CNN accurately explains beliefs and misconceptions of LDS Church

Published: Monday, June 27 2011 1:30 p.m. MDT

Misconceptions about Mormons were cleared up accurately, but not by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dan Gilgoff, CNN's religion editor, posted a video called "Explain it to me: Mormonism." The video covers basic Mormon beliefs, but mostly focuses on common misconceptions on topics like polygamy.

"Ever since 1890, the official Mormon Church has banned polygamy," Gilgoff said. "Polygamists in the church today are actually excommunicated from the church."

He goes on to explain the FLDS is a "breakaway sect that continues to practice polygamy to this day."

Gilgoff runs down a list of basic LDS beliefs, including its beginnings in 1830, the translation of The Book of Mormon, the physical characteristics of God, continuing revelation and the eternal perpetuation of the family.

He specifically focuses on the missionary work of the church. He points out that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. have served missions.

"For Huntsman, he was assigned to Taiwan as a missionary, and it helped him acquire the Chinese language skills, which later helped him land the job as President Obama's ambassador to China," Gilgoff said.

He claims the LDS Church has a "tradition or an image of being seen as a very white-bread church," but the church is working hard to move away from that. He references Mormon.org, the church's missionary outreach website, which shows Mormons from different ethnic backgrounds.

A statement posted on the LDS Newsroom expressed the need for clarity for the LDS Church during a time when it's receiving increasing attention. It also states the video "accurately clarifies common misconceptions people have of the Church, while also explaining a few of the Church's core beliefs."

CNN later had a question and answer session with Anthea Butler, professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she explained key points of the LDS Church. She said most would not believe Mormons are Christians, but they fit within the rubric of what is Christianity, albeit they have some very different beliefs.

She addressed questions about the Book of Mormons relationship to the Bible and clarifies the Mormon belief of a God and Christ as separate beings.

She highlighted the differences between the LDS faith and the rest of Christianity, including additional scripture, the idea of a pre-earth existence and the concept of the afterlife.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

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