Monday, October 17, 2011

Are Mormons Christian?

Watch this 2 minute video and judge for yourself. 

Last week, the popular Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress made the comment in an interview that Mitt Romney, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was a “non-Christian” in a “cult”. The LDS Church made a simple statement in response to his comment.

“We really don’t want to comment on a statement made at a political event, but those who want to understand the centrality of Christ to our faith can learn more about us and what we believe by going to”

It’s as simple as that. If you want to know what Mormons believe, go to the source. Don’t rely on an Evangelical pastor or any other person who is not a devout member of the LDS faith to tell you who Mormons are and what we believe. Evangelicals are no experts on the Mormon faith. Would I turn to a Mormon to find out what the Baptists believe? No. I would go to a devout member of the Baptist faith to find out what the Baptists believe. If you truly care about getting to the truth, go to the proper source.

So then, what about this accusation that Mormons aren’t Christian? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am here to tell you that absolutely YES! We ARE Christians. We believe in the Bible and believe in the Jesus of the New Testament who was born of the virgin Mary. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world who suffered and atoned for our sins, died for us on the cross and was resurrected 3 days later.   Christ is the cornerstone of our religion.  How could we not be Christians when “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we prophesy of Christ…” (2 Nephi 25:26)

I have watched several interviews where Jeffress expounded on the comments that he made about Mormonism being a cult and a non Christian religion. It bothers me that he uses the word “cult” because naturally the word “cult” has a negative connotation associated with it. He did at least clarify that he was not referring to a “sociological cult” (ex: David Koresh and his followers) but rather a “theological cult”. Basically what it boils down to is that there are theological differences between our religion and his.  Ya, so what?? Aren't there theological differences between all religions? Is this reason to label Mormons a cult and a non-Christian religion? I find it interesting that Jeffress (and others as well) see fit to create their own definition of what a Christian is. I don’t quite understand his philosphy that Christians are “only those who believe as I do”.

I do have to say that it is true that we are not “Creedal Christians”. Mormons do not embrace the creeds which were formulated by men centuries after the books in the bible had been written. The lds newsroom blog explains it perfectly. “When Mormons say they are Christian, they are not suggesting that their beliefs line up perfectly with evangelicals or Catholics or other Christians. Using the term "Christian" is not an attempt to gain acceptance into the mainstream -- something that has little appeal or relevance to Latter-day Saints. Mormons are not interested in parsing semantics or embracing the Nicene Creed or any other post-New Testament creed in order to be accepted by the world of Christian orthodoxy…What Mormons mean when they say they are Christian is that they follow Jesus Christ. Their religion teaches them not only that they should embrace the teachings of Jesus but also that they should try to model their lives on the pattern He set. All Christians can acknowledge that the Lord offered two commandments as primary -- to love God and to love our neighbors. Doing so makes us followers of Christ, theological interpretations of doctrines notwithstanding.”

I've never understood how pastors of other religions can preach Christianity but then turn around and bash other churches. It seems a bit hypocritical to me. I truly wish that people of all Christian religions would focus on the common ground that we all share (Mormons share more common ground with other Christian religions than most people realize), and then be Christian enough to respect the differences amongst us. As fellow followers of Jesus Christ, let us work together to lift people up and do good in the world.

Christian-“one who believes or professes…to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth taught by him…one whose life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ”

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Christian.

For more information about our beliefs in Jesus Christ visit

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mormon Media Campaign

As I mentioned in my last post, the church is taking steps to dispel the misconceptions about Mormonism.  I’m excited that the church will be rolling out a media campaign in our area this month.  I came across this article in the East Valley Tribune which discusses the campaign. 

Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 3:00 pm | Updated: 4:07 pm, Sat Oct 1, 2011.

Mormon media campaign looks to dispel misconceptions (By Lawn Griffiths, for the Tribune East Valley Tribune)

It is getting personal in the Mormon Church.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are showcasing themselves on the Internet and in TV commercials to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about their faith and to try to show they’re a diverse group of people who are “as regular as anyone else,” in the words of one Mormon, Don Harkey of Ahwatukee Foothills.

The Valley is one of a dozen major markets where the Mormon Church this week is launching a national media campaign called “I’m A Mormon.” The project is anchored by the website, an attractively designed place featuring close-up sketches of members. They include wholesome, engaging video profiles of Mormons who have overcome daunting life challenges, but came out with their faith intact or strengthened.

Rather than hard-sell evangelism, the videos focus on members’ personal lives, before they end their remarks with the simple words, “and I am a Mormon.”

Area TV stations will begin running advertisements highlighting Mormons, while there will also be a dozen billboards in the Valley as well as ads in buses. The effort will continue for six months. Local church leaders were unable to say the cost of the advertising campaign.

Data shows there are 387,956 Mormons in Arizona, of which 190,000 reside in the Valley. Of the 801 wards, or congregations in the state, 490 are in the metro area.

“Research shows that despite our being the fourth largest Christian faith in the United States, many are not familiar with our faith, or they have received misinformation about it,” said Cindy Packard, Arizona spokeswoman for the church. “Rather than simply explaining our beliefs and practices, the redesigned website highlights people sharing their own stories in their own words.”

The key, she said, is an emphasis “not so much on what we believe but what we do because of what we believe.”

The “I’m a Mormon” campaign comes out of church research that found half of Americans had never met a Mormon, but when they had done so, “misconceptions about the church fell away,” according to campaign materials. After the site was redesigned in June 2010, church members were invited to write their profiles and share their testimonies worldwide with a few computer clicks.

Curtis Keller of Gilbert wrote his profile immediately and posted it, but says he should get back to updating it. “It is a great way to show people what we believe,” he said. “I think there is a common misconception about Mormons that they don’t believe in Jesus Christ” or that they, instead, worship their prophet and founder, Joseph Smith.

“I answered that: ‘Of course not. We revere Joseph Smith as a prophet, but we worship Jesus Christ as our savior, knowing that if we believe in Jesus Christ and accept him, we can be forgiven of our sins and receive redemption.’”

Keller, who is the bishop of the Fairview Ward in the Higley Stake, said members repeatedly are asked about polygamy, which the church officially ended in 1890.

“It’s out there that Mormons are ‘weird’ or ‘odd’ people,”Keller said. He noted that LDS members have long regarded themselves as “a peculiar people” because of a special covenant they believe they have with God. “Yes, it goes back a long ways that we will be a ‘peculiar people,’ and I think we are a ‘peculiar people’ in today’s standards in that we have pretty traditional moral standards. The world doesn’t have the same moral standards that we are used to.”

The campaign, he said, “helps people understand that Mormons are like your neighbors next door: They have tough times in their lives, and they have happy times” and hold down many kinds of jobs.

For Kara Kelly, the campaign will “clarify information” about her church. She said “people don’t know about us” and, too often, focus on things they hear “that have been taken out of context,”including the “crazier things in history” that may have been sensationalized. “But if you really know the real people, you get a better picture,” she said.

Kelly, who is a third-generation Mormon on her father’s side and at least three generations on her mother’s side, said the campaign smartly uses the latest technology to respond to misconceptions.“It is mostly taking advantage of where the world is going with technology.”

Miranda Culiver of Gilbert sees the campaign as an effective way“to illustrate that we are everyday people. We are school teachers, we are serving in our communities, we are neighbors and we are also Mormons.”

A convert to Mormonism when she was 19, Culiver, now 31, who works for the city of Mesa, teaches fourth-graders at her ward on Sunday mornings. She doesn’t regard the campaign as a defense of the church, but instead an opportunity to demonstrate one’s “faith and testimony in Jesus Christ, and anytime someone has a question or comment, it just presents us members with an opportunity to better explain who we are.”

East Valley Mormons say they believe the campaign, which had previously been test-marketed in nine cities, including Tucson, will help dispel stereotypes.

Mark Mendon, father of six, said his wife Michelle and their son Josh are the first in the family to write their profiles “Josh talked about himself, what he does, why he believes and why it makes a difference in his life,” Mendon said.“… The goal is to help people recognize who we are, and that we are normal people.”

Noting that Mormons are known for their “knocking on doors to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the head of the denomination’s missionary department, David F. Evans, said, “ gives people the opportunity to knock on our door through the Internet and ask members questions about our faith.”

The church currently has 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide.

Harkey calls the campaign “an invitation,” in a non-threatening way, for non-members to hear Mormons from across the world tell about themselves. Harvey, who completed his own Mormon mission in Tennessee in 1976, has three sons who have been sent to Australia, Argentina and Connecticut for missions.

“The whole point of those missions was to teach people about Jesus Christ and his gospel and share his message throughout the world,” Harkey said.

He emphasized that the videos and profiles that members recorded or wrote have been left in their original form, not even modified for grammar or spelling. “The videos use no make-up or art direction,” he said.

Young Mormons especially have been sharing their stories and getting questions from their non-LDS peers.

“This is not surprising given the presence this has on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook,” Harkey said. “This gives young people a tremendous opportunity to communicate our message of Christ to their peers in their own personal way.”

So far, nearly a half-million people have been visiting monthly. Members locally and nationally dismiss suggestions that the church campaign coincides with the current U.S. presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who are Mormons and former state governors.

“I don’t see that it is any way connected to Mitt Romney,”Keller said, noting the church had begun developing the campaign more than two years ago. “The church’s stance has always been to let politics take care of themselves.”