This is a very good question. People say all sorts of things about Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), many of which are untrue, and many of which are re-circulated rumors from long ago. That’s why there are several videos on this site that try to correct misperceptions about Mormons. The following letters show two things: that what you hear about the Church might not be right, and it might behoove you to gather more information in preparation for your next conversation; and that Mormons are rather thrilled when someone speaks up in their favor.
On November 24, 2000, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal (California) published a letter written by Paul Allen. A few months later, the letter was copied and sent out into cyberspace with the claim that the writer was the Paul Allen who owns the Seattle Seahawks and partners with Bill Gates at Microsoft. This is untrue. Paul Allen was simply a resident of Santa Clarita with the same name. Here’s what Mr. Allen had to say:
I have heard and seen enough!
I have lived in the West all my life. I have worked around them. They have worked for me and I for them. When I was young, I dated their daughters. When I got married, they came to my wedding. Now that I have daughters of my own, some of their boys have dated my daughters. I would be privileged if one of them were to be my son-in-law.
I’m talking about the Mormons.
They are some of the most honest, hard-working people I have ever known. They are spiritual, probably more than most other so-called religious people I have encountered. They study the Bible and teach from it as much as any Christian church ever has. They serve their religion without pay in every conceivable capacity. None of their leaders, teachers, counselors, Bishops or music directors receive one dime for the hours of labor they put in. The Mormons have a non-paid ministry — a fact not generally known.
I have heard many times from the pulpits of others how evil and non-Christian they are and that they will not go to heaven. I decided recently to attend one of their services near my home to see for myself.
What a surprise! What I heard and saw was just the opposite from what the religious ministers of the day were telling me. I found a very simple service with no fanfare. I found a people with a great sense of humor and a well-balanced spiritual side. There was no loud music. Just a simple service, with the members themselves giving the several short sermons.
They urge their youth to be morally clean and live a good life. They teach the gospel of Christ, as they understand it. The name of their church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Does that sound like a non-Christian church to you?
I asked them many questions about what they teach and why. I got answers that in most cases were from the New Testament. Their ideas and doctrines did not seem too far fetched for my understanding. When I read their “Book of Mormon” I was also very surprised to find just the opposite from what I had been told I would find.
Then I went to another church’s pastor to ask him some of the same questions about doctrine. To my surprise, when he found out that I was in some way investigating the Mormons, he became hostile. He referred to them as a non-Christian cult. I received what sounded to me like evil propaganda against those people. He stated bluntly that they were not Christian and that they did not fit into the Christian mold. He also told me that they don’t really believe the Bible. He gave me a pile of anti-Mormon literature. He began to rant that the Mormons were not telling me the truth about what they stand for. He didn’t want to hear anything good about them.
At first I was surprised and then again, I wasn’t. I began to wonder. I have never known of a cult that supports the Boy Scouts of America. According to the Boy Scouts, over a third of all the Boy Scout troops in the United States are Mormon.
What cult do you know of that has a welfare system second to none in this country? They have farms, canneries and cattle ranches to help take care of the unfortunate ones who might be down and out and in need of a little help. The Mormon Church has donated millions to welfare causes around the world without a word of credit. They have donated thousands to help re-build Baptist churches that were burned a few years ago. They have donated tons of medical supplies to countries ravaged by earthquakes.
You never see them on TV begging for money. What cult do you know of that instills in its members to obey the law, pay their taxes, serve in the military if asked and be a good Christian by living high moral standards?
Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Mormon youth get up before high school starts in the morning to attend a religious training class? They have basketball and softball leagues and supervised youth dances every month. They are recruited by the FBI, the State Department and every police department in the country because they are trustworthy. They are taught not to drink nor take drugs. They are in the Secret Service — those who protect the President. They serve in high leadership positions from both parties in Congress and in the U.S. Senate, and have been governors of several states other than Utah. They serve with distinction and honor.
If you have Mormons living near, you will probably find them to be your best friends and neighbors. They are Christians who try to live what they preach. They are not perfect and they are the first to admit this. I have known some of them who could not live their religion, just like many of us.
The rhetoric which is spread around against them is nothing more than evil propaganda founded in untruths. (Others) had successfully demonized them to the point that the general public has no idea what they actually believe and teach. If you really want to know the truth, go see for yourself. You, also, will be surprised.
When I first moved here some 25 years ago there were five Mormon wards in Santa Clarita. Now there are 15. They must be doing something right.
Paul Allen, Santa Clarita
Interestingly, after this letter had made the rounds in cyberspace for awhile, the editor of the Signal received a deluge of emails and messages. The deluge caused the newspaper’s general manager, Tim Whyte, to reprint the letter with an editorial explaining its origins and the phenomenon it had become.
To read the Signal‘s response, click here.