Recently I watched a well-presented, even-handed presentation of Mormons in America on NBC’s new show Rock Center. No doubt alot of publicity has come to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (AKA Mormonism) because this week Republicans will nominate a Mormon for President of the United States. I’ll admit having believed alot of the stereotypes and knowing little about these people who occasionally would knock on my door, always in twos. For those interested you can watch the entire episode online HERE. While there are many places of disagreement between Mormons and Christians as I watched this show I decided to focus on areas we could learn from them:
They give out actual food and supplies rather than money to needy people. One of the best parts of the episode was a rare behind the scenes look into a mega-warehouse which stores food and supplies to help Mormons in need across the country. I loved that people could get a shopping list of sorts from their bishop and come to a store and pick out the stuff that they needed. I am a huge fan of programs designed to help people become productive members of society rather than dependent on handouts from the church or government.
Family is very important. This one might make you laugh given the whole issue of polygamy being an unfortunate part of the churches history. But I think it would be hard to find a religion that places a higher emphasis on family than the Mormon church. Their families are often big and focus on moral values being taught in the home. Sadly this is becoming the exception in our culture rather than the norm. With less and less being taught at home churches need to make up the difference and work with families to raise God-fearing, moral members of society.
Men are taught to work hard. I didn’t want to sound sexiest here as I’m sure they teach women to work hard but the emphasis seemed to be on male leadership. Regardless of our thoughts on female leadership we can all agree that the world would be a better place if boys were raised to be men who were hard working. Most Mormon men strive to become self-reliant as they finish college rather than partying it up and wasting their college years. I would imagine that there exists a great sense of pride here for growing Mormons…to be successful in the home and marketplace. I was surprised to learn of so many CEO’s and managers from top companies being raised in the Mormon church.
Fasting one day a month and giving the money you would have spent to the poor. I loved this idea and am considering making it part of my life. I know a bunch of people who give some of their money to help poor people but I know very few who sacrifice in a way that makes them feel it. When we give without any sacrifice it tends to become mechanical and ritual.
Two years to a foreign mission field. At first I bawked at the idea of getting a letter to be sent to some remote part of the world on a mission trip for two years! But then after remembering the impact a mission trip at 18 had on me I think it’s a great idea. Growing up in America isolates you from understanding how most of the world lives and these sort of trips can make you a more “well-rounded” person. Would love to see every teen growing up in America have the opportunity to go on a foreign mission trip.