I had an interesting experience today that typifies Mormonism’s PR problem in “the mission field.” While talking about families with large numbers of children with a coworker, I casually mentioned that I used to be LDS and knew several very large families. She was surprised, and rushed to assure me that she’d been to Salt Lake City and heard the Tabernacle Choir, so she was familiar with Mormonism. She also shared that she’d had conversations with missionaries in the past, out of curiosity and no interest in conversion, being extremely skeptical of anyone who claims to KNOW the “truth”.
I think that is common among many people. Even the solid Catholics I know, and I know quite a number, don't feel they have the corner on truth.
She mentioned a couple of things that, to me, demonstrate that, despite spending who-knows how many millions on PR, the church is still pretty screwed in that area. First, she immediately associated polygamy with Mormonism, and remarked that she realized there were still some Mormons who practiced it. I tried to explain to her about the different sects of Mormonism, and that while they shared a common origin, the polygamous groups were offshoots and not connected to the Utah Mormon church, except through history. She nodded and added that Catholicism varied quite a bit from region to region, too. I tried to explain yet again, that they were actually a different church, an entirely different organization, albeit with common origins, but I’m unconvinced that it made any difference. I think that she views the LDS and FLDS like different branches of the Baptist church – some more conservative than others, but still under the same umbrella. The Mormon church’s worst fear come true.
No matter how hard the church tries, polygamy is the first thing most people think of when they hear “Mormon”. I do not believe the LDS church will ever escape this.
THere is no question about this. Polygamy will always be tied to Mormonism. This is why the LDS Church is SOOOOOO anti polygamy. They are the most anti polygamy organization out there. But even so they leave it intact through their practice for sealings if a wife is deceased. And the Church leaves it in the canon. So perhaps this is deserved.
The second thing that was odd was something that the missionaries had supposedly taught her about the LDS church. She commented that she didn’t like that, to join the church, you had to agree to allow the church to automatically withdraw 10% of your income as tithing. Hunh??? Once again, I tried to explain how tithing works, how you’re not forced to pay tithing, and the church isn’t accessing people’s bank accounts. I said maybe she had gotten confused because you couldn’t enter the temple if you didn’t pay 10% of your income. She was insistent, though, that this was what the missionaries had taught her. Maybe, she said, it was just that particular congregation. No, no, I told her, the SL church controls how things are managed everywhere… by that point the conversation had to end.
I am sure she was just confused.
I want to emphasize that this is an intelligent woman who has lived in several different cultures. She is educated and has experience in several different career fields. And yet, to her, despite all the valiant attempts of the LDS church, this is what she knows about the Mormons.
Guess all those “happy, shiny, Mormon” commercials aren’t doing much good.
No wonder the LDS church feels compelled to spend millions on PR campaigns. I’m afraid that they may be wasting their money.
I disagree. Actually I have been asking a lot of non LDS what their view of the Church is. Some of these persons are my business partners and I have asked them to be candid. In every case they have said that they LDS Church is good organization, does a lot of good, its members a great people, live their faith and make good neighbors and citizens. Two have told me they admire anyone that can be do devoted to a faith that requires so much dedication and had such high standards. One commented he could never do it-he is a liberal Catholic, the other said he could not and would not want to and he is a liberal in name and heritage Jewish person.
So you get mixed results. Some people love Chevy's and other think they suck. Advertising reaches some and not others.