Americans intrigued but wary still of Mormon beliefs

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Photo by Jerilee Bennett.

Photo by Jerilee Bennett.

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(RNS) Suddenly, America's abuzz about Mormonism's "gold plates and magic underwear," says Terryl Givens, a professor of religion at the University of Richmond. Mormon ways are little-known, yet many Americans are suspicious of them. Why? Cathy Lynn Grossman reports.

  • gilhow

    The other side of this coin of wariness toward Mormons is that, for the obvious reason of prejudice against them, Mormons are, and of right ought to be, wary of those negative attitudes and practices. Those attitudes and practices have never been more evident than during the current Republican presidential primaries. I am not touting any political or economic positions of Mitt Romney. I did find myself aligned with Jon Huntsman except for what I considered his extreme Ayan Rand, Paul Ryan-esque economics. I have long wondered what the seemingly exclusive attraction is for Mormons to the Republican Party, but I see nothing more in their faith than any other to warrant the obvious prejudice toward Mormons because of their religion. That prejudice seems to be especially strong in the Southern bible belt that Jesse Helms carried into the Republican Party with racial prejudice and Richard Nixon exploited with political prejudice.

  • coltakashi

    Warren Cole Smith is right that having a prophet leading your church sometimes causes disturbing changes ini direction. For example, there was that whole business with Peter receiving a revelation in Joppa in which God told him to start preaching to and Baptizing Gentiles into the church. It really bothered a lot of Jewish Christians, so much so that they actively told Gentile Christians they should be circumcised and practice all the other parts of the Law of Moses. Yup, getting new revelation from God can be darned inconvenient!

    On the other hand, people who refuse to accept the possibility that God might have a new prophet on the earth are SOOOO steady in their beliefs, that they only have hundreds of different denominations competing with each other and disagreeing on how to intepret the Bible. That is SOOO much better. No confusion or unpredictabuility there all right. Yeah, the whole Protestant Reformation, that wasn’t a disagreement or an innovation at all!

    I just wonder if Warren Cole Smith thinks that, when Jesus comes to earth again, He will be restricted to quoting what He already said in the Bible, and not be able to say anything new like, “You should all join the Mormons! That’s my true church!” Yeah, getting new revelation form Jesus would really ruin Warren Cole Smith’s day.

  • Retrocon

    Like coltakashi said… new revelation — like Peter and the early Church experienced with the command to preach to the gentiles — can be tough to deal with for some. Kind of like when Moses was told to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses knew what he knew because he had spoken with Jehovah face to face — but the Israelites still had be convinced before they would follow Moses. Same thing when Jeremiah and many others were trying to tell people that they needed to repent or Jerusalem would be destroyed. God’s warnings through his prophets are always a little too inconvenient for some to want to bother with.

  • bigalndot

    The Mormon problem with protestants is a MONEY problem. Their ministers preach against Mormons because of the loss of members to the missionary program. A loss of members is a loss of dollars. They will not admit this publicly. They accept Catholics with the books of The Apocrapha in the Douay version of the Bible. They readily accept The Rosary, The Pope, creating saints and many other unusual practices. You never hear complaints about Anti Trinitarian protestant churches (there are some).
    Jews have several articles of wearing apparel that are unique to their religion. It is interesting how careful we are to not be anti-semitic but it is open season on Mormons. The Mormon undergarment is a reminder of sacred covenants made to The Lord, is it necessary that we advertise this to the world? The LDS Church has no money problems because of Tithings and other offerings freely given. The major problem with the Christian world is money, offerings are puny and yet members have to be paid for their services in many cases. Maybe we do worship a different God, our God, of The Bible asks us to give 10% and we do it, strange Huh?
    With that 10% all of our buildings are paid for when dedicated, our students at Church colleges have a much lower cost or none at all, in some cases.
    If the churches of the world followed the practices of The Mormons financially, there would be no hungry in Christianity. May the Lord bless us all to keep the commandments and love one another.