The NBC show “Rock Center” with Brian Williams featured Mormonism on August 23, 2012. Since Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President, Brian Williams and crew wanted to familiarize us with Romney’s religion. Most people don’t know much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or LDS or Mormons), and most people don’t seem to have a particularly favorable opinion of it from the little they know.
Overall, the NBC crew did a pretty good job explaining Mormonism, dealing with it with respect and letting the people tell their stories. The show didn’t get into the theology of the LDS Church because most people’s eyes would have glazed over, but it’s in the theology where the LDS Church and orthodox Christianity differ significantly.
What I took away from the show was:
Mormons take their religion very seriously (I wish more Christians did).
Their religion is probably the most important influence on their lives (I wish it were so for most Christians).
The LDS Church does a lot of good works, especially helping those in need (and not just Mormons in need).
Their required two year stint in the mission field is one of the defining events of a young Mormon’s life.
The LDS Church is very demanding but people willingly obey because they are serving God.
The LDS Church is very conservative (some would say backward) in some areas: limiting women’s involvement; dietary restrictions; use of the King James Version of the Bible, to name a few.
Mormons have the traditional values that made this country great and that are missing for the most part today: family, hard work, volunteerism, strong faith, hands-on helping those in need; a sense of community; and a strong relationship with God.
I would never hesitate to vote for a Mormon because I suspect the average Mormon has better values and work ethic than the average Catholic or Protestant, and certainly better than the average atheist or unchurched person. However, the problem with the LDS Church is its theology.
You can’t really call the LDS Church “Christian” because it differs so much from orthodox and apostolic Christianity. That’s not demeaning the LDS Church – it’s just a fact. Since we aren’t electing the Theologian-in-Chief or the Pope, theology and eschatology shouldn’t be that important for a candidate running for public office. A candidate’s values and positions on issues should be paramount.