An article posted today on the American Spectator’s web site suggests that the LDS Church is worried about the publicity Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign may bring to the Church. “Mormonism in the Spotlight” says,
The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing increasingly concerned about the public-perception hit the presidential candidacy of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have on the Mormon Church.That’s one reason the church is looking at what is being called a “public education” campaign that could reach a budget in the tens of millions in media buys for TV, radio and print.
“There is an expectation that some of the church’s more archaic traditions and obscure points of history will become more widely publicized by Governor Romney’s opponents in an effort to embarrass him and raise doubts about his faith in the minds of the public,” says a New York-based media consultant who has heard buzz of the potential campaign.
Already, the Mormon Church runs a series of radio ads about family issues that are branded as messages from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is also a small TV campaign that runs occasionally highlighting the church and some of its faith-based publications.
But the current campaign is of a different sort, one that would be high profile in as much as the church would be openly discussing and clarifying points of the Mormon faith that have long been either misunderstood or misreported.
I, for one, would love it if the LDS Church would “openly discuss” and truthfully clarify points of Mormon doctrine in a public forum. Whether or not the Church really will launch such a campaign remains to be seen, but it’s evident that this strategy is not yet in place.
An article appearing last Sunday at GoUpstate.com (The Spartanburg [SC] Herald-Journal) reports:
One obstacle Romney may face is that while Mormons consider themselves Christians, not all Christians consider Mormons the same way…Benoit Duquette, a stake president in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hopes that public interest in Romney’s campaign will spur interest in learning more about the church as a whole, and about its beliefs. Duquette oversees seven Mormon congregations in the Upstate, including those in Greenville, Spartanburg, Boiling Springs, Gaffney and Union.
“Once we know that Jesus is the Christ is central, the rest is just an appendage to that knowledge. Everything else revolves around that truth,” Duquette said.
Mr. Duquette, in his remarks as an official representative of the LDS Church, hasn’t helped to clarify Mormon doctrine at all. Instead, he continues promotion of a misunderstanding of Mormon doctrine by stating “Jesus is the Christ” without further explanation.
It’s the same approach Mitt Romney takes when answering questions about his faith. The December 25, 2006 – January 1, 2007 issue of Newsweek begins an article about Governor Romney recounting an October meeting between this presidential-hopeful and evangelical leaders who were gathered together to discuss Governor Romney’s Mormonism.
Richard Lee, a Baptist minister from Cumming, Ga., got to the heart of the matter. What did Romney really believe about Jesus Christ? Romney didn’t hesitate. “When I say Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior, I realize that means something different to you than it does to me,” he admitted. But he urged them to remember their shared beliefs: the faith that Christ was born of a virgin, was crucified and rose after three days. The ministers were pleased.
I’m guessing that if these evangelical ministers understood what LDS leaders have taught about the Virgin Birth they would not be pleased.
Here’s the thing. In follow-up to a BYU student’s earlier letter to the BYU NewsNet Readers’ Forum, this letter appeared in the same Forum on Friday:
In response to the poor confused author of “Not a Christian?” (Dec. 13) who didn’t know if he was Christian, allow me to clear a few things up for this poor guy. Christianity as defined by non-members means that a person believes in doctrines such as the trinity and transubstantiation (the sacrament literally becoming the blood and body of Christ upon consumption).If you were to tell a “Christian” that you were a Christian, you would be wrong, since their definition is different from yours. In the LDS Church, we use the word Christian to define a follower of the gospel of Christ. So, by the Latter-day Saint definition, you are a Christian. But, according to the non-member definition, you are not a “Christian.”
That’s the point. Historically, certain Christian terms have been defined and understood in specific and accepted ways. Mormonism came along almost 2,000 years later and chose to incorporate some of these same Christian terms, but define them differently — and not tell the public that they have done so.
So if the LDS Church launches a multi-million-dollar public relations campaign that clarifies what is actually meant when a Church representative says Mormonism proclaims, “Christ was born of a virgin” or “Jesus is the Christ,” I will be happy. I want people to know what official Mormonism is, in order that they may make informed decisions about their potential involvement with that religion. Therefore, until the day the LDS Church is willing to make full disclosure of the teachings of their prophets and apostles and the resulting official doctrines, you’ll find me continuing an honest effort to do it for them.