I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. I have been following Mitt Romney, a Latter-day Saint, for various reasons, one of which is that I believe him to be a good and honest man. During this process I have been both saddened and heartened by reactions to this good man's faith. They range from well-informed and unbiased to ignorant and bigoted. I am particularly amazed at the latter, so much so that I must write some comments.
I have done some reading about Romney's problems in Iowa because of his religion. A few statements and quotes by evangelical Iowans reveal a lack of knowledge about Mormonism---or perhaps a refusal to acknowledge it. I find it very sad that this exists in a society that has the internet library available at the touch of fingertips.
Perhaps many of these good folks believe what they have heard from their religious leaders and have not felt motivated to find out for themselves what we believe, or perhaps they are scared. In any case, the ignorance is disturbing.
One of the quotes I read stated that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God but not the Bible. This person went on to say that our president needs to be a man who believes in the Bible, so he can not support Romney. Hmm.....if Mormons don't believe in the Bible, why I have had so many lessons at church about it?! And why do I teach it to my class of 6-7 year old children?! Why am I taught...at church...that the Bible is the word of God?! Yes, we do believe that the Bible contains the word of God. We believe the Book of Mormon to be a second witness of Jesus Christ, the Bible being our first. We believe in more scripture, not less.
When I was learning about the Mormon church I was troubled by the Book of Mormon. To me it was either really good or really bad; it was evil or it was from God. No one with Joseph Smith's experience and education could have written it, so it had to have been influenced by God or His opposite. I have found on my own that the Book of Mormon has nothing but good in it. It complements the Bible. How could it be evil?! That is silly or fearful thinking.
The best way to form an opinion on the Book of Mormon is to read it yourself. Any active Latter-day Saint will tell you this. The missionaries tell you this. You must find out for yourself....not through a pastor, a well-meaning friend, or even another Mormon. Read it and pray about it, with an open mind and a sincere desire to know if it is true.
If you choose not to pursue the Book of Mormon, at least respect the beliefs of those who have read and studied it. Respect the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints by finding out for yourself what they are. Don't believe everything you hear or read. Go to lds.org or mormon.org for correct information. Exercise faith, not fear.
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