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Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right | September 5

Mormonism News Getting Right
Today we feature several articles that note the Church’s longstanding political neutrality statement, a commentary from a local Church leader that corrects Mormon myths, an article from the Palm-Beach Post that correctly describes a variety of aspects of Mormonism and a column in American Thinker that refutes the claim that Mormons are “secretive.” 

AFP, Tampa Bay Times, and The Herald (Washington state): The Church is politically neutral

Although these articles have a political focus, each report correctly notes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics.

“We take that neutrality very seriously,” Church Public Affairs managing director Michael Otterson tells AFP. “We are not interested in discussing political campaigns or politics.”

The Herald notes that not all Mormons share similar political views, and the Tampa Bay Times includes a Latter-day Saint woman who says she doesn’t vote based on shared religious convictions. “I want to make a bigger deal about the positive changes [a candidate] can make,” she says. “I wouldn't want to vote for anyone I thought was making changes based on religious influence.”

See the Church’s longstanding political neutrality statement. Correcting myths about Mormons

Bruce D. Jones, a Church stake president in New Jersey, corrects five common myths about Mormons: all Mormons (1) live in Utah, (2) do not believe in Christ, (3) vote as they are directed, (4) shun the outside world and (5) practice polygamy.

Jones notes that more than half of the Church’s 14.5 million members live outside the United States. He also cites core Church doctrine that Jesus Christ is the center of Mormon worship. “If you were to attend church services in any of our seven congregations in northwestern New Jersey, you would be hard-pressed to find evidence to the contrary,” Jones says.

Concerning voting decisions, Jones references the Church’s political neutrality statement. Regarding insularity, he says Mormon Sunday worship services are open to the public, and “we seek to build community [and] aid those around us, particularly during disasters. For example, the past few weekends, at the request of the New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, several hundred members, easily identified in their yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests, spent the day cleaning up storm damage and debris in two southern New Jersey counties.”

In regards to polygamy, Jones correctly states the Church ended the practice in 1890.

Read more about basic Mormon beliefs in our Mormonism 101: FAQ page.

Palm Beach Post: A brief sketch of the Mormon life

A brief sketch of Mormons in the Palm Beach, Florida, area, this article correctly describes a variety of aspects of Mormonism.

The article notes that Mormons are Christians, the Church is politically neutral, derogatory remarks about temple garments are offensive to Mormons and Latter-day Saints wear these garments “under their clothes as a reminder of their covenant with God.”

The author also briefly describes an average week for local Latter-day Saints: It begins with “three hours of church on Sunday. Monday Home Evenings are set aside for Gospel study, games and family activities. Youth groups meet once a week and single adults have their own weekly meetings. Every morning before school, high school students gather at their local churches to learn about God … at 6 a.m. Seminary, as it’s called, ‘gives them a little boost in their faith as they go through the day.’” One member quoted in story adds that the Church “helps me become a better person.”

American Thinker: Refuting the claim that Mormons are “secretive”

Joseph Ashby, a talk show host in Wichita, Kansas, refutes the trope that Mormons are “secretive” by noting that “anyone who wishes (and some who aren't careful) can, at a moment's notice, have a gaggle of Mormons willing to discuss their religion.”

A main reason for the “secretive” claim, Ashby notes, is because only Mormons living the highest standards of the faith are allowed inside a Church temple after its dedication. (A temple is not a chapel. Mormons attend weekly worship services at chapels, where all are welcome and the services are open to the public.) But, Ashby says, a temple is open to the public before its dedication.

“Immediately following construction, all temples are open to the public for tours,” he says. “The tours include viewing and explanations of the ordinance rooms, including opportunities for questions and answers. Every prospective member is taught about the purpose and activities of temples before joining the church.”

See’s commentary “Of Chapels and Temples: Explaining Mormon Worship Services.”

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About: This blog is managed and written by staff of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide journalists, bloggers, and the public with additional context and information regarding public issues involving the Church. For official news releases and statements from the Church, please also visit the home page.

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