Two non-LDS writers have taken a first-hand look at LDS outreach efforts in two different parts of New York and asked what other churches can learn from what the Mormons are doing.
"The ads are captivating, energetic and refreshing," O'Loughlin writes. "The church is definitely taking advantage of some national press, even when it is less than flattering. And without discounting the creativeness of the church, the ads are also pretty simple, lending to their effectiveness. They show a different side of an oft-misunderstood religion. They seek to tell stories of people. They evangelize without being in-your-face about dogma and doctine."
O'Loughlin goes on to suggest that "using savvy media and marketing campaigns to offer inspiration, hope and perhaps even gentle evangelization is a smart move. The LDS are preaching in a new way, and doing it extremely well. How will the Catholic Church take part?"
A similar tone is taken by Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio in a recent column on the English website gaurdian.co.uk. Tumminio writes about attending the recent Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York, and contrasts the harshness of anti-LDS protestors who stood outside the pageant facility with the gentleness of those who spoke to her from the LDS Church.
"Ironically, while we worried about hostility from the Mormons, the only aggression we experienced was from those who, like us, identified as 'Christian,'" Tumminio wrote. "The Mormons were kind and welcomed us not seven times but 70 times, so that even if we disagreed with their theology, we could not help but be moved by their authenticity."
After the pageant performance ended, Tumminio speaks of being approached by two teenagers, one of whom was disabled. Speaking in "slow but determined English," this teenager shared a brief but heartfelt personal testimony with the writer and her family.
"Mainstream Christianity could learn a lot from Mormons about how to communicate faith, I thought," Tumminio wrote. "Because, though I didn't buy the religion they sold, it's hard to argue with a testimony like that."
In a similar vein (pun intended), an article on running.competitor.com referenced a 2008 study suggesting that those who fast regularly will have a 58 percent lower incidence of heart disease than those who don't. According to the article, the study was conducted in Salt Lake City, and 90 percent of the patients surveyed were LDS, "a faith that encourages its members to fast for one day a month."