As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grows, so does the impact its members have on their communities and on the world. And it’s not going unnoticed.
Sure, there’s plenty of negative information about the Church and its members online, but there’s also a lot of positive. Here are 10 (relatively) recent articles that are honest, straightforward and positive in their treatment of the Mormons.
1. The Huffington Post: “The Mormonizing of America”
In this article, Huffington Post contributor Stephen Mansfield recaps the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, specifically as it relates to the production of successful people — including prominent Mormon entertainers, authors, politicians, business people and more. The religion, the article says, has a long history of slow, steady growth and a narrative that tends to create success.
“Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur,” the article reads. “If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies—a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.”
“The Mormonizing of America” is a well-researched article that will be of interest to both Church members and those outside the faith. The bottom line? The “Mormon Moment” of the last few years isn’t a moment at all: “Mormons rise in this life because it is what their religion calls for. Achieving. Progressing. Learning. Forward, upward motion. This is the lifeblood of earthly Mormonism. Management, leadership and organizing are the essential skills of the faith. It is no wonder that Mormons have grown so rapidly and reached such stellar heights in American culture. And there is much more to come.”
2. The Economist: “The Mormon Way of Business”
This article, originally published in the print edition, takes an in-depth look at the prominence of Mormons in business and what is responsible for the disproportionately large number of successful LDS business people.
“What explains the Mormons’ success?” the article asks. “Clean living probably helps: alcohol clouds judgment and lubricates bad deals. A history of persecution may breed self-reliance: 19th-century Mormons trekked westwards across plains and mountains to escape the kind of bigots who murdered their founder, Joseph Smith, in 1844. Modern Mormons have something in common with other industrious minorities, such as Parsees, who are prominent in corporate India, the overseas Chinese and Jews. But some of the answer may lie in the faith itself. Mormonism—the only global religion to have been invented in the past 200 years—is in some ways more business-friendly than its more ancient rivals.”
To see the full analysis, read the full article here.
3. Huffington Post: “Don’t Judge a Book of Mormon By Its Cover: How Mormons Are Discovering the Musical as a Conversion Tool”
In the spring of 2013, two Mormon missionaries proselytizing outside a production of “The Book of Mormon” musical in New York City were spotted by Danielle Tumminio, an episcopal priest and contributor to the Huffington Post. She talked to the young men about their decision to proselytize on the streets outside a play that openly mocks them and their beliefs, then explores why doing so was such a great idea.
“Standing outside the musical, though, the setting was very different,” Tumminio writes. “Their dark suits and combed hair hearkened to beloved characters. Theatregoers like myself discussed Mormon beliefs during intermission casually, lightly, like sports fans chat about who won the latest Red Sox game.”
4. Washington Post: “If Harvard Business School were a religion, it could be Mormonism”
In this article, LDS business leader Clayton M. Christensen draws parallels between methods of learning at his alma mater/place of employment, Harvard Business School, and his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“This is the most important reason why we find that how we learned at HBS, and how we learn in our church about the kinds of leaders that God wants us to become, are mutually reinforcing,” Clayton writes. “And, incidentally, you don’t need to be admitted to either in order to learn this lesson.”
To see all the parallels Christensen draws, read the full article there.
5. Doubting Mark: An Atheist’s Adventures in a Land of Faith: “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Washington Park Ward”
A atheist who calls himself “Doubting Mark” is on a mission of his own: to visit churches from across the United States and learn what’s really coming from the pulpit. According to his “About” page, he had the perception that organized religions “have caused more harm than good.” But when someone pointed out that most churches really are seeking to do good, he set out to learn if that was true.
As part of this quest, Doubting Mark visited an LDS ward in Washington and rated the service using the scale he uses to rate every church he visits: A score based on whether the church taught its members to 1) be good to their fellow humans, 2) help their community and 3) be good to themselves. He also included a rating for “Good and Timely Advice.”
The LDS Church scored well on his scale, though he noted the Church had a lot of noisy kids. To see just how well he rated the Washington Park Ward, read the full article here.
6. USA Today: “Faith Calls Mormon Women to Missionary Work”
In this USA Today article, Heather Rayhorn, a writer for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, reports on the young female missionaries serving in Salem and tells the story of how they came to be there — that is, the recent change in the required age for missionary service. The article then enumerates some of the positive things missionaries do for the communities in which they serve and the particular good sisters can do in this effort.
7. The New York Times: “For Mormons, a Cautious Step Toward Mainstream Acceptance”
Just days after the 2012 presidential election, an article with the headline “For Mormons, a Cautious Step Toward Mainstream Acceptance” debriefed the Mitt Romney campaign and its effect on public perception of his faith. The article quotes several Church members from both sides of the political spectrum.
“Mr. Romney exposed Americans to some of the virtues of his faith — its emphasis on wholesome living, industriousness and, above all, family,” the article reads. “Among fellow Mormons, even some Democrats, his candidacy evoked a range of emotions: pride that one of their own had the White House within his reach, relief that bigotry toward Mormons seemed to be waning, even a bit of wariness about a possible backlash if he won.”
The article goes on to mention voter perception of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, backlash when a Texas pastor called Mormonism a “cult” and the response of some Church members to the election.
8. NYCReligion.info: “The Power of Mormon Education”
This article, which is the seventh article in a series on the website entitled “The Power of the Mormons in New York City,” discusses the LDS Church’s devotion to education and the positive impact it has on people living in New York City.
“The general feeling within the Mormon Church is that education never stops,” the article reads. “The main lesson for the general public is to keep improving yourself, keep reaching out for knowledge, and keep committing yourself to a higher cause. It’s not just the efforts put in, but also the consistency of the efforts.”
9. New York Times: “Missions Signal a Growing Role for Mormon Women”
Last spring, New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Laurie Goodstein wrote an in-depth piece about the recent age change for missionary service and how it plays into the overall role of women in the Church. In the article, the authors follow sister missionaries in Daejeon, South Korea. They follow the experiences and lifestyle of these women, then lead into more information on the role of women within the Church structure and the expectation of marriage prominent among Church members. The article also addresses some difficulties for women in the Church.
The article hits some controversial topics head-on, especially that of female ordination and the role of women in the family and the community. As is to be expected, the authors take a progressive approach to traditional gender roles. But overall, the article is well-researched and, if not overtly favorable toward the Church, presents it in a fair light and acknowledges the need to accommodate change within specific parameters.
“In the coming years, these [young missionary] women are expected to fundamentally alter this most American of churches, whose ruling patriarchs not long ago excommunicated feminist scholars and warned women not to hold jobs while raising children,” the article reads. “Church leaders have been forced to reassess their views because Mormon women are increasingly supporting households, marrying later and less frequently, and having fewer children. And for the first time, waves of women like Ms. Farr are taking part in the church’s crucial coming-of-age ritual, returning home from their missions with unprecedented scriptural fluency, new confidence and new ideas about themselves.”
10. Huffington Post: “Why Mormons Make Great Entrepreneurs”
Like “The Mormonizing of America,” this “listicle” enumerates the tenants of the LDS faith that help its members succeed in the business world.
While the article doesn’t claim that belief in a certain religion automatically makes a person successful, the ties are interesting:
“Of course, believing in a certain religion, or none whatsoever, doesn’t predestine a person to be great at any profession (unless they’re a Calvinist, I suppose),” the article reads. “But it is interesting to see how a religion’s focus on certain areas and attributes of its members can create an environment that is conducive to cultivating strong leaders.”
To see the list, read the full article here.