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.
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.
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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.”
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.”
About this blog
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.
So Mormons claim not to be racist "anymore," but have they actually removed the parts of their religion that actually SAY that blacks are the descendents of Satan and Cain? Seriously, any black person who belongs to this church is ridiculous. Regular ol' christianity is bad enough. But this? Please.
They basically lie to black people during the conversion process.
Sad but true. 🙁
There never was official doctrine of the Church to be removed that stated blacks were "descendents of Satan and Cain" but thanks for calling out another misperception to be corrected.
Some leaders and members in earlier times spoke their personal speculations based in the prejudices of those times but - thank God - those never were adopted by the Church as official doctrine. Here's a page on the Church's website that explains the difference: http://newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine
Actually Joseph Smith (founder of LDS) was one of the first outspoken Abolitionist of his time. Smith ran for President and openly claimed he would end all slavery if elected, in response MIssouri's Governor, Lilburn Boggs, issued an Executive Order to kill all male LDS members. Thats why all the Mormons moved to Utah and started taking on more wives, simply because women didn't have enough rights in America to survive on their own. I'm a history major and this is one of the first things that encouraged me to become a member.
Whether or not the Mormons are right, they are some of the best people I know. I work with several "Latter-Day Saints", and I respect them and their lifestyle. They have as many problems as anybody else, but they, for the most part, are happier than anybody else.
In today's world I say the more Mormons, the better.
Utah is number 1 in the nation in use of anti-depressants. Maybe this explains a little where their 'happiness' comes from.
I like mormons too. I just don't like organized religions. One day everyone's peaceful, then the next they're violent and wanting to overthrow the government, simply because of a subject emotional reaction to their concept of faith.
"If ye are faithful, ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies"
–is a quote from the great leader himself, Joseph Smith. Not as loving as they portray themselves always : (
THERE'S NOTHING IN OUR LDS FAITH THAT'S THREATENING OR OTHERWISE UNTOWARD. THE CAMPAIGN SHOWS THAT PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO THAT MESSAGE. DON'T YOU THINK THAT LISTENING WOULD BE A REASONABLE THING TO DO IF YOU WANT TO REALLY KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT ANY SUBJECT? AND BY THE WAY NORD JAN–YOUR TAXES AREN'T USED TO HELP THE CHURCH. NO ONE'S ARE. THE MEMBER DONATIONS FINANCE THE CHURCH. AGAIN DON'T YOU THINK KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS WOULD BE REASONABLE?
within a religious context, facts are sadly subjective : (
I don't mind people living peacefully. I DO mind people that get involved with the politics of a country in regard to their religion though. I believe gays should be allowed to marry. The mormon faith took a huge issue with that and campaigned against it, what were the 'facts' there?
Atheists have form their own religion of opposing everything that is seen as moral. They feeling push their agenda through politics. Why can't Christian, and precisely Mormons, fight against the attacks of against truths and morality in the political light. Separation of Church and State does not say that an independent religion should be voiceless.
Remember: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!
buddhists are atheists. Anyone who doesn't believe in a god is considered an atheist. It doesn't mean they lack morals or convictions, or even faith; just not faith in a god.
atheists are used to being demonized by religious people, often religious people that don't even know their faith as good as the atheist does.
There is nothing threatening in all caps messages either.
CHRIS- I LOVE that you decided to love Jesus while on ecstacy....good for you.....I've loved a lot of things while on ecstacy, glowsticks and mentholatum
Mormons are generally good, decent people. However, any church that believes it's God's one and only is bound to be obnoxious on some level.
The survey that was the basis for the recent book, American Grace, found that Mormons believe, 100%, that people of other faiths can go to heaven. That is higher than the membership of any other church. Indeed, when told that their members agreed with this idea by 75%, Lutheran pastors were shocked, saying it should have been ZERO.
Mormons expect a lot of themselves, but they do not demand anything of others, other than to be given mutual respect and the freedom to pursue their own beliefs. They do not picket other churches or try to use zoning laws to prevent other churches from being built. they do not denounce other denominations as false religions. Instead, they teach that other churches have great truths which are held in common with the Mormons, including the belief that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of mankind, who suffered and died for mankind and was resurrected and ascended to heaven, from which he will someday return. Are Mormons too good to be true? If there WERE a church that was fullly God's true church, wouldn't you expect it to be distinctively outstanding? Including in its emulation of Christ's love for all mankind?
Mormons do believe that people of other faiths can go to heaven... as long as they become Mormon in the afterlife. The idea that God gives special blessings only to his tiny special group just doesn't sit well with me. Sorry.
it's been awhile, but i'm pretty sure mormons believe in 'layers' or a hierarchy in heaven. Mormons in the top rung, of course.
Great up Mormon, went on a Mormon Mission, went to BYU.....Got Kicked out for being Gay. So, I am NOT A MORMON (and my life has been much happier since I left that cult).
Good on you Brian! Glad you got out of that 'religion' before you became another not-mentioned suicide statistic.
Hey Brian, I grew up Mormon too, I'll be your hag...
I am not a religious person, and I don't believe the Mormon church is a cult. That said, I do believe that Joseph Smith was kind of a con man who basically wrote his own book and convinced others that it was divinely inspired. Kind of like the Bible. Although I see the Mormon church, like the Catholic, as male-dominate religions, I also personally know Mormon women who would knock anyone down who said they were subservient. Women in those churches have their own realm where they dominate, but they can never be true leaders in their faith.
Maybe you should try reading the Book of Mormon, then formulate an opinion about Joseph Smith.
What a lopsided piece of drivel. Eric Marrapodi should be embarrassed for schilling for a PR savvy corporation. Non-conformists are welcome to join the church, of course, but their non-conformity is NOT welcome to stay. How could Mr. Marrapodi not be bothered to check the LDS church's website on dress standards?
• Dress modestly to show respect for God and yourself.
• Avoid extremes in your clothing and appearance.
• Dress appropriately for all Church meetings and activities.
Become a Mormon and conformity and obedience becomes the focus. This PR campaign is the height of Mormon hypocrisy.
Whats wrong with dressing modestly? Sounds great. Spread the word.
the Bible says that good christian women should cover their hair, or it will be shaved off. You don't see people talking about that too much. I'm sure the priest at the local church is using that passage during his sermon.
for some reason these older religions were REALLY big on dress and image.
I could care less about their mythology. All religions have fantastic stories at the root of their belief systems, if you look at them objectively. The only aspect of their religion that matters when it comes to a candidate for public office is how their religion impacts their values, and thus the policy decisions that will affect all of us. If an evangelical Christian thinks my children should be forced to recite prayers in their public school, I'd have a problem with that, for instance.
In response to Saywhat's question about the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q6brMrFw0E, here is a clarification of some of the inaccuracies (by no means a comprehensive list):
1. There is no Mormon doctrine that Jesus had 3 wives or that he fathered children in mortality.
2. Joseph Smith was not a treasure seeker, but rather, a humble follower of God who sought to find out God's purpose for him so that he could gain salvation. When Joseph receive the gold plates from the angel Moroni, he was strictly forbidden from using them for personal gain. Joseph said, "I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building His kingdom; otherwise I could not get them."
3. Joseph Smith did not claim that he had done more that Jesus Christ for the salvation of man. This is a blatant misquote from Doctrine & Covenants 135:3, which states, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it." This statement was made by Elder John Taylor of the Council of the Twelve Apostles after witnessing Joseph Smith's brutal martyrdom at the hands of evil men.
Further clarification on a lot of these issues can be found at mormonthink.org.
Reply to #2, Joseph Smith historically was a treasure seeker before he found the plates. Any BYU professor will admit this. It is recorded in numerous journals, including Smith's own family's.
Joseph Smith was murdered after destroying the printing press of men who were trying to publicize his secret polygamy.
The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor anti-Mormon newspaper was ordered by vote of the city council. It followed precedent set by other communities in Illionis. Smith was then charged for the silly crime of "treason against Illinois" (which was not at war with anyone in 1844), and a demobilized Illinois militia unit attacked him in the Carthage jail where he was awaiting a bail hearing and murdered him and his brother, then ran away when they thought the Mormons were coming to the city. Even if he had been judged guilty for some reason for destruction of property, that was never a capital offense that justified executing anyone. Smith's murder was a plain old lynch mob, like the ones that murdered many black people in the decades after the Civil War. Anyone who thinks Smith's murder was justified are delcaring themselves brothers of the Ku Klux Klan and other domestic terrorists.
The Mormons did NOT retaliate in any way, but over the next 18 months packed up and made wagons and prepared to head west, to someplace that no one else wanted to live in. the Mormon pioneer saga resulted from this emigration.
Mormons eventually retaliated for Joseph Smith's murder with the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Look it up.
Fighting a "Lily-white" image? Is that anything like fighting a "tar-baby" image? Or a "wetback" image? Stay classy, CNN. Two words for ya': Alternative Media...
I want reporting on what the authorities are doing about the Baby Lisa case!!!
I wonder when CNN will shed it's lilly white image. They are the first to report when the NCAAP attacks another group but yet no word on the fact that the Huffington Post and the NCAAP has called on CNN to be more diverse in their Anchor line up.
shouldn't it be that they're fighting their past, not their image?
don't they believe in prophets? ones that change their mind about multiple wives and allowing non-whites into the religion?
You mean that Utah, was the state that first allowed woman to vote. The state that produced the first female senator. The relief society presidents were tight with Susan B. Anthony. Fought a general society that was flawed on womans issues, and with a religion were early woman converts greatly outnumbered men, they created to empower woman who could not otherwise easily have a way to educate herself of support her family because of suppression of woman by society; rather then the sicko version used today by groups that true mormons look at with horror. The church already was exiled by gunpoint in the middle of winter in Missouri for its growing population that was against slavery. I think the issues you think this church needs to run from, please consider the errors that society needed to grow from; and while the members were still imperfect parts of that general society, they have always wanted to try and stem severe reactions from a nation that already seemed to view them with, sometimes even violently, with skepticism.
Yes, we believe in prophets. In the past God called prophets like Noah, Abraham, John the Baptist to teach his word. The same God said "I am the same yesterday, today and forever." God does not change his pattern. For that reason, he continued to call apostles and prophets. Like the apostle Paul said in Ephesian 2:20 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone."
Thus Prophets and Apostles are the foundation upon which Christ built his church in the new testament times.
Concerning polygamy. Any student of the scriptures knows that polygamy is not a new principle. It was practiced by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the old testament. In the time of Christ, it was not a necessary principle any more. During the beginning of the Church, it was practiced briefly. But when its purpose was completed, it was removed.
Does the fact the Jacob was married to Rachel and Leah at one point because the Lord allowed it, make Jacob an evil man. NO. Of course not.
Utah allowed women to vote to counteract the growing non-Mormon presence (which was mostly men – miners and military) and maintain their theocracy.
...sounds like you need to do more studying first. Woman's sufferage was pushed forth in Utah in 1870 by MEN, not women, and it was the Godbietes, a group of men that LEFT the mormon faith that pushed it, not mormons.
The USA had to OVERTURN it out of concerns for polygamy, which was pushed MAINLY by the mormon faith.
...just basic history there.
lol, clarifier, how closely do you study your prophets? You don't see this as an obvious con job, or people taking power over weak minded people? Name some other religions that use modern day prophets. You won't see them because it becomes WAY too easy to point out the 'flaws' in what prophets say, leading to a questioning and ultimately a lack of belief in that particular religion.
Can they work miracles, like Jesus, or talk in tongues like the Disciples? Can they do any 'magic' at all, to verify they are the prophet of god, the most high?
I'm sorry, but even with the most basic argument, you can't use 2000 year old scripture that, objectively, would be biased towards itself, as the justification for current practices.
The Book of Mormon is a book that contains the history of the descendants of Joseph, one of the tribes of Israel. It is the story about how God led this family away before the tribes of Israel were taken captive.
The Bible is mostly a record of God's interaction with the tribe of Judah (mostly called Jews today). The Book of Mormon is a record of God's interaction with the descendants of the tribe of Joseph.
There are many prophecies in the Bible that speaks of the Book of Mormon. If you are interested in learning more about how the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ that supports the Bible, go to http://www.mormon.org to learn more about the Mormons and about the Book of Mormon.
or they could just go see the play : )
Or they could just read the novel that was published years before the book of mormon from which Joseph Smith plagiarized much of what he wrote. It was called, Manuscript Found and was written in 1816 by Solomon Spalding.
I wonder how much they paid the black kids to show up and pretend to be members of a church that has reviled them for so long, and viewed them as inferior.
Look – either go with the principles and beliefs of your chosen myth, or just forget it. You don't get to change the whole concept and basis of a religion just because of civil rights! If you bought into the Adam and Eve and the talking snake nonsense, you don't get to jump ship and try to steal evolution as "intelligent design".
Own your nonsense or walk away from it – no-one admires you for being wishy washy and flip flipping.
I am black and I have been a Mormon all my life. There are many millions of black mormons.
Yes, there are presently more white than black mormons, but it is only because the Church was restored in Palmyra New York.
A good way to understand this is that Christianity started with more Jews than Gentiles members. But over time, the work of Paul the apostle allowed the Gentiles to be taught the truth about Jesus Christ and accept the truth. In like manner and for the same reasons, the gospel of Jesus Christ and membership in Christ's Church is going to spread to every nation, every race, and every people on the face of the earth. It is what Daniel saw in the vision: "the stone cut without hands" that filled the whole earth.
Remember that in mormon theology the "god" of this world is constantly evolving therefore he can change his mind whenever it suits him. It's just a coincidence that it happens when political pressure builds.
I'm surprised at all the Hate on here. I'm no Morman and have no intention of converting. I'm a UNM alumn and we have a big basketball rivalry with BYU. The athletic department has a lot of ethnic players. I was in Hawaii this summer and visited the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center. It was pretty cool, I have a colleague in my CPA firm that is from Mexico and is Morman. I thought it was a good article.
I'VE NEVER MET A RUDE OBNOXIOUS MORMAN.
Obviously you didn't grow up in Utah, Idaho, or norther Arizona. 😉
I escaped the Mormon church, & I can tell you they are not all sweet & cuddlely, the "Ward' I grew up in was nothin but a bunch of hypocrites, that practiced do what I say not as I do. The worst was always the BISHOPS DAUGHTERS...
They're alot of Samoans in Hawaii that are Mormon. I'm not a Mormon either but I have lived at two different times very near Mormon Churches. The people are very cool. The people on here hating are the same hard left liberals that hate Christians too. Godless liberals. But would never utter a peep about the Muslim fatih. Why because they feel for them because they hate Israel. Which is PC again. Young liberals that just follow whatever Ideology thats PC right now from the hard left.
Your gonna find all types of Mormons folks. Its called having a personality people.
With all due respect, the fact that the Mormon faith is advertising and trying to sell people on the religion, cheapens the conversion process. It eliminates that organic feeling of God's intervention in our lives and reminds us that it's a bunch of men, and the advertising firm on Earth pushing it. I'd much rather sit with someone in the religion and discuss the questions I might have. Instead, the constant ads on my daily taxi ride to work, on the billboards on Broadway, on the side of every telephone booth make me feel like I'm being sold the latest computer or newest car. Hardly the sense of tradition and reverence that I am looking for in a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.
How exactly do you feel like you are being sold? Just because the ads appear in the same place that commercial advertisements are? The message of the ads has nothing to do with selling. The rhetoric is that there are already people who have made the choice to be Mormon, not that you should become one too.
So, the ads are to simply celebrate the fact that the people pictured in them are LDS? I guess then, I misunderstood the point of the mass display of examples of Mormons in everyday life. It's so unfortunate. The more I want to understand the Mormon faith, the more obtuse and unreachable the people of the church make it. Maybe you're right. I think I should just give up, because I must be really stupid thinking that the ads are there to tell me that I might want to know more. I am not the enemy; you don't need to be defensive with me. I was merely expressing my feelings about the ads, not spewing hate -filled comments like most other posters on this site. Perhaps one day I'll be approached by a member of your faith with compassion and with the understanding that I may be afraid to take that leap of faith given the fact that I wasn't born into an LDS family and need to know more.
It's Christianity 3.0!
Even more bloated and buggy than v1.0, which was pretty awful to begin with.
Southern evangelical christians will never accept this
Mormons do not expect anyone to just accept their beliefs as truth. It's a pretty fantastic story. Joseph Smith getting gold plates from an angel on a hill–it may sound just as fantastic as Moses getting stone tablets from a burning bush on a mountain. (Thank Stephen Colbert for that one.)
All the Mormons are hoping for with this new ad campaign is that people will put aside their prejudices, and question what they've been taught about Mormons their whole lives.
If anyone really wants to know what Mormons believe–rather than respewing the things you've heard about the Book of Mormon (as people have been doing in many of these posts), try actually reading it to see what it says.
I don't know anyone who has actually read the Book of Mormon, who continues to spew these lies they've been taught their whole lives.
Hi Amelia, I've read the Book of Mormon I grew up in the church, & studied in Seminary both the OLD & NEW testaments as well as the Book of Mormon, & I don't believe any of it...
most people aren't speaking out against mormonism specifically, but the religions as a whole, including the burning bush and the zombie jesus. Mormons are an easy target, since they believe in modern day prophets. Blind faith is bad, everywhere.