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Lecture discusses ‘Mormon moment’

Anna Boarini | Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday evening, Dr. Bruce Porter, an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) gave a lecture arguing there is currently a “Mormon moment.” Porter is a member of the Quorum of 70, an LDS governing body, and titled his lecture “The Latter-Day Saints come marching in: Mormonism abroad and at home in the 21st century.”

 

“Right now, there is extraordinary media attention given to Mormons both home and abroad,” he said. “There are three reasons for this; the candidacy of Mitt Romney, the Broadway hit musical “The Book of Mormon,” which is a parody of the religion … and our own media campaign, ‘I am a Mormon’ intended to dispel stereotypes.”

The sheer growth of the church and the rising prominence of Latter-day Saints in a wide variety of fields also contribute to the added attention, Porter said.

To begin his talk, Porter explained some of the LDS hierarchy and central beliefs. He dispelled a common myth about the church’s founder, Joseph Smith.

“We recognize him [Joseph Smith] as a fallible mortal and do not in any sense worship him,” he said. Porter said despite the explosion of growth in the LDS church, Mormons are still very connected.”

Our policies and curriculum originate from church headquarters … it helps ensure the church remains one unified body,” he said. “We are a close-knit people, we feel strong bonds to other saints across the world. There exists a global Mormon village.”

After explaining some aspects of the church, Porter discussed Mormons and politics.

Porter said the 12th article of faith says Mormons believe in being subject to kings, presidents and rulers and honoring and sustaining the law.

“We believe the law and government holds men accountable,” he said.

The LDS church renounces war and proclaims peace, according to what Jesus said to the prophet Joseph Smith, said Porter.

“We believe the defense of family and country is justified, but war is a necessary evil and a last resort,” he said. “If all people believed in Christ, the world would be at peace.”

Porter said unlike many believe, the LDS church does not endorse political candidates or policies.

“We believe in the separation of denominational influence in politics, religion should not have undue influence in politics,” he said.

While the church has sometimes taken a stance on prominent issues, Porter said, it is an issue of what is moral or not moral.

“Many of the stances we have taken on political issues are conservative – like abortion or same-gender marriage,” he said. “On the other hand, our stance on illegal immigration is seen as fairly liberal.”

Porter said even though Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon, the church has not and will not endorsed him, due to church policy.

“In this campaign like others, the church has taken no position,” he said. “We’ve done nothing whatsoever to support Mitt Romney.”

With the increase in media attention on the faith this primary season, Porter said the church has used it to promote the church in a positive light.

“We have sought diligently to correct misconceptions about our beliefs … dispel stereotypes and misinformation about the church,” he said.

Contact Anna Boarini at aboari01@saintmarys.edu