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.

How Mitt Romney's Mormon faith helped shape him

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.

Opinion: Who says Mormons aren't Christian?

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. Peacemaker

    Once Mitt Romney decided to run for president....... again..... I knew the LDS would have to go on a "campaign" to prove to Christians that they are "Christians" too! However, anyone with a brain who has done research on the history of the LDS knows that they are not Christians. The book of Mormon is a joke, there is NO evidence whatsoever that Jesus, ever was in America! What amazing is that Mormon researchers have come to this conclusion and been excommunicated from the LDS!

    Sorry, Mormons, Mitt will never get the Christian vote.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Paul

      @Peacemaker, of course there is evidence Christ as in the Americas – it is in the Book of Mormon. Until you have a believable alternative explanation for the existence of the Book of Mormon, with all of its complexity, cohesiveness, hebraic roots, etc., you have very compelling evidence.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • abinadi

      Oh, I think he will get it from the real Christians. All the protestants are apostates from the Catholic church so they don't have a leg to stand on and the Catholic church was formed after the apostles had all died and so they have no authority. Don't talk to me about "Christians". Your posts are filled with hate and vitriol and prove you are not Christians. You call us a cult – how very UNchristian of you!

      November 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • TR6

      @Paul: “of course there is evidence Christ as in the Americas – it is in the Book of Mormon”
      Please provide supporting archeological evidence

      November 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • TR6

      @Paul: “of course there is evidence Christ as in the Americas – it is in the Book of Mormon”
      Of course there is evidence of magic – it is in the book Harry Potter

      November 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • JJ

      Peacemaker, is there true archeological evidence that Christ was in Jerusalem? If he showed himself unto one people, is it so hard to believe that he would show himself to another people?

      November 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  2. Twizzler

    Look what MORmONS believe it is not CHRISTIAN! Here the Mormon God Curses the AMERICAN Indians with Black skin for rebelling against the Mormon GOD–>

    ". . . 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 (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 5:21)."

    Here the MORMON GOD turns the AMERICAN INDIANS back WHITE Skinned because they REPENTED

    "And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became WHITE like unto the Nephites" (Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 2:15).

    November 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Akita

    10% Tidings...! Greedy, Greedy, Greedy. Shame on you. The book of Mormon is a fantasy, read it and you will see how ignorant they are

    November 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Please do read it! Actually read it! It changed my life forever. The Book of Mormon is an amazing and powerful book, and if you ACTUALLY READ it with an open mind, with real intent, you will come to know of its truth for yourself. Here is one of the many of my favorite verses:

      "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

      As I have learned to try to put of the natural man (carnal desires of the flesh) and put my trust in God, He has shown me in very personal ways that I can wholeheartedly trust in him. This is one of the many, many truths I have learned from the Book of Mormon.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  4. Trawl

    Magnets, how do they work?

    November 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  5. John


    November 3, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • ......

      GARBAGE ALERT – click the report abuse link to get rid of this trash from this obnoxious TROLL!

      November 3, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  6. tweedmeister

    I was raised LDS and raised my family in Mormonism. I finally resigned my membership in the church just three years ago when I was 58. Three of my five children have also left Mormonism. The racism, the misogyny, the lack of appropriate boundaries by leadership and general membership, the theological correctness and the unorthodox beliefs and teachings, and the constant interest in my money should have all tipped me off. In the context of this article, it is important to realize that during my youth and young adulthood, there was a huge emphasis that Blacks would never-ever get the priesthood because of their sins in the "pre-existence," the life before this wold. Whether speaking of Africans or even Native Americans, Mormonism taught (until only recently) that dark skin is a "curse from God" due to disbelief and sin. At BYU in the 1960s I was still learning that Native Americans who had accepted Mormonism were becoming lighter (something to keep in mind when one is considering the academic quality of "the Lord's university"). With Mitt Romney's candidacy at stake, the Mormon church is trying desperately to reverse its tarnished image (watch "Music and the Spoken Word" on Sundays, and note how the cameramen like to draw in closely and focus long and hard on the one or two people of color in the Tabernacle Choir). But one look at the photographs of the Mormon hierarchy, which is published semi-annually, will reveal just how lily-white the LDS church really is as reflected in the leadership.

    November 3, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Chris W

      People leave the church but never leave it alone. Sorry you have such bitter feelings towards the church. You know how much good it does... don't be so negative about it!!

      November 3, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Scott

      Chris W, Why shouldn't tweedmeister be allowed to talk about the Church after he left it? He was a member of it for 58 years. It was a huge part of his life. Talking about his experiences is healthy. "Leaving the Church but not leaving it alone" is a ridiculous cliche in today's Church (andI'm an active, believing member).

      November 3, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Chris W

      @ Scott- I never said he wasn't "allowed" to talk about the church. Of course he can...Ripping and critizing a church, former spouse, or boss never heals any wounds. If he was part of the church for 56 years he would also see the good the church has on families, teenagers and people. Few people mention the good, they always point to bad experiences. They never leave it alone.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • tweedmeister

      @Scott: Thanks for watching my back. As an active Latter-day Saint, you apparently have insight that others lack.

      @ChrisW: Your comment reflects a common LDS desire to play on an uneven field slanted in your favor. All during one's tenure in the Mormon church one must constantly be the missionary–"Once you have been warned, warn your neighbor;" "Every member a missionary!"; etc. Then when a member quits the church, a Mormon wants you to shut up about the church and makes the accusation that "you can leave the Church, but you can't leave it alone!" As Scott says, why should we? We were supposed to constantly talk about it to non-Mormons, even to the point of disturbing or alienating them. Now that we're out, I should think we should mend our ways and tell people, "Hey, it's not what I originally thought. You might check out another church." At the very least, I want people to know what they're in for if they are actually interested in Mormonism, and likewise for my loved ones who are still active Mormons. There's nothing wrong with knowing everything as long as you're going to be invested in it. Or is there?

      Now that Mormons are in the news, the LDS church is putting out very misleading information in order to counter the concept that it is a weird church, that their form of Christianity is not so orthodox. When I see this, I just want to make sure that it is countered by what I perceive as more complete truth. For instance, why is it now so essential that Mormons be seen as Christians? During the 50s, 60s, and into the 70s, we were taught to respond, "We're not Christians! We're MORmons!" And long before that, LDS leadership said things like "The Christian god is our devil!" So why, suddenly, is there such a need to be Christian? I think even you know this.

      But mostly you opinion conveys a sort of fear common to Mormons, that those who leave also escape with the secrets. Mormonism is very secretive, to the point where the members are taught one line of doctrine, but the public is given something else to chew on, something less, under the misguided belief that people need to be weaned into Mormonism ("milk before meat"). In truth, though, Mormons are afraid that we've left with the temple passwords and tokens, and the four special handshakes that will get us into the pearly gates after death.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Chris W

      @ Tweed- I totally agree that you give a balanced picture of the church. But your comments weren't balanced at all, they were one sided and misleading. So you had a few professors at BYU that gave their opinions that were false. You let out your bagage of the church but have no good things to say. If you want to give a balanced picture of the church than give both sides to the story.
      I speak for myself that when friends have left the chruch there is no worry about them telling secrets and everything, you have no credibility when you say that. Nobody worries about that. They worry about the person and the covenants they made. Don't state that your opinons is how the members really feel... I don't feel that way and all the people i associate with don't either.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Ali

      Interesting then that you are still watching Music and the Spoken word.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Highside

      I think you might be a little off here... "...Blacks would never-ever get the priesthood because of their sins in the "pre-existence," ummm...I've been attending church meeitngs for 30 years, including teaching the truth full time for two years. This is never even hinted in any doctrine or by any prophet in the bible or book of mormon, or any prophets in these days. Find out the truth – mormon.org

      November 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Highside

      And the Lords church could care less about its image, hence the help with prop 8. The church will always do the right thing no matter what "image" will come out of it. Just as those building the ark were ridiculed for their beliefs, and those follwoing John the baptist and chirst, who lost their jobs and were ridiculed by those in society. They did what they knew in their heart was right. The media push has nothing to do with race, it has to do with souls and every active member of the church knows it. The writer of this article distastefully drags race into the article to stir up emotion, your reaction is exactly what they intended.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • tweedmeister

      @ChrisW: Thanks for your patience and willingness to have a bit of dialogue. I could go on all day, but really must quit because due to work constraints. Just a correction, though: It was not any BYU professors "speaking as men," as people like to say. In two different Book of Mormon classes we had to listen to a speech by Spencer W. Kimball, who, as you recall, became president of the LDS church soon after. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say regarding skin color: "The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather.... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated." This was a concept long taught in the LDS church, and Kimball's words were, in fact, some of the tamest. I urge you to read what Brigham Young said from the pulpit of General Conference regarding skin color. I was mortified once when my own father-in-law, serving as a counselor in the stake presidency at the time, used the N-word in stake conference. My point is, it's not so easy to just slide out from under this burden. Mormons have a lot of detritus to shake off, and it will be an uphill battle. But I insist that they do it honestly and bravely, and not just try to pretend that there were a few maverick leaders "speaking as men." Racial exclusion and denigration of people with darker skins was embedded LDS doctrine. The LDS church, after all, still opines that its members should not marry between races.

      As for covenants, they hold only as much authority over me as I'm willing to give them. I no longer recognize anything Mormon as binding or inspired.

      @Ali: It IS interesting that I still watch "The Spoken Word." Actually, I don't really, but my LDS wife always does. We get it on satellite TV (Dish) and it's hard to miss it when walking by. I sometimes sit down and watch a few minutes. It is, after all, the softer side of Mormonism, a sort of watered-down old-time religion version. The religious music is very good, if one likes that sort of thing.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      Thank YOU for your honest remarks! The Mormons who are still in the cult will never admit you are right, but I know you are! My own sister was very active in the Mormon cult for years, we watched as she was brainwashed. She did not want her children around her family, because being Catholics, we were "gentiles" ....... we drink! Now she has left the cult, and it cost her her marriage, because a Mormon man in "good standing" with this cult can not be married to a born-again Christian!

      The FACTS are there, for all to know. One of the most disturbing things they do is their "temple work" which is baptizing the DEAD! Dear God, is this SICK or what?! Not to mention their "temple wedding ceremony" which is downright bizarre!

      As a life long Christian, who belongs to the Catholic church, I KNOW that Christians will NOT vote for Romney! And the LDS can spin their "religion" all they want....... but the TRUTH, IS the TRUTH! They are a cult!

      November 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Reality

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism in less than 300 words: Priceless!!!

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick Google, Bing or Yahoo search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves religions.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    November 3, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  8. Brad

    Do Mormons confess the divinity of Christ, God's only son, co-eternal with God and one of the three persons of the one God? Do Mormons confess the oneness of God – that is, God who from eternity is, was, and eternally will be be the one living God. Do Mormons confess that Christ died once for our sins and that through his death is atonement for the sins of all who believe, and that through his resurrection we are, by God's grace and not through any works of our own, brought into an eternal relationship with God?

    November 3, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Chris W

      http://mormon.org/... click faith and you will see we believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Ghost.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Scott

      Brad, yeah, actually they do.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Abinadi

      Dear Brad, a question or two for you. Is your church based on a foundation of living apostles and prophets as was Christs's church as Paul directs in Ephesians 2? Is your chuch founded on the rock of revelation as Christ directs in Mathew 16:17-18? Do you have the priesthood in your church or do your ministers simply "taketh this honour unto himself" as Paul forbids in Hebrews 5:4? Is your church the true church of Jesus Christ or was it founded on men as Paul forbids in I Corinthians starting on verse 10? If Paul were alive today, which church would he belong to? Obviously, from the preceding verses, not the church of Luther, or Wycliff, or any of the protestant churches. He said himself that he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and if he were alive today he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-days. It's time to repent, Brad, and return to the truth. Paul said, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". I testify to you that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that one truth faith and baptism!

      November 3, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Ken

      Way to go Abinadi! Glad to have you back. It is difficult to argue with that.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      @Chris W........ the problem IS that the LDS believe that God has more then one Son. And you people, are constantly doing "works" when in all Four Gospels Jesus clearly tell us that He offers us salvation! Also, the LDS do not believe that anyone else is saved, only them. Please save your propaganda, I know exactly what you believe. The idea that your men will inherit a planer where they will live once they die...... is simply.......... silly!

      November 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Paul

      @Peacemaker, When you disagree with Mormons about what they believe, do you ever consider that maybe you are the one that is wrong? After all, it is their beliefs they are sharing. Here is what the Book of Mormon says about the points you raise. If Mormons don't believe the Book of Mormon, who does?

      Alma 5:48 ... I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.
      2 Nephi 2:4 ... And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
      2 Nephi 26:27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

      I know it is hard for you to let go of what you've been taught that Mormons believe, because you've been taught it in your church, and you don't want to disbelieve your pastor, or whoever he or she invited to indoctrinate you against Mormons. Sorry about that, but the fact is that we really do believe the Book of Mormon – it isn't propaganda. The text is online at scriptures.lds.org and it's the same copy we read at home, at church and in the Temple.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    Part I: Abraham's Petty God
    Part II: God's Pansy Son
    Part III: American Jesus

    November 3, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Rick

      Whats Up Doc ?

      November 3, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  10. Rick

    Not So Sure About The Campaign From The Mormon Church, Why So Much Emphasis On Yourself And On The Religion Of Men. Jesus Never Said I am A Mormon A Catholic A Lutheran. We Should Not Concern Ourselves With What The World Thinks Of Churches. Jesus Can Defend Himself. The Word Is Plain And Open For Anyone To Read, John 6 47-50 Most Assuredly I Say To You He Who Believes In Me Has Everlasting Life. 48 I am The Bread Of Life. Your Fathers Ate The Manna In The Wilderness, And Are Dead . This Is The Bread Which Comes Down From Heaven, That One May Eat Of It And Not Die. Has Nothing To Do About The Image Of Any Church, This Is The Truth And The Truth Will Set You Free.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • TommyD

      Are you saying Jesus was not concerned about people believing His word?
      Because I believe He did indeed want people to believe in His word.
      That is what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints in concerned about...people being willing to at least listen to his word.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Abinadi

      Rick, a question or two for you. Is your church based on a foundation of living apostles and prophets as was Christs's church as Paul directs in Ephesians 2? Is your chuch founded on the rock of revelation as Christ directs in Mathew 16:17-18? Do you have the priesthood in your church or do your ministers simply "taketh this honour unto himself" as Paul forbids in Hebrews 5:4? Is your church the true church of Jesus Christ or was it founded on men as Paul forbids in I Corinthians starting on verse 10? If Paul were alive today, which church would he belong to? Obviously, from the preceding verses, not the church of Luther, or Wycliff, or any of the protestant churches. He said himself that he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and if he were alive today he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-days. It's time to repent, Brad, and return to the truth. Paul said, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". I testify to you that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that one truth faith and baptism!

      November 3, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Peacemaker

      Actually, Jesus was an observant Jew.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  11. MemeInjector3000

    Mormons, read this:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    –Epicurus (Greek philosopher, BC 341-270


    November 3, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • George

      Case not quite closed. Your argument would be terrific on a mainstream Christian, but mormon doctrine on free agency and eternal existence shuts your argument down quite fast. Check it out before you lump mormons up with all other religions. Essentially, without going into too much detail, your assumption that God's not being willing to prevent evil makes him evil is false. The only way to prevent evil is to use force or manipulation, which is contradictorily evil. If I do something evil and you force me to be good, am I really good? If I do something evil and you allow for me to do it, are you the evil one? Not so simple.

      November 3, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • LizM

      @George... but can't you say the same thing about "families are forever"? If you aren't "good" you won't get to be with your family forever, so you better be good! It's just Heavenly Father dangling that celestial carrot in front of our noses. Isn't it better to be good for the sake of doing good, rather than doing good because we're scared we won't see our family again? Heavenly Father is kinda like the ultimate hostage terrorist. You wanna see your family again? You better shape up! LOL!

      November 3, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • TommyD

      We are here to live and learn. If we stayed in the Eden (if there was no good and evil) we could never grow.

      "Families can be together forever". "Can" is up to you. God has given us all choices, everyday we make decisions, those choices decides our future, here on earth, and later. God is not "dangleing", he's showing us a goal.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Chris W

      No the LDS church doesn't teach that.

      Liz- We are not obedient because fear but because of faith in Jesus Christ.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • George

      @LizM. You missed the point. The simplistic passage by Epicurus above is an argument at why there cannot be a good God, or a God worth worshipping. It rests on the assumption that a good and all-powerful being would never allow evil to happen or that the existence of evil would make God blameworthy if there were a God. They are purely assumptions and do not take into account that we are beings distinct from God, endowed with free will. They also assume that any truly good being would just do away with evil, even if doing so would destroy free will, something we all value. Epicurus' words sound really clever until you pick apart the assumptions. In counter-arguing me, all you've done is attributed bad faith to the way God works within LDS theology, as if a loving God would never allow others to suffer when He is in control. You're making essentially the same false assumptions as Epicurus and fail to confront the problem of overcoming evil by doing away with something good – choice. Should God force families to be together forever? All He's saying is "You have a choice. Here's how to do it if you want it." That's not holding people hostage. That's just telling people how the universe operates.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  12. Cathy Sickles

    I'm proud to be a Mormon,,,,,,we are Christians too...........the true name of the church is 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.........ask me anything you want about it

    Have a great day!!!!!!!!! You all deserve it!!!!!!!!

    November 3, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Steve-in-MA

      Actually, Mormons aren't Christians. The teachings of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints have drifted too far away from the teachings of orthodox Christianity to be considered Christian. In much the same way Christianity has drifted away from its beginning in Judaism. If I claimed to be a Jew because I was a Christian, people would correct me the same way that you need correction when you make these mistakes.

      November 3, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • TommyD

      Actually, Mormons are Christians. The teachings of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints has not drifted.
      The Church teaches the gospel according to Jesus Christ. We are not concerned about being "main stream" or "orthodox" Christians. I do not believe "fitting in" was Jesus's goal.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Abinadi

      Steve, a question or two for you. Is your church based on a foundation of living apostles and prophets as was Christs's church as Paul directs in Ephesians 2? Is your chuch founded on the rock of revelation as Christ directs in Mathew 16:17-18? Do you have the priesthood in your church or do your ministers simply "taketh this honour unto himself" as Paul forbids in Hebrews 5:4? Is your church the true church of Jesus Christ or was it founded on men as Paul forbids in I Corinthians starting on verse 10? If Paul were alive today, which church would he belong to? Obviously, from the preceding verses, not the church of Luther, or Wycliff, or any of the protestant churches. He said himself that he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and if he were alive today he would belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-days. It's time to repent, Brad, and return to the truth. Paul said, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". I testify to you that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that one truth faith and baptism!

      November 3, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Ken

      Abinadi, why are they not answering your questions?

      November 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      Cathy, sorry to bust your bubble, but the name of your "church" has nothing to do with your misguided "theology".

      A Christian, is a person who believes that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, that we do not have to "earn" salvation! Jesus died for our sins.

      You, Mormons, do not believe that Jesus is ALL we need for salvation. That is the reason we, Christians, do not believe that you are.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Paul

      @Peacemaker, again, the Book of Mormon says that we do believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that he died for our sins, and that we don't earn salvation:

      Moroni 6:4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

      We do believe that Christ's grace is conditional upon our acceptance of it through repentance and baptism. I'm sure you believe grace is conditional on something – for instance, you probably don't believe I, as a Mormon, am saved, so you must believe access to grace depends on some condition I haven't met.

      A legitimate difference between LDS theology regarding grace and many other Christian faiths is that we believe man can fall from grace through sin, and that we must continue to repent and obey Christ's commandments throughout life. Keeping Christ's commandments doesn't earn us salvation; rather, by doing so we continue to exercise faith in the free gift of His grace.

      Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

      If you want to say we're not Christians because we believe this, at least you'll be making that judgment based on our actual beliefs.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. duck0770

    If you want to know what Mormons believe, ask a Mormon. Go to mormon . org. Check it out and then, if you'd like, ask for the missionaries to visit.

    Peter talked about "the restoration of all things" before Christ's second coming. If the priesthood has been restored, if revelation is restored, if there is a living prophet and apostles (as Christ organized and God has always used prophets for his works), if temple work (as the early Christians knew and as the Jews knew) has been restored, if you could learn about where you came from, where you're going, and what the purpose of life is, wouldn't all of that be important to know? THERE IS A REASON PEOPLE ARE JOINING THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS!

    November 3, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  14. Ali

    Any Group of people who you join with in any cause will show you love and respect. That doesn't mean it's the truth. If you were following true christianity you would have that same direction and peace in life. The problem is maybe 1 percent truly follow the teachings of the bible/gospels. Islam came to reintroduce jesus' message. And the last prophet did a great job. That's why there are over one billion Muslims. With a majority demonstrating true belief and adhering to the word of god as revealed in the Torah, bible and finally the Quran.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • morpunkt

      Torah, Bible, Quran, and now the Book of Mormon.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Kev

      Ali, I do agree with you in that joining any group of people in any cause who will show you love and respect doesn't necesasarily mean it's the truth or that you should just simply blindly follow that group. I do believe that there is only one true path or complete path, and that you should be careful about which path to follow; to make sure that it is the true and complete path. Trying to truly and fully follow the teachings of Jesus Christ is by no means easy. We all fall short of fully reaching that goal, but I do beleive that if we continuely try to work on it, that God's gift of salvation will be given inspite of our shortcomings.

      Your point about reintroducing true Christianity through a later prophet such as Mohammad is something I could relate to. Latter-Day-Saints do believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was reintroduced through someone called of God to be a prophet. In my belief that would be Joseph Smith, and that after Joseph Smith's death I believe God has continued to call upon others to be prophets to continue giving the full guidance and truth that needs to be applied down to our current day and age. Also, like your belief in the Quran as a continuing guide to come closer to God that is in addition to the teachings already given in the Bible, I believe that The Book of Mormon and other additional scriputes given through modern day prophets are also guides that add and give support to the Bible that can help us come closer to God.

      However, one should not just automatically accept it as being true. Each person has to find out for himself or for herself whether or not this is the true or complete path to take. It takes studying and practicing the things Jesus taught through his own words and through the words of his prophets and even asking God whether or not this path is the true and complete to take, and that you and only you can decide where to go from there.

      November 3, 2011 at 5:06 am |
  15. JDD

    My wife is an African-American Mormon. She's been well accepted in every Mormon congregation we've visited, in both Utah, California, and even Brazil. We've always felt welcomed and loved. We love being Mormon! 🙂

    November 3, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  16. udell

    "(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.)"

    – Proposition 8 fail

    November 3, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Kev

      Considering that Proposition 8 was neither a political candidate nor a political party, it doesn't fall into the actual premise of being involved in politics, at least for tax exempt validation purposes anyway as a church.

      November 3, 2011 at 3:54 am |
  17. Steve

    I'm a CPA who works for a Canadian mining company, and I'm a mormon. I love sharing in simple terms what it means to me in my life. The light, truth, love, peace, comfort, intelligence, and understanding that comes to me when I live in accordance with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is AMAZING!!! I'LL SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOF TOPS!!! I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and it means the world to me and my family!

    November 3, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  18. Dan Combs

    @Rick The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. If you understand the History of the Original Church of Jesus Christ, all of the apostles and Christ were killed and the Church and the Priesthood was no longer on the earth. Therefore, a restoration was necessary. There was a falling away of the orignal church. 2 thessolonians 2:1-3 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, aby the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

    2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, aor be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by bletter as from us, as that the cday of Christ is at hand.

    3 Let no man deceive you by any means: afor that day shall not come, except there come a bfalling away first, and that cman of dsin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    The Bible and Book of Mormon are like two anchors. If you only have 1 anchor the boat or doctrine is easily changed and interpreted in many different ways. If you have two anchors then their is little room for misunderstanding of Gods word. God is the same yesterday and forever. "In the Mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established." The Book of Mormon is the 2nd Witness of Christ and his Church being Restored to the Earth. Joseph Smith was called to be the Lord's prophet in these latter days to restore the Church to the earth in its fulness. The fulness of all gods blessings.

    November 3, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Bob

      See you at the pig sacrifice tonight, Dan. Leviticus rocks.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • meh

      Two anchors doesn't solidify the word of the Bible, it solidifies your interpretation of the Bible.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  19. Dan Combs

    @BK I feel that these rash generalizations are just typical of the adversary. Have you read the Book of Mormon Cover to cover? How do you know when you have found truth? Have you prayed about it? Seems harsh, seems like your angry is from something other than the truth that is within the scriptures, even the Book of Mormon. So you are saying that over 14 million people have been deceived?

    November 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Rick

      Bernie Madoff(Made off) deceived people out of $50 Billion in short period of time. Give the devil a foothold and the beginning of time and come up with your own numbers.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Steve-in-MA

      Yes, Dan, that's exactly what we're saying. The Mormon beliefs were made up out of whole cloth by a con artist and it is foolish to believe them. There are many foolish folks in the world.

      November 3, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  20. Rick

    So let me understand a major point of Mormonism, please correct me if I'm wrong:

    Jesus' death on the cross was not enough to satisfy God's demand for a perfect sacrifice for sin (all sin)? But Joesph Smith somehow in his imperfection and intolerance and rewriting the Holy Bible has paved the way for us all?

    November 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Keoni

      Rick, first off js didn't rewrite the bible, the book of Mormon is a separate book and another witness of Jesus. We believe that Christmas also appeared to an taught those who were in the America's. Joseph Smith was a prophet not a savior, his purpose was to restore Christ's church upon the earth as it had been in the days of Jesus and his apostles.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Keoni

      Christ not Christmas, stupid auto correct lol

      November 3, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Paul

      @Rick, the Book of Mormon says we do believe Christ's Atonement satisfied the demands of God's justice:
      Alma 42:15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.

      Do you believe Mormons believe the Book of Mormon?

      November 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
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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.