Over the past couple of years, people have been hearing the word “Mormon” a lot more than usual. With prominent Mormon Mitt Romney running as the USA GOP presidential hopeful, journalists are ever scrambling for more creative angles about his faith, and the people who share that faith. It’s an exciting and interesting time to be a Mormon! Although I fall short trying to keep up with everything being said about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or its members, I do read as much as possible. News stories, social media, late night TV, YouTube, pop-culture, the arts and entertainment world…you name it, “Mormon” is there. I have been noticing a general trend in the quality and tone. It’s getting better. Much better.
Here are a couple of recent media offerings embracing ‘all things Mormon’ which I think deserve some recognition.
1. CNN - Mormons In D.C.
On Saturday May 12th, 2011 Cnn.com’s Religion editor Dan Gilgoff published his special report entitled “With or without Romney, D.C. a surprising Mormon stronghold“, spotlighting Mormons who work in and around the US Capitol, particularly in prominent political positions.
“Mormon success in Washington is a testament to distinctly Mormon values, shedding light into the heart of one of America’s fastest-growing religions.”
The article helps debunk a long list of myths and ‘thinking errors’ when it comes to who Mormons are and what Mormons do. The real “surprise” being revealed in this article is that Mormons are anything but provincial, and everything about being involved in civic matters, and patriotism.
“Part of our church’s tradition is to be connected with civic life, to make our communities better,” says BYU’s Scott Dunaway, who helps place students on Capitol Hill, at the Smithsonian and other Washington institutions. “We don’t believe in being reclusive.”
The article includes an accompanying 3 minute video entitled “Snapshot of a Washington Mormon”, featuring Amber Seacrist, the legislative director for Senator Pat Roberts, as well as a pianist and leader of Young Women in her church congregation.
The article explores the unique culture of Mormonism in Washington, and the valuable networking and career opportunities that appeal to members of our faith to live there. It points out how the missionary culture of the church prepares Mormons to be great political leaders; comfortable with opposition, calm under stressful circumstances, and strong work ethic for a cause they believe in. Duly noted is how many Mormon missionaries return having spent 2 years becoming fluent in valuable foreign languages and knowledgeable about cultures that segue into government service careers. It was reported that so many Mormons now live in Crystal City, a suburb near D.C., it has been dubbed “little Provo”.
Media Take-aways: CNN hit a home run with this article. Not only did they correctly represent Latter-day Saint beliefs, they went out of their way to debunk myths and shine a light on positive attributes of the Mormon way of life which contribute to our country and society. This article sets the gold standard for accuracy, diligent research, and respectful reporting on Mormon matters. Read the full article here.
2. LATE NIGHT TV – TONIGHT SHOW
The Tonight Show hasn’t always been particularly kind to Mormons. In the not-too-distant past jokes about polygamy and other inaccurate or inappropriate innuendo, or snarky references to Prop 8 seemed to rule the roost.
Media Take-aways: Mormons love good clean humor, and we never mind poking fun of ourselves, nor gentle teasing from others, as long as it is isn’t mean-spirited. (check out BYU Divine Comedy for some hilarious Mormon spoofs & antics).
Kudos to The Tonight Show who kept it clean and didn’t sneak anything snarky or off-target! – MoSop