Some Thoughts on Mormonism and Sensationalism

I listened to an interview last night on the radio while waiting to pick Tim up from school last night.  The interviewee was a self-proclaimed "ex-Mormon" who had written a fictional book about two Mormon missionaries.

My interest was piqued. I'm always interested in hearing about the Mormon church from an outside perspective, so I listened along. By the end of the interview, however, I was less than impressed. He made Mormonism sound like a cult-religion where leaders try to corral you into doing the right thing through intimidation and fear of church reprimand.  As if the Church leaders are afraid of us exploring anything outside our own faith for fear that somehow we might find out that the whole thing is a sham.  His whole perspective was that Mormonism is a church that doesn't let you do anything--a controlling, hierarchical nightmare from whence there is no escape.  You have to dress modestly, you can't have premarital sex, you can't drink or smoke, you can't do this, you can't, can't, can't.

It's true that as Mormons, we agree (completely voluntarily, I might add) to live up to certain standards.  They are high standards to live up to.  They are hard standards to live up to.  But one thing is clear--in no way does the Church force its members to adhere to these standards by threatening, cajoling, or manipulatively persuading.  It's not a cultish dictatorship.  Mormons are Mormons by choice.

I was disgusted that the interviewer trusted someone who clearly had such a bias against the Church to give a "tell-all" for listeners' shock value.  Living outside the "Mormon Bubble," a.k.a. Utah, I have gotten plenty of questions from co-workers, friends, and neighbors about the church and our beliefs.  People in general have a lot of misconceptions about the Mormon church from "real interviews" like these.  And to be completely honest, I think people want to think Mormonism is a weird cultish religion--it's much more interesting that way.  It's why we can't look away from a car accident, why we always have to hear the gory details of someone else's personal life, or why Ripley's Believe it or Not! holds our attention for so long.  There's nothing people love more than sensationalism, especially if it's more interesting than the actual truth.

The truth is, Mormons are actually kind of boring. And anyone--I mean anyone--could easily find out what we actually believe. What Mormons teach is not a secret. We have an entire website you can visit to find out about our beliefs.  We have Mormon Messages about what we believe.  We have the entire Book of Mormon online or in an app on your phone. And, if you really want to know what we believe and what the leaders of our Church instruct us on, there is a world-wide open-to-the-public Church meeting happening next weekend.  We call it General Conference.  Anyone can watch it.  It's not a secret.  In fact, we would love it if you would watch it.  You will not see messages of fear, intimidation, or manipulation.  You will see men and women of God preaching love, repentance, humility, faith, and a firm and gentle plea to repent and live as Christ would live.  As far as religions go, we are about as open of a book as they get.

If you'd really like to know what Mormonism is all about, come to church with me.  Ask a Mormon. Listen to a talk by our Church leaders.  Watch a Mormon message. Then decide for yourself. 


  1. Yeah ...I've dealt with this my whole life. And we're not boring hello ...

  2. I've read every post around this and somehow missed this one! Nailed it. Except you forgot to add that being Mormon ROCKS! ;)


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