G. Beck and M. Osmond’s testimonies

G. Beck and M. Osmond’s testimonies

Glenn Beck and Marie Osmond’s testimonies

Yesterday I did something that I usually don’t do. I started watching TV at night, skipping through different channels. While I was looking for something interesting, I found Glenn Beck’s show. I was struck by what he was saying and by his tone. This is what he said right in the beginning:

glenn beck mormonTonight’s program is deeply personal. For the first time since I’ve been doing this show, I have no idea how it’s going to play out, what’s going to happen. I do know that the show will be honest and, hopefully, include an example of integrity. Here is the point tonight…

Earlier this week Reverend Al Sharpton, who has appeared on this program many times, was involved in a debate about atheism with the author Christopher Hitchens, himself an atheist.

When Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith was introduced into the debate, Sharpton said, quote, “As for the one running—the one Mormon running for office—those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway. So don’t worry about that.

Wow! I thought, this is going to be really interesting! And it was.

I am not interested here to comment on what Al Sharpton said or intended to say about Mormons, but I want to underline something about Glenn Beck. He said, among other things:

I’m a Mormon. I’m a Christian, and I’m not a bigot and I am offended.

He was bold enough and willing to take a risk in his personal career to defend his faith. He gave his testimony of what he knows by defending the Church several times. For example, in response to Al Sharpton’s comment on the status of blacks in Mormonism, he said,

And to go back and say, “Were you a part of this? Are you still a bigot?” is very offensive, especially . . . especially since most of America has no real clue as to the history of the Mormons. We’re the first religion—the only religion —to have an extermination order against us in the United States of America. Until 1978 or ‘79, it was legal, in Missouri, to kill a Mormon. It was removed after 19— the ’70s.

They (the Mormons) left—the reason why they were chased out of Missouri, one of the main reasons, is because they were abolitionists. They were fighting and standing up against slavery. And then to be called bigoted and, “Were you a part of that” is offensive.

I loved this.

However, I am sure that Glenn Beck has not been the only one to stand up for the Mormon faith with Al Sharpton. Others must have talked with Reverend Al Sharpton in the past few days because during the program he admitted,

Now, in the last 48 hours, I’ve heard a lot about Mormons that I didn’t know.

I am sure that Reverend Al Sharpton is learning more about the Mormons in these days. And while I think that his comment was not completely innocent, I also believe that in part his wrong perceptions are due to lack of true knowledge. When I say true knowledge, I mean testimonies coming from members of the Mormon Church, as opposed to misleading information coming from people who don’t really know what they are talking about or that try to mislead on purpose.

I hate commercials on TV, so as soon as the first commercial started I changed the channel. Interestingly enough, Marie Osmond, another famous Mormon, whose brother Alan is by chance my good neighbor, was on Larry King’s show.

She was also great in defending his Church, as when she said that obviously Mormons are Christians, in fact the name of the Church is Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Duh!

So now what? I think we should all be bold enough and share our testimonies every time we can, to help people like Al Sharpton (and other, less famous people) to understand what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is and what it really stands for. We need to show the light to dispel darkness.

To help you with this, we have created MormonTestimonies, a site that needs your help. Go now and write your testimony and/or make a short video. Also, share this idea with your family and friends, with your ward mission leader, your bishop, your stake president, and so on.

Here there are a few video testimonies for you to see . . . and you can do even better!

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“The Mormons” coming soon

If you’re in the U.S., be sure to watch The Frontline/American Experience special “The Mormons,” which will air this Monday and Tuesday on PBS. (We wrote about “The Mormons” previously.)

On PBS.org you’ll find information about the show including a 6-minute trailer.

For the Church’s statement on the upcoming show, please see PBS Film Likely to Cause Debate at newsroom.lds.org. Since controversy, novelty, and dissenting opinions drive traffic and sales, expect to see disproportionate coverage of controversial topics and opinions.

Mormon MembersA few scholars, including some who appear in the documentary, have seen substantial parts of the program.

Their initial reaction: Church leaders and members are extraordinarily eloquent in explaining the tenets of their faith. The film is not superficial, which is often a criticism leveled at television coverage.

However, some raised concern about what they feel is a disproportionate amount of time given to topics that are not central to the Church’s faith. For instance, polygamy comes in for extensive treatment in the first program, including substantial attention to present-day polygamous groups that have nothing to do with today’s Church. The time devoted to portrayals of modern fundamentalist polygamy seems inconsistent with the filmmaker’s stated purposes of getting inside the LDS experience, and of exploding, rather than reinforcing, stereotypes. (source)

In any case, the film should be interesting and should help improve public understanding of the Church, at very least by raising questions and sparking curiosity. I am excited to see the show and think it will be a net positive.

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I have found an interesting site with many videos about the Mormon Church and the Mormons: MormonWebTV. Some are very good and others are not, but I haven’t found any really bad. I think it is an interesting source to find videos related to the Church and the Mormons.

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Video: By Small and Simple Things

The California San Jose Mission produced a video to encourage member missionary work. It depicts a teenage girl who shares a Book of Mormon with her classmate. Her testimony, written in the front cover of the book, is first tossed aside, but later the classmate reads the Book of Mormon, prays, and is baptized along with his family.

Mormon Public Affairs on YoutubeThe second half of the video includes several interviews from Church members explaining how and why they joined the Church.

To me the video brings a peaceful feeling of gratitude for the many blessings of the Restored gospel and also a reminder of the importance of sharing the gospel.

(This video has been removed for copyright concerns.)

Also, if you speak Portuguese, you might like the videos Giuseppe recorded of members of his ward. Several of them shared their beliefs and testimony in a short video. If you live in Utah and would like to do this with your ward, we’d be glad to help personally. If you don’t live in Utah, maybe you can find a video camera, round up a few ward members, and post the videos online yourself. We’d love to know about it.

UPDATE: The music used in this video wasn’t properly licensed from its copyright owner, so we have removed it. You can still see watch video testimonials from members of Giuseppe’s ward.

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Dinner and a Mormon

Dinner and a Mormon

Mormon Family DinnerWhitney Johnson at Know Your Neighbor has an article in Meridian Magazine about reaching out to persons of other faiths by discussing religion over dinner. She calls the idea Dinner and a Mormon (a play on the TBS program Dinner and a Movie) and the idea is that we Mormons are less likely to be misunderstood and misjudged if we can help people get to know us. Sometimes we make it difficult by being exclusionary and cliquish.

Of the last five people/families that you spent time with socially, how many were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Can we each find someone in our neighborhood who might have questions about Mitt Romney, or the Book of Mormon, or “what’s this polygamy thing,” and take them to dinner? We may be able to clear up misconceptions, and in any case we can make a friend.

Read: Dinner and a Mormon

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Video Testimonies

There are many videos online about the Mormon Church, some good and some not really good. We think that another way of making our voices heard on the Internet is to share our testimony on a short video.

Mormon YoutubeA week or so ago I decided to use an opportunity in my ward at a high priest social to ask some people to give their testimony on video. We had a dinner and then I showed an inspiring video from the San Jose mission about missionary work. After the presentation I asked the high priests if they would like to give their testimony on a video. Several of them accepted the challenge even if they were not expecting that.

We have posted a few of those videos on YouTube. They are in all in Portuguese but even if you don’t understand Portuguese, you can get an idea. We have then included a link to those videos from the site Mormon Testimonies so that people can not only read your testimonies but also hear them.

I would invite all of you to share your testimonies in writing and / or in video and then point your friends to them from Mormon Testimonies and other websites of your choice.

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More LDS websites

Here are a few more good LDS websites we haven’t mentioned previously:

Mormon Lds.org Site1. WardSocial.com and Came2Pass.com — These two sites allow you to submit and vote on stories related to the Church. Like their predecessor Sustaind.org, these sites operate like Digg.com. In addition to finding interesting LDS stories on these three sites, prudence suggets we should also branch out of our communities to participate on broader, non-Mormon sites like Digg.com, where we can also submit and vote on stories about our religion. (The creator of Came2pass.com is an avid Digg user.)

2. IfYeArePrepared.org — Here you’ll find a variety of options for subscribing to Church content. For example, you can subscribe by email or RSS to the Home Teaching message, which will be delivered each month. You can also subscribe to the Visiting Teaching message, the Priesthood/Relief Society lessons, and current Ensign articles. Their recent redesign looks awesome.

3. SpicyWardWebThis isn’t a website, but a tool you can install. It’s a bit techie but really cool. After logging into your ward website on LDS.org, this Greasemonkey script will alter your ward membership directory so the addresses link to Google Maps. You can click on the address of anyone in your ward to view their location on the map. To use this you’ll need Firefox and the Greasemonkey add-on. The developer says more interesting scripts for LDS.org are coming.

Whenever we Mormons build something cool — like these sites above — I believe we should constantly ask ourselves how we can include people of others faiths. Even sites intended for Church members can at least include a paragraph or link that gives context and background to non-Mormons. This inclusionary attitude will help us make friends and avoid cliquishness.

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