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Linda & Richard Eyre: Defining ourselves; tell them who we are

Published: Friday, June 22 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote of how tired we are of outsiders defining who we are as a church and a people. Since then, we have decided to do something about it.

The fact is that the only way to overcome the problem of others defining the church is to do a better job of defining it ourselves. The only way to overcome inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the explanations outsiders offer of Mormonism is to do a better job of explaining it accurately ourselves. That is what we and other faithful members, hopefully including YOU, will try to do on a new website called MormonBriefing.com.

The church itself does a wonderful job of defining itself and our teachings and policies to the world in the “newsroom” of lds.org, and what could better explain who Mormons are than the church’s “I’m a Mormon” campaign that millions around the world have seen on mormon.org?

Yet despite these great efforts, in the face of growing curiosity about Mormonism, too many newspaper and television reports and stories still misrepresent or misinterpret our teachings and our culture; too many self-styled experts and anti-church websites circulate half truths and sometimes deliberate deceptions that raise doubts and create “weird” impressions of the church and its members.

We worry about this for our children and grandchildren who sometimes have to face false and twisted characterizations of who and what the church is.

MormonBriefing.com is intended to support official church sites, to give straight facts about the church and give faithful members a place to briefly tell their own stories of what the church means to them and how it has benefited and helped shape them and their families.

Mormons, it seems, are fair game for any sort of insults that anyone wants to throw at us. We don’t yet have a wall of political correctness that protects other minority religions from the same kind of misrepresentations.

Stories too often are written about the church by poorly informed reporters or journalists who do not even bother to interview any faithful “regular” members of the church, going instead to those who have left or are disaffected with the church. And websites that promote doubt, disillusion and disassociation are written by “Mormons” who are not practicing members themselves.

Because, you see, what we often call this “Mormon moment” of high interest in the church is also perceived as an opportunistic “anti-Mormon moment” by those who would like to undermine or promote their own agenda within the church and disseminate misinformation about the church to the world as a means to do so. Personally, the two of us do not feel persecuted of maligned in any way. Most of our speaking and professional association is outside the church, and we feel that, in general, Mormons are admired and viewed favorably, particularly by those who are personally acquainted with members.

But from a family and parents perspective, we are troubled by the increasing number of poorly researched reports and commentaries we notice and by the increasing number of anti and skewed websites we see cropping up.

We hope MormonBriefing.com will give solid, faithful members a chance to participate in defining and explaining the church to the world and to express how the church has helped define itself and its families. Take a look at the site, click on “defining the church” and add your story, which may be posted at MormonBriefing.com.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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