'I'm a Mormon'
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"Hi, I'm Helen. I am an ophthalmologist, a developer, a researcher, a mother, a grandmother and a visionary. I'm a Mormon."
"Hi, I'm Lonnie. I am a family man. I am a geologist. I'm a Mormon."
"Hi, I'm Heather! I'm a student, a sister, a daughter, a real person, just like you! I'm a Mormon!"
They are some of the thousands of Church members who have responded to a call from the Church leadership to share their stories on mormon.org. The goal is simple: The Church knows the best way to dispel myths about our religion is to have Latter-day Saints speak for themselves.
And there has never been a better time to find your voice.
Gary Lawrence, a public opinion pollster, said more Americans currently have a strongly unfavorable impression of Mormons than a strongly favorable one — by a ratio of five to one.
And research shows, it is up to Church members themselves to correct the misunderstandings.
Speaking Aug. 6 at the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research Conference, Brother Lawrence said only 12 percent of non-Mormon Americans know, unaided, the Latter-day Saint claim to be a restoration of the church that Christ founded. Sixty-seven percent are uncertain whether Mormons believe the Bible, 77 percent on whether Mormons are Christians and 75 percent on whether Mormons practice polygamy.
Church leaders believe there is one group of people who can change public perspective about our Church. And it is us.
In essence, the best way for a person to change his or her mind about the Mormons is to meet one.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve said during Women's Conference at BYU on May 1, 2009, that Church members can also be certain they will have the strength of the Lord "to carry our banner to the world."
Unfortunately, he continued, because "of our lack of presenting our true image," the world had developed a "less than positive image" of the Church and its members.
He said then that 51 percent of the U.S. population have little or no awareness of Latter-day Saint practices and beliefs and 47 percent do not have a favorable view of Latter-day Saints.
"These statistics clearly show the imperfect way we have communicated who we are and what we believe," said Elder Perry.
To change the view, Elder Perry asked members to speak up.
"A person's view of the Church is the sum of personal experiences they have had which relate in any way to the Church organization," said Elder Perry.
In 2008, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve told Church members that they have the "great opportunity to be a powerful force for good in the Church and in the world" ("Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet," Ensign, July 2008, 58–63).
The challenge is, he said, that there are too many people participating in conversations about the Church for our Church personnel to converse with and respond to individually.
"Sometimes, people just want to know what the Church is. And some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church."
One way to start is by joining other unscripted members of the Church introducing themselves, describing their lives and declaring that they are Mormons on mormon.org.
An LDS account is required to join. Then a Church member can write his or her profile, upload a picture and submit it for review.
The public can view the profiles without creating an account or giving out personal information. They can search a member's profile by age, gender, ethnicity, former religion and continent.
It's certainly an easy way to follow the Savior's admonition to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," (see Matthew 5:14–16).
The "I'm a Mormon" campaign reflects a truth already known to Church leaders: The lives of Latter-day Saints speak for themselves.
"Every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone, it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she is," said President David O. McKay (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 225).
President Thomas S. Monson echoed his sentiments: "You have a testimony; share it. You know the truth; live it" (BYU Commencement address, Aug. 15, 1996).
So be a virtual neighbor to the thousands who could learn something from you about the Church. Share your story on mormon.org.
Tell the world who you are and what you do. Then let them know you're a Mormon.