Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Enjoying a Widespread Conversation About the Mormon Faith

I saw a note from Ashley Elizabeth Jones about an article "Mormons in NYC" suggesting that Catholics could learn a few things from the success of the LDS Church in its marketing. Apparently the positive, simple message the Church is offering through Mormon.org and other sites has been effective and perhaps the Church has even benefited from the negative publicity coming from some other quarters. The important thing to me is that the Church's efforts really have opened people's eyes to realize that there is another side to the LDS religion that doesn't fit popular stereotypes or the hysterical hype of some of our critics. (One of whom, for example, got national publicity by writing a book attacking Mitch Romney for being part of a horrid--you guessed it--cult, filled with such oddities as a terribly "violent" Temple ceremony. Please don't let that defender of Christianity read the Old Testament or attend the graphic ritual of communion.)

It's easy to fall for hostile stereotypes when you don't know the actual people in this religion. Many people in the world don't have any close LDS friends and many don't even realize that they know any Mormons. Learning a little about real people on the Church's websites can help. We need to be more visible and more present in this world.

Here in China, though, it's a bit tricky. We are not allowed to promote our religion among Chinese citizens and to maintain the kind privilege of being allowed to meet and worship, we must be exceedingly careful about what we do. Even innocent questions people may ask us need to be gently deflected and the topic changed so that we do not run afoul of the law in letter and spirit. It's such a dramatic change. Before coming here, not talking about my religion was a sign of spiritual trouble. Now silence is an act of faith and obedience. I hope one day the rules will change, but for now, it's interesting to see how strict the Church is here in China in complying with the law, even being cautious to lock up hymnbooks when we are done since they are religious literature that we are not allowed to distribute.

While the conversation may not be very lively over here in China, I do think there is an increasing global conversation about religion and about the LDS faith, and I'm glad to see it picking in places like New York City and beyond. I hope more people will look into Mormon.org and more of you will become part of that conversation.


Anonymous said...

Nothing personal, but I instinctively dislike the idea of a church, any church, engaging in marketing. Jesus is not a brand.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks for the input. I think my next post will address this issue.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I look forward to your next post. Actually, I look forward to all of them, but this one in particular.

Cindy said...

I agree with anonymous. True followers of Christ, whose lives have been transformed by the knowledge that they have been forgiven of their sins, are all you need to "market" the good news of Jesus Christ.

The LDS church has created an organization that does much good and many Mormon people (including you Jeff!) are wonderful, if the motivation for this goodness is anything other than gratitude for forgiveness the glory could easily go to the church/people and not to Christ. To whom does the glory go?

Bookslinger said...

Marketing, sales, advertising, when done honestly, can be legitimate tools used to spread the message of Christ to those who don't already follow Him, or are trying to learn more about Him.

There's no rule in scripture that puts limitations on techniques used to encourage people to investigate the doctrine of Christ and prayerfully consider which of the many churches that profess His name actually have His approval or authority.

Eric M. said...

I too am intrigued by the increase in conversation about the Church. I am becoming less and less surprised when I overhear someone in a public place discussing our faith. For example, just yesterday when I was in Barnes & Noble I overheard a woman conversing with her friend about the Mormons. And this in the middle of Missouri, with a Mormon presence of probably around 1%, give or take. It almost seems like it's becoming cool to talk about Mormons.