Although Mitt Romney is out of the picture for 2016, it would do well for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reflect on the media coverage their faith received from the past two election cycles and going forward. Washington Post reporter, Chris Cillizza, wrote about the prospect of a Mitt Romney candidacy the day before the former governor of Massachusetts announced he would not be a candidate in 2016.
More importantly, as Latter-day Saints seek to hasten the work, Cillizza and other media over the past two election cycles presented the challenges a Mormon candidate would have to overcome and which characterize how many perceive the Church. For example, Cillizza described Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in 2012 where he “lost every primary in 2012 in which exit polls found evangelical Christians comprised a majority of voters.” He continued that Romney’s Mormon problem is “a barrier to familiarity.”
What exactly were voters, and therefore other Christians unfamiliar with? Cillizza pointed out that some expressed that the LDS Church is a “quasi-cult” and therefore not a Christian faith at all, while many struggle with Joseph Smith’s polygamy.
Since Mitt Romney decided against running for office a third time, Latter-day Saints beliefs are still a concern for Evangelicals, and for most of Americans for that matter. What barriers need to be broken down? Below are the five topical areas where Latter-day Saint doctrine must reach fellow Bible believers in order to move the discussion forward (Additional links are embedded for your pleasure, but ‘Day of Defense‘ will also clarify these with the Bible with the hopes of creating more interfaith dialogue with fellow Christians) :
1) Bridging the LDS understanding of the often misunderstood Jesus and Lucifer as “brothers” with Biblical teaching.
2) That Mormons can “own their own planet“.
3) Polygamy, in general, is completely rejected by mainline Christianity, who offer their own Biblical interpretation. Latter-day Saints need to convey their position. A good starting point is found in chapter four of ‘Day of Defense.’
4) That Mormons are a cult and are weird.
5) That Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity as accepted and defined by the post-New Testament creeds and counsels.
Many more red flags and misconceptions related to building bridges between Mormons and other Christians are explained in my book ‘Day of Defense: Positive Talking Points for the Latter Days‘ (Cedar Fort, 2013).
Further, after reflecting again on this 2011 interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Dallas evangelical pastor, Robert Jeffress, the following barriers – in addition to those above – still haunt the Church, and are addressed in further depth in ‘Day of Defense.’
-First, Jeffress mentions that the LDS Church came 1800 years after Christ (as if that is a negative when in fact all Protestant sects came some 1500 years after Christ).
-Second, that Mormons have a “human leader” as opposed to Christ.
-Third, that Mormons have their own set of doctrines.
-Fourth, Mormons are not a part of “historic Christianity.”
-Fifth, Mormons have the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible.
-Sixth, that Mormons have a work-based system for salvation.
All of these and more are elaborated in the 130 or so pages with the intent to reveal and enhance the Biblical basis for the LDS Church to fellow Bible believers. If defended and articulated by members of the Church in a sincere and non-threatening way, when these issues arise, and they will, our weaknesses as a Church can become our greatest strengths. Further, many of our friends, family, and co-workers not of our faith maintain their own perspective of LDS theology, so it is upon us as Latter-day Saints to listen, study, and respond in a way to build on what others already know.
‘Day of Defense’ is available at DeseretBook.com