When I was an LDS missionary in Switzerland, I was appalled at the limited but almost invariably negative media coverage that the LDS Church received. For the last six months of my service there, my mission president brought me to headquarters and challenged me to try to affect that coverage in a positive way. I had some very small successes, but on the whole, things continued pretty much the way they were. And I'm quite certain that the church's negative image among the Swiss hindered our reception at their doors, which meant that people seldom actually heard our message.
Now, as a complement to the wonderful church-sponsored efforts such as Mormon.org, efforts like MormonVoices can provide an effective way of improving our image and of countering the kinds of coverage that have long damaged it.
I, for one, am extremely excited about the opportunity.
Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and as director of advancement for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He is the founder of Mormon ScholarsTestify.org. He blogs daily at dcpsicetnon.blogspot.com.
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