I was recently asked about my thoughts on the recent Mormon campaign. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has recently released a campaign to dispel myths about Mormonism and make the church seem more “normal.” You can learn more about the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign in this Boston Globe article.
At first, I didn’t really have any thoughts on the campaign. I had seen headlines about it, heard rumblings about the ‘Book of Mormon’ musical and read that two GOP candidates are Mormon, but that was the extent of my knowledge.
Since being asked my opinion, I have read several articles and examined the new hyped-up website, mormon.org. As I express my views, I want to be very careful to simply address the reasoning and legitimacy of the campaign and not sound-off on my thoughts about the JCLS Church.
First, I understand the need and desire to dispel myths about your beliefs and convictions. It often aggravates me when people assume certain things and believe rumors about my faith community or my own beliefs. Many people don’t understand Mormonism. However, I’m not sure that a national campaign is the correct way to introduce people to set of beliefs or to help them form a relationship with Christ. I’m a fan of personal relationships, meeting people where they are and making positive changes in local communities.
Like any religious group or denomination, Mormons are divided. Leaders within the JCLS Church want to show that they are more “normal” than radical or historical Mormon sects, and some probably are, but the foundation on which they built their religious principals does not align with the new ideas being proclaimed. You cannot change certain parts of your religion if your new ideas are a direct contradiction of the core beliefs from which they stem.
I believe that it’s unfair and deceptive to put a pretty face on an entire group of ideas, when many leaders still align with the ideas and doctrine of the past. I also don’t like making any religion look so shiny, but many groups are guilty of doing so. I hate church ads that show perfect looking families with big smiles. I prefer when faith communities are up-front and honest, admitting that they don’t have all of the answers.
The mormon.org website is very attractive and I’m sure it will seduce some individuals who are lost and looking for a life that’s simple, shiny and all figured out. I hope I’m being honest when I state that I wouldn’t like if United Methodists or Catholics or anyone created a similar campaign. No religion is as simple or easy or undivided as the Mormon ads make it look.
I think it’s likely that the “I’m a Mormon” campaign was strategically released as two Mormon political leaders begin their own presidential nomination campaigns. Leaders within the JCLS Church deny this, so maybe I’m wrong, but it seems more than a coincidence. Statistics show that many voters are apprehensive about voting for a Mormon, so it makes since for Mormon leaders to shine a more positive light on their religion. I think it’s a bad idea for religious or political leaders to tie so much religion into politics, but that’s a different issue for a different day.
I am curious to know if any other religious groups or churches have launched a similar campaign in the past. While I don’t agree that a national campaign is the appropriate way to share a set of beliefs, I am interested to see how it will affect views on Mormonism.