Today we feature stories that highlight the Church’s political neutrality (CNN), the importance of learning about the Church from actual Mormons (WCPO-TV in Cincinnati), the role of women in the Church (ABC 50 in New York), the fact that Mormonism is a global faith (RIA Novosti) and the importance of temples for Latter-day Saints (Calgary Herald).
In a report about a personal email urging Mormons to fast and pray for a political candidate, writer Jessica Ravitz does a commendable job of putting the situation in proper context. Ravitz notes that one woman sent the email to her children and a few friends, and the message “was intended for a group of about 10 people.”
Ravitz also correctly says the innocent email “was not sanctioned or cleared by Mormon church officials,” and she quotes the Church’s statement that the Church “is strictly politically neutral and does not endorse political candidates.”
Watch MormonNewsroom.org’s whiteboard animation video that draws out the Church’s political neutrality statement.
Because Mormonism is in the national spotlight, WCPO-TV reporter Tanya O’Rourke speaks with several Latter-day Saints to learn who Mormons are and what they believe. Several aspects of O’Rourke’s report are notable.
First, O’Rourke addresses the stereotype some espouse that women in the Church are not well educated. Jana Riess, who has a doctorate, lives in Hyde Park, Ohio, and is a Mormon, tells O’Rourke that once during a business dinner she spoke with a man for nearly an hour about books and politics. Then, Riess says, “the waiter came to bring the evening coffee. I declined the coffee and I had also declined the wine and he said something like, ‘What are you, a Mormon?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I actually am.’ And you know that expression about jaw dropping? I think his jaw actually hit the floor. It was astonishing how astonished he was. It just wasn't on his radar that a woman could have a Ph.D., be fun to talk to and be a Mormon.”
Later in the story, O’Rourke interviews other Mormons and accurately explains why Mormons don’t drink alcohol, tea or coffee. “There's a focus on health and in what Mormons call the ‘Word of Wisdom’ … on how to live,” she says.
In a blog post at Religion News Service (written after the WCPO story), Riess explains why O’Rourke’s report is a solid example of how to report on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The reporter was eager to understand day-to-day Mormon life from actual Mormons, not from what other people said about Mormons,” Riess writes. “She didn't shy away from asking hard questions, but she also didn’t dwell on arcane points that don't matter much to everyday people who are living this religion.”
More information on the basic beliefs of Mormonism can be found at MormonNewsroom.org’s Mormonism 101:FAQ page.
ABC 50 reaches out to local Church public affairs volunteer Ashley Stuart to learn more about the role of women in the Church. Women 18 years of age and older are part of the Relief Society, one of the world’s largest organizations for women. Stuart correctly says that women in the Church preach from the pulpit, teach classes and serve as full-time missionaries and leaders of the Church’s organizations for women.
Stuart also notes the various occupations of women in her congregation. “We have teachers, we have librarians, we have dental hygienists, we have professional opera singers, we have an astronomer, we’ve got radio DJs, the whole gamut, some incredibly talented stay-at-home moms. Our women are phenomenal.”
This past weekend the Church held its annual general Relief Society meeting, where Relief Society leaders spoke to millions of women across the globe.
RIA Novosti: Mormonism is a global faith
This article about the 21,000-plus Mormons in Russia paints the picture that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global faith. Indeed, more of the Church’s 14.5 million members live outside the United States than inside.
Writer Dan Peleschuk includes an insightful comment from Church member Vasily Sapozhnikov about something more important than a faith’s geographic origins. “To say it’s a particularly American religion is, to me, not entirely true,” Sapozhnikov says. “It's not about where it started, but about one’s inner feelings — and about God.”
Peleschuk also quotes Roman Lunkin, a religious expert at the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Lukin says that “Mormonism is largely about family values” and that “it’s not necessarily about Americanism in particular, but about its basic values that attract [Russians] to the religion.”
Peleschuk also correctly notes that the Church conducts “humanitarian activities in nearly every corner of the globe.”
Calgary Herald: Why temples are important to Mormons
In a report from the media day during the public open house of the Church’s Calgary Alberta Temple, writer Eva Ferguson includes comments from a Church leader about why temples are important to Latter-day Saints.
“We want people to know that our temples are not secrets. They are just very sacred to us,” says Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the Church’s Temple Department. “To us, it is an extraordinary place. It is everything to us and we are very excited.”
Ferguson also describes the inside of the Calgary Temple: “The inside is divided into smaller rooms to be used for weddings, baptisms, instruction, worshipping and silent meditation. … The rooms are designed with supreme quality and craftsmanship.”
See more information about the Calgary Alberta Temple, including an infographic that explains the difference between a Mormon temple and a chapel (temples are for the highest and most sacred ordinances, such as marriage; chapels are used for weekly Sabbath worship).