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With 'I'm a Mormon' campaign, church counters lily-white image
Ruth Williams passes out bulletins at the Third Ward in Washington, D.C., a diverse Mormon church.
November 2nd, 2011
11:32 AM ET

With 'I'm a Mormon' campaign, church counters lily-white image

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - The scene at a Mormon congregation here on a recent Sunday would surprise Americans who think of Mormons as young white missionaries in stiff white shirts, black ties and name tags.

Yes, there are white missionaries handing out bulletins at Washington’s Third Ward - what Mormons call their congregations - but there's also Ruth Williams, an elderly African-American woman, decked out in her Sunday best, doing the same.

White, black, Asian and Hispanic Mormons mingle before the service begins. As it gets under way, an African-American tween plays a video game on his smartphone in one pew as a 30-something white woman across the aisle taps away on her iPad.

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On this Sunday, the Sacrament - what Mormons call the remembrance of the Last Supper and what other Christians call Communion - is said in French, a nod to the area's burgeoning West African population.

It is not a special multicultural celebration Sunday. For this growing Mormon congregation in northeast Washington, it's just another weekend.

“It’s 30% Caucasian, 30% African-American, and the rest is a combination of first-generation immigrants from around the world,” says Bishop Robert Nelson, the lay leader of this congregation.

A diverse group of congregants from the Third Ward listens to a sermon.

Washington's Third Ward is a near mirror image of the diverse neighborhood it serves, jarring with the Mormon Church's image as a faith-based club for upper-class whites.

Explain it to me: What's Mormonism?

And the Mormon Church, officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says the ward represents the diverse face of modern Mormonism, a message it has been trying to spread as part of a yearlong nationwide push to counter its lily-white image.

Since January, the LDS Church has spent millions on an "I'm a Mormon" advertising campaign that features television commercials, billboards and bus signs with Mormons from African-American, Asian, Latino and other ethnic backgrounds. Just last month, the campaign entered 11 new major media markets in Texas, Indiana, Nebraska, Washington, Georgia and Arizona, hitting cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix.

(You won't be seeing the ads in Iowa, South Carolina or Florida. With Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, both Mormon, competing in the Republican presidential primaries, the church says it wants to steer clear of politics.)

The Mormon Church even used the ad campaign to launch a shot across the bow of the hit Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon," buying a digital "I'm a Mormon" billboard just down the street from the theater where the show is playing.

The musical satire, co-produced by the creators of the television show "South Park," shows earnest white American Mormon missionaries and their misadventures in proselytization in Africa.

But the billboard shows a very different face of Mormons. There is an African-American couple playing Frisbee on the beach, a Latino grandfather and granddaughter, a goateed motorcycle sculptor.

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An official church website, Mormon.org, lets those interested in the church search for Mormons from diverse ethnic backgrounds and features videos from the likes of black soul singer Gladys Knight and Brandon Flowers, frontman for the rock band The Killers.

"It's to say, 'We're like you,' " said Kathleen Flake, a religious scholar from Vanderbilt Divinity School. "It's an attempt to combat stereotypes so that absolutely people are more open to see the normalcy of Mormonism."

The LDS Church says its attempt at an image makeover is as much a reflection of demographic reality as it is a PR effort. While young white missionaries may still be Mormonism's public face in the United States, they are no longer fully representative of the Salt Lake City-based church.

“Our doctrine is we’re all sons and daughters of God," says Stephen Allen, managing director of the LDS Church's missionary department. "Skin color or anything else is not a significant issue to us.”

Video: Defining Mormonism

As head of global missions, Allen supervises the 52,000 19- to 25-year-old missionaries knocking on doors around the world.

He's also executive director of the “I’m a Mormon” campaign, which began in nine markets this year.

“In terms of targeting, we’re not specifically targeting or avoiding any particular group," Allen says. "We send our missionaries all over the world to anywhere people will listen.”

As the church’s efforts to win converts has expanded internationally, “following the American flag around the world,” as Flake puts it, the LDS Church has grown more diverse.

“We’re in most of the free world right now,” Allen says. "We have a presence in Russia and Ukraine and the Baltic countries. We have a growing presence in Africa ... Nigeria, Kenya … then we have, Japan, Korea, Taiwan. There are small congregations in India, and the church is growing in those places.”

The church's membership has doubled since 1988, to 14.1 million Mormons worldwide.  Six million Mormons live in the United States. Many of the church's members live in the American West and Northwest, in some of the whitest states in the country.

But like many other churches, there has been explosive growth in the LDS Church in Latin America. There are more than a million Mormons in both Mexico and Brazil. There are nearly a million Mormons in Asia and 300,000 in Africa, according to church statistics.

“This attempt to emphasize diversity and to emphasize a wide range of people who are Mormon does reflect, in a lot of ways, what’s been going on in reality for a while,” says Matthew Bowman, an editor at a Mormon studies journal called Dialogue.

Even in the United States, the perception of who Mormons are has changed.

“We’ve done a lot of research to see what people think of us and what their perception is,” Allen says. “Twenty-five or 30 years ago, if you said, ‘When you think of the word Mormon, what comes to mind?’ the answer would have been Mormon Tabernacle choir, polygamists, racists, the Osmonds [singers Donny and Marie].”

While that's less the case today, Allen says many people still don't know what a Mormon looks like - or don't know that there are Mormons from minority backgrounds.

A spokesman for the church said it doesn't keep statistics on members' race or ethnicity.

But “it’s no longer just a predominantly white church,” Allen says. “In our early history, you know, it was founded in upstate New York in the United States and was very much a white congregation, but today it’s very diverse.”

The complexion of the average Mormon ward reflects the neighborhood where the building resides. “Mormon wards are not self-selecting,” says Richard Bushman, a visiting professor at the School of Religion of Claremont Graduate University. “In Mormon congregations, they are just geographical boundaries, and wherever you live, you go to church.”

There is no church shopping. Congregants can’t go to another ward if they don’t like the music or the doughnuts at the social hour, as in many other faith traditions.

In Washington's Third Ward, two new converts who had recently been baptized were welcomed into the church on a recent Sunday. Both women were young African-Americans. The men who formed a circle around them and prayed over them were all white.

Unlike the ward, the church's global leadership in Salt Lake City is mostly white.

It was not until 1978 that African-Americans could serve in priesthood positions in the church, a prohibition that extended back to Mormon leader Brigham Young in the 1850s.

"When you see in that ad campaign Mormons, including African-Americans, they are trying to  communicate against that stereotype that Mormons are racist, there's no question about this," says Vanderbilt's Flake. "They are trying to say, 'That's not fair. That is not who we are. Even if we were, we are not now.' "

Allen says the "I'm a Mormon" campaign was designed to assist the small army of young Mormon missionaries out knocking on doors.

"Our feeling was anything we could do to help them was really important," he says. "And helping them means softening people’s hearts.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics • United States

soundoff (2,530 Responses)
  1. Jt_flyer

    I read the headline too quickly and read it as "I'm a Moron". So I looked more closely into the faith and realized I had read it correctly after all. Why would God wait thousands of years, apparently damning millions of people, to finally find the real religion a little over a hundred years ago? Self centered, ego manics.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Mac

      It isn't that God waited for thousands of years so that He could damn people. The restoration of His Church came about in the 1800s because people were ready to receive it. This is a pattern we can see in the scriptures from Genesis on. God calls a prophet to establish His gospel, the people accept these teachings, but after some time we see that people begin to reject the prophets and ultimately God, so they fall away from the truth into what is called an apostasy. God will won't force people to accept Him because our ability to choose for ourselves is essential to this life. This is what happened once the apostles of the New Testament were persecuted and killed. When God saw that the time was right to establish His gospel again He called Joseph Smith to act as His prophet. Also, people who didn't have the opportunity to accept the restored gospel are not damed, but have an opportunity in the here after as taught in the New and Old testament. Hope this helps to answer your question. God bless.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • logan

      I believe what mac has said to be true.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • bsitz

      Didn't Joseph Smith find tablets only HE could see/use. And decipher a book only HE could read. And once it was deciphered he then gave the book to everyone and said this was the word of God. And no one takes that as just a liiiiiiittle bit odd? So God thought EVERYONE would believe this ONE man? Why would God only reveal himself to one person? Doesn't anyone ask questions?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Scott Hill

      You obviously know nothing about history. Throughout the history of the bible the authority to speak for god through a prophet was at times removed from the earth, including just prior to christ and just after the death of peter.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • logan

      you make a good point, except the plates which joseph translated were shown to eleven other people. there testimonies are included in every copy of the book. and many others saw visions with joseph

      November 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Aaron

      You make a good point and one that mormon.org will address if you take the time to use the chat with us feature on the site.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Mac – what does your book say about why things changed for colored people in the late 70s? Was there a typo on one of the tablets?

      November 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Lin

      Actually, bsitz, many people saw the plates. In the front of any copy of the Book of Mormon (or you can look online at http://www.lds.org under the 'Scriptures' section) you will find statements from two groups of men who saw the plates and handled them.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • bsitz

      Since when did they start teaching religion in History courses? Ohhh the history of the bible. So you are pointing at something written by man with no factual data supporting it?

      And I couldnt care less if some people (who were probably all in on it as well) Said they saw the same visions. Marshall Applewhite and his nurse said they saw the same vision. Tell that to the families of all the people that committed suicide with him.

      Science lesson! Did you know that humans are more genetically similar to chimps then their spouses? Amazing what science finds out, and what religion makes up.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • bsitz

      Why would God talk through a prophet and expect us all to burn in hell if we didnt believe that one man? It makes absolutely no sense.

      God gave us free will, God is omnipotent, so God knew I would be an atheist when he created me. So he created me to burn in hell. Right?

      November 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Collin

      If you knew mormon theology you would know that people who are not mormons are given the chance to accept it in the next life. And even if they do not accept it they are not damned in mormon theology. Only a very few people go to hell in mormon theology. They are the people who are the worst of the worst of the worst. The rest go to some kind of paradise according to their works and desires.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • bsitz

      So Collin, why did he choose one man (Joseph Smith) If he knew so many people weren't going to listen to what he said? I guess the 6 million followers you have are the only ones that are expected to be following the RIGHT word of God? The rest of us just need to say we believe once we are in front of God? Makes complete sense now....thaaaaanks

      November 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Tortdog

      Why would Christ be on such an ego trip so as to require everyone to believe on Him or be damned. Does Christ really think that billions of non-Christians will all go to Hell? /sarcasm

      November 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • James

      Mormons believe they alone have access to God's special blessings, but they don't necessarily believe all non-Mormons will go to permanent hell. Mormons and those who become Mormon in the afterlife get to go to a better heaven than the nonbelievers.

      November 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • loveit

      I thing some people want to argue without even reading the Book of Mormon, or investigating the website. Collin is right about LDS theology. Mormons believe everyone will be saved in various degrees in paradise, except a very few way bad people. Mormons believe in all prophets in the bible, Jesus Christ, and that simply he continues to speak to man today. If you believe in Moses parting the Red Sea, then Joseph Smith is not that far fetched. There is even a point that suggest that men from other cultures such as Muhammad, Sidartha, Confucious obtained levels of enlightenment for there own cultures. "By there fruits you shall know them", as staple in the mormon doctrine. Hence, there not just going to believe in some pyscho. Plus, they believe in individual personal revelation. Mans opprtunity to find truth for himself. Twelve people saw the plates, enough to convict a man in america, three of which (who saw the plates with an angel) all fell away from the church and never denied it.
      Except for some jacks roaming around, you will find them hardworking, intelligent members of societies across the globe. One more statistic that is real that hammers the white-lily idea, and this concept of racism, spanish is the number one first language spoken by members.

      November 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Porter

      @JT you have no idea what your talking about. Thanks.

      November 2, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Eric

      Some of the things written against Mormonism here are really untrue. I would advise you to search the Mormon's view of the plan of salvation, but it probably wouldn't do any good. The uninformed will stay the uninformed ...

      November 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  2. ProjectZ

    We shouldn't make fun of Morons....I mean Mormons....

    November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Agrid, I mean Agreed.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Sergei

      ProjectZ, I should not make fun of you mormon, ops, moron...

      November 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Steven Hopkins

      Will there ever be a time when people realize that intentionally mistaking the word "Mormon" for the word "Moron" is a) not funny, b) overdone, c) and contains no argument. What is the rhetoric behind this? If you take away the r from "bread" and you get "bead." Take away the h from "think" and you get "tink." Does that now mean that bread and bead and think and tink are now related some way? This "joke" could come from the a third grade playground, and yet you adults are using it to dismiss what a lot of people, including myself, hold sacred. I believe in democracy and freedom, and I believe you have a voice and a vote. I just hope you try to do a little more thinking in the future.

      November 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Porter

      @ProjectZ

      Lame joke dude.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Christopher M

      "Will there ever be a time when people realize that intentionally mistaking the word "Mormon" for the word "Moron" is a) not funny, b) overdone, c) and contains no argument. "

      The disciples of the angel moroni don't like being called morons.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  3. NoGoldenPlatesAnywhere

    Of all invented religions, this one is the least convincing.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • ProjectZ

      Oh come on. Jesus came to the US 2000 years ago to preach to the Native Americans, why would you not believe that?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Scott Hill

      Least convincing and yet one of the fastest growing christian churches in the world. Don't worry, if you don't want to be a member of the church then you probably are not ready spiritually. It would do you more harm than good.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Aaron

      Where do you think Jesus went when he said other sheep I have that are not of this fold?

      November 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Lead-Eeyah

      Seriously? Less convincing that Scientology? REALLY?

      November 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Steven Hopkins

      That's a good question ProjectZ, Why would you not believe that? What is so unbelievable about Christ coming to the americas? If you reject religion altogether, I can see why you wouldn't believe it, and your question makes sense. But if you believe in Christ, and if you believe the Bible to be true, what about the Book of Mormon story of Christ coming to the Americas, besides it being new information, makes it so unbelievable?

      November 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Porter

      @no goldenplates-As if your an expert on all religions. Back off man!

      November 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  4. Ray

    mormons need to stop telling people they are Christians.. Christians do NOT believe that God, with his wives live on planet Kolob and was once a human. Christians also do not believe that if you are a good follower, you will be a god and have a planet as mormons do. they are nothing more than a cult that tries to be mainstream

    November 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Don

      Exactly. They need not fight against a lily-white image problem, but rather, a problem with a cultish and insane belief system.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • AtheistDude

      That's right Ray! I mean who do they think they are with their "made-up" crazy stories about their faith and God. It is nothing like Christianity with a belief in a man born to a virgin who raised from the dead and who could heal the blind with the touch of his hand. That is not fairy tale BS like mormonism right!????

      November 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Clarifier

      Even Christ was mocked when He was on the earth. Thus, it is no surprise that His Church will likewise be misinterpreted and mocked by the ignorant.
      Mock all you want. One day, you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

      November 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Porter

      Ray

      So All christian believe the same thing? Go back to school and learn something.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • I am Christian

      Ray,

      I'm Christian and I believe that stuff.... I love it when some Christians get all uppity and actually try to make the argument... "You can't join our club..." Add it to the "No girls Allowed!" "Blacks sit in the back!" and "Jews go home!" baloney.
      Isn't the first tenant of Christianity to love thy neighbor and to treat others as you would wish to be treated. Stop the childish whining!!

      November 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  5. MAKS

    THE FACT THAT THIS IS CONSIDERED NEWS IN AMERICA IS REALLY PATHETIC.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • ProjectZ

      Slow news day...

      November 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • AX

      The fact that you took the time to make that comment is pathetic, which also makes me pathetic for taking the time to respond to your pathetic comment

      November 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  6. kd

    I'm not aware of any other religion that goes to such lengths to advertise. It's weird.

    And, having lived in Utah for too long, I can tell you this 'campaign' is a joke. Attend a conference, watch their choir, walk around Utah – it's a sea of white faces.

    I thought dishonesty was a sin, Mormon Church.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • what

      Last I heard, there aren't that many black people in utah to begin with so this isn't too surprising. If you want to see hispanics at an lds church, try going to a spanish speaking branch instead of an english speaking one. They're there.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Julie

      Duh, of course they are white in Utah. What a dumb comment.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Julie

      Duh, of course they are white in Utah. What a dumb comment.

      Utah is 86 percent white, not matter what church you go to it is going to be mostly white faces.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Chris

      Not too many religions have so many lies spread about them by ignorant fools much like the idiots on this page.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Cameron

      The Mormon Tabernacle Choir reflects the ethnicity of Salt Lake City Mormons with singing backgrounds and talents. It would not nor should it reflect a cross section of Mormons from around the country and world, which is what the I'm a Mormon campaign does. The choir is a local volunteer choir.

      Also, I find it interesting that many atheists online can be much more assertive and zealous than the most excited Christian missionary.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Great article. I always new Mormon's were Christian.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Too bad for them. There goes all their credibility.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Brandon

      Amen! And the ignorant trolls need to leave. What happened to "If you don't have something nice to say, don't speak?"

      November 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Remind me again what the Mormon bible says about people with darker skin?

    November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • todd in DC

      And how welcome they were back in the 1970s.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Sue

      Exactly.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Lin

      The Mormon bible is the King James Version.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Colin

      Here you go, Darth!: "He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness and He denieth none that come unto Him, black and white, bond and free, male and female" 2 Nephi 26:33 (from the Book of Mormon).

      November 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • James

      Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21 – "And he had caused the acursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and bdelightsome, that they might not be centicing unto my people the Lord God did cause a dskin of eblackness to come upon them."

      November 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jenea

      Another gem:

      1: 2 Nephi 5: 21- 'And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.'

      November 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Amelia

      "...and he inviteth all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both jew and Gentile." 2 Nephi 26:33

      November 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Jeff

      It's great that you can take a snippet of a quote from a book and make it say whatever you like. I like that both sides of the argument are being made out of the same book (Nephi)! The idea that anyone believes any of this drivel is just beyond me though.

      November 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  9. Misha Gastonai

    Cool, now we just need the NBA to combat its "onyx black" image 🙂

    November 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • meh

      Mormons should play hockey! COLOR IT UP, PEOPLE

      November 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  10. zip

    If you knew the real story behind the Mormon church, not only would you not vote for Romney, you would demand the United States invade Utah and restore sanity.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • todd in DC

      I love the magic underwear part, personally.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Sue

      I know it, and it really shows there is a sucker born every minute. Joseph Smith was a first rate huckster. It's amazing with all the evidence against the man, that mormons choose to turn a blind eye.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • manhandler

      I tried the magic underwaer thing and WOW!......you wouldn't believe the results.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Scott Hill

      So another extermination order like existed back when the church was getting started for all mormon men? Nice.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Amelia

      zip are you for real? Maybe after the "government invades Utah", they should make the Mormons all wear yellow stars, and send them off to concentration camps. Then would you be happy?

      November 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  11. Patrick (Boston, MA)

    This religion is proof positive that anyone can vomit words on a page and get millions of people to worship it. I think only the Scientologists are crazier than the Mormons.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • manhandler

      Yup...they're pretty much ALL crazy. Stone tablets seem to be all the rage. Have to agree with Lenin when he said that religion was the opiate of the people. How else do you explain that many people blindly following fairy tales? I think mainly it appeals to people who think they can't get through life without a crutch or can't deal with the fact that life comes to an end. ...and there are bazillions of those. Life on earth is simply energy and the amount of energy is always the same....... when someone dies, their energy just changes form. Deal with it.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Cameron

      Have you read the Book of Mormon? I challenge you to actually read it before comparing it to vomit. It's quite beautiful. There are sad historical events, but mostly it talks about Jesus. It certainly is not exactly something a largely uneducated farmboy could cook up in in a few working months.

      Also of note, the golden plates were shown to 11 witnesses and others. Most of these men were later estranged to Joseph Smith, but none of them ever denied their testimony that the plates were real.

      Who do you know that with no practice as a writer, could dictate to a scribe a cohesive 531 page book similar in nature and personality to the Bible?

      November 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Bill the Cat

      Cameron,

      I've read it 3 times. It's garbage.

      Joseph Smith and Martin Harris... dum dum dum dum dum....

      November 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Wait, Cameron... Did you say cohesive? Seriously?

      November 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • meh

      @Patrick I thought Snooki proved that more recently with her NYTimes Best-Seller

      November 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Guess What

      Cameron - "Who do you know that with no practice as a writer, could dictate to a scribe a cohesive 531 page book similar in nature and personality to the Bible?"

      Hmmm, same deal that they say about Muhammad... only his book is longer. I guess you believe that one too then, eh?

      November 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  12. Luek

    And just what is so bad about being "lily white" whatever that is supposed to mean exactly? This country and the world for that matter would be a lot better off if there were many more white people in the world. The white race is a minority race in the world demographic for your information. The overwhelming number is Asiatics. Not too many people are trying to get into Asiatic countries if you have noticed.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • todd in DC

      This is just a guess. Your family tree doesn't fork much, does it?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • D

      Yes...the world would be a better place with white people like you right?

      Gotcha.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Luek, that is really dumb crap. We are all EXACTLY the same, save for some mutations that are very specific. Race does not exist. The word has no real definition. We are human beings. The only thing that seperates us is culture and location, unless you are a racist fuk and think skin color seperates us. The best thing for us to do in inter-marry and get all those genes all mixed up together. We will be stronger, less likely to pass bad mutations on to future generations and eventually, we will all look the same...it's true! But that would kind of suck cuz asian chicks are HOT.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Luek, have you ever wonder why, if Whites are now have always been the Minority how were they able to so dominate the world?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jeff

      Nothing like a blatant racist comment to bring atheists and religious types together in solidarity! Good luck Luek. (can't even spell your own name?)

      November 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  13. us1776

    You DON'T need some religion with some "Invisible Being" in order to live a happy, moral, fulfilling life.

    .

    November 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • JULIOS BARCA

      Don't you guys get it all this mormon adds on tv and radio it's only to minimize impact on the next elections to Rep.Romney.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @JB
      You think?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bill the Cat

      Nor do you have any reason, except personal preference, to NOT live a moral life withhout God.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  14. JohnQuest

    HeavenSent, Please explain the following "all the races (man and woman) were created on the sixth day. On the seventh God rested. On the 8th day God created Adam and Eve".

    If God created everyone on the 6th day expect Adam and Eve which he created on the 8th day. Would that not invalidate the "original" Sin, You cannot say that all men are born sinners because we all came from Adam and Eve. By your own words most of us did not come from Adam and Eve, you just wiped out the cornerstone of Christianity, Congratulations.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @JohnQuest
      HS doesn't actually read. She just cuts and pastes. It is not her fault! There are thousands of illiterates in this country. Just one more sad story.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  15. John

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dz59JANSdg&w=640&h=360]

    November 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Anon

      Beautiful music! Thanks for sharing it!

      November 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  16. Allan

    As a former member, I DO NOT believe in the Morman church. There is no proof as to were Joseph Smith found this "second book" as told to him from God/Jesus! Most Priesthood positions are held by hypocritical men. They preach one thing, but do another. Your condemed if you marry outside the church. To me, it's nothing but a cult. Heck, my father was nominated for a priesthood job, but was denied for not giving enough to the church during the year!

    November 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Testify brother!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Stallion

      You obviously weren't a very active member, because people don't get nominated and they definitely don't base it on how much $ you give the church. Get your facts right next time!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Now just expand what you said to all religions. All religions and concepts of god are entirely man-made. Any person who is serious about seeking the truth will eventually discover this.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Nick Adams

      You were a Mormon but don't know how to spell Mormon?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jupiter79

      You are not very familiar with the Mormon church if that is your description of what is wrong with it. Just trolling it sounds like. If you did go, you must have been very young and didn't understand how the mormon church works. An you of course know the leaders personally so you can say they were hypocrites. I doubt you have even stepped insided a mormon chapel.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Stallion

      RE: Nick Adams

      Exactly!

      November 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Aaron

      Wow, you'd go as far as pretending to have LDS background to slander the church? Anyone who is or ever was LDS knows that nobody knows how much you donate, the only way the bishop knows whether you pay your full 10% is if you tell him so, no questions asked. Also, nobody is ever "nominated" for a priesthood position. They are called in private by a priestood leader, and in confidentiality, they can either choose to accept or pass on the calling. You were never LDS and you know it.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • RMarkB

      As a former member of WHAT??? Certainly not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • REALLY?!?

      Allan...

      In the 28 years I've been in the church I've never heard of someone being "nominated" for a "job". Please explain?

      Why is everyone so angry on here? The church is something that YOU decide to be a member of or not.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Scott

      Allan's a former member, but apparently he can't spell Mormon. I'm sure the "Mormans" will struggle without your brilliance in their congregations.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • muucavwon

      I love that the Mormon response to anyone saying they used to a member is "it's obvious you weren't a REAL Mormon because of X". Mormons like to believe that no one who REALLY "had a testimony" ever came to the conclusion that the Church isn't everything it claims to be. If you come to the conclusion that the Church isn't "true", then you never REALLY believed in the first place.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  17. Reality

    The brochures that should be passed out:

    WARNING- Don't Become Victims of the Infamous Angelic Con:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.

    November 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • clay

      Reality, I think I need to write a brochure just for you at this rate...

      November 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, I just received a joke today that pertains to you. It read, "Don't believe everything you think".

      LOL.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      HeavenSent, I just received a joke today that pertains to you. It read, "Don't believe everything you think".

      LOL.

      Oh but then I realized you don't think, so disregard.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  18. hippypoet

    omg enough already with the replay articles.... god-damn it cnn, do you have noone with an original idea!

    November 2, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • clay

      Finally! Something Christians and Atheists can agree upon.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • hippypoet

      lol, yes clay, we – believer and non believer alike hunger for a fresh article in which to continue the good fight! I am not sure if its more sickening that we agree about wanting an article to fight over thats new or more sickening that we continue the damn funny argument that continuously gets us nowhere in general! LOL too funny!

      November 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • clay

      Well, it's not like we have anything else to do... I honestly gave up trying to convert people a long time ago. Now my foremost concern is making sure they understand what they believe. At least we aren't violently trying to murder each other. (yet...)

      November 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Matthew 12:31-32 (Larger context: 12:22-37)

      31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

      32 "And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the {age} to come.

      Mark 3:28-30 (more detail 3:20-30)

      28 "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

      29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"–

      30 because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."

      Luke 12:10

      10 "And everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.

      Amen.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • hippypoet

      there is no god but the one true god the ALMIGHTY SUN, the only true giver of life and provider of reuseble energy – all other fake gods are just man made creations to explain what they don't know!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @HeavenSent
      Now watch carefully HS, this is going to be really cool. I am going to demonstrate the fine art of cut and paste. Here we go. Drum roll please...

      Matthew 12:31-32 (Larger context: 12:22-37)

      31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

      Ta-Da! I am a genious!!!!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      The HippyPoet is wise beyond his years. Follow his teachings! Lather on the SPF 50 and dance naked and joyful in the warmth of the ALMIGHTY SUN! HP will bogart his glenfiddich 50 but be not saddened, his 18 is good too and will flow like a pure river to the ocean of our souls. We will pass left and be joyful and thankful for the life given to us by the one true God, the SUN! Now start dancing like a MoFo and dig it!

      November 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness.
    In 1978 the Mormons had a revelation allowing blacks into the priesthood – conveniently at the exact time that they started expanding beyond the U.S. into countries full of "cursed" people, like Brazil.
    Here's a quote from the LDS Leaders, circa 1947:
    "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel."
    – George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay

    November 2, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

      Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

      Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

      Genesis 1:4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

      Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

      Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

      Genesis 1:7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

      Genesis 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:10 And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that [it was] good.

      Genesis 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:12 And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

      Genesis 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

      Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

      Genesis 1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.

      Genesis 1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

      Genesis 1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.

      Genesis 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

      Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

      Genesis 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

      Genesis 1:22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

      Genesis 1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

      Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

      Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

      Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

      Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

      Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

      Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so.

      Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

      Reading Jesus' truth, all the races (man and woman) were created on the sixth day. On the seventh God rested. On the 8th day God created Adam and Eve whose offsprings brought forth Emmanuel, God with us (conceived December 25th, born September 29th).

      Amen.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Kev

      If that be the case then why are there these teachings come from the Book of Mormon:

      "[Jesus Christ] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile" (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 26:33).

      "Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God." (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 17:35)

      "Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." (The Book of Mormon; Alma 26:37)

      November 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Kev
      "I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Neg.ro. Dar.kies are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church."
      – Joseph Fielding Smith, Look magazine

      "The Juvenile Instructor" is an LDS tome used to indoctrinate children.
      Here is an excerpt:
      "We will first inquire into the results of the approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of Heaven placed upon some portions of mankind. Some, however, will argue that a black skin is not a curse, nor a white skin a blessing. In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing, and that the ne.gro is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth; but to us such teachings are foolishness.
      We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)

      November 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @HeavenSent
      Uhm – thanks for Genesis?
      I do have a copy on me, thanks very much.
      Do you notice how it says that The Earth was created BEFORE the sun, moon, and stars?
      Very odd, given that all celestial bodies in the solar system orbit the sun and not the earth....
      But hey – God is both anthropomorphic and anthropocentric. It says so right on the label.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • RMarkB

      Say Doc, when was the Juvenile Instructor circulated? Do you have anything that isn't half a century old to say?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Widobberman

      Unfortunately you are incorrect. Missionaries were serving in Brasil since 1937. I don't have time to research other countries, but that I know since my grandpa served there at that time. I've never agreed with or understood the priesthood ban, but please use correct infomation if you plan to attack something. Thanks.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Widobberman
      My information is correct.
      Whether there were missionaries there is irrelevant.
      Were the missionaries dark skinned clergymen? I'd bet dollars to donuts they were NOT.
      The first Mormon church opened outside of the United States was in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1978 – the same year they decided to allow ethnic priests.
      It's awfully convenient when divine revelation coincides with economic necessity, eh?

      November 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @RmarkB
      Didn't you read the first part of the post?
      The discourse around what dark skin means still hasn't changed.
      Why don't we look at something that is timeless – The Book of Mormon.
      In the book of Jacob, the Lamanites are "filthy" and "cursed with a sore cursing upon their skins" becuase of the sins of their fathers. And as a warning, Jacob says "I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God."

      November 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Cameron

      Doc, non-domestic Mormon congregations and church have existed since the 1840s, beginning in Europe and the South Pacific. Your information is not accurate.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Cameron
      I stand corrected.
      Before 1978 they opened temples in Canada, England and Switzerland.
      At the time the temples were opened, all three of those countries were more than 90% white, demographically speaking.
      The Temple in Sao Paulo is the first to exist in a country that was not overwhelmingly white.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And by the by, they didn't open in the 1800s.
      The one in Alberta was in 1923, Switzerland in 1955 and London in 1958.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Mormon Academic

      Doc Vestibule knows little about the LDS Church. He seems to think that the Church does not operate in a country until it has an operating temple in that country. Temples are only built in places where there are enough Latter-day Saints to merit it. Rougly 10% of the population of Mongolia's capital, Ulan Bator, are now Mormon. Yet there is no Mormon temple in that country. Seems like your "facts" aren't lining up with how things work, Doc. Why don't you get some education on the subject before trying to enlighten the internet masses? Or are you just trolling?

      November 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      they may not have a temple in mongolia, but they do have a stake there. I mean the mormon use of 'stake.'

      November 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Mormons may be "active" in countries before a temple is built, but it only becomes profitable once the temple is opened.
      The revelation in 1978 was a business decision, not a message from God.
      They were openeing their first temple in a country populated by dark skinned "filthy" people and wanted their money.
      Once congregants have a place to go, they have a place to ti/the their 10%.
      You can't have your annual "did you pay us" meeting with the Bishop, nor can they deny a member entrance to the Temple unless it exists, right?

      November 3, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  20. Dr. Zeuss

    Proving, sadly, that delusion is not exclusive of any specific race.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Dr. Zeuss, you wrote "Proving, sadly, that delusion is not exclusive of any specific race."

      Answer: Grow up. Every generation rebels against the previous generation thinking they have a better mousetrap to build. Sadly, none of the generations built anything because God gave us His wisdom. Some of us are willing to learn and abide in His truth and others are still arrogant rebelling against Him and the rest of society.

      P.S. the atheists constant temper tantrums that they can't get their own way and rule life is beyond boring, not to mention obnoxious.

      Amen.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Dr. Zeuss

      HS, clearly your god didn't give you any wisdom.

      Evidence and reason show that Christian god cannot exist as claimed. There is no such god, so get over your sick delusions and get a life already.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Porter

      Dr Zeuss.

      Stop harassing people that have faith.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      lol, that's why god gave us cars, and computers and airplanes? Did god tell us how to land on the moon in the Bible?
      I'm sure the advancements in agriculture was just the newest generation rebelling?

      If you can't understand the concept of progress or advancement, then you really shouldn't be arguing with anyone online.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • muucavwon

      @ Porter. Heavensent is harassing atheists. Are you going to call him/her out too?

      November 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • meh

      @HeavenSent Soooo you're saying God invented abortions?

      November 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.