In the past month you may have noticed the new Mormon ads popping up during the commercial breaks of your favorite television shows. This new ad campaign is a nationwide endeavor by the Mormon Church to inform the world they’re just like everyone else. I find this very interesting considering the whole premise behind Mormonism is that you aren’t like everyone else.
This coincidentally goes against all I was taught sitting in the Mormon chapel for thirteen years. I was told I wasn’t like everyone else and special because I had the Mormon gospel; this alone made me different from any other person who wasn’t a member.
I was counseled how to set myself apart from the rest of the world. Obeying the Word of Wisdom (no coffee or sweet iced tea for me), wearing temple garments and folding my arms during prayer served as a reminder to me that I was different. Their counsel even affected how long my shorts were and the length of my sleeves.
To prove the point the Church does everything it can to send out contradictory messages, along comes an article in the August 2010 issue of the Ensign. LDS Church leader Boyd K. Packer expressed his thoughts of how a member of the Mormon faith should conduct themselves.
“You will be safe if you look like and groom like and act like an ordinary Latter-day Saint: dress modestly, attend your meetings, pay tithes, take the sacrament, honor the priesthood, honor your parents, follow your leaders, read the scriptures, study the Book of Mormon, and pray—always pray. An unseen power will hold your hand as you hold to the iron rod.”(Boyd K. Packer, “Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream,” Ensign, Aug 2010, pgs. 20–25)
Compare that with people in the ads saying they’re a mom, a doctor, a skate boarder, a surfer, a dad, etc, listing all their accomplishments and closing with “and I’m a Mormon”. How can you be a unique individual when you’re not even allowed to make your own clothing choices?
I can’t help but chuckle a little at the attempt they’re trying to make and yet feel a deep sadness for the individuals in the commercials. It’s so telling for me to hear these people boast about whom they are and what they’ve done. Their comments amplify what they’re being taught by church leaders like Mr. Packer; appearance is everything. Reality, on the other hand, is another story.
The impression I’m left with at the end of the commercials is if you join Mormonism you too will be a success, you’ll have a beautiful family, well behaved children, and find happiness. If I didn’t have a background in Mormonism or wasn’t grounded in God’s Word, I just might buy into what they’re trying to sell here. The method of conversion for the Church is to show how their religion brings happiness and success to those who convert. God never promised us “happiness”, but he did promise us joy.
“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
As with anything Mormon, the message is all about them and has little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ. These people live in a world where Jesus is nothing more than an afterthought. He sits on the back burner of their religion only to be taken off when their standing as a Christian is being called into question. They bypass God and give the credit for all their blessings to membership in the Mormon Church.
These ads are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to shift the public’s attention from the core doctrines and history of Mormonism. I’m praying those watching the ads look beyond the appearance and won’t be deceived by what Mormonism is truly about.
Melissa Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)