Meet the Mormons
Apparently the church is releasing a new film on October 10th entitled “Meet the Mormons.” Per the news release, the “film is an opportunity for people to meet — in a very personal way — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It documents the lives of six different members of the church in different countries, ranging from a (female!) kickboxing champion in Costa Rica, to the head coach of the Naval Academy football team, to a WWII veteran who participated in the Berlin airlift in the 1940’s.
You can watch the trailer below:
Perhaps I’m feeling a tad cynical these days, but I find myself questioning all sorts of things about this film. Who paid for the production costs of filming “on location around the globe?” If the church itself financed it, where did the funds come from? And what’s the goal here? Is this meant to improve the church’s public image? To familiarize people with the diversity of the people in the Mormon church? Is the goal to provide an uplifting message and/or experience for viewers?
There are several things to applaud here – I applaud that the net proceeds (profit, minus distribution costs) will be going to the American Red Cross. I am always happy to highlight the international members of our church. I’m especially happy to see that a female athlete is being highlighted, as she appears to be a great role model for girls in the church. I’m always grateful for an inspiring message and an opportunity to celebrate diversity within the church.
However, if the goal here is to improve the public image of the church, I don’t know how successful this film is going to be. I was talking to a friend about the film, and she made the following observation:
– in her opinion, most people have a favorable view of the individual Mormons they know.
– in her opinion, most people have an unfavorable view of the Mormon church as an institution.
If her observation holds up, I don’t see how “Meet the Mormons” will change that – yes, many Mormons are great. Plenty of individual Mormons do great things in their lives and for their communities. But the institutional Mormon church is still battling a ton of negative press, mostly stemming from their stance on LGBT issues, female ordination, and the discipline of public critics. And so while I see this film as celebrating the lives of individual Mormons, I don’t see how it will combat the criticism that I often see directed towards the institutional church itself.
I’m curious – is this how Exponent readers feel about the church and its members? Do you plan to see the movie? Why or why not?
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