I don’t know how I found this video series — possibly it was through StumbleUpon. Anyway, I was intrigued by their offer of a “Facebook Missionary Challenge” so I signed up to see what Mormon Facebookers would be instructed to do. The basic idea is that you post the videos along with some cute little comment, and try to pique your friends’ curiosity about the LDS church while also gradually convincing them that Mormons are totally normal and reasonable folks. This is the first video you’re supposed to post. It’s called “Mormon Myths.”
In case you can’t play the video, here’s a transcript.
You’ve probably heard a thing or two about Mormons. But how much of what you’ve heard is really true? This is Mormon Myths. Made Simple!
Myth number one: most Mormons live in Utah. Actually, of the church’s approximately 13 million members, only 12% live in Utah, and more than half live outside the US. Per capita, Utah does have a very high percentage of Mormons, at around 60% of the population. This is because in the mid-1800s, Mormons settled in Utah to escape religious persecution.
Myth number two: Mormon men have multiple wives. For a brief period in the 1800s, some members of the church did practice polygamy. However, this practice was discontinued in 1890, and monogamy has been practiced since. Over the years, several groups have broken away from the church. Some of these have adopted the practice of polygamy, such as those portrayed on HBO’s TV series, “Big Love,” and those living in the FLDS compound in Texas. However, these groups are not Mormons or in any way affiliated with the church. In fact, if a member of the church was found to be practicing polygamy today, they would immediately be excommunicated.
Myth number three: Mormons don’t believe in the Bible. The Bible is an important part of the Mormon set of scripture, known as the standard works, which also includes the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. Mormons use the Bible extensively in sermons, in Sunday school, and during personal study.
Myth number four: Mormons are not Christian. The term “Mormons” is actually a nickname. The church’s real name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormons claim to be the reestablished, original Christian church, with Christ at its head. Mormons follow Christ’s teachings, partake of his sacrament, and pray to God in his name.
Myth number five: Mormons worship Joseph Smith. Mormons revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, just like Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, and other Biblical prophets. Mormons believe their prophet can communicate with God and receive guidance for the church. As a prophet, Joseph Smith played an important role in reestablishing Christ’s church on the earth. However, worship is reserved exclusively for God and Jesus Christ.
Myth number six: Mormons don’t drink or smoke. Actually, this one’s true. In 1833, a commandment was given to the church through the prophet Joseph Smith, which prohibited the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. This code of health, known as the Word of Wisdom, is practiced by all faithful members of the church.
Okay, now you know! And next time you hear one of those rumors about the Mormons, you can say, “Actually….” For more fun and educational videos on the Mormon faith, please visit mormonsmadesimple.com!
Yeah, so, I have a couple responses. My first one is, these don’t really qualify as the nasty rumors I was (half-) hoping to see debunked. (Of course, you can’t debunk it if it’s true, but still.) How about, “Joseph Smith was a known charlatan who, before founding the LDS church, worked as a ‘treasure hunter’ employing exactly the same methods”? How about, “The Book of Mormon was supposedly translated from a nonexistent language via that scam treasure-hunting method of looking at stones placed inside of a hat”? How about, “Mormons believe that a handful of ancient Israelites somehow traveled to North America and set up a civilization that somehow left zero archaeological evidence”? Oh, and how about, “The Book of Mormon says that a ‘skin of blackness’ is a punishment for being sinful”? When I hear people say disparaging things about Mormonism, these are the things they talk about.
Secondly, doesn’t it seem odd that myth #2 is all about how polygamists aren’t “real Mormons,” while myth #4 is all about how Mormons are “real Christians”? It’s hard for me to imagine that these points are being made with zero awareness of the irony. Fundamentalist Mormons (the video even refers to them as “FLDS”) certainly consider themselves to be real Mormons, as they follow LDS teachings the way they were originally given. Their first prophet Joseph Smith and certainly his successor Brigham Young practiced and endorsed polygamy. But more importantly, their reason for excommunicating polygamists is basically, “They might agree with us on everything else, but we disagree on this one key point of doctrine.” Meanwhile, mainstream Christians saying Mormons aren’t Christian for the same reason.
Anything else about this video strike you? Feel free to sound off in the comments. As I said before, this is a series of videos so there are several more — but I think I’ll spread them out a bit. There’s only so much Mormon silliness a person can be expected to ingest at one time.