The Mormons: People Are Talking

The PBS documentary “The Mormons” has now come and gone. Reactions to the four-hour show are, as would be expected, fairly mixed. Here’s a sampling of what people are saying.

“There was too much of those who did not present what Mormonism is really all about, particularly by those who had left the faith and therefore presented a tainted view.” (Fred Woods, a religion professor at Brigham Young University, Deseret News)

“Did anyone read who the interview’s were? To say that the show used mostly exmormons is not correct. For instance, Daniel Peterson, the man who described Joseph using a peep stone in his hat, is one of the most respected LDS scholars in the religion. He’s a professor of Islamic Studies at BYU. From the list, I see only one exmormon, Michael Quinn. The VAST majority of interviews weren’t with exmormons, but either current Mormons or non Mormon historians. I’m almost sad at the reaction of current Mormons. As a member, I’m shocked at how little people know about the early history of the faith. The accounts in the documentary are well documented by several LDS sources. I’m surprised how little current members of the LDS faith have read about the early founding of our church.” (Steve J, PBS Discussion Board)

“On there’s a discussion going on in the Mormon group. All these young kids are up in arms that the Church was portrayed in a bad light. They’re complaining that they didn’t interview enough members. I told them that most of the interviewees were members of the Church. So, they called into question those members’ faithfulness to the Church. I’ve got a lively debate going with a guy on Joseph Smith’s treasure hunting. According to him, Joseph never used a peep stone to hunt for treasure because Joseph never mentioned it in his journal. I sent him some links about Joseph’s 1826 trial. Of course he’ll say it’s anti material even though it’s from FAIR. He’s also pretty adamant that Joseph didn’t practice polygamy secretly behind Emma’s back. I’m looking forward to testimony meeting this Sunday. People are going to be railing against the show.” (Brett McKay, By Common Consent blog)

“I did not recognize a lot of what I saw in the documentary as my church. I think there may be a bit of a division line in the responses of LDS viewers: Those who are basically happy with the Church found the film disappointing, generally; those who are less happy with the Church think it was generally wonderful.” (Ronan, Times & Seasons blog)

“I think the people who did not like it maybe do not know our history? I thought it was great, particularly the first half–I was thrilled with the results. However one of my sisters said it was lies and that her husband was so disgusted he turned it off. It turns out, she didn’t know JS had wives who also had other husbands. I explained it was true, and she was confused. My mother was confused as to how she didn’t know this…” (mmiles, By Common Consent blog)

“I loved part 2, but overall, at the end of the program, I think someone not of our faith could have watched it and concluded that we don’t place very much emphasis on Jesus Christ. That was disappointing to me, because they passed over what I believe to be our central message and concern.” (Dan Ellsworth,

“I thought they spent quite a bit of time emphasizing our emphasis on Jesus Christ and our acceptance as christians to some but not others.” (KyleM, By Common Consent blog)

“Like many other LDS members, I looked forward to viewing the documentary on mormanism by PBS. I heard that it would be well-balanced and represent both believers and non-believers. I was absolutly shocked at the underlying theme presented in the production. I felt that while chapters such as “Exodus” did well to show the contraversies that faced early saints, most of the film depicted Latter-Day Saints in a negative light. I felt that the film depicted a number of esteemed non-mormons again and again, and failed to continually represent those who belive in, and support this church. It was an absolutly biased film which not only failed to present correct information in many aspects and chapters, but it also took great care to orchestrate a constant attack against our beliefs. I could not bear to watch the second half.” (Bakersfield, PBS Discussion Board)

“But addressing these and other topics in a forthright way seems to have allowed viewers less familiar with the Church to see a new and broader dimension of the Church, shorn, perhaps, of one-sided stereotypes and caricatures. At a time when significant media and public attention is being turned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when news media is so often accused of superficiality in its coverage of religion, this serious treatment of a serious subject is a welcome change.” (LDS Church, Commentary,

“You had two hours and you did not get it right. I hope your next two hours repairs some of the damage. I did not expect a pro-mormon propaganda piece but giving 70% or more to pure anti-mormon topics is not balance. On the other hand I should be surprised you didn’t just turn it over to the ‘former mormon scholars’. (or did you?) The anti-mormons are dancing with joy tonight. You might notice the anti-mormons are the only happy ones on your blog. Persecution continues…” (Chad Fugate, PBS Discussion Board)

“As a former member of the LDS faith, I found the program to be a fluff piece on the LDS church. It barely addressed the lies and hypocrisy of Joseph Smith and subsequent leaders. this could have been written by anybody in the PR department of the LDS church. Given that PBS has to present what they see as an even-sided view of the Mormon church, I suspect that they feel they achieved this. I felt that it presented the church is a very positive light. I do not believe it was well-balanced at all. But the truth is out there for people to read. So if anybody is interested, they will learn the real truth about Mormonism.” (Angie Glover, PBS Discussion Board)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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6 Responses to The Mormons: People Are Talking

  1. Gail says:

    Well, the church did not consider it a fluff piece. Read their statement.

    The Mormons who complained about that show are whiners and deluded. A more fair account on a serious program like Frontline is not possible.

  2. Keith Walker says:

    If the Mormons hated it and the non-Mormons liked it, I guess that must be a good thing. 😉 Seriously, it seems like the Mormons who did not complain are the ones who know their history.

  3. Renee M says:

    What really bothered me about this program is that it never said why Bible believing Christians cosider the LDS church not to be non-Christian. Why couldn’t they have told the general public that the Mormon god is not the God of the Bible? The Mormon god was once a man who worked his way to godhood. But the one true God was always God and will always be God, he will never have to work his way to Godhood.

    I was hoping for a well balanced view from this program. Instead we got the usual view of the Mormons as being persecuted for their religion. Some times that may have been the case, but more likely the Mormons did something to make their neighbors angry. Like repeatedly telling them that soon all their land would be given to the Mormons, and treating them like surfs.

    Then there was the segment about Joseph Smith’s death. Why didn’t the film show that Joseph was not locked in a cell, but allowed to stay in a very comfortable upper room of the jail. He was also allowed to have his brother, Hyram, and a few friends with him. Not to mention, someone smuggled a pepper box gun to him. When the shooting started he did his fair share. This guy was not led like a lamb to the slaughter, he went out kicking and screaming. Unlike Jesus, who was a true martyr.

    So once again the general public has had the wool pulled over their eyes about what Mormonism really teaches and who the LDS church really is.

  4. Ginger says:

    I missed the first half of the program because I was doing a final presentation in my MIS class, but I caught the 2nd part.

    It was very interesting. I did notice that there was ONE excommunicated woman discussing feminism and MANY short rebuttals. It would have been nice to get more perspectives on that topic.

    It’s the same as everything else either written or recorded: each person will get what he wants from it based on past personal experiences.

    It did lead to a very interesting discussion with a couple of my young (20’s) friends.

  5. Anubis says:

    hat I find funny here is most Mormons are crying fowl on FACTS. Even when Dan C. Peterson (Uber Mormon FARMS expert) was the one who explained Joe’s translation (Rock in a Hat) of the Book of Mormon.

    The blind sheep do not seem to understand that facts and truth cannot have a balanced view. They shed light on fiction, myth and subjective feelings. To them even the FACTS/TRUTH coming from the mouth of a hard core Mormon are “Anti” lies.

    Anyone outside of the “blind faith” category can see that the truth easily tears away at the dark veil of Mormonism (As with all cults).

    “Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction — faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.” Thomas Edison.

  6. Interested says:

    “What Helen Whitney failed to realize, despite all her research, is that what makes the LDS Church different is that it teaches its members to question everything. The LDS church does not teach blind, unquestioning, obedience. That’s where the sayings come from like “Don’t live on borrowed light” etc. There is no church that teaches its church to question more that the LDS church.”

    This is a quote from a comment at

    I guess I have been around different mormons that this speaker because I am always told that answers to questions are not important and non faith promoting. It is hard to imagine that LDS members ever ask questions of anyone outside their own sphear. It amazes me that these seeming intelligent people don’t want a second opinion when it concerns the most important decision they may ever make.

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