Mormon In America

Rock Center with Brian Williams tonight featured Mormons in America.  A good portion of the program was well done and informative.  There are a few things that I would like to correct for those who may have seen it.

Before I give criticism, however, I would like to say that the program did portray an accurate picture of the Church welfare system, and they gave a pretty accurate description of typical Mormon life.

Now for the criticism:

First, if you want to know about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask us.  It amazes me that most of the interview time was given to past members of the Church who have an ax to grind.  While I understand that the media needs to give both sides of the story, at times it seemed that we were being “set up.”  I’m sure, if they had asked, they could have interviewed a member of the First Presidency of the Church, or one of the apostles. Dan Rather interviewed President Hinckley years ago — I miss Dan Rather.

Second, I was highly offended that pictures of our garments or “secret Mormon underwear” as the world seems to view them, were shown on national television.  The garment is very sacred to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it shouldn’t be displayed for the world to mock.  I can’t believe that the show felt it necessary to display the picture.  As President Hinckley explained to Dan Rather once upon a time, the garment is an “outward expression of an inward commitment.”  It’s as simple as that.  No mystery.  No magic.  They are just a sacred reminder  of who we are and the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father.  MANY religions have some sort of sacred clothing.  Get over it!

Third, I’m was shaking with emotion when the program said that in the Church the “two genders are not equal,” and that women can’t hold “leadership positions.”  Hogwash!  I’m furious!  Women hold extremely important leadership roles in the Church.  They are just different from the roles that the men hold.

I spent 3 1/2 years as Relief Society President (head of the women’s organization) in my ward (congregation).  It was my responsibility to “seek out” the poor and the needy, inform the Bishop, and counsel with the Bishop on how to take care of their needs.  I had the responsibility to meet with the needy in their homes and assess the situation.  I had the authority, if needed, to go through cupboards with a homemaker to see how we could best use Church resources to help feed families.  I helped homemakers plan meals to teach them how to best use the food we provided through the Bishop’s Storehouse.  It was also my responsibility to go to the Bishop and say, “I think Brother John and Sister Mary Doe need some help, but I think they are too proud to ask for it.  Maybe you should call them in for a talk.”  The Relief Society President is the Bishop’s right arm.  In addition, the Relief Society is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the families in the ward.  We teach classes every Sunday and participate in ward counsel meetings with other men AND WOMEN who hold leadership positions in the ward.  DON’T TELL ME WOMEN DON’T HOLD LEADERSHIP POSITIONS!  I’m still trying to recover from 3 1/2 years of total chaos in my life.

In addition, women run the Primary (Sunday School) for children 18 months to 12 years old, and they run the Young Women’s program for girls 12 to 18 years old.  I was a Primary President for several years, as well.  Two of my daughters are currently Primary Presidents in their wards today.  They will tell you just how much responsibility they have in their “leadership positions.”  As a matter of fact, I just saw their rants on Facebook about how women were portrayed on the show.  We are not wimpy  little girls who are “seen and not heard.”  We thrive in the Church.

Oh, and by the way, women can be missionaries too.  All of my children have served missions, male and female.  My stepson, Matt, went to England.  Molly served in Boston, Massachusetts.  Hannah served in Russia.  Ezra served in Uruguay.  My youngest daughter, Kaylonnie, is currently a missionary in Brazil.  The picture below is Kaylonnie reading her “mission call” to family and friends gathered in our home, as well as a family member on the phone.

Kaylonnie Opening her "Mission Call"

Kaylonnie Opening her “Mission Call”

Okay, rant over.  While I do have criticism about the show, I also believe that even bad publicity can be a missionary tool.  I’m glad that people are asking about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I just wish they would ask the right people.  If I wanted to know how to be a doctor, I wouldn’t ask a lawyer.  If I wanted to learn about the Catholic Church, I wouldn’t ask someone who had an ax to grind with the Catholic Church.  Go to the source.  If you want to know more, ask me, another Mormon, or go to the Church website.


9 thoughts on “Mormon In America

  1. Yes! Thank you. I manage a team of people in my full-time job, and I feel that my calling/assignment as Primary President is every bit as important and every bit as rewarding and stressful.

    And every though its hard, I am very thankful for my opportunity to serve in the church.

  2. Amen, Tudie! My wife is the Relief Society President and she might have more responsibility in the ward than I do as a Bishopric member. Maybe they should have pointed out that every chapel has a R.S. Room and a Young Women’s Room, but we don’t have any priesthood rooms. Admittedly, the church had equality problems in the past, but it mirrored society at the time. The showing of Holy Garments bothered me, too. I’ve seen it happen many times before. And yet, no one ever mentions the Tallit Katan (worn by Jews) or the fact that most religions have some sort of sacred clothing. Anyone could describe the Amice worn by Catholic Priests in a sinister way and make it seem mysterious and cult-like. It’s just a cheap shot.

  3. The problem with using your positions in the church as examples of equality is that men can serve those positions too. The fact is that you are LIMITED in your roles in the church as a woman, whereas men can serve wherever they choose.

    • Actually, that’s not true. Men are NOT allowed to be in the Relief Society Presidency, the Young Women’s Presidency, or the Primary Presidency. They can TEACH in Primary — at the discretion of the Primary President. The rare exception to this would be in a foreign country where there are not enough “leaders” to go around — then usually it is the missionaries who end up do just about everything.

  4. Excellent points! The show did do a pretty good job in portraying the welfare program and a few other aspects of the church, having said that, I completely agree that it was pretty inappropriate to show a picture of the Mormon garment. The producers of the show really showed a blatant disrepect for something Mormons hold sacred. Should there be an expose on Brian Williams underwear next? It’s just kind of ridiculous and not becoming of a society that claims religious tolerance and freedom. Beyond that, I firmly believe all things will work together for the good of the church and programs like this will only serve to pique the interest of honest seekers of truth.

  5. Pingback: Mormonizing Welfare « Blacknright’s Weblog

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