The best source of authoritative public information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church’s official newsroom. This site is a useful resource in acquiring first-hand, official information against which claims about the church may be objectively evaluated.
Here are a few examples of myths and baseless rumors about Mormons:
CLAIM: Mormons are not Christians.
FACT: Webster defines a "Christian" as "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches (as the Bible declares) that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of all people. Church members worship Him as the Only Begotten Son of God the Father, and accept His teachings as divine commandments. The church teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ offers all people the only way to gain eternal life. The church offers an interesting comparison of Mormons and Biblical Christianity. The church recently added a website section devoted entirely to faith in, the teachings of, and testimonies of Jesus Christ.
CLAIM: Mormons in the USA all vote Republican.
FACT: The church hews to a strictly neutral position in partisan politics, consistently refusing to endorse any particular candidate or party in any race. It encourages members to be active in the political process and to vote according to their individual judgment and conscience. The church has publicly declared its official position on partisan political neutrality since the 1890s. The December 15, 2007, edition of The Washington Post, in an article entitled, "The Mormon Question", cited a poll finding that 53% of Mormons described themselves as Republican.
CLAIM: Mormons all think and act alike.
FACT: Church members share a set of core religious beliefs. However, with 13 million members worldwide and 5.5 million in the US, Mormons are otherwise abundantly diverse in their cultural backgrounds, personalities, talents, opinions, and tastes. Like any other defined social group, Mormons reflect the diversity of the societal segments in which they live.
CLAIM: Mormons all live in large families.
FACT: The US Census Bureau shows the state of Utah as having the largest average household size (3.08 in 2006, California second at 2.93 and Hawaii third at 2.88). Nevertheless, approximately one third of all adult members of the church are single. Individual family circumstances vary as widely inside the church as they do in the general population.
CLAIM: Mormons secretly continue the practice of polygamy.
FACT: Pursuant to the passage of Federal laws forbidding polygamy, the church officially renounced the practice of polygamy in 1890. Since that time, the church has excommunicated any members it determines to be involved in polygamy. The Los Angeles Times has published an extensive interview with official church representatives on this subject.
CLAIM: Mormons are forbidden by the church to use birth control of any kind.
FACT: The church teaches its members that God’s Biblical command to “multiply and replenish the earth” is still valid. Nevertheless, church leaders respect each married couple's right to make these highly personal decisions free of any outside interference. The general pattern practiced by the church is to teach correct principles and then allow members to govern themselves. Church leaders teach that family planning decisions should be made privately, depending upon each family’s individual circumstances, and with full consideration for every aspect of the health and well-being of all family members. The church has publicly proclaimed its official views concerning families.
There are many more urban legends concerning Mormons. Some of them are based on sincere differences of opinion, or legitimate misunderstandings. Others are driven primarily by religious intolerance. The official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on religious tolerance may be summarized by its 11th Article of Faith: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine co-sponsor an intelligent, respectful on-line forum about religious news and issues. The Pew Forum provides an excellent source of timely and impartial information about the intersection of religious and public affairs.
Note: The author of this article is not an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but is a life-long, practicing member of the church.
Other articles on Mormonism by this author: