other than religion. In that case, however, it appears that anything goes."
While the experiences of missionaries who have had unresolved health issues should be heard, the facts are these: When a missionary is injured or becomes ill, the Church makes extensive efforts to provide the best health care available and covers the costs of medical treatment. This includes an expansive network of area medical advisers and nurses who work with mission presidents and their wives to arrange for medical care of all types and in locations throughout the world. The Church's best efforts are employed for every missionary who has any medical issue.
*This entry was updated on October 20, 2015.
PBS NewsHour: Mormons Respect Good People of All Faiths
PBS NewsHour hosted a series of faith columns in September, including one from Latter-day Saint Cort McMurray of Houston, Texas. His column expresses important points about Mormons’ deep respect for good people of all faiths.
McMurray writes eloquently of his faith journey, which began when he was a small child in the Catholic Church and continued as a Latter-day Saint in grade school when his parents embraced Mormonism. Regardless of his faith transition, he says Catholicism — especially the stalwart examples of faithful family members — continues to bless his life when he is lax in his own religious observance.
“When I am tempted to take casually sacred things,” McMurray says, “I see my resolutely Catholic grandfather waking up very early in the morning to pray and read his bible, and my heart softens. My path, what I know, has taken me places my grandfather would not recognize, but I am here because of him.”
McMurray also notes that Mormons seek to learn from people with different views because faith “isn’t threatened by differing voices. Real faith is respectful. Real faith is tolerant. And real faith is unafraid to embrace all that brings light and truth and love to a tired and careworn world. … The beauty of the journey is that all of us, no matter what we know, help light one another’s path, and all of us, shining together, make the whole world glow with possibilities.”
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