I am a Mormon. I am not offended when media articles and editorials don't 'get' the Mormons, but I'd really like everyone to know that there are better sources of information. I don't ask people to agree with my beliefs, but I do ask them to form educated opinions by consulting with official Church doctrine and not other sources alone, just as you wouldn't trust an English teacher to tutor you accurately in physics. With the spotlight on Mormons as never before, I have seen all sorts of underinformed comments, opinions, and articles. lds.org, mormon.org, and mormonewsroom.org are great resources for fact-checking or your own enlightenment. Mormons and other Christians and people of other faiths have so much more in common than they hold different that it seems silly that media or pastors or whoever else teach false information to scare their members away from understanding and accepting the Mormons. There is no reason in the internet age that people should not understand each other for too little information!
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
This scripture in Matthew is relevant as you judge the LDS Church. Are the Mormons you know good people doing good things or the opposite? By their fruits shall ye know them. Go to Mormon.org/values/ to learn more or visit mormon.org/articles-of-faith/.
To make it even easier for you, I'd like to devote this post to debunking some common Mormon myths.
- Mormons are racist. We don't really know why the priesthood wasn't available to all worthy male members of the Church until 1978. Early in Church history all priesthood blessings were available to all Church members regardless of race. Early Mormons were against slavery and bought freedom for some slaves who believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted to join their fellow Saints. Here's the biggest indicator that racism isn't a belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the Church is 14.5 million members strong worldwide, with especially rapid rates of growth in the continent of Africa. The Church also grows quickly in South America. There are plenty of LDS members among the African American and Hispanic American communities as well. Would this happen if we were racist? I think not. The invitation to come unto Christ and be perfected in him is open to all and we welcome all.
- The Book of Mormon is of the devil, or Joseph Smith wrote it, or any number of other lies. People who slander the Book of Mormon either take words in it out of context, or they have never read the Book of Mormon in the first place. Joseph Smith, a man with a third grade education, translated in 60 days, with divine help, an ancient record written on gold plates from the people who had lived in the Americas and were directed and visited by Jesus Christ following His resurrection. Read it for yourself and form your own opinion. It's a book, it's not going to bite you. The full name is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. You can read about the beginnings of the Book of Mormon at Mormon.org/Book-of-Mormon/.
- Mormons are polygamists and Joseph Smith founded the Church because he had a mistress. False! Joseph Smith founded the Church as a young married man, under direction from the Lord Jesus Christ. To read Joseph Smith's story, visit mormon.org/joseph-smith/. You can find information about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith at mormon.org/restoration/. Polygamy was a part of the early Church, just as it was practiced anciently with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To my knowledge all marriages were by invitation to those who had the faith and temporal means to support additional women and children. There were many widows among the early Saints and more women than men. It was a trial of faith for the members asked to participate, including Joseph Smith himself.
- Mormons are all conservative. Actually only 85% of us are Republicans (of the 6 million Mormons in the United States), and there are several prominent LDS Democrats. Look no further than Harry Reid. Do politicians bring up his religion? No. But that gets into politics and media bias and we're focusing now on Mormons right now.
- Magic underwear. Temple garments are sacred, and remind the wearer of covenants he or she has made with God in the temple. We don't talk about sacred things to protect their sanctity. It is out of respect for God, not a desire to be secretive. Cast not pearls before swine, that sort of idea.
- Mormons are brainwashed. Hah! This one makes me laugh, because in reality Mormons are encouraged to seek answers themselves through study, prayer, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Being encouraged to question and find answers for ourselves we are most certainly not brainwashed.
Other questions? Ask me in the comments or hop on over to mormon.org to find more answers.