Like Mitt Romney, I’m a Mormon, and as with him my Mormonism seems to be a defining, make-or-break characteristic for many people I meet. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made great strides in the past decade at improving its public image, partly as a result of an extensive and expensive PR effort.
In 1998, the SBC missions board distributed over 45,000 evangelistic kits titled “The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints.” The kit included a video that depicted a typical Mormon family enjoying the weekly LDS ritual of “family home evening.” The commentator noted that the Mormon family “could be the family across the street—wonderful, law-abiding people who adore their children, instilling values we all love and cherish.” But, the commentator continued, this family would be “lost for eternity.” The message was that though Mormons may look clean and righteous on the outside, on the inside they are in the grip of dark forces.
The Mormon Church claims to have some 5.7 million members in the United States, which would make the Utah-based denomination the fourth largest church body in the nation after the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints removed the name of Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal from a list of those to be posthumously baptized, after the organization bearing his name issued a statement calling for the removal.
When it reconvenes, Congress will for the first time include a Muslim, two Buddhists, more Jews than Episcopalians, and the highest-ranking Mormon in congressional history.
Roman Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress, accounting for 29 percent of all members of the House and Senate, followed by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jews and Episcopalians.
Two American universities with no ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have plans to endow professorships in Mormon studies, making them the first secular schools to establish chairs in the academic study of Mormonism.
The programs, scholars say, could help push Mormonism and its academic study further into the mainstream.
Ability to reach across religious divisions is key
Aug 08, 2006
When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he was the first Catholic to seek the Oval Office. To win, he had to convince non-Catholic voters that, among other things, he wouldn’t take orders from the pope.
This spring HBO debuted a television series, Big Love, that features a likable polygamous family in Utah. An article in a March issue of Newsweek, headlined “Polygamists Unite!” quotes a polygamy activist saying, “Polygamy is the next civil rights battle.” He argues, “If Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy.” That weekend on the Today Show, hosts Lester Holt and Campbell Brown gave a sympathetic interview to a polygamous family.