If you haven’t read “Five Myths About Mormonism,” a piece at the Washington Post by Joanna Brooks, you should. There are plenty of Mormon myths out there, but few people are going to visit the LDS Newsroom or the Mormon Defense League to upgrade their ideas about Mormons and what we believe. We need more articles like this in the mainstream media to get the message out.
Here’s a quick list of the five myths noted in the article, with an added comment or two by me.
1. Mormons practice polygamy. Not any more. The fact that we once did is not something we can get around, but current practice really ought to control the debate. Brooks’ admission that polygamy “remains a source of tension for mainstream Mormons” and the accompanying explanation is the sort of candid commentary that you won’t find at the Newsroom or at MDL. Candor builds credibility.
2. Mormons aren’t Christians. This is the conservative Christian meme that will never die. I am appalled that students taped anti-Mormon notes to her locker in high school. Some of them are probably the same pathetic folks who display “Mormons Aren’t Christians” signs outside General Conference and LDS pageants, which just goes to show that sometimes people get what they deserve.
3. Most Mormons are white, English-speaking conservatives. I suppose you could say that most American Mormons fit those parameters, and in an America that is increasingly polarized along political lines, it’s the “conservative” part that really annoys journalists in the largely liberal media. We need higher profile Mormon liberals (not to be confused with Liberal Mormons) to combat this misperception. It would help if Jon Huntsman would just switch parties.
4. Mormon women are second-class citizens. Sensitive topic, and as a male I don’t have much credibility to respond. Ironically, the presence of LDS feminists within the ranks of the active LDS membership is one of the best practical responses to this objection.
5. A Mormon president would blur the line between church and state. Only electing a Mormon president would dispel this myth, and that is unlikely to happen in the near future. Would a Mormon vice president be enough to kill the issue? Think Obama-Reid in 2012.
What is your view of the Brooks piece? Is this a problem that better PR like the “I’m a Mormon” campaign or more stories like this in the media will remove, or are Mormon myths always going to be part of the social landscape?