A New Church? — The New Mormon.org PR/Marketing Campaign

Hey.  If you haven’t seen it yet….a new Mormon.org PR campaign is upon us…and all I can say is…”Wow.”

Seriously.  Wow.

An “independently minded wom[a]n”.  A priesthood-holding black man in an interracial marriage.  Working moms (too many to link to here in one sentence).  An apparently non-garment-wearing skateboarding photographer of partially naked women who claims that God wants us all to be individualistic and not robots or chess pieces.

Awesome.

Seriously.  So……awesome.  This is a brand of Mormonism I can stand squarely behind.

Don’t get me wrong.  I THRILL at this campaign.  I’m just trying to figure out why it feels a bit odd to me…as a lifelong, active Mormon.  It very well could be my bad attitude.  I’m open to that.

Or maybe…just maybe….it’s because of the messages I received growing up in sunday school, seminary, general conference, etc…..about women “maintaining their place“, and staying home and not working….about blacks being less valiant….about interracial marriage being dangerous…. of faith in the Lord requiring “exact obedience“, etc., etc., etc.

I guess I took the whole “prophet, seer and revelator” thing a bit too seriously/literally….and I guess I’m feeling a little bit like a “bait and switch” is happening under my nose.  A wonderful bait and switch…I might add….but a bait and switch nonetheless.

So active LDS readers…what think ye?  Let’s say that a young, hip, progressive, yuppy, affluent, intellectual, artistic, and most likely pro-gay couple decides to join the church in an average LDS ward.  Will their experience in the church, today, reflect the open, progressive, liberal, almost artsy sentiments and values reflected in this marketing campaign?  Will they stay?  Or will they feel that a bit of a “bait and switch” has happened to them as well?

Here’s my hope…that the members and leaders of the LDS church will see and internalize the values and sentiments reflected in these videos.…not just the investigators.  When that happens….I will once again reconsider my covenants of full obedience and consecration.  Seriously.  Right now, partial consecration is the best I can muster…but THIS is a church (i.e. the one depicted in the PR campaign) that I would literally bleed and die for.

Consequently, I will rejoice at this marketing campaign.  I choose to see it as aspirational on the part of top church leadership — regarding their vision for what our culture and curriculum someday might become.

May it be so.  Dear God…may it be so.

P.S.  I couldn’t find a gay person or heretic yet in these ads.  My guess is that those didn’t test very well in the market research.  But here’s to the Mormon.org 2020 campaign!!!!!

Comments

comments

125 comments for “A New Church? — The New Mormon.org PR/Marketing Campaign

  1. August 9, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Oh John, you put it so well. It’s so incredibly deceiving in its “openness.” The comments people can post are scrutinized to the letter. It’s not about communication and honesty; it’s about saying exactly what official church policy would have you say. It’s so deceptive. But the videos are nice, of course… It’s just that the whole purpose of the site is about openness, communication, when in fact it’s strictly, insidiously sensored.

  2. August 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

    You’re more optimistic than I. It’s a great ad campaign, and yes, a bait-and-switch. But not a postive one. Those people they have highlighted are not the majority of the Church; they’re a small minority, in my experience.
    Anyone who joins the Church based on this campaign and then actually goes to Church will have a rude awakening. Because the reality is not what the ads are portraying.

  3. August 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Here’s a profile of a gay member http://www.mormon.org/me/1GPP-eng/

  4. Clarifying...
    August 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I informally know Josh Maready (the member you accused of being a non-garment wearing skateboarder) (he’s a great photographer, by the way. He took a picture of me and the friend through whom I know him! Made me look good, even when I was having a bad hair day!). I can assure you, he and his wife wear their garments. It is probably because he was skateboarding and didn’t want to desecrate them while performing strenuous and demanding moves. Regardless, the wearing of garments is personal and I don’t think someone’s wearing habits of them should be discussed anywhere.

    Also, in one shot, you can clearly- but briefly- notice his garment bottoms showing. In another shot, his garment tops are peeking out. But like I said, any person’s wearing habits of garments should not be discussed or mentioned in a public forum, unless the person authorizes it and has given permission for public discussion.

    Going back to the post, I agree! This campaign is thrilling! I can’t wait to see how it plays out!

    Haha, here’s to the Mormon.org 2020 campaign, indeed!

    P.S. This is my first post on any bloggernacle site, but I am being anonymous right now, but I hope to reveal myself soon and be a frequent participant! 🙂

  5. Terry
    August 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Hmmm….I have mixed feelings about the ads. The more cynical part of me thinks that it’s the church’s way of saying, “See? We can be as ‘hip’ and ‘trendy’ as any of the youth-oriented evangelical groups!” On the other hand, the message does fit with what I’ve been hearing in general conference lately (especially from Elder Wirthlin and President Uchtdorf) about there being a place in the church for people from a variety of backgrounds and with a diversity of personalities. I think they’re sincere, but I’m not sure about the execution. It seems a bit forced.

    In any case, I think it will take quite a while for the message of inclusiveness to be absorbed and internalized in the general church culture, so I’m not holding my breath. The general buzz about the ads that I’ve heard in my ward is that they’re valuable mainly as a missionary tool.

  6. August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I’m doing a post on the FAQ section of the new mormon.org site tomorrow morning, actually. One of the pitfalls I’m pointing out is that there are some tough questions that Mormons aren’t too good about answering without making crap up (and the reviewers also find some of these erroneous answers acceptable). However, I’m in total agreement that this is a great campaign that pushes the borders of Mormonism far beyond Utah, to a profile of Mormon that is much more comfortable to me.

  7. Gina
    August 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I also was completely stunned and thrilled by these videos. I could hardly believe the range and types of people the church was holding up as exemplary. For awhile I thought there wasn’t going to be even one stay at home non-career mom until I found her, who also seemed like just a fantastic, vibrant person. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the meetings discussing these videos… Really, I am amazed and heartened by the whole thing.

  8. August 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Maria and Megan,
    I don’t know where you two are, but in my experience, the vast majority of Church members are individuals. I know active members who are freelance fashion photographers, more single mothers and working mothers than I can count, etc. My people are a diverse people. YMMV, of course, but my experience is pretty standard outside of the Mountain West I would submit.

    And Maria, as stinging as “censored” is, the Church isn’t censoring anything. I don’t know the process for putting these profiles up, but if anybody’s profile isn’t to their liking, there is nothing preventing them from putting up their own blog, and showing it to the world. The Church clearly will, however, exercise control in what it posts. That said, the profiles I’ve looked at are pretty diverse, and do not portray the cookie-cutter image many accuse the Church of having.

    And John, maybe I just didn’t bother internalizing bad messages in SS (and didn’t go to seminary much), but I don’t see any bait-and-switch. Partly because this is the Church I’ve always loved and always worshiped in. (Nobody got on me in high school for listening to heavy metal and having long hair; nobody berates my sisters for working outside the home; and, other than horror stories in blogs, I’ve never heard the blacks-were-less-valiant crap. I have to assume that it hasn’t been perpetrated widely in at least the last 25 or 30 years. It clearly hasn’t in places I’ve lived.)

  9. August 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

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    Lol!

  10. August 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I should add, we’re clearly not diverse enough yet. But when I go to my ward, I worship with families below the poverty line and families making very comfortable 6-figure salaries. I worship with lifelong members from Utah, Midwesterners, East Coasters, West Coasters, Southerners whites, African-Americans, Africans, people from the Philippines, Europeans who speak limited English, Latin Americans, Asians, Asian-Americans, Australians, and others that don’t leap to mind. This is, admittedly, the most diverse ward I’ve ever lived in (racially, country-of-origin, and socioeconomically), but I suspect it is pretty standard for urban wards.

  11. August 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Sam, this is what I mean by censoring: The site is about personal, individual dialogue between members and investigators. But in fact it doesn’t work that way. A friend of mine tried to answer a question about polygamy with something like, “I don’t know why the early church went into polygamy, but I don’t hold my leaders to a perfection standard.” This was blocked by the moderators of the site, and he was given the exact language for what he was allowed to say about polygamy, which was a quote from the Official Declaration that ended polygamy. This is what I mean about censoring. The personal conversations I’m supposed to be having with investigators are actually screened, rejected, and revision “suggestions” are given so that I’m constantly quoting Church doctrine and not sharing my individual feelings. I understand that people should moderate and make sure nothing anti-mormon gets on there, but a simple answer like, “I don’t know, but I still support my leaders” got rejected, and specific language was given for an answer about polygamy.

  12. August 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    What we know about the censoring / reviewing, is that it’s being done by a staff of MTC folks, which maybe is appropriate given that they are basically crafting the missionary messages, and this is the Proclaim the Gospel arm of the church. So, this review is consistent in its inconsistency. Different reviewers are going to approve or decline the same material. If we did a gauge R&R, I imagine we wouldn’t do too well. Check out my post tomorrow to see specific examples of this.

  13. Rigel Hawthorne
    August 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I thought this profile was interesting in that Michael talked about dating men, being infatuated with men, and giving up dating men, but never used the G word. It seemed like an atypical way of referencing gay socializing, and I wondered if he has adopted that manner of speech from his own church experience or if there was intervention in constructing his profile.

    http://www.mormon.org/me/1811-eng/

  14. August 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Maria, but how is this censoring? Yes, it is moderating, and there is a difference. No reasonable person could possibly think that the Church is allowing unfiltered conversation on its website. (Yes, I’m sure you can find someone who claims they thought anything would go on Mormon.org, but that isn’t even remotely a reasonable belief. Although there are relatively low barriers to entry when it comes to reading websites, there is an inherent caveat emptor: you have to bring your own common sense to bear. So the fact that the site is moderated doesn’t mean that it isn’t open, or that there’s something sinister about it: it’s MODERATED. I wish news organizations would moderate their comments.)

  15. August 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Hey Sam, you are talking past me. I clearly said that some moderation is to be expected. What I find incredibly misleading is that the idea of the site is to have personal one-on-one conversations about the gospel. But the answers aren’t at all “personal,” they are spoon-fed, stock answers. My friend was given an exact quote of what he’s allowed to say about polygamy. His very reasonable, kind, and faith-promoting answer didn’t fit the specific, pre-determined answer that was allowed on the topic of polygamy. Moderation as I understand it is filtering out abuse, obsenity, and blatantly contrary material. But this isn’t moderation. This, to me, is censure. Censure is when you are told exactly what you are allowed to say, and you copy and paste it as your answer.

  16. Aimee
    August 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I choose to remain optimistic about this campaign. I will completely embrace a move where openness, diversity, and non-stereotypical Mormons are promoted. I think it is a healthy direction – whether or not it is a completely honest picture of the culture of Mormonism.

    People often tell me that I am not the “typical Mormon” and I tell them that they would be surprised with how many Mormons there are like me out there. I think this campaign is at least trying to show the tapestry of our people and I can celebrate that for now. I hope the culture follows suit 🙂

  17. Jeff Spector
    August 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    What I find interesting is that for many years and especially at Church, we are taught that we are different. We have the true gospel, etc. On this new site, we are preaching that we are really the same as everyone else except for our Church membership.

    I like it. I think it reflects real life in the Church these days,

    As for those who are critical, that’s just SOP.

  18. WMP
    August 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Maria,

    I obviously can’t speak to your friend’s experience, but a quick review of the participants’ responses to the FAQ on polygamy shows what appears to be a fairly broad range of (at least seemingly) individual reactions/explanations. I would offer this to counter the suggestion that the comments are being dictated (as opposed to moderated) by the web administrators.

  19. MoHoHawaii
    August 9, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    When a soggy, mass-produced brand of pickled cucumbers starts losing market share to deli-style pickles in the refrigerator case of the supermarket, the manufacturer doesn’t change its recipe or production processes (it can’t, because it’s stocked in the grocery aisle, not the refrigerated section of the store). Instead, it changes its public message. It prints “CRUNCHY!” in large type on every jar of soggy pickles. It blankets the airwaves with cute cartoon characters that make jokes about how incredibly crunchy and crisp the pickles are. People buy the soggy pickles. They aren’t thrilled with them, but the brand survives.

    Many of us feel that these techniques, relying as they do on willful dissembling, are ethically dubious for consumer goods. When it comes to promoting what is supposed to be sacred and beyond human corruption, they are unequivocally shameful. If you ever had any doubts that the Church has been co-opted by the corporate culture, this particular advertising campaign settles the matter.

  20. Mike S
    August 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    A few comments:

    1) It is great that the Church PR campaign is that someone can “come how they are” and that diversity is valued. I will believe this is more than window-dressing when they stop talking about what color shirt you should wear to worship, how many earrings are appropriate, whether you can have a tattoo, etc. They will actually SHOW their commitment to diversity the day a man sits on the stand at General Conference in something besides a dark suit, white shirt and tie. Until then, it reminds me of BP’s new slogan of a green and yellow sunflower suggesting they are an environmentally astute company.

    2) I have absolutely no idea how much this whole campaign cost, but if it’s anything like things in the real world, it can easily cost millions to tens of millions in actual costs and donated time. And this is all for a marketing program. According to the Church’s own figures, they spend less than $20 million / year in actual cash on humanitarian needs. I think perhaps just going out and doing more good in the world would be better press. In 23 years, the Church spent around $15 million annually in cash on aid. Imagine how much good the $3 billion spent on a mall could have done (200 times as much as a single years cash outlay).

    3) It’s a slick wrapper. Unfortunately, all of these “hip” people could easily be good Christians and follow the basic gospel principles. When it comes to fitting into the cultural baggage that is also present in the modern correlated Church, however, I think they are going to be in for a rude awakening. I actually think this is going to backfire when the reality doesn’t match the marketing pitch. Unless they are willing to shake-up the Church and make the product fit the message, it’s all a waste.

  21. k corbett
    August 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Will be interesting to see when the doctrine catches up with the advertising.

  22. Thomas
    August 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    #19 — funny.

    What kind of accent does that Vlasic stork (is it a stork?) have, anyway?

  23. August 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Great post, John.

    Back when I had first covered this a few weeks back here, they didn’t have all the videos up, so it’s interesting to see how things are moving forward from the original rollout of the new site.

    I’m also looking forward to Hawkgrrrl’s post on the FAQ section…perhaps we all should’ve gotten together to plan out a series? haha.

  24. MoHoHawaii
    August 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Re #22, the stork imitates the voice and mannerisms of Groucho Marx.

    I should say one more thing about the “it’s opposite day” style of marketing. It’s usually reserved for well-established products that are facing long-term erosion of market share due to changing circumstances or changing consumer tastes. It’s fundamentally a defensive strategy designed to shore up against loss rather than conquer new markets.

  25. August 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    johndehlin — I had a mixed race (white husband, black wife) first counselor when I was Elders Quorum President, and if he had not moved to Florida, he’d have been Elders Quorum President. My last ward had two black men married to white women. Of course the first ward was Wichita Falls, Texas and the second was Plano, Texas, but all three were well accepted.

    Was http://www.joshmaready.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=0&a=0&at=0 really in the new advertisements?

    On the other hand, the message does fit with what I’ve been hearing in general conference lately (especially from Elder Wirthlin and President Uchtdorf)

    Yes.

    Well, I’m off to catch a plane, but I like these advertisements.

  26. Greg
    August 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Interesting. If you do a search on polygamy, or sexuality, you will get people who have answered the FAQ’s.

    You get a leader to the FAQ, but if the answer is not marketable enough, you click on the link to view more detail, you get a page not found error. I’d say they’ve got a way to take down the detail page, but haven’t used the same logic to exclude non-marketables from the search results.

    Example: search for evolution. You can click on the “why worry about evolution, we love Jesus” people and get the details. Person #2 says “Evolution is a load of crap”, you can see part of his comment, but if you try to drill down, you get an error.

  27. August 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Steve Evans pondered the utility/morality of this campaign over at BCC on Aug 5 in his “Just a little black raincloud” post:

    “I have to admit that I am sometimes tempted to disguise myself when trying to get what I want, whether by downplaying my Mormon-ness amongst the gentiles or by up-playing my rebelliousness amongst the Mormons. But the truth of the matter is that I’m not fooling anyone, any more than Pooh was able to fool the honeybees with his raincloud disguise. Hiding true intentions will not trick our opponents — political, religious or other — into letting us get our way, and it seems to me that attempts at subterfuge or misdirection have the potential to anger people more than honesty about our stated aims. Bears love honey, and the only reason Pooh is pretending to be a raincloud is to get that honey and eat it.”

    Then again, setting Steve’s concerns aside, if Mormons themselves like the ads, that’s probably what really represents “mission accomplished” for the folks behind the campaign. Look at the TV ad buy. It’s not about reaching investigators, but rather leveraging some modest outlays in third-tier markets in the heartland in the expectation that free buzz would be carried into more expensive media markets by enthusiastic members. Brilliant, really. Lord knows, members have lately been feeling a bit “under siege” post Prop 8. Why not launch a campaign that makes them feel more a part of the larger culture? PR at its finest (noting that PR is actually most typically used on one’s own group … the suggestion that these ads are meant for an outside audience strikes me as little more than a cover story). In any case, great production values. Rock on.

  28. Ren
    August 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    The ads are running in the twin cities. My fave is Jeff Decker, who says in the ad (but it’s edited out from his longer clip on mormon.org) that he thinks the best dinner conversations are with people you disagree with and he believes in having friends who worship different gods.

    I love the ads but in the sense that they feature people I can relate to more than the majority of people at church. It is not like the United Methodist Church “Open Hearts, Open Doors, Open Minds” campaign which actually reflected the vibe of their services and congregations.

    As I commented on a local person’s blog, It wouldn’t appeal to a lot of people around here to have an ad with a minivan driving mom with a car full of kids saying, “I’m a stay at home mom, I gather signatures against gay marriage, and I’m a Mormon.”

  29. August 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Oh, nevermind. MoHoHawaii already expressed it better in #24.

  30. August 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    WMP, thanks for that, good to hear.

    Ren, LOL!

  31. JTJ
    August 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    This reminds me of a Sam Harris statement, “The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt. Not the least among these developments has been the emergence of our tendency to value evidence and to be convinced by a proposition to the degree that there is evidence for it.”

  32. Martin
    August 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    In terms of censoring, I’m pretty surprised at what they’ll allow people to say. Some of it is just plain silly, like explaining polygamy came about because there were so many more women than men (one of the first responses in the FAQ section).

    In my profile I answered a question about temples and I decided to see how honest they’d let me be. I said I wasn’t a particularly ceremonial person, so I found much of the ceremony silly, but that I took my covenants very seriously, and they had no problem with that, apparently.

  33. Aaron Brown
    August 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    John said:
    “Here’s my hope…that the MEMBERS and LEADERS of the LDS church will see and internalize the values and sentiments reflected in these videos….not the investigators.”

    John, I assume what you mean is that you hope investigators won’t be mislead into believing that diversity reigns supreme everywhere in the Church, because it doesn’t and they may suffer dissilusionment or feelings of being tricked if they interpret the message this way. However, this sentence reads as if you hope that LDS investigators don’t internalize the values and sentiments of the videos. Presumably not what you meant.

    AB

  34. Thomas
    August 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    #31:

    This reminds me of a Sam Harris statement, “The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt.

    I offer Erasmus of Rotterdam in rebuttal.

    There have always been religious moderates, just as there have always been fundamentalists. What has changed is not something in the nature of faith — it has to do with fundamentalists’ decreased ability, in the modern age, to enforce their fundamentalism with coercive force. When moderation in religion is allowed, it flourishes. Ironically, though, fundamentalism has traditionally had an advantage, in that the moderates, by their very moderation, were often unwilling to go to the ruthless extremes of the fundamentalists in pursuing power.

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity” is too often true. One of the great potential weaknesses in a tolerant liberal society, is its tolerance for aggressively intolerant illiberalisms bent on destroying it.

  35. Nodomama
    August 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    As one close to the project I can guarantee there is absolutely no sinister motive driving the re-design as is implied in this post and comments. The team that worked on this was incredibly prayerful about their work. They felt the Holy Ghost guiding the decisions they made. They were aware from the beginning that moderation would pose many problems. They know the site isn’t perfect, but it is powerful. They also know people aren’t going to gain a testimony of the restored gospel by visiting mormon.org. It’s a stepping stone. Do you really think investigators are so naive that they’ll expect their local congregation to be filled with sassy artists and sports professionals? Do you believe that all new converts’ faith is so weak that when they see that it’s a bunch of white middle class soccer moms and dads in minivans (like me) repeating hokey Mormon myths during gospel doctrine that they’ll demand a refund?

    Also,I find this idea that you know what the leadership of the church needs to “internalize” arrogant, and an epidemic in Mormon blogdom. Are you really proposing that you have a better idea of what direction the church should head than God’s ordained prophet? This attitude is what keeps me away from many of the blogs in the bloggernacle. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to the church I am a company man. I believe everything they tell me, and could probably use a good dose of cynicism. However, I cannot abide this condescending attitude towards church leadership.

  36. August 9, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Looking through the profiles makes me want to do one of my own. I wonder what would happen if I talk about the Book of Mormon as a book in which many people find helpful guidance for their day-to-day decisions, even if it isn’t a literal history of an ancient people.

  37. Andrew M
    August 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    @Nodomama “Also,I find this idea that you know what the leadership of the church needs to “internalize” arrogant, and an epidemic in Mormon blogdom.”

    Wishing the church leaders internalize their own communications strategy is indicative of the bloggernacle’s arrogance? Many of us here desperately want to feel like we have a place in mormon congregations, and these ad campaigns give us some hope that it might be possible. what’s wrong with hoping that the church is serious about us “coming as we are”? I don’t see arrogance in that, just cautious optimism.

    i’m also an advertising professional, and i’m genuinely curious – was this campaign targeted at potential investigators? because i can also see how these ads could be used to buoy the spirits of the general congregation after the prop 8 aftermath.

  38. August 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Aaron Brown,

    1) SOOO sorry I didn’t have more time to chat at Sunstone. I feel horrible about that, and would really love to catch up sometime. Maybe by phone?

    2) I tried to fix the sentence…let me know if it’s a little better.

  39. Thomas
    August 9, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    “Are you really proposing that you have a better idea of what direction the church should head than God’s ordained prophet?”

    Overall, no. On one particularly question, particularly where “God’s ordained prophet” is (1) very likely several degrees removed from the final product prepared by the company men, and (2) not likely to be receiving unambiguous voice-from-Sinai-style revelation about whether to approve the designers’ product, thus leaving open the possibility that this is one of those questions as to which he is left to the best exercise of his well-informed, inspired, but nevertheless fallible “speaking as a man” judgment — well, maybe, and there’s not necessarily anything particularly arrogant about saying so.

    That said, people can go too far with constant criticizing, too.

  40. August 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I say it’s a switch to bait, not a bait and switch. The church is trying to actually become tasty and alluring. I have no problem with that hook.

    I say let’s give credit when credit is due. Bravo!

  41. Naismith
    August 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    “staying home and not working” is a bit of an oxymoron, neh? (Hardest job that *I* ever had…)

  42. Travis
    August 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I’m loving the new Mormon.org campaign (and want every one of these people in my ward boundaries!) While I can’t comment on its effectiveness with potential converts, I LOVE what it implicitly says to the membership: that these people (people like me that don’t necessarily fit the mold) are not only welcome among us——they’re celebrated. I’m so glad to see the widening of the tent!

  43. Holden Caulfield
    August 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Imagine the church “widening the tent” for other human beings. That such a widening is even necessary is, for me, quite a condemnation.

    Having felt first-hand the exclusionary nature of the church on two fronts, as a white missionary being told to lie to black potential converts in Brazil and now as the parent of a gay son in California, please excuse my cynicism.

  44. Tim Rollins
    August 9, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    This marketing campaign is long overdue and delightfully embraced by those with an IQ over 100. Elder Ballard has said that members need to use the potential of the Internet to help others better understand the Gospel. Some hyper-literalist ‘Nazi’ types will get their knickers in a knot, but I see that as a bonus, having fled a ward and stake, whwre too many of the the sheople were gutless wonders who lacked the integrity to live their lives true to themselves.

  45. Tim Rollins
    August 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    This marketing campaign is long overdue and delightfully embraced by any and all those with an IQ over 100. Elder Ballard has long said that members need to use the potential of the Internet and social media to help others better understand the Gospel and share it with friends, relatives and coworkers. Some hyper-literalist ‘Nazi’ types will get their knickers in a knot, but I see that as a bonus, having fled a ward and stake, where too many of the the sheople were gutless wonders concerned with the opinions of others, and who lacked the integrity to live their lives true to themselves.

  46. Matt W.
    August 9, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    The Church is on the bleeding edge of marketing strategy with this. Don’t any of you read Seth Godin…?

  47. Nodomama
    August 9, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Thomas and Andrew, points well taken. I may be a bit sensitive because I’m all riled up over recent posts elsewhere in the bloggernacle that criticize church leadership directly. You must admit, though, there is conceit in this “Eventually, hopefully, everyone will see things MY way” attitude. But it was unkind of me to say so, and detracts from my main point.

    The re-design really began years ago when the church initiated research. I’ve seen the findings of that research, and I don’t believe anyone had the effects of prop 8 in mind at the time. Except maybe God 😉 Admittedly I was skeptical when I became involved (indirectly) in this project. My attitude was, “Is anyone besides Mormons even looking at this site?” In short, yes. (How often did you visit mormon.org before the re-design?) The numbers made a believer out of me. When the idea of user-generated content was introduced I began to have a vague idea of how this could impact members. I thought it was a wonderful way for those of us nervous (me) about sharing the gospel to get their toes wet, so to speak. It wasn’t until I saw the videos that I realized this could have an impact on the testimony of other members, similar to the Mormon Messages on You Tube. Then, when the site went live and I spent time looking over the profiles, It affected me in an unexpected way. I felt proud, fiercely proud, of our people. Sure, some of them were saying crazy things that caused some serious eye rolling, but many of them related personal histories that were very compelling and uplifting. I came across a few profiles of openly gay men and was profoundly moved by their testimonies. That was the only time during the process that I even thought about prop 8.

    Of course, I can’t speak for anyone else, and again, my involvement was limited. There may have been people who had an idea that the site could have the effect you describe, Andrew. Let me recommend the following blog entry written by Gilbert Lee, a member of the creative team.

    http://northtemple.com/2010/07/13/new-mormon-org

    The blog is geared towards designers, and is heavy on the tech talk, but I think you’ll find it interesting. This paragraph from him states well the hope and message behind the new mormon.org.

    “Our main mission as a Church is to help all to “come unto Christ”. As imperfect as we, Mormons, are, we are striving to follow Him in our own lives. Our hope is that the new Mormon.org will help others see who we are and what we sincerely believe in. We hope it will improve people’s perceptions of Mormons.”

  48. August 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    We don’t need marketing with TV ads on youtube and the Internet. Mormonism needs marketing in the chapel.

    We’ve had hippie campaigns during the sixties and seventies only to be followed by the demonization of Sunstone and New Mormon History, which culminated in the excommunication of the September Six.

    I’ll believe the new shtick when they restore the original text of Elder Poelman’s general conference address on lds.org.

    I will believe that the brethren are serious about diversity and liberty when moral agency becomes free agency once more. I will believe them when they abandon the salsy indoctrination in the MTC in favor of exploring the Sermon of the Mount.

    I will believe them when Boyd Packer apologizes to Mike Quinn for demonizing intellectuals as enemies of the Church. I will believe them when little boys will no longer be bullied over masturbation and little girls will no longer be compared to a piece of chewed bubble gum.

    Until I see sincere repentance, I am going to do what’s best for me. It’s the only way to protect yourself against those people.

  49. PacificNW Wisdomseeker
    August 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I had an epiphany that was long overdue while reading this post, the comments, and looking at the mormon.org site. The epiphany is this: the church is us. It’s not the leadership or the buildings or even the narrow-minded members of my ward. I’m the church — me and my friends, and anyone that chooses to be there. So rather than take the campaign as some sort of cynical attempt to make the church hipper than it really is, or speculate about whether it was really meant to assuage the tender souls who bore the brunt of popular opinion in the wake of Prop 8. It seems so passive to wonder if the leadership will “internalize” the message. How about we just act as if the messages on mormon.org are legit, and as if they represent the church we go to (or aspire to go to)? How would you act or think differently if the church were as it is portrayed in the videos? Why not just start acting and thinking that way? Maybe the message of the videos is really an invitation to the membership to operate this way. Why not just define the meaning that way? Active, not passive.

  50. August 9, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    As an adult convert who joined the church in a very hip, very unorthodox branch, and later felt like I had been sold a false bag of goods, this campaign stings somewhat. The people in these ads are me – over and over again, me. But and I never felt like I fit in once I left that first branch I was baptized into. I was always being told something else I was doing wrong and would have to fix to be orthodox enough. When I finally hit the point that the community was more harmful on my self-esteem than the Gospel was helpful, I disengaged.

    I would love a church comprised of the people in these ads. I would fit in, I wouldn’t feel like a round peg trying to fit forever into a square hole. But I’m no longer willing to put myself through the hell to make it that kind of place for everyone else. I just get too plagued by my inadequacies, by my inability or unwillingness to conform. This ad campaign focuses on the non-conformists who are proud of their non-conformity. What about the rest of us?

    I’m not worried about the investigators who come from this campaign. If the church has something good in it for them, then I think it is a good thing. I do think its unfair to say that all of these unorthodox people are really the “face” of Mormonism. Its a little disingenuous, and it stings for those of us who feel rejected by the Church.

  51. August 9, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Well, I suppose if you consider mere generation change in a religion to be “bait and switch.”

    Yeah, I guess so.

  52. August 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    That said, I think if the LDS Church thinks that stuff like this is going to override outstanding substantive issues, they’ve got another thing coming.

  53. Mike S
    August 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    They’ve worked on the advertising. Now they need to work on the product to match the advertising.

  54. August 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    #53 reminds me of an anecdote from Ahead of the Curve

    An MBA candidate, not getting his way, complains to an administrator, “I’m the customer! Why are you treating me so badly?”

    To which the administrator responds, “You’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

  55. Arnster
    August 10, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I’m thinking that some of you folks need to get out more. The diversity of all kinds represented on the website, which some of you are so excited about, is not new to the church. Hip, trendy? If you think your ward isn’t hip and trendy, and you want to be in a hip and trendy ward, you may want to move. It’s not the church which is keeping your ward not hip and trendy, it’s probably your zip code. The church is looking at a new angle to connect with people. I don’t see the big deal. The church is about your relationship with Heavenly Father, not about the diversity displayed on a website, or whether or not there is proportional ethnic representation in your congregation. It’s been a very long time since church membership in Utah was eclipsed, and several years since church membership in the US was eclipsed. Diversity is nothing new to the church.

  56. JRid
    August 10, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Arnster, couldn’t have said it better myself! So many of the “problems” I read in the blog posts and the comments are problems I have seen in areas where the Church has large concentrations of members (Utah and the western US in general), problems we tend to not have where we are few and far between and most of us are either from a different belief system (converts) or are exposed to different belief systems on an everyday basis by our close friends and even family who aren’t LDS. In particular, it’s the cultural problems that have been embedded in doctrine in heavily LDS areas; these ideas of what constitutes a “perfect” Mormon. They’ve become so embedded that people cannot tell which is a cultural trait and which is actually doctrinal. This is why I can’t stand being in heavily LDS areas for long and if I know non-LDS friends who have been there and had negative experiences (usually “weird” to them), I am quick to say “most of us aren’t like that.”

    This ad campaign is just to get the reality out that Mormons are real people; we’re not a bunch of drones (though I have met my share of LDS drones! :)) and we’re in many places and do many things that a lot of people just never stop to even think about. And hey, maybe this is slightly directed at some of these heavily-LDS areas too in a way to show them that you don’t have to fit a mold to be a Mormon. Will people join the church because of this? Who knows? I’ve heard more than enough times that on average, a person needs upwards of 10 “contacts” from the Church or church-related things (which can come in various ways) before he/she is even interested in taking that knowledge further. For many this may be the first step; for others it may be a last step while many more may be in the middle somewhere. You never know where someone is in that process; that’s why any publicity is good publicity. I was very happy to see this change to Mormon.org and filled out a profile of my own months ago. I love answering the different questions!

  57. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 10:20 am

    “A non-garment-wearing skateboarding photographer of partially naked women who claims that God wants us all to be individualistic and not robots or chess pieces.”

    This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Any “Mormon” knows that the photos he is taking are inappropriate as far as church standards go. It isn’t even believeable. He may be a baptized member, but living the standards expected by the LDS church, I don’t think so.

  58. Holden Caulfield
    August 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    “Any “Mormon” knows”—that is the love of diversity of church members that I am familiar with

  59. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Give me a break Holden….seriously. Diversity is not what I am talking about. You can be a photographer, a skateboarder, a full time working mother, etc. and be Mormon, but there are still standards that the church holds in relation to the way members live. Taking pictures of half naked women isn’t one of them and you have to be living on another planet to not be aware of that.

  60. PacificNW Wisdomseeker
    August 10, 2010 at 11:35 am

    @Jen – presumably those who have been commissioned to manage the mormon.org website are moderating that site, and have as much opportunity to evaluate Josh Maready’s work (it is featured on his web site). Because it is presented there, I conclude that the church is tolerant enough to recognize the value of his work (or at least not reject it). Otherwise he wouldn’t be there, right?

  61. CS Eric
    August 10, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Maybe my definition of “partially naked women” is different from others, but I didn’t see any pictures on the website that showed more skin than is on a lot of magazines I see at the checkout stand at my local Safeway. It is true that many of those models are wearing fewer clothes than prescribed in “For The Strength of Youth”, but if he wants to make a living as a fashion photographer, his portfolio has to show women wearing something edgier than t-shirts and denim jumpers (the preferred uniform of Modest Mormen Women).

    One of the things that saddens me in my ward is that I see so few faces in the congregation that aren’t Nordic. In the five years I’ve lived in this ward, we’ve had five or six black families–families!–baptised, but they rarely come. If all of them attended regularly, they’d make up about a quarter of our congregation.

    I’d really like to see both Glenn Beck’s and Harry Reid’s profiles, but I’m not holding my breath.

  62. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

    PacificNW Wisdomseeker-

    Not necessarily, it could be an oversight with as many profiles as they are having to moderate. I would like to know how the author of this post came across it. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the church is tolerant of it until there is a certainty that the church is fully aware of it first.

  63. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

    CS Eric-

    Last time I checked we are supposed to adjust our standards to the Lord’s, not the other way around. You can be a fashion photographer and not lower your standards to do so. There are many LDS artists who maintain their standards in their work and though they may not be the most famous, they still make a difference.

  64. Holden Caulfield
    August 10, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Jen–the OP is welcoming the diversity that the church apparently has and, as far as the world knows, we are all welcome in church and we ourselves should be celebrated in our differences. If you have decided a “mormon”, presumably a real “mormon”, would not be involved in such heinous works as this photographer, then perhaps we should define as a church what a real “Mormon” is.

    The church proudly announces every conference the growth of the numbers of members. 12, 13, 14 million. Less than 40% of those millions go to church. I’m sure you believe that all “mormons” should go to church, so those 9 million or so that don’t are real “mormons”. If we then talk about those who attend church, but don’t believe the church is the one true church, well, they obviously aren’t real “mormons”, so let’s discount their membership. Then, we need to discuss the photographers.

    Church is for saints and sinners. Sinners are “Mormons”, “Mormons” are sinners. Cut out all the sinners, and what’s left of the 14 million can meet on my patio.

  65. CS Eric
    August 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Jen,

    I’m going to make a guess that you didn’t approve of Kerby Heyborne’s being in a beer commercial either, right(the lead character in the movie “The RM”)? It was probably okay that in another commercial that he was clumsy while taking pictures and fell down a mountain. It is also probably a bit iffy that in his most recent commercial, he breaks the law by “shooting the gap” between a couple of semi trucks while he is test driving a car. Do you approve of the LDS dancers’ costumes on “Dancing With the Stars” or “So You Think You Cand Dance”? Was Steve Young setting a poor example by playing his Hall of Fame pro football career on Sundays?

  66. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Holden-

    What does anything you have said have to do with the standards of the church and what they expect of its members? Just because members don’t go to church or don’t believe it is true doesn’t mean the church is going to lower its standards. Of course we are all sinners…..so what?

  67. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    CS Eric-

    Dancing with the Stars is not an official representation of the church is it? We are talking about something on an official church website. I don’t really care what Kirby Heyborne or Steve Young does, that is their accountability, not mine.

  68. CS Eric
    August 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Jen,

    The problem is that we ARE NOT talking about the official Church website. None of these guy’s pictures are on it. They are on his personal website, and his website doesn’t make any representations about his church membership. Did you really think that his profile on Mormon.org had his professional portfolio on it? His profile doesn’t even have a link to his personal website. Have you even looked at his profile, or did you just rush to judgment?

  69. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    CS Eric-

    “or did you just rush to judgment?” That’s funny coming from you….”I’m going to make a guess that you didn’t approve of Kerby Heyborne’s being in a beer commercial either, right(the lead character in the movie “The RM”)? It was probably okay that in another commercial that he was clumsy while taking pictures and fell down a mountain. It is also probably a bit iffy that in his most recent commercial, he breaks the law by “shooting the gap” between a couple of semi trucks while he is test driving a car. Do you approve of the LDS dancers’ costumes on “Dancing With the Stars” or “So You Think You Cand Dance”? Was Steve Young setting a poor example by playing his Hall of Fame pro football career on Sundays?”

    YES, I have looked at his profile and you make a good point that his professional portfolio isn’t on it, but the fact is that they are showing him as a representation of the church. With the way many people surf the web these days, the odds are that quite a few people may seek more info on a person they watch on there, especially when they say they are a photographer.

    BTW, do you happen to have any daughters that would you wouldn’t mind him photographing half naked? Maybe your wife?

  70. Holden Caulfield
    August 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Jen—It felt as though you were saying our photographer friend wasn’t a real “Mormon” because of what you perceive as un-“Mormon” conduct. It that isn’t the case, my bad.

    I am talking more about what the members expect of members, rather than the church. I was sitting here having a talk with my 18 year old who hates how church members are so judgmental. It started when we were talking about his friend who converted from Calvary chapel but can’t stand how judgmental LDS members. Your quotation marks around Mormon sent that same message to me.

  71. CS Eric
    August 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Jen,

    I have seen the photographs on his portfolio. None are pornographic. Theyu aren’t even “tasetful nudes.” I do have family photographs of my wife at family activities (the beach, swimming parties) that aren’t much different from many of his pictures. There is a member of the RS presidency in one of the wards that meets in our building who has Facebook pictures that aren’t much different from his portfolio–only his pictures are better, since he is a skilled professional.

    There is a woman I work with who is an amateur body builder. Her pictures show more skin than most of the ones on his website. I think you are so caught up in the phrase “half naked”, that you don’t really care about the actual content of his portfolio. None of them show anything that you can’t see on a mainstream magazine at your local grocery store. His bishop and stake president seem to be okay with his work–as mentioned in some of the comments, you can see garments in some of the footage. Why does it bother you so much?

  72. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Holden-

    I understand what you are saying about how some members are seemingly judgmental. I think it goes both ways though. The assumption that they are judgmental may be based more on us thinking they are judgmental then them actually being that way. I know some people are really that way, but for the most part, I don’t think people really care what other people are doing because they are too busy thinking of themselves.

    As far as my earlier statement, I am comparing what the church states as their standards to what this guy is doing (photographing half naked women) and the two don’t jive. It is surprising to me and it doesn’t make sense. I have a feeling I am not the only one, but no one else wants to say anything.

  73. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    CS Eric-

    “His bishop and stake president seem to be okay with his work–as mentioned in some of the comments, you can see garments in some of the footage.”

    Where are you getting this info? This is what the post states about him: “A non-garment-wearing skateboarding photographer of partially naked women who claims that God wants us all to be individualistic and not robots or chess pieces.” It says he is a NON-garment wearing skateboarder.

    “Why does it bother you so much?” I have looked through his portfolio and I am not caught up in the phrase half naked. “None of them show anything that you can’t see on a mainstream magazine at your local grocery store.” Well then, that makes it all OK then. Silly me, I’ll just check with the grocery manager next time I need direction on the standards I should maintain.

  74. August 10, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    The gospel ain’t a check list that can accommodate all appropriate behaviors for all Christians at all times. If this ad campaign challenges the Mormon check list mentality then PR might be useful after all.

    I am much more concerned about the quality of the pictures. Some of them are excellent. Others are cheesy garbage.

  75. CS Eric
    August 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Jen,

    Seriously? You don’t think John was using phrases like “non-garment wearing” and “partially naked” to make a point that the Church is bigger than Utah Valley? Would you have been nearly as interested in this post if he just called Josh a “akateboarding fashion photographer”? Neither you nor I nor John Dehlin knows for sure that Josh doesn’t wear garmnents. I do know that during some of his tricks, you can see that he is wearing what looks like a white undershirt that isn’t tucked in, since you can see part of his torso. For all any of us but Josh knows, that white undershirt is the top half of two-piece garments. I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt, thinking that John used a couple of phrases in his description in the original post partly to drive up comments.

    It worked.

  76. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    CS Eric-

    That’s funny that you are saying “he is wearing what looks like a white undershirt that isn’t tucked in, since you can see part of his torso”. If that isn’t Utah Valley thinking what is?

    “You don’t think John was using phrases like “non-garment wearing” and “partially naked” to make a point that the Church is bigger than Utah Valley?” No, I don’t.

    “Would you have been nearly as interested in this post if he just called Josh a “skateboarding fashion photographer”? ” Yes, because I read most of the posts on MM, even if I don’t comment.

  77. Mike S
    August 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Jen:

    Your comments prove the point about how this advertising doesn’t fit the message. We try to show that people can be “different” or “edgy” or “come as they are” to the Church, but then we judge them. It may not be the “official” policy of the Church. It may not be “doctrinal”. But we judge them just the same.

    We expect them, in the ideal “Mormon” world, to be clean-shaven, short-haired, white shirt to Church wearing, single earringed, non-tattooed, one-piece bathing suited, etc. We expect shoulders covered with cap sleeves and knees covered with capris. We judge each other and whether a particular picture of someone skateboarding allowed him to be wearing or not wearing his garments. We judge whether someone’s photographs are up to our standards. We judge whether the non-alcoholic beer they may be enjoying is the “appearance of evil”. We judge whether they come to Church EVERY Sunday or why they weren’t there last week. We judge them if we see them coming out of Starbucks.

    This is what bothers me. None of these things have ANYTHING to do with eternal gospel principles. Christ cares if we are honest with our fellow man, if we have compassion for each other, if we look out for our brother. He dined with sinners. He drank wine. He had a beard and long hair. He was nowhere near as judgmental as people I have seen in this Church. We have added layer upon layer of garbage onto the gospel, much like the Jews did by Christ’s time. They worried about minutae like how many steps you could walk on the Sabbath before you “broke the Sabbath”.

    If this campaign means the Church is truly changing to be more inclusive and less judgmental, I welcome it. If it’s merely trying to whitewash things and put an appealing face on the same practices, it will ultimately backfire – just like their attempt to suppress historical documents is ultimately backfiring in the long-run.

  78. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    #74-

    “Others are cheesy garbage.” AMEN

  79. August 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    In the five years I’ve lived in this ward, we’ve had five or six black families–families!–baptised, but they rarely come. If all of them attended regularly, they’d make up about a quarter of our congregation.

    Although there are very diverse wards in the DC metro area, in my opinion, that’s the most pertinent statement in the entire thread. Instead of blowing all that money on another Mormon ad, we would be better figuring out why converts do not remain active.

    Obviously, we are not meeting their expectations. Jacking up expectations with another ad campaign will only be counterproductive. Until we fix what is happening in the chapel, no amount of public relations will overcome the stagnation and the bad reputation of the Church.

  80. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Mike S-

    “We judge each other and whether a particular picture of someone skateboarding allowed him to be wearing or not wearing his garments. We judge whether someone’s photographs are up to our standards. We judge whether the non-alcoholic beer they may be enjoying is the “appearance of evil”. We judge whether they come to Church EVERY Sunday or why they weren’t there last week. We judge them if we see them coming out of Starbucks.”

    Who is WE? I think sometimes when people take issue with the church and its members there becomes this THEM and US mentality. All of the sudden THEY are so judgmental about everything, but are you not doing the exact same thing, judging them by saying they are judgmental?

    “None of these things have ANYTHING to do with eternal gospel principles.” How do you know? They may be a vehicle in helping others live eternal gospel principles, especially in the day and age that we live in. We don’t live in the time of Jesus, so what didn’t apply then may apply now because of the world we live in and what surrounds us.

  81. hawkgrrrl
    August 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Jen et al – the skateboarder does wear G’s. He is not a non-garment wearer, although as with most members he does not wear them for strenuous exercise. As to fashion photography, I see it as perfectly acceptable to photograph men and women wearing all types of clothing: underwear, swim suits, artistic photography, etc. That is what the job calls for.

  82. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    hawkgrrrl-

    “As to fashion photography, I see it as perfectly acceptable to photograph men and women wearing all types of clothing: underwear, swim suits, artistic photography, etc. That is what the job calls for.”

    So there are no lines that we have to draw when we decide what career to pursue? A career is something you choose, not the other way around.

  83. Martin
    August 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Jen, I too was pretty taken aback to see the top-less girl in the tutu. I would consider the picture pornographic simply because it has that effect on me, and I wouldn’t feel good about creating such photos. That said, the church wasn’t promoting or even condoning his work. The church is trying to show that Mormons aren’t all the same and that we can be in different stages of our development and have different perspectives on life.

    There aren’t very many Mormons who live all the standards completely, but that doesn’t mean they’re philosophically out-of-whack either. Just because the GA’s fly on Sundays doesn’t mean they don’t feel we should all keep the Sabbath day holy — they’re making trade-offs, same as the rest of us. We need to be very careful applying a litmus test to people.

  84. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Martin-

    I know that the church wasn’t promoting or even condoning his work, and I know that no Mormon lives all the standards completely. That wasn’t my point.

    “The church is trying to show that Mormons aren’t all the same and that we can be in different stages of our development and have different perspectives on life.” I know what they are trying to do, but I highly doubt they are aware of what he is photographing.

  85. Martin
    August 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I have no idea if the “church” knew what kind of photos he takes either. I suspect that some of the people involved did know, and some didn’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were an apostle or two deeply concerned about this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a couple who knew and decided to let it go.

    Just for interest’s sake, what if the prophet himself knew and chose to do nothing? What would that mean?

  86. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Martin-

    You tell me.

  87. Martin
    August 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Jen – I don’t think it would mean that the church’s standards had changed. I shudder to even think of one of my beautiful daughters ever posing for a photo like that.

    I think it would mean that we don’t disavow people who don’t hold to every ideal. That we’re willing to sit next to a guy who smells like smoke in sacrament meeting. That we’re willing to eat with sinners. That we’re truly a diverse and welcoming group. Or at least, ought to be.

  88. Jen
    August 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Martin-

    I understand what you are saying, but the prophet is expected to speak for the church and we have been told to “Let our voices be heard” (Elder Ballard). I don’t think that means we are intolerant or non welcoming to others. Anyway, off to the races. Have a nice day.

  89. August 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I guess the question is what the LDS Church expects to get from this ad campaign.

    I mean, we assume that the purpose is missionary work, because we’ve kind of been raised in the church to assume that everything has something to do with missionary work. But is that really the aim up at HQ?

    Or is this campaign meant to bolster Romney’s campaign, like conspiracy theorists over at Salon.com and the Daily Kos seem to be hinting at? Somehow I doubt that one.

    Or is this campaign meant as a defensive measure by the LDS Church to try and shield its members from a backlash of negative press that has frankly gone downright bigoted in many quarters? That seems possible to me as well.

    And of course there’s overlap too between goals. But it may be that the PRIMARY aim of this whole thing isn’t missionary work.

    Just a thought.

  90. Nodomama
    August 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Seth R, the primary aim of this whole thing is missionary work. I know the designers, and TRUST ME when I say they are not interested in furthering Mitt Romney’s political aspirations. In fact, at least one of them would be mortified at the thought. Again, I quote Gilbert Lee, one of the designers:

    “Our main mission as a Church is to help all to “come unto Christ”. As imperfect as we, Mormons, are, we are striving to follow Him in our own lives. Our hope is that the new Mormon.org will help others see who we are and what we sincerely believe in. We hope it will improve people’s perceptions of Mormons.”

  91. August 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    You’ll note in my post that I pretty-much ruled out the help-Romney motive.

  92. Mike A.
    August 10, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I live in one of the target areas for this ad campaign. Our Bishop even invited us to make profiles at the website on Sunday, then the missionaries were out visiting members and further inviting them to get to the website and create profiles. My feeling is that the purpose of the campaign is twofold.

    First: Communicate with people who don’t know anyone associated with the church and show them that the church isn’t filled with a bunch of crazies. In fact, some of us are pretty cool. It then invites them to seek out more members who have made profiles on the website. The beauty of the website is it gives people access to the wide-ranging personalities that exist within the church.

    Second: Give members an opportunity to get involved and put themselves out there. “Member missionary work” is daunting and rather confusing and this creates an easy way for people to get involved with missionary work who otherwise would not have done anything. It also means that this ad campaign is not driven by the authorities of the church, but rather by the members themselves. Whether this “succeeds” or not depends on what the general membership does.

  93. Dog Lover
    August 10, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I think there are still some mixed messages. I drove through downtown SLC today and you see diversity on the street. Then when I turned onto North Temple and the employees were coming out of the church office building (many heading for and lined up at a bus stop) they all look the same. The men are all clean shaven, white shirt, tie, women with longer skirts, etc.

    There is such a strict dress code that these people stand out even in Salt Lake. We say in one breath we are the same, yet we thrive on being peculiar???

  94. hawkgrrrl
    August 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I think those who say this is deliberately by the members are on the right track. And I am more accustomed to diversity at church, like this campaign shows. The church office building doesn’t have as much of it, but it is there in the wards.

  95. August 11, 2010 at 8:28 am

    By the way, this is by far my favorite of the new “And I’m a Mormon” ads:

    Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a Mormon.

    Sarah rocks!

  96. Donna
    August 11, 2010 at 10:27 am

    The church spends a lot of money on its image…and they have spent quite a bit of money fighting gay marriage. Instead of trying to appear diverse and inclusive, why don’t they really be inclusive.

    Soon, the Presidential Politics will begin, these Ads will help smooth the way for the church to appear mainstream. Nothing wrong with that…

    but like most advertising and most commercials, the commercial is better than the actual product.

  97. Mike S
    August 11, 2010 at 10:57 am

    The ads look like Apple.
    The official people in the Church (ie. hierarchy, church office workers, leadership, conference, BYU, etc) look like PC.

    This appears to me like the PC guy trying to look as hip as the Apple guy in the ads. It’s still a PC.

  98. Peter
    August 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Yet more people still buy PC’s–go figure.

  99. Gina
    August 12, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Josh Maready’s video isn’t up on mormon.org anymore.

  100. August 12, 2010 at 9:44 am

    WOW!

  101. Travis
    August 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Josh’s profile is still on the site: just not featured on the homepage.
    http://mormon.org/me/14DH-eng/

  102. Brent
    August 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

    You can also find his profile here: mormon.org/josh

  103. Mason
    August 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    This is definitely a ‘bait and switch’ but I don’t understand how that can be a good thing. The term ‘bait and switch’ implies FRAUD. This campaign perpetuates the the church’s same old pattern of whitewashing truth and hiding what it really is. Isn’t this the same pattern that caused many of us to leave the church? Someone nailed it earlier when they said SLC and mormon.org are on very different pages. You listen to general conference and the message is ‘Conform, conform, conform’ and this campaign is sending a very different message.

  104. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    August 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    i’m pretty sure the reality behind this ad campaign is yeah, you can be an individual but everyone else is going to give you crap.

  105. August 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I do just fine as an individual in my LDS wards.

    But I also make sure that my individuality does not become a nuisance to others.

    It seems these days in America, that anything short of do-whatever-the-hell-you want is viewed as “oppression.”

  106. August 14, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I’m proud to announce the world premiere of the 1st Ex-Mo ad:

    Hi, my name is Robert, and I’m an ex-Mormon.

  107. Wendy
    August 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Partial consecration is an oxymoron. :0)

  108. August 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Alright, I think a distinction needs to be made between the TV/radio ads and the attempt to convert LDS.org into a sort of Facebook kind of thing.

    The ads aren’t really working as far as I can tell. The die hards who already have a negative view of the LDS Church are just getting pissed off by them and view them as some sort of dishonest ploy. The people who don’t have a firm view of Mormonism are only going to be baffled by them. Sort of “why are you telling me this?” kind of thing. So I’d personally pull the plug on the ads. They aren’t going to change the facts on the ground much.

    But the Facebook experiment on LDS.org seems like a great idea to me. All it’s really doing is allowing the MEMBERS themselves to say what they want to say. I really, really don’t get why people here would have a problem with that concept.

  109. August 18, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Anybody know how long the review process takes, on average? I filled out a profile about a week ago and I’m wondering when anything will happen with it…

  110. cerik
    August 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Ok, I think if you read the interview with the church PR person they purposefully say the people they show are not all perfect. Obviously. The standards of the church have not changed. We’re just showing people who aren’t perfect. They are great and praiseworthy in some areas and not in others. Is that anything new?

  111. anon
    August 19, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I believe this is positive in the long run. Don’t understand why people are knocking it.

    It will have a trickle down effect on the church, both intake and membership.

  112. Manuel
    August 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

    And John, maybe I just didn’t bother internalizing bad messages in SS (and didn’t go to seminary much), but I don’t see any bait-and-switch. Partly because this is the Church I’ve always loved and always worshiped in. (Nobody got on me in high school for listening to heavy metal and having long hair; nobody berates my sisters for working outside the home; and, other than horror stories in blogs, I’ve never heard the blacks-were-less-valiant crap. I have to assume that it hasn’t been perpetrated widely in at least the last 25 or 30 years. It clearly hasn’t in places I’ve lived.)

    I guess SamB goes to another Mormon Church… or somebody has been doing a lot of selective hearing… I cannot possibly believe this comment.

  113. August 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I’m getting mixed messages. It seems that we are told to try hard to follow what the scriptures actually say and be a peculiar people, but then mormon.org shows how “cool” Mormons are, and I really don’t think that being Mormon will ever or should be “cool”. We don’t want to be part of the large and spacious building.

  114. Queen Mab
    August 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    You have to be able to distinguish between Utah culture and the doctrines of this church. The doctrines of the church are the same now as they were when I was a child and they will be the same when I die, they don’t change. But the “ideal” Mormon being someone who lives an “ideal” life has always been a myth. The church finally has more members in the rest of the world than in the United States and it is finally starting to show that diversity in the “culture” of the church. Americans aren’t good with diversity, they all like to claim they are but I have lived in other places where diversity is truly embraced and it is not here in America. The majority of the people here like to conform. The cultural diversity in the Mormon church will be reflected more and more as time progresses but the doctrine will stay the same. Truth is truth, it does not change with the whims of those who follow it.

  115. Truthshallsetufree.com
    March 16, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Also interesting (if you watch the Mormon/Christian debate/dialogue and the Mormon propaganda websites that have flooded the internet) is that Mormons, all of a sudden, are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and by grace. There is a real effort on the part of the LDS church to say: “hey, we’re just like all you other Christians. We believe essentially what you believe.”

    It would seem that the Mormon Church may be the one true church, after all – the one true Chameleon Church, that is.

    It will be interesting to see where it all leads.

  116. Elderbeezy
    March 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you sir! Im a student at BYU Hawaii, and am doing a Media analysis project for our Media and Culture class. We used your blog in our presentation. Thank you for your critical analysis, even more so, your critical analysis while being a member.

    mahalo nui loa
    another concerned member

    ps. I agree with you bro

  117. Truthshallsetufree.com
    July 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Watch this for another side to the new Mormon PR campaign:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueGt-lPg91Y 

  118. Al Rand
    September 19, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Great post.  I wonder if this whole “let’s talk about ourselves” campaign will backfire.  Mormons are so insular — they don’t realize they’re playing in a big world when they go public like this.  As an example, I liked the comment above (by truthshallsetufree.com).  It poses a real situation — mine.  I go to church in order to not make too much instability in my childrens’ lives, but I am a declared nonbeliever.  Bishop says that basically, it’s a sin to not believe.  I say, it’s impossible to believe.  My only recourse is to lie, as instructed by authorities (i.e., “lean on others’ testimonies until you get one).  …makes you realize why “sheep” are such a powerful church symbol.

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  120. October 14, 2012 at 12:50 am

    This is why religion must evolve. Because society looks at old dogma and goes WTF? Certainly takes away from the idea that an eternal god wrote down the “truth” a long time ago, which I have ZERO problem with. No I’m not religious, I just happened upon your site.

  121. November 26, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Wow, I never heard any of that “women-must-stay-in-their-place” and “beware of the lowly black man” stuff you speak of. Then again, I grew up in Michigan and joined the church thirty years ago. Maybe these were just Utah traditions. I heard more of that from people OUTSIDE of the Church when these individuals thought they were experts on the religion of my choice. I’m still waiting for the Word of Wisdom to become a suggestion since
    there are many substances and medications which are not listed in this scripture that are very harmful to the human body. I drink green tea and it is alright with my bishopric; I even hold a
    temple recommend. Yet my daughter told me in her ward up in Orem you can get excommunicated for drinking tea. She beats me over the head with guilt trips over that. It’s an anti-inflammatory and healthier than the prescription I should be taking. Sadly, her jibes hurt me almost as much as the kidney stones I used to have. I think her bishopric should
    consider disfellowshipping the judgmental, envious sheep that they’re cranking
    out in that ward, but that’s just my opinion.

  122. D
    December 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This may be a little off topic, but did anyone else read the Mormon.org Content Submission Agreement? It kinda of makes me think twice before, creating an account or even sharing any of my artwork.

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