This is one of my rare, non-technical posts where I talk a little bit more about personal stuff. A few months ago I was talking to a really good friend of mine. The subject was politics, and we were discussing the Republican primaries for the Presidency, and it was starting to look like Romney was most likely going to win the nomination. He made a comment that stuck out to me. I can’t remember the exact quote, but he said something along the lines of “If Romney wins the nomination, I hope you guys (referring to the LDS Church) are ready for the nation media to tear through every part of your faith.”
This isn’t the first time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka LDS Church, Mormons) has had the media spotlight on it. It seems every few years something comes up and we make national headlines. The 2002 Olympics which were hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church has it’s headquarters, brought a lot of national attention then. In all honesty, while some negative attention from the Media may feel biased at times, it doesn’t even remotely compare to the persecutions many of the early members of the Church had to endure.
So today, I wasn’t really surprised to see the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek of an LDS painting re-purposed for their cover article:
The responses to the article, and the cover in particular, have been varied from offense and outrage to indifference to defense of journalistic investigation. Personally I think the cover wasn’t done in the best of taste, but that is their choice. In a country that protects my freedom of speech and beliefs also protects the same freedoms of the author’s, which is the way it needs to be.
But my biggest concern is if people only get small glimpses of my faith, and the faith of millions of others, though quick news stories, article covers, or even broadway musicals. This article in particular focuses heavily on one aspect of the church, the “whats” or details about the financials of the Church’s for-profit businesses.
But this article missed out on the “why”, which the Church covered in a press release. The article covers some of the misconceptions people have, and some of the Church’s financial history. It then ends with this statement:
The Church exists to improve the lives of people across the world by bringing them closer to Jesus Christ. The assets of the Church are used in ways to support that mission. Buildings are built for members to come together to worship God and to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries are sent to invite people to come to Christ. Resources are used to provide food and clothing for the needy and to provide ways for people to lift themselves up and be self-reliant. What is important is not the cost but the outcome. As former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The only true wealth of the Church is in the faith of its people.”
Those who attempt to define the Church as an institution devoted to amassing monetary wealth miss the entire point: the Church’s purpose is to bring people to Christ and to follow His example by lifting the burdens of those who are struggling. The key to understanding the Church is to see it not as a worldwide corporation, but as millions of faithful members in thousands of congregations across the world following Christ and caring for each other and their neighbors.
I recently changed jobs to be a Director for one of those for-profit companies, the Deseret News. I had other opportunities, probably which would have paid better, but I choose this job because of what the company stands for and believes in. We honestly try to focus on enriching and help other people’s lives.
So while I know many people with get a lot of information (and likely some misinformation) about the Church and it’s beliefs through a variety of sources, this is my only request: ask a member of our church about our faith and why we believe in what we believe. I’m not asking for people to turn off their TVs, or to not read anything about our church from any sources outside of the church. Most articles and sources are well intentioned, but many times they miss one key aspect about being a member of the LDS church: striving to live a normal life, with strong faith and beliefs, helping those around us who are in need.
I honestly truly believe in the teachings of our church. It pretty much every aspect of my life. It helps me be a better husband to my wife. It helps me be a better co-worker and boss at work. It helps me help my fellow man lighten their burdens and improve their life. It was our faith that helped my wife and I battle through the struggles of infertility. It was my faith that has helped me navigate the rocky roads of growing up in a divorced family. It’s my faith that helps me prepare to become a father in these next few months, and how to teach my son how to be a good person.
So if you have any questions about the church, feel free to google it and watch the news, but please, ask someone you know who is a member as well. Feel free to send me a message on Skype, or IRC, or email, and I’d be more than happy to answer any questions. If you want to tell me what you believe in and why, I would love to hear about it. I just know that with presidential races and a growing church, the attention of the media isn’t going anywhere, and I’m sure many people will have questions. It is my sincere hope that people can ask members why we believe in what we believe, and why we do what we do.