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Mormon Church: It's Hip to be Square (and Politically Neutral)

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 1, 2011 06:31 PM

"For decades, the popular image of Mormon style has been shaped by clean-cut young missionaries on bicycles in dark suits, white shirts and skinny black ties — and more recently by the sculptured coif of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney or the sporty style of the motocross-bike-riding Jon Huntsman, another Republican presidential candidate," the New York Times recently noted.

But now, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is trying to humanize the members of the Mormon Church and show people that all different types of people are members as well as to help others see how the Church differentiates from other forms of Christianity. As part of the LDS push to humanize its brand, Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, agreed to appear in the family-centric video at top.

If Flowers's video fails to make LDS "hip" to young music lovers, as the Times notes, the bigger issue is that two of the Republican presidential candidates — Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman — are Mormons and there are many that have said this will be an issue that could keep them from gaining the candidacy, though Romney continues to be a frontrunner (if he can sway political conservatives to his side).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fed up with being misunderstood and marginalized. It is putting down some major chunks of change on the second year of a public-relations campaign of first-person testimonials with the tagline “I'm a Mormon” that kicked off in the U.S. last month in Seattle and 11 other areas throughout the country, according to KIRO-TV. In fact, it's been running around the world.

“The church tested the campaign in nine cities in 2010 after surveys it conducted found that half of Americans surveyed had never met a Mormon, and, when they did, misconceptions about the church faded,” according to the Reporter Herald.

The campaign is completely unrelated to the presidential campaigns, the Church tells KIRO, and will include television and online ads as well as on billboards and the sides of buses.

"The Church is politically neutral on elections, whether they are at the local or the national level," said Sam Baxter, a church leader in the Seattle area to the station. As far as why the specific locations were targeted by the Church, Baxter told KIRO, “I think it was a broad brush of large and small cities from all different geographic locations of the country. And I'm actually interested as well to see the results of the media campaign in those cities.”

According to the Deseret News, those locations include Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Atlanta; Phoenix; Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.: Denver, Colo.; and Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and South Bend, Ind. Last year, the campaign was in Colorado Springs; Rochester, N.Y.; Minneapolis; St. Louis; Pittsburgh; Oklahoma City; Baton Rouge, La.; Tucson; and Jacksonville, Fla., KIRO reports.

Perhaps the 'hippest' fallout from the pro-Mormon campaign — apart from being spoofed by comedian Stephen Colbert — is Jon Huntsman's daughters' spoof of Herman Cain's smoking ad.


Chuck Carpenter United States says:

Interesting article.  The LDS church may certainly be fed up with being misunderstood and marginalized, but there is a real problem here.  The more folks truly understand their faith and its history, the more likely they are to marginalize it.  This is why you see an ongoing effort by the church to distance itself from its history.  The LDS website depicts Joseph Smith as a caring and devoted family man, but somehow fails to mention his polygamy on the official bio page.  And worse yet, the church has never publicly responded to Smith's darker activities regarding polygamy.

I wonder how effective their message would be if they included the little-known fact that the beginnings of Mormon polygamy involved Joseph Smith approaching at least 11 married women and encouraging them that God commanded them to violate their marital vows to enter into a relationship with him. Here's a link created by members of the Mormon church with an explanation of this: fairmormon.org/.../Book_chapter  

Most Christian churches would never have a second thought to condemn a married man who encourages married women to violate their wedding vows. But as you'll see in that link above, some LDS are very different than the rest of the Christian world. They actually seem to believe that God commanded Joseph Smith to act this way.  

It's a startling position since the 10 Commandments clearly prohibits coveting another man's wife. God also brought severe judgement upon David due to his sin with another man's wife. And perhaps most interesting, Joseph Smith's own revelation allowing plural marriage, prohibited taking a wife who was not a virgin or who was already committed to another: D&C 132:61

So the LDS church may be fed up with being marginalized, but their history amply demonstrates that there is good reason for it.  

November 1, 2011 09:57 PM #

MinJae Japan says:

Really?  How do you anti-Mormon trolls find your way to every article or blog on the subject?  What is it that scares you so much about this group?  You must really be terrified of them.

November 1, 2011 10:15 PM #

Chuck Carpenter United States says:

One reason why the LDS continually struggle with being marginalized is that many members have no real substantial response to documented difficulties with their faith.  

Schoolyard responses like the one seen here are common.  It's virtually impossible to find an honest LDS who can offer thoughtful answers to why their founder believed God led him to encourage married women to violate their wedding vows with him.  

For this reason the LDS will likely always struggle with being marginalized regardless of how polished a front their advertising may offer.  

November 1, 2011 10:55 PM #

widemouth United States says:

Beware of the Mormon Church - Exposed http://www.squidoo.com/mormon-church

November 2, 2011 02:50 AM #

Dwight Rogers United States says:

Plural marriage was one means by which Joseph implemented the broader doctrine of sealing. Ultimately, his intent seems to have been to reunite the human family into a bonded whole.  Historian Richard Lyman Bushaman says:
"Joseph did not marry women to form a warm, human companionship but to create a network of related wives, children, and kinsmen that would endure into the eternities."( Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 440.)

Alma Allred agrees with Todd Compton that "[m]arriage, sealing and adoption, in fact, were nearly interchangeable concepts,"( Todd M. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 637.

We should take note that at least one Bible prophet, Nathan, took a man’s wives and gave them to another man.  David had three wives, Michal, Abigail, and Ahinoam, - at least two of them concurrently (1 Sam. 18:27; 1 Sam. 25:40-43).  In spite of this we see that the Lord appeared unto righteous David (2 Chronicles 3:1).   David was righteous enough that God appeared to him during the time he had two or three wives.  Later we even see where God, through the prophet Nathan, gave Saul’s many wives to David (2 Samual 12:8).  So God, by His command, does give people plural wives and sometimes, as in this case, gives already married wives to a second husband.  One can criticize Joseph Smith but, if so, the same standard must be applied to the Bible and Bible prophets when they did the same thing.  I don’t know anywhere in the Bible where it says “thou shalt not marry more than one spouse.”  This comes from the social norm of western society rather than from any command of God.  

If the Bible prophet Nathan can command the practice of polyandry and still be a prophet then so can Joseph Smith.

November 2, 2011 03:26 PM #

Chuck Carpenter United States says:

Hi Dwight,

The Bible certainly does have examples of polygamy among some of the prophets, but there is no documented case where God ever allowed polyandry (a woman having more than one husband).  

Your citation of Nathan's statement to David is referring to David assuming Saul's throne after his death.   In fact, this passage from Nathan has the exact opposite meaning you presented.  It is part of the famous interchange where Nathan condemned David for his unlawful and sinful relationship with the married woman, Bathsheba.  If you'll recall, God brought severe judgement upon David for this sin.  Nathan was judging David for taking another man's wife.  

The Bible offers no latitude regarding polyandry:

Leviticus 20:10: http://lds.org/scriptures/ot/lev/20.10?lang=eng

Deuteronomy 22:22:http://lds.org/scriptures/ot/deut/22.22?lang=eng

Romans 7:3: http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/rom/7.3?lang=eng#2

And if you choose to completely ignore the Bible's teaching regarding polyandry, Joseph Smith himself delivered an even more precise law.  Not only are you prohibited from plural marriage with a woman who is already vowed to another, she must also be a virgin:

D&C 132:61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

So even if you discard every other test for the validity of polyandry, Joseph Smith's own writings condemned the practice.  

I'm sorry if you've never had to confront this before, but Joseph Smith encouraged at least 11 women to violate their wedding vows.  And it's clear from all available evidence that God has never allowed such activity and has consistently condemned it.  And since Smith's unlawful acts with these married women were at the start of his plural marriage activities, it demonstrates that he could not have been hearing from God regarding that doctrine.  

But please don't lose hope. This may be upsetting, but Jesus is alive and willing to accept anyone who will come to him with a contrite spirit.  He offers hope and salvation -- and does not demand you to create flimsy excuses for false teachings.  

November 2, 2011 04:42 PM #

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