I personally felt that the documentary was mediocre at best. It was not represented fairly in many areas, why didn't they interview a disfellowshipped and refellowshipped guy, why didn't they include someone who was ex'ed and refellowshipped again? They made it out like we were horrible, yet on the other hand they did represent some things VERY WELL. Why didn't they call the "Authors" what they were, "Anti-Mormons" or "LDS Authors".
Some of the things were very accurate, and some of the things were fuzzy. Joseph Smith being called a man with a huge sexual appetite with many promiscuities. Why didn't they name those he had affairs with? It's the same old story with the "Anti's" as always, accusations without facts. Scale of 1-10, about a 3.5! Keith Wilson
I was inspired...As a mostly inactive member in the church, yet believing member. Somewhat focused on to much on controversy, would have liked to see all the positive. Mel Shepherd
I thought it shed some good light on the church, however, I also thought there was too much time given to that bitter woman who was excommunicated. no name
Considering the program: They left out the greatest proof of the Book of Mormon; the references to the "other sheep" found in John 10:16 and 3rd Nephi 15:21-24. As a missionary, we always showed these to people searching after the truth. Ryder C. Waring, Holladay, Utah
As an active member of the "Mormon" church my feelings after watching the 4 hour segment is one of disappointment and sadness mixed with anger. Mostly of what has been omitted - the goodness of most church members - the fact that our Heavenly Father thru Jesus Christ is directing his work here on the earth - that thru the priesthood members can be blessed from Him according to their needs and faith - that many senior couples are using their retirement time and funds to further this work and help people of all nations and religions without expecting anything in return; and in many countries without mentioning religion - the mention of General Conferences twice yearly that encourage all that is good and can strengthen our lives - the hard work of young elders was negative and did not report any wonderful results of their labors except leaving doubts about everything connected with our "restored" church and its beauty. Having dissidents expressing their own unhappiness with the church - temple recommends and leaving the feeling that acquiring one is expecting too much of a member. This documentary only made me feel that the scriptures stating that the last days will be full of good vs. evil has certainly arrived. Pat Dymock , Orem, Ut.
1. It was a dark presentation. Joseph spoke of light. The director didn't get it.
2. The 3 and 8 witnesses to the B of M were not mentioned. Why? Very important.
3. The Nauvoo Temple & the urgency those members felt to receive their endowments before the trek west, and the spiritual strength it gave them was not mentioned. No understanding!
4. The Mtn. Meadows Massacre was a terrible thing, but so was Haun's Mill. There is a great parallel therein, but no concern shown over the Missourians having to live with their atrocity. Only the Mormons. Why?
5. Pres. Hinckley stated "There is no such thing as a 'Fundamentalist Mormon'." The writers still used that term in the very next segment. My opinion is that more people will now believe polygamy is a part of the church. Note the response you had from Pat LoGiudice in the paper this morning.
6. I was a bishop both in & out of Utah for some 9 years and then served in a Stake Presidency. The piece left the impression that I must have spent most of my time in church courts (disciplinary councils). Not true. I did hold a few over the years and participated in a few others. Unlike the lady who disdained the offered hand shake, I have been there when the offered hand was accepted with many grateful tears. "Courts" are really for healing and for the repentant. It's a shame she didn't heal and isn't repentant. She has gained a little freedom, as she would suppose; now; But, she has lost much more. Ask her family.
7. Things of the spirit cannot be discerned intellectually. The gospel is all about the spirit. The documentary thought is was intellectual. The church will never be understood in that way. I am grateful to have the spirit & the truth in my life. Eddie M. Peterson, Murray, UT
The New York Times said the second half of this documentary wasn't as strong as the first, but for me the reverse would be true. In fact, for some reason the second installment just emotionally blew me away. I found it absolutely riveting and so well done. In fact, I got a little weepyI don't remember the last time something discombobulated me emotionally so much. Very powerful and beautifully executedwhile the documentary is certainly not perfect, it's remarkable that an outsider went to this much trouble and succeeded so well in understanding and fairly portraying us.
Things that pierced me most included the black female convert and the man whose wife died in childbirth, but I didn't care for the maudlin segment on the dying twenty-something girl. And God bless Marlin K. Jensen, who did so well. (He's been one of my favorite G.A.s ever since he subscribed to my literary magazine Irreantum for a year, and I really hope he becomes an apostle soon.) I felt bad for Elder Packer, who didn't look well. I'm surprised they didn't get any Monson, since he's next prophet. And they should have gotten Sheri Dew or some faithful Mormon female leader, for balance. At the same time, I must say that I found the statements by ex-Mormons and outside observers overall respectful and intelligent and worthwhile, not anti-Mormon.
I thought the part on the temple was handled extremely well and also the homosexual part, which didn't change my views that homosexuality is an evil that must be resisted but made me feel more compassion for those who are deepest in its throes. The dissident part was good too and I thought Margaret Toscano came off well, although I got tired of the scenes of the empty chairs to symbolize church disciplinary courts in fact, I laughed out loud when the camera returned to them yet again the final time.
It's evident that Helen Whitney put an amazing amount of care and effort into this, and it's a remarkable achievement, including the very well done writing aspect of it. I got to meet Helen back when she was doing interviews; she called and asked me to catch her at the Salt Lake airport as she was leaving town. ...
My main impression of Helen was that she seemed absolutely exhausted and frazzled at the end of her trip. I gave her a copy of Mormonism For Dummies, which I would like to think had at least a little influence on the show, and she flipped through it and pointed out one of those idealized portraits of Joseph Smith and muttered, "That's so Disney." In the doc, I think she might have gone a little overboard in trying to show non-Disney-style art rather than more accurately reflect LDS tastes and culture.
During our fairly brief chat, I told her that I did struggle to enjoy social and cultural aspects of Mormonism but that once I embraced the doctrine and the faith I have never struggled with my basic belief I just can't even conceive of the purpose and meaning and nature of life in any other terms than Mormon. I remember she kind of squinted at me in an appraising way and said something that reflected what I can best describe as envy of my lack of doubt and skepticism, my ability to believe, my lack of inner turmoil about difficult aspects of Mormon doctrine or history. (It's almost as challenging to have social/emotional/cultural problems with Mormonism as it is to have historical/doctrinal/policy problems, but as long as you're strong in one of those clusters you can usually grit your teeth through the other.)
I never heard from Whitney again, which is fine I don't enjoy being involved with anything AV. But I think the doc is great, and I have a hard time respecting church members who are negative or defensive about it "Pull your head out," I want to say. Anyway, I hope this show enjoys a long life and much continuing influence. I wonder if it will affect the Mitt Romney campaign at all? Christopher Bigelow
I thought this was a very well done and fair view of the Mormon Church. I am an active member of the church and I was not in the least offended by the things that were said or shown. I think they did spend extra time on The Mountain Meadows Massacre and polygamy, but those are very big points of interest outside of the church. I think it was very important to get out a good description and give people an understanding of these things and I think that was done fairly and openly.
I applaud Helen Whitney for her openness to a fair and honest film, it would have been extremely easy to produce this documentary with only discussion from outside the church and with people who oppose the church. She not only used a wide variety of sources for discussion but she used people within the church as well as people with opposing views, and she did not use any radicals. There was never anyone who came out and directly stated a hatred or dislike to any of the church's teachings, nor was there anyone on the other hand that said "I don't care what has happened in the church it is true no matter what." It was fair and impartial giving the viewers the opportunity to take the facts and the open discussion into their own hearts and minds and make their own conclusion.
This was done with class and honesty and I will watch it multiple times to get as much out of this as possible.
Thank you, Chris Jepsen
The negatives were given a disproportionate length of time; the positives were given rather short shrift. The amount of time and weight given to the apostate Toscano nearly ruined the entire Tuesday night segment and the stark portrayal of the "Church Court" both graphically and by her words was an abomination. John A. Mc Hardy, Missouri
Regarding the documentary "The Mormons" I have only seen the first night but I thought it captured the history and migration well as compared to my reading of it. The only event I didn't know much about was the Mountain Meadow incident. Regarding that the documentary frames it in the context of a nation with difficulties and a human weakness and fear; I don't think they portrayed the LDS church leaders as defensive, showing Elder Oaks' comments which is the best they can do at this point. I think a lot of things happened in the early years of this country that don't play well. I think showing Brigham Young as leading the people again to a new place and his excellent logistical planning and organization was well done. And as Lutheran I would say President Hinckley's comments that you either believe Joseph Smith is a prophet or not has to be the foundation of the church. I think the Mormon religion has to stand or fall with the foundation that is Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon. I'm looking forward to watching the 2nd part. Lois in Utah
I didn't feel it was a very good representation of Mormonism, in fact I thought it was very one-sided against. They took things out of context continually and made it seem normal, when it was far from the way things really are. I was very disappointed in the anti-Mormon point of view that made up 70 percent of its content. Thanks Alan Mueller
I watched both episodes of the Mormons, and I was impressed with the effort to present the complex history and misunderstood doctrines of our religion in a way that the general population could relate to. However, I found it lacking in journalistic integrity, as unbalanced views of various subjects were presented and even overwrought without the illumination of the perspective of a normal, non-excommunicated, non-intellectually focused Latter-day Saint. Why was such an inordinate amount of time spent on the titillating, undersupported and misrepresented topics of polygamy, Mountain Meadows, gender orientation, and negative opinions of the Prophet Joseph Smith, through the eyes of non-believers? The message and doctrine of the LDS church is of God's love for us and his desire that we have joy, both on Earth and in the eternities - this production essentially ignored this important basis of the Mormon faith! While those at the extremes of the Mormon population draw media attention, I would think that the lifestyle, beliefs and challenges of regular LDS families should have been a more integral part of the production and are of significant interest to the rest of the world who are our friends, neighbors, and associates, and who must wonder how our lives really differ from their own. This production failed to deliver a balanced view of our history, and to provide an honest portrayal of Mormon life in 2007. Laryn Hill
Regarding the "Mormons" documentary here is part of what they didn't say:
After telling that this church is the most rapidly growing in America, they didn't say why: In this mixed up world, people who are converted find the answers to their most pressing questions in the restored gospel and they find the peace the Savior promised, they find happiness, they learn the importance of the family, they find joy in the promise of eternal life.
After saying that tithing was spiritual taxation, they didn't say that members pay tithing not because we are forced but because we want to pay it and receive the Lord's promised blessings.
They indicated that young people are coerced to become missionaries and that they are totally controlled during the time they serve. That is largely an exaggeration and what they didn't say was that even though a few don't make it, the majority undergo a marvelous change for the better and they build the church in the process. My mission many years ago was an unforgettable experience, sometimes very challenging, but it shaped my life for good forever.
After spending far too much time enumerating the "pitfalls" of polygamy, they did not say that most of the strong missionaries and leaders of the church have come from polygamous families. It was God's way of building His kingdom through raising up extraordinary leaders in a loving family atmosphere. In the beginning this commandment of God was needed to build up the church, but it is not necessary now.
They scrupulously avoided discussion of the contents of the Book of Mormon and did not say that most members, including myself and my wife and family, have received a sure knowledge of the truthfulness of this marvelous book of scripture through the power of the Holy Ghost. Our testimonies motivate us to live as Latter-day Saints and not as obedient robots as they intimated. The Book of Mormon truly is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, but they didn't say that. Reid Johnson, Holladay, Utah
If this is supposed to be a non-biased program, why present everything with music that is lethargic and in a minor key, dark pictures that are spooky, and leaving one with the feeling that you have just watched a Halloween movie? I feel like I have to turn on the lights while watching it just to get through it.
The feeling I get being a member of this church is directly opposite to the feeling I got when I watched this documentary. When applying the teaching of this gospel, I feel peace and happiness which are in direct juxtaposition to your portrayal. Sarah, Pittsburgh, PA
I enjoyed a great deal of the Mormon documentary. I think they spent too much time and effort on interviewing those who were practicing polygamy. This was of no interest to me and my family and shouldn't have been such an issue to anyone else and had nothing to do with being a Mormon. Sandra Porter
Although I believe this was a legitimate effort to make a quality documentary about the LDS faith, it didn't achieve its objective. Too much time was spent on the sensational/speculative and not enough on those things that constitute the real foundation of this faith. Some of the music sounded macabre and foreboding; some of the images/pictures were grotesque and obscene. On the positive side, a fair amount of the commentary was objective and informative. no name
It was better than most....still, too much dwelling on the sensational for me to call it a "true"....objective piece. I guess it will depend on the area of the country that you live as to how it will be received. Here, in the middle of the world headquarters for the Assemblies of God and the Baptists, with 3+ Bible Colleges I think only some will be impressed. We have come a long ways in this area, but the 'anti' sentiment is still alive and often ferocious. I manned PBS pledge telephones when the special on the Nauvoo Temple was shown a few years ago and got more than one very hostile call demanding to know why such a disgusting and undesirable subject as the Mormon's was being shown. So, I will be interested to hear in the future how it played in this area. M. Barnes
I thought the information was accurate, but one sided.
In the case of the destruction of the printing press, it was an unforgivable public outcry for Joseph Smith to destroy a printing press that was printing lies mingled with limited truth, but in the same documentary, part of a movies is shown where the mob is destroying a "Mormon" press that was printing the Doctrine and Covenants. There was no public out cry and no one was arrested, and yet in the same incident Mormons were tarred and feathered, killed and/or murdered.
In the case of plural celestial marriage, there is a scripture in the Book of Mormon, where the prophet Jacob explains the only circumstances when more than one wife is permitted:
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall harken unto these things.
Jacob 1: 28-30
There are many people that are descendents of plural marriage in the LDS Church, including many apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ is a descendent of plural Marriage. See the book of the generation of Jesus Christ the son of David and the son of Abraham, The Holy Bible; Matthew; Chapter 1
You should read the entire chapter, but I am giving only verse 6:
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias
The documentary did portray the Mountain Meadow incident, and John Lee was arrested and executed. A trial was held for a few leaders of the mob that killed Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith, and this is what The United States Secretary of State John Hay wrote about it, 25 years later:
There was not a man on the jury, in the court, in the country that did not know the defendants had done murder. But it was not proven, and the verdict of 'not guilty' was right in law. "24 Hours to Martyrdom;" Reed Blake; Bookcraft Inc.; 1973; page 150. Dennis Mason, Sandy, Utah
I was saddened by 'The Mormons' documentary because as an active Mormon I felt that it poorly represented the church and its leaders. So much of what was said was taken out of context. Too many of the speakers were obviously excommunicated or inactive people with an "ax to grind". They certainly were not going to be objective, which is what I thought a documentary was supposed to be. I felt that it did not capture at all the essence of my faith. I am so sad that some people will see this documentary and think they know what Mormonism is all about, when that would be so far from the truth. I'm surprised that Helen Whitney did such a poor job, except when I consider who she surrounded herself with. One of the speakers, who supposedly was "positive" about the Book of Mormon, is my neighbor who has had nothing to do with the church or his ward for many, many years. Small wonder that it did not represent the church well. no name
As a born into the church Mormon, this documentary help me understand better, why so many Mormons are offended by hearing anything that questions their unquestioning faith. I am still trying to understand how facts are valueless when presented against faith. This species (homosapiens) is a very difficult species to understand and the unquestioning obedience found in the Mormon faithful reinforces that difficulty. This documentary was helpful. Mike Beard
I think the documentary was mostly fair and balanced. The interview segments with different people were especially enjoyable and touching. Having been a church member all my life and married to a convert of not so many years, I understand the point of view from both sides and appreciated people's courage in sharing things so personal to them.
Even though there were a few segments that made me a little uneasy, but I realize that there will always be parts of church history that were not "perfect" because the church is full of "imperfect" people who make "irrational" choices at times which will always affect the "whole" church image. But then, it just proved the point that "if the gospel wasn't true, the imperfect people (myself included) in the church would have messed it up a long time ago!" Grace Chen, Bountiful, Utah
I found the documentary to be somewhat informative, but for the most part, very opinionated. To get "facts" from excommunicated members is ridiculous. I feel it should have stuck with the facts, rather than the opinions of historians and former church members. I was extremely offended when Joseph Smith was called a "schemer". It is not difficult to report on beliefs without the bias and opinions.
If the point of this documentary was to inform the world of what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes, it failed miserably. no name
I was able to watch approximately 3 of the 4 hours between the two programs and felt there was a nice balance of interpretations presented. Since it was my understanding that one of the stated purposes of the production was to "help break down the stereotypes of Mormonism," it seemed like there was too much of just the "same old" sensational subject matter, thus reinforcing many of the old stereotypes. While massacres and polygamy probably make more interesting sound bytes, a great opportunity was mostly missed to capture more of the essence of a truly unique modern day religion. Mike Raymond
We watched both nights. What happened to The Mormon Battalion, longest infantry march that secured California for US, plus was the beginning of settlement of California, and other western states. We missed info on the world's largest and first Women's Organization. Sheri Dew would have been much better than Margaret Toscano and the other apostates. Having no doctrine was serious. At least the Articles of Faith could have been mentioned. C- is our grade. Alan & Elinor Hyde, Salt Lake
I did not watch the entire documentary simply because of other engagements but what I did see I found quite one sided and limited in its portrayal of the LDS faith. Not to say that those that were interviewed were harsh or extremely bitter towards the church, they simply had a very polarized idea of what the church is or their understanding of the church was only through historical study. In the parts I saw, probably only 20% of the time was spent interviewing active members of the church who are in good standing. The other time was spent interviewing individuals outside of the church. It seems to me that if one tries to capture the true spirit of any organization let alone the Mormon religion, they should spend more time gathering and displaying information from those who are earnestly and honestly involved with that organization rather than relying on information from an outsider simply trying to study its history or a former member of that organization who had a dramatic end to their membership. By neglecting to do so the end result will be exactly what I found this documentary to be, an "intellectuals" or polarized stance on the Mormons, mainly expressed through the ideas of historians and former members. I can say with absolute certainty that the true spirit of the LDS church was barely portrayed. Spencer
After watching both segments of "The Mormons", I believe for the most part they were fair and balanced.
The early leaders of the church, as well as those who lead today, were not and are not perfect individuals and some things in the past that were acceptable ideas were based on traditions. It's all they knew. Today we can see that things have changed so there is a sanitizing of our thoughts and actions needed if we are to function in today's world.
"Everything flows and nothing abides,
Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed"
Thanks, Dean Allen, Ellensburg, WA
I was disappointed in some of the comments that were made because they were based on things that were not true; i.e., the church is rich and the leaders never tell the members how they spend the money. On the contrary; in general conference they give a full financial report. They consider the money donated by the members in tithing and fast offering as sacred money, and they use if for building temples, chapels, and church schools, as well as humanitarian efforts.
They spend billions of dollars on humanitarian aid throughout the world. Whenever there is a disaster, such as Katrina, the Mormons are on the scene ready to work long before anyone else. I know that was mentioned, for which I was grateful.
Some of the people who were interviewed were obviously bitter about different issues involving the LDS (NOT MORMON) Church. We are not Mormons. Mormon was a prophet in ancient America. And that was another thing that was mentioned. They said there was not proof of people populating the U.S. continent, but there are some ancient ruins in Central and So. America. They eventually migrate north, which is why there were Indians here when Columbus arrived.
I was disappointed with comments made about Elder Packer's BYU Devotional address in which he discussed the church's stand on gay & lesbian issues, as well as feminists and intellectualists. They said it was supposed to be a secret but somehow got out and into the media. Elder Packer was then interviewed, and about all he said was, "...I guess if it was in writing, I must have said it." He didn't go into much detail because church leaders are used to being misquoted. It isn't worth is for them to say much about it because people don't listen anyway.
And that reminds me about what they said about our temples. They are NOT secret, strange ceremonies, but what we do in the temple is very sacred to us. I don't like the way people make it sound ridiculous, because it is very sacred. When the Godmaker's movie was shown at other Christian churches, they made it look ridiculous; but the people who had been members and helped them produce the movie, later admitted they had lied. When people have a grudge, they often say things that aren't true.
The woman who talked about not being able to dress her sister for the funeral was not aware that a church member in good standing needs to be the one to dress men and women in their temple clothes for burial. She was upset about it, but should have realized temple clothes are also sacred to us, and should not be used by anyone not worthy of a temple recommend.
Why is it that people always want to hear the bad things they hear abut the church, but do not want to listen to our missionaries or read the Book of Mormon, which is, in fact, a second witness of Christ. They changed the logo of the church mainly because people thought we were not Christians. They want to make sure people know that we are, but they think we are not like other Christian religions. We teach of Christ, we follow his teachings, and we worship him according to the dictates of our own conscience; and we allow all men to do the same. You don't hear us saying bad things about other churches, because we believe we should all worship the Lord the way we understand we should. Not only that, the reformation set the stage for the Restoration.
Someone mentioned Joseph Smith's experience with plural marriage, and made it sound like he was only doing it for sexual reasons; whereas, very few people were asked to be involved in plural marriage. It was instated partly because more women than men joined the church, and the needed to give temporal support to women who had no husbands. It was never meant to be for any of the reasons they tried to say it was.
When they interview the woman who had been excommunicated, she said she had to go in with 15 men alone, that no one could go in with her; and I know for a fact that is NOT true. I attended a church court in support of a friend. She made them all look bad when these me all serve in the church without being paid; and they always pray about what to do in each individual case. I think she made it sound much worse than it was because she knew that is what some people want to hear.
How can anyone say that anyone else is not a Christian? That is a personal thing. We know that we are, and it doesn't really matter what other people think. The Lord knows what is in our hearts, and they do not. The Lord looks at the heart and not what people appear to be.
I guess that's enough for now. Carol H. West Jordan, UT
I was pleased with the *historic* accuracy. That is, I didn't find myself thinking "oh, that's misinformation" very often. Truly, it appears that Mrs. Whitney spent countless hours getting the facts straight.
I was displeased with her efforts on the ensuing commentaries. It seemed that the vast majority of historians and other commentators were at best sympathetic and at worst antagonistic towards the church; there appeared only a glimmer of proponent comments or analysis. Perhaps she was concerned about "spiritual bias" entering into a secular view of the church's history; however, this is a flawed perspective since it will yield a "secular bias", preventing people from understanding "Mormons" and "Mormonism", heavily spiritual topics, even if they get better information regarding the jots and tittles. Without the spiritual element, what does any of this documentary or even our history matter?
A good resource for learning about "The History of the Mormon Church", but not for learning about "The LDS Faith". Josh Cummings, Utah, USA
When you start with the premise that Joseph Smith made everything up, you will never come to the right conclusion. The temple rituals were misrepresented, there was no mention of the doctrine of agency. The fact of individual testimony and finding out for oneself was never explored. Big gaps. Big errors in conclusions. The filmmaker tried. She didn't make it. Lois Kerr, West Jordan
It was insidiously bad. Like much of today's journalism, subtly skewed. The obvious is the handling of the persecution of the Mormons compared with the Mountain Meadows incident.
Bishops storehouses were made to sound like we hoard food for the second coming rather than a discussion of our welfare beliefs and practices.
No mention of the Relief Society nor BYU.
Missionary work was portrayed as a dismal event or programmed duty and not the wondrous experience it mostly is.
Excommunication was covered without the basic fact that it is a process of repentance not a punishment being discussed.
The discussion of polygamy was based on lust and sexuality not responsibility.
Bottom line, if I were a non Mormon I would not be favorably impressed by the church. As a member I think we got skinned, again. James Buel, California USA
Given there were 4 hours of programming, I believe time could have been provided to illustrate/clarify the following:
1 - There were 11 (eye) witnesses to the Book of Mormon/gold plates - who never denied their testimonies.
2 - Re: printing press destruction at Nauvoo - the libel/slander against Joseph Smith and the church produced in the "Expositor".
3 - Re: Mountain Meadows Massacre - the documented threats from that company to come back from California to destroy the Mormons.
Not that any of the above would excuse certain incidents, but may have provided some justification for what took place instead of portraying the incidents as unprovoked.
This documentary would lead some to question their faith, and would lead others to have a suspect or cynical view of the church Thomas S. Mortensen, Vallejo, CA
I would have liked to see a parenthesis after each title of the speakers occupation that showed, Active Mormon, Non Mormon, Ex Mormon...Etc... It would help viewers to given credence to their words, or NOT! JSC Lemes, Convert of 33 yrs, Kearns, Utah.
I would not recommend the documentary to anyone. The producer perpetuated lies and misinformation invented by LDS attackers. Showing the polygamy family was completely out of line, like portraying a Lutheran family in a documentary about Catholics. The producer neglected to point out that there are twelve apostles, and the church is not only run by the prophet. They made Joseph Smith and Brigham Young sound like power hungry womanizers. There was no mention that it is Jesus Christ that runs His church, not the leadership. Many of the people in the documentary, I had no idea what authority they were speaking from: author, poet, English professor, etc. What would they know? I think PBS should give equal time to the LDS Church and allow them to air the history that is now available on DVD. Carey Smith, Minnesota
As a life long member of the church and one that has considerable insight into the teachings, I found a very common theme that was ignored. The teaching of repentance was over looked completely. I heard much about how individuals loved the gospel and their former membership in the church. So they should, but there is a principal called repentance. They can change their ways and rejoin and have the opportunities to be reinstated to the blessings that "they", are restricting themselves from. I am sure the bishop was not setting in his office one day and was thinking about who he could excommunicate. Obedience to the gospel teachings will work ever time. Humility and the loss of pride would go along way in reuniting these tortured souls with the church and reinstating the holy spirit that they have given up. Sheldon G Wimmer, Alpine, UT
I thought it was great. Clear and concise, moved well and gave me a lot more information that any other source, a well rounded, pull no punches film. I thoroughly enjoyed the four hours. Many thanks for all of your hard work. no name
Interesting watch, but turned-off after the 3rd hour. I felt that there was too much time and/or emphasis on polygamy and interviews with those excommunicated, who obviously still have some bitterness.
There were very positive aspects of the church, which much of the country probably did not know.
I will not watch again if televised again. And, I will not buy the DVD, if one is sold. John, Tucson, Arizona
I give it a C+. Perhaps they should rename it: "How To Spend Significant Resources Making a Religious Documentary and Still Miss The Point". no name
I thought I would let you know that I quite enjoyed the showing of The Mormons. I thought it was respectful and pretty well balanced. It went after questions and answered questions the public has at large. There were a few parts I thought, "That could have been left out," but overall I appreciated the candor and forthright nature of the show. Paul Ross, Richmond, Virginia
The morning after the airing of Part 1 of "The Mormons" on PBS, I was discussing the documentary with a business associate who lives in my ward. He was quite troubled by the first segment and said that during the airing of the program some younger members of his family were also troubled, enough so that they had to leave the room He was also very concerned that the program would have a negative impact on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
I watched both parts of the documentary with my family, including my son in-law, who is not a member of the church. I tried not to make comments during the program so that I could get an unbiased reading of my son in-law's reaction. Following Part 2, I asked him how he felt about it and if he had any questions. He said, "Yes, I have lots of questions, but they are basically the same questions I had before." Then our discussion turned to prayer and his willingness to ask God for answers to those questions.
I felt that the documentary was extremely well produced. However, I did feel that, compared to the total scope of topics covered, an inordinate amount of time was spent on polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I felt that the people who were interviewed were articulate and interesting. However again too much time (e.g., credence) was given to those who had either left the church or been asked to leave, in comparison to those who either speak for the church or are in good standing.
Were there times during the program that I was uncomfortable? Yes. Did the program cause me to wonder about some of the events of early church history? Of course. Did the program shake my faith or cause me to doubt my testimony? Absolutely not.
The bottom line: I think this documentary will, on balance, be good for the church. For those who may have a sincere interest in the church and its teachings, it will prompt additional investigation, especially from those who have relationships with active members. Church members should view this as an opportunity to capitalize on the increased exposure and provide answers to questions from their friends. However, for those people who already have a negative opinion of the church, this program will probably not change their minds, but will have a tendency to reinforce old stereotypes. Mark G. Child, Fremont, CA
We watched the Monday night segment of the "Mormons" program and we were very disappointed with it. Far more emphasis was placed on the Mountain Meadow Massacre and polygamy than was placed on less controversial historical aspects of the church.
While a wide range of view points was presented, only in a few instances were the view points of official spokesman presented. Overall we feel that the documentary was slanted towards sensationalism. We did not bother to watch the Tuesday night segment. Lavelle & Audrey Clark in Richland, Washington, USA
The first part was upsetting with the negative things speculated about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. I appreciated the second part and learning more about the church's more modern history, as I joined the church as a teenager in the 1970's in New Jersey and didn't move to Utah until 1990. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give the first part a 3 and the second part a 6. Certainly not a missionary piece, but it should pique the interest of many people outside Utah. Kathy Doan, Midvale, UT
It was very well done. It was easy to identify what things were matters of opinion, and I saw or heard nothing that was not true. No one from either the LDS Church or the anti-Mormon camp should ever object to hearing the truth or from listening to sincerely expressed opinion. David Coppin, Logan, Utah
I thought the first night was fairly well done, however, the depiction of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, though a true event, was, in my opinion, too long. Also, the bit about polygamy, was over done in terms of the time spent on the subject. Also, why did the producer spend twenty minutes interviewing and filming a polygamous family, when the LDS Church disavowed that practice over 100 years earlier? That, in my view, was disingenuous, and showed a bias against the church that the producer was trying to promulgate. The second night showing the later history of the church was, I believe, more accurate. However, interviewing past members about what the church is like is like interviewing someone who was fired from a job and then ask them how they liked working for that company! Carl Austin Chappell
I thought the two ex-LDS women were out of line. They talked about things that are held to be sacred, not "secret", as the program suggested. They obviously had an axe to grind and were given that "biased" opportunity by the media. Some of the information was accurate but overall I think the telecast did more to harm the image of the church than it did to benefit it. no name
Generally, expositions of the Mormon church are 100% inaccurate, bent, exploitations of hearsay. This one was only 89%. Now that is real progress!
The quote that went something like this: "We (Mormons) should get an education-but we must dance" still gives me a chuckle.
Someone must be very concerned that Mitt actually has a chance. Tap dancing in Farmington, Dee
Helen Whitney has crafted an excellent portrait of the LDS Church. Taking great care to give voice to a wide spectrum of stakeholders including the devout, leadership, and our greatest critics, she has helped move forward a healthy dialogue about where the church came from, where it is today, and where it's headed. More speech is often better speech on divisive issues like faith, and I'm enthusiastic that Ms. Whitney has made my life as an active Latter-day Saint easier. She has shone a light on some of our greatest challenges in a way that was primarily story-driven. My coworkers, neighbors and friends have been given greater context for their dealings with Latter-day Saints of every ilk. Aaron Hunt
I watched the majority of both nights and found it less than expected. Interviewing excommunicated members about the church is a bit like interviewing former BYU football players who have been dismissed from the team and school for honor code violations about the current state of the football program. Far too much effort was put into negative aspects. Glenn Barton
Overall, my husband and I were very impressed with the program and felt it was well-balanced. The sections on the Massacre and polygamy were too long, but needed to be addressed. I was especially impressed with Ken Verdoia. Although I believe he is not a member of the LDS Church, his portrayal was articulate, accurate, sensitive and came from a perspective of not only study, but from over 30 years of living and working here in Utah. Elder Jensen also represented the church very well. Debra Barlow Radack, Sandy, Utah
I thought it was interesting but did not like the first part as much as it spent too much time on the Mountain Meadows massacre and polygamy if they did one on the Catholic Church would it spend time on the crusades and the bishops who molested? no name
I don't think the issues that the documentary brought up are new issues or issues that most members of the church have not given serious thought to. They are issues that all Latter-day Saints must come to some peace with if they are going to stay strong members of the church. My only wish was that they had given some background on the different experts who were giving their opinions. Knowing more about where they were coming from and what their experiences were could have giving some understanding to their comments. Kristen, Utah, USA
I'm a member of the church and watched the show with my non-member husband. While I appreciated that they did interview some members and historians from the church, I felt it was inappropriate to interview former members who had antagonistic views, which is even worse than the opinions of those who have never been members. I was especially shocked by the musician who spoke of when he was a missionary and said that if his mission president had asked him to strap a bomb to himself and be a suicide bomber, he would have. My husband and I felt that would make others think that the missionaries today were that 'fanatic' and might pose a threat. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the show; the parts showing the truth should be enlightening but the falsehoods by those not of the church (especially apostates) were misleading and continue the misunderstandings of those who are not of the church. Donna W., Montana
I watched the Mormons program with interest. I appreciate the effort that went into producing the program and think it was educational for both Mormons and non-Mormons. It's good for us to see ourselves through others' eyes, imperfect as that may be. It is a natural temptation for any production to seek controversy as a method to generate interest and critical examination, but I wish the program had been more demographically balanced between practicing Mormons and ex-Mormons. As I listened to the negative comments of ex-Mormons, I recognized personal lapses rather than deficiencies they blamed on the church organization. In every case, I think they would be happier people if they spent more time reading the scriptures and on their knees in prayer. Our loving Father in Heaven wants all of his children to be happy and successful. Ex-Mormons are not a happy group. Bob Wall, Layton Utah
I was very disappointed with the documentary. I thought the first segment pandered to the old themes of polygamy and Mountain Meadows. While the second segment gave excessive airtime to those who had become separated from the church long before this documentary was even contemplated. I expected more balance from PBS. Owen Sedgwick, Indiana
I felt that the documentary makers, didn't put enough information on the persecution of the Mormons' that led up to the polygamy in the church and also that a lot of the marriages were to older widows who were unable to care for their selves and for the widows whose husbands were slaughtered by the anti-Mormon extinction orders and persecutions. What happen to the Mormons was no different than what the government did to the Indians and any one else that stood in their way of taking what they wanted. I am proud of the pioneers for their convictions and endurance along with their faith in Jesus Christ. They have earned their place in history and it is about time they were acknowledged for their part in forming the way of our American history. no name
As an active member of the LDS Church, I was disappointed in the documentary, "The Mormons" that aired on PBS. I felt it was way too negative and relied on too many interviews from former members whose views were definitely tainted, and possibly inaccurate. The interviews represented ONE person's experience and did not accurately represent the whole church. I don't feel that it represented the church well at all. It was not balanced and dwelt on too many negative issues, when there is so much good. People who don't know anything about our faith who watched this show will definitely come away with a narrow, negative view. What a shame! Shawna, California
Could have been at least 8 hours longer to give a more balanced overview. Too many anti-sentiments and tainted statements by ex members and dissenters were not clearly, simply answered or rebutted in terms that the non member world could understand. Over all documentary was as expected, in that too much time spent on polygamy, without explaining why it was actually necessary considering the times, persecution, deaths (of male members through murder etc.) and how a woman with children were to survive in those times. I do know there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of intellectuals that are members of the church in good standing, because they choose to follow the prophet, and follow Christ rather than create disharmony and dissent. Those individuals are more interested in building the Kingdom of Christ rather than aspiring to positions or personal gain.
It all boils down to this: If you did not have a testimony of the gospel, Joseph Smith, and the church, this documentary won't help you gain one. If you do have a testimony and knowledge of the aforementioned, this documentary won't change your heart and mind. There will not be an exodus to or from the church by members or non-members, and I doubt many hearts or minds will be changed either way because of the documentary.
No matter the content, explanations, questions, or answers, there will always be the dissenters, and the non-believers, which is okay because here is the crux of the whole issue. As long as there are loose ends, questions, opinion, false information, discrimination, hate or whatever else you choose, it all comes down to one thing. Money; and how much money can be generated through books, documentaries and videos.
Unfortunately for me, this documentary leaves me aching to tell, "the rest of the story." I'll continue to wait for the "documentary" that truly shows, asks, tells, and calms the dissenters' lack of knowledge. This documentary did little to help the non-Mormon know much more than they all ready knew, but at least it was with much more diligence than has been accomplished in the past.
Thank You for allowing me to comment. Lloyd Lewis, Montrose Colorado
The presentation was an interesting production with considerable research evident. I would proffer a couple of comments on important omissions that would clarify important concepts of doctrine and provide better understanding of this period of history and the background of the LDS Church.
The format seemed to suggest an impression that the beginnings of the church were the brainchild of Joseph Smith. While he was instrumental in bringing these concepts to fruition, he and all succeeding leaders were and have been adamant in stating that it was not Joseph's Church, nor Brigham's Church, nor Spencer's Church, nor Gordon's Church. It is a restoration of that organization instituted by the Savior himself in the meridian of times. That acclaim rightfully belongs to He whose name it bears, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The account of succession of leadership following the assassination of Joseph Smith to Brigham Young seemed weak and unsupported by proper documentation. The fact that leadership organizations such as the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and others were ordained and in place to support the presidency and provide a continuation of priesthood authority, was thinly intimated or entirely absent.
Brigham Young did not haphazardly assume leadership of the membership of the growing church. He understood perfectly the procedure as was so plainly illustrated in the scriptural accounts following the crucifixion of the Savior. Peter, James, & John, senior members of the twelve apostles, then received the mantle of leadership as the presidency of the church. Brigham Young, likewise senior member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, then received that responsibility to lead and direct the church in a difficult period of time and was subsequently sustained in that calling by the affirmation of church membership. This procedure traditionally has been followed since that time.
Trusting the above may be of interest. Boyd Humpherys, Logan, Utah
My name is Marjory Hatch; I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. I am LDS and we go often to our Edmonton Temple. My husband, Thomas Deloss, and I watched "The Mormons", both segments and enjoyed them both. Agree that the Mountain Meadows Murders took up too much time, and stirred up some bad memories that cannot be resolved. I thought the polygamy information was set quite rightly in the 'history' part of the documentary and it was said in the second segment that we had abruptly stopped its practice (nothing about statehood). Loved the pictures of the temples - I was worried because I'd heard some people were offended, but the pictures I saw were and are available on the church websites already if you know where to look for them. They've mostly been in brochures for temple open-houses. All in all, I think it was a positive documentary for the church and we can take the opportunity to discuss it with our neighbors and friends. Thanks. Marjory Hatch
As a convert and member of the church for some 35 years I did not see myself in this story. Much of what the real experience of being LDS was missed and it only presented a view of the sensational.
It did not reflect what is the essence of the LDS experience and the part that tells the individual that the experience is real and that is the experience that comes from a personal encounter with the Holy Ghost confirming answers to the questions asked.
It still was someone on the outside looking in and only bothering to look at the sensational or quoting the guys who didn't get the grapes they wanted or didn't like the ones they got, sounding off on how bad their experience was.
The picture it presented was sewed to a negative bias.
But then as a Marine, I experienced much the same feelings when some one else who wasn't a Marine tries to explain the Marine Corps experience.
Overall it didn't help and probably confirmed a lot of the feelings the "Anti's" love to whip up. William G. Fortune
I really enjoyed the 2nd segment. Quite touching and sensitive for the most part. The first segment on Monday night really got me riled. I didn't think the portrayal of Joseph Smith and the early history of the church was fairly represented. I was left with the impression Joseph Smith was a charlatan, a sexual deviant and a treasure hunter. I didn't think there was enough of the true side of Joseph Smith and the start of the church. Too much time was spent on the Mountain Meadow Massacre and polygamy. Why was Warren Jeffs represented so much? He has nothing to do with the church. I think that part would be confusing to people who don't know much about the church, especially polygamy in its past. I think if a documentary is written about the church, it should be done by a reputable member of the church, not an outsider looking in. no name
I am a Chinese convert to the LDS church since 1974. I have watched the four long hours of the documentary on "The Mormons". To me the film was disturbing because most of the contents were misrepresented. Most of the comments were made by those who were former members of the church. It appeared the comments made by the church leaders were crafted and cut to fit the script of the film. Gladly my conviction of the LDS church which contained the gospel of Christ is not based on any film, book, speech, or individual. Every time when I read the Book of Mormon I have no doubt it is the word of God. If the Book of Mormon is scripture and is a testament of Christ, Joseph Smith was not a schemer but was a prophet of God. I have to say no word, event, act, nor any trail in my life can alternative my knowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church of God on earth. Isabella Ng, Hong Kong
One cannot truly understand any religion from the objective view of an "outsider." One must live the religion and feel the Spirit to fully comprehend what the LDS Church is all about. Although fairly balanced, too much time was spent on polygamy. A viewer could easily be confused by this presentation. Members in good standing view polygamists as lawbreakers who have totally forsaken the Mormon religion. There is no allowance or sympathy for their modern day practice. Ronald White, Salt Lake City, UT
It was exactly what I expected, an anti-Mormon diatribe. Claudia Orr, Blanding
We're outraged! The obvious negative bias and slant towards the LDS faith was clearly demonstrated with the emphasis of NINE interviews from those who malign our faith! (The splicing of Mr. Givens comments did not reflect that he was faithful LDS.) We are disappointed because the show edited and sandwiched the comments of our beloved prophet, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, our esteemed apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, our devoted seventy, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, and our dedicated professor, Daniel C. Peterson, between thick slices of anti, inflammatory, and negative opinions. The only positive rating that we can give is for the inclusion of the transcripts of the interviews with Pres. Hinckley, Elder Holland, Elder Jensen, and Prof. Peterson on the Internet. Their comments provide the 'real' truth and include the following comment from Elder Holland (which we echo about the show consulting others for our story): "You don't want somebody else telling you your history, and therefore I would like to tell my children, and the children of the church, the youth of the church collectively, I'd like to be having them hear it from friends rather than enemies. I'm just doubtful about the motives of some. ... But there is not anything anybody can say to me that will make me afraid of my history." no name
A group of us watched the final part last night, all less than active LDS, and the general consensus was that it was pretty balanced and allowed people to draw their own conclusions. It might have even been a little easy on the church, i.e. the gay guy featured was excommunicated and lost his family and his idyllic home in Alpine said yet basically said that he still wishes he could be part of the church. I loved the missionary segment, the street contacting was so like it is, and I got teary eyed at the MTC scenes. The service/welfare segment was touching as well. no name
I only saw half of the first segment which was mainly the MMM and polygamy and I didn't have a problem with it. On the MMM it even gave some good background on why people may have acted the way they did. And I'd never really thought about how wrenching it must have been for the church membership when the manifesto was published.
So, all in all, I think people would be left with the impression that Mormons are a little weird but probably nice to have as neighbors.
My 2 cents. Mike.
I was disappointed and saddened by "The Mormons". It is clear to me that the primary aim of the production was to highlight the controversial aspects of the church, which is in line with the objective of most "Frontline" productions. That's what "Frontline" does. But because of the cooperation of the LDS Church, and because they didn't want this to be labeled as anti-Mormon, they tried to show some balance, and show some of the positive aspects of the church. However it was far from being a fair balance. They missed an opportunity to really show what present day LDS members are like, how devoted they are, how they serve each other and their communities, and what inspires them to do what they do. I don't think this production defined Mormonism well at all. Kevin Nelson, Richland, Washington
Too much dialogue from former members with a slanted view. I would have like to hear from "intellectuals" that were non members. Plus they did not focus on what the church is all about, only about the main controversies. There was not enough information from both perspectives on the argument. Like the church councils that were referenced, they did not explain how they really work and how 6 of the council represent the individual and 6 represent the church. They did have some good converts on but I still feel they missed the spiritual end of the story. Travis G
I found the program interesting. I appreciated hearing the opinions and thoughts of each individual. I learned a lot more about some of those individuals than I did about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of them made certain choices that would lead them to unhappiness. And it seemed they would never understand or accept the consequences they brought on themselves.
After reading the Deseret Morning News article of May 2, I have to agree with Fred Woods, the religion professor at BYU. Time given to individuals was imbalanced. There was more time given to people who left the church or who had limited perspectives of the church. I also agree with Jan Shipps, a consultant on the project, that too much time and focus was spent on polygamy and Mountain Meadows. no name
You asked for my opinion, so I thought I'd give it. My name is Cameron Harr and I am an active member of the LDS church and have been all my life. Overall, I thought the documentary was certainly comprehensive and showed a huge amount of effort had gone into it, but I felt it had two main problems that resulted in a bias slightly off center, away from the LDS perspective.
One problem that was mentioned in a DMN article, was that many principles and facts were removed from a spiritual context and thus appeared foolish or even malignant, such as the attention paid to polygamy and sex. One of the interviewees got it right, but she was outnumbered by many others who seemed to put it in a negative or evil light.
That brings me to the second point is that the number of outsiders interviewed seemed to greatly outnumber the views of insiders and they spoke as if they were authoritative on a subject matter, leading to confusion or misperception. That said, I think Ms. Whitney tried hard to present what she thought was a balanced production. Matching negative remarks with more context of situation and supporting views would have made the documentary significantly better I feel. Thanks. Cameron H.
This was about what I expected from PBS. The focus was on the negative. The great majority of the "experts" were not LDS or were not active LDS. The statements and conclusions were skewed much of the time. The picture as a whole was unflattering. I did not like it nor would I advise others to watch it. Charlotte T. Tweed
Somewhat disappointing. The eyes in the photos / drawings of church leaders in Part I looked sinister. Where did they come from? Other photos had to be the most stern and serious of the times. Excerpts by church leaders seemed to be almost 'out of context' and cut shortjust snippets of statements. Part II had longer statements by church leaders, particularly Elder Marvin Jensen. It was interesting to me that the majority of those interviewed about the LDS Church were those who are now no longer a part of it. Sharon
The documentary was interesting and well done. As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I felt that there could have been a stronger emphasis on people who are members of the church to counter balance those that have left the church. I wish there had been a greater emphasis placed on women who have the same opinions as Ann Osbourne Poelman. There are millions of us who feel as she does. We are not second class citizens. I have never felt or been made to feel inferior to any Priesthood holder or man in our church. I have lived in many places and have had a variety of experiences with different congregations. I think that says something.
In all, it was informative and definitely put forth a view of the church from an outside source that was respectful. no name
The first segment of the first segment left me asking two questions:
1. For a professional research project, why was there nothing mentioned about the many witnesses to Joseph's claim regarding the gold plates;
2. If Joseph was so good a locating treasures with his "seer stone," why did he remain so poor? LaDawn McNeal
Respectfully, I'd like to say that I am saddened by 'The Mormons' documentary. I'm thankful for the faithful members that were allowed to explain our beliefs, however more emphasis was placed on negative/opposing views.
Non-members will come away from viewing this program feeling that Joseph Smith was a charlatan. They will believe that President Hinckley and other leaders are secretive and controlling. They will believe that young men are shunned and unloved if they do not fulfill a mission. They will think that women are not equal to men. They will believe that we discourage education and critical thinking. RUBBISH and so untrue! Sue Andrews, San Francisco, CA
The treatment of the church was mostly even-handed, respectable, and generally fair. Yet the overall tone was clearly skeptical, which isn't surprising: there will always be critics. Personally, I would like to have seen documentation of certain historical assertions; for example, the unchallenged claim that John Taylor ostensibly taught that the reason blacks survived the flood was to carry forth the work of Satan. Rex Ripplinger, Roosevelt, Utah
I enjoyed the "Mormons". I was impressed that the filmmaker tried to find reasonable, informed and thoughtful people from a wide variety of Mormon experience. I was so pleased that it was not a forum for anti-Mormon crazies blasting everything that to me is meaningful and important. It was ultimately done with sensitivity, while still managing to cover the most important and relevant issues. Amy Rasi-Koskinen
The PBS documentary on the Mormons was disappointing. I was hoping for a Thanksgiving dinner and got day old fast food instead. It's a shame that so much interview time was given to excommunicated Mormons. That seems tantamount to asking convicted felons what their opinion of law enforcement is. Dave Jensen, Alpine, Ut
Equal time was not given to church members to portray the truth about the LDS Church. For every positive thing mentioned, at least twice as much time was given to anti-Mormons and disaffected former Mormons (who were not identified as such) to voice their slanted views. Each negative thing brought up by these people has been answered time and again by responsible people in the church, but this side of it was never presented. I believe the producers had an agenda that was presented as a well-researched documentary but in reality, did very little to help outsiders understand our religion. It's no wonder Carolyn Tanner Irish thought it was so wonderful; she is one of those disaffected former Mormons who obviously was dissatisfied enough with the LDS church to leave it. If these are the kind of people cheering for this production, we have a problem with the integrity of the information presented. Colleen, Salt Lake City
As a member of the church, I felt it missed the essence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The film focused their microscope on microcosms of ancient history that is irrelevant to todayÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s LDS. Don
As a member of the church in Wisconsin and as the only member of the church in my own family, I was disappointed but not surprised by the documentary. I hope that none of my non-member family watched it! While some of it was accurate and some of it even touching, on the whole it is certainly not something I would recommend. We do a much better job of telling our own story. Sincerely, Robyn M. Shearer
As a filmmaker, Helen Whitney demonstrated that she is a very gifted artist. And like other gifted artists she interpreted what she saw through a set of lenses not necessarily possessed by the rank and file. As a film, The Mormons possessed exceptional production quality, lighting, music and mood. But sadly it completely missed the true spirit and tone of what it is actually like to be a day-to-day practicing Mormon. Instead the film portrayed a mood that was dark, sullen and even surreal at times. The mood and spirit I have experienced as a lifelong practicing Mormon is faith-promoting, peaceful, joyous, and even fun.
She also spent too little time acknowledging and expanding upon the very core of our beliefs: Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for mankind and that all our other beliefs and practices, including eternal families, Sunday services, temples, missionary work, etc., center on Christ. Finally, the film barely touched on another huge point: the real strength of the church is in the individual testimonies of its members and that Mormons believe that every person can received a personal testimony of the truthfulness of its beliefs directly from God.
What she did present was relatively balanced but she spent too much time on events, issues, and interviewees that do not give a clear picture and feeling of what it is really like to be a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dennis Wilkins, American Fork, Utah
In general, I felt this presentation was fairly balanced including aspects of this faith which are common to most religions which can be misinterpreted by "outsiders" to any of them. It was refreshing to have a treatment by media which did NOT include much of the usual "Mormon bashing" fostered by huge ignorance of the mis or uninformed or malevolence on the part of "blind" critics or those who have an agenda against the church.
Agreed, too much time was spent on "polygamy" (a term which does NOT convey the honorable intentions of those practitioners who entered into Plural MARRIAGE with all it's commitments), especially adding in the material on the "fundamentalists" who are NOT "Mormons" and, therefore, quite irrelevant to this presentation. Equally, the lamentable Mountain Meadows incident (with the innuendo that Brigham Young instigated it a totally specious, unproven claim.)
While it is interesting to hear the viewpoints of EX-Mormons, such are ALWAYS suspect, since only THEIR side of their story is available to the audience. More than likely, their slant about the church is "tainted" by their relationship to it with all the emotional baggage they carry from their history with it.
Relative to the entirely appropriate requirement of the church for obedience to Divine Laws which is, after all, the basis for obtaining the ultimate goal of ANY religion (Eternal Life, in this instance) and the only really legitimate reason for associating with any church it would seem specious for persons to make claim of mistreatment by the church if called to repentance and disciplined toward gaining the rewards of obedience.
Finally, it was instructive to hear the attitude of the church relative to being "IN the world, but not OF it" a people who are, as the ancient chief apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ, characterized them to be in 1 Peter 2:9,10 "the Mormons" Saints (members) of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter-days. Lyle Kofford
I was very disappointed with "The Mormons." While it did interview church authorities, it played more like an expose', highlighting far more negative than positive. It allowed dissenters and skeptics to justify leaving the church, but offered little reason why anyone would want to be affiliated with the church. Perhaps most shameful of all was suggesting that the church discourages people from becoming educated. In terms of journalistic principle, this piece was very irresponsible. Charles Cutler, Omaha, Nebraska
An interesting piece of work; but overall on the negative side. It gave the appearance of being objective but was way out of balance. Coverage from known critics of the church was far more extensive than from pro-church sources. More than 2 to 1. PBS has presented an overall anti-Mormon expose clothed in pseudo objectivity. S. Neilsen from South Weber
Where is the Savior, no Articles of Faith, priesthood offices, church organization, standard works, mention of the auxiliaries and their themes and function, home teaching, visiting teaching, fasting, repentance, laying on of the hands for receiving the Holy Ghost, statistics of the church, growth chart, food storage, education, health, birth rate, death rate, life expectancy and a thousand other things. Larry Bond
Why were so many pictures of Monument Valley and the interior of the Great Basin (at dusk) shown to represent what the pioneers encountered when they reached Utah? This was misleading. Some scenes and music appeared quite eerie and mystical, which may not be an accurate interpretation. Some disturbing comments were made by ex-church members on church history, polygamy, and Joseph's sexuality. How much of this can be substantiated? Too much time spent on Mountain Meadows massacre and polygamy. Generally, the human interest, religious, missionary, and welfare aspects of the church shown in the second segment were quite good. George
Donald White, life-time member educated in Utah, living in Florida. Served 30-month Finnish mission, married, Manti Temple, 1965. I closely watch what is said about the church. While I am not a triumphalist, what I saw an overt attempt to erode the truth. Monday night was an absolute distortion and not done well. It was better Tuesday: welfare, humanitarian aid, missionaries, disaster relief, genealogy, temples. But it was the most disjointed weird show I have ever seen. It hit on some positives, but emphasized negatives too much to be balanced. Balance would have given Mountain Meadow Massacre 2 minutes, not 20. Donald White
It was interesting, but not as factual as I would have liked. It lacked the real spirit of the LDS Church. I felt there was too much of the anti-Mormon faction. There were quite a few statements that were really not correct. no name
This documentary was stillborn. What great potential. What a greater letdown. The producers suffered from macular degeneration. In the first segment, why, spend so much time on modern-day polygamy and Mountain Meadow massacre issues that are aberrations of Mormon culture? It is a bit like making a documentary on Christianity and spending most of the time detailing the Holocaust. The second segment was not much better. We were exposed to a host of anti-Mormon commentators, as they defended themselves. We listened at length to a gay artist and an excommunicated classical literature teacher and other dissidents; a twisted dialog on modern church policy, grossly distorting facts, including the process of excommunication. Summing up the two evenings, it left the impression that Mormons are reactionary, bigoted, racist, terrorists who are taught to blindly follow their prophets to doomsday. The totality of the documentary was like throwing mud on a beautiful painting. I was left with the impression of black holes clouding the vision of all things that could have been virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy and I feel sad for those who really wanted to know more about The Mormons. Glendon Gee, Richland, WA
I thought the Monday night broadcast was very bias and inaccurate but the Tue. night broadcast was more accurate. In general I think that the shows was not good for the church. Roy Roberts, Tupelo, Miss.
Just a quick thought. Overall I think the presentation was good. I was not offended. I think that this sheds some light on the church and will help dispel some of the misconceptions that people have. Of course, as will all things there are parts that people will focus on both good and bad, to justify their view point.
I am a member of the church, with a long family history with family in Hans mill, Nauvoo, pioneers, etc. I am currently in the Rusch Park Ward in the Citrus Heights, California Stake. Chuck Livingston
I felt that the concentration of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the time spent describing the event was exorbitant. Also their insinuation that Brigham Young somehow encouraged the massacre without any evidence whatsoever that he did such an act is ridiculous. Also the statement by one "scholar" that Joseph Smith was the author of the Book of Mormon is preposterous. This "scholar" conveniently left out the testimony of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon including the continued testimony of those witnesses that eventually left the church. Donald Johnson, Afton, WY
My daughter said it best. "I wouldn't present it to an active investigator of the church, however, it provides a good dialog for non-members to learn more." Any publicity concerning the church will prompt people of good will to investigate and seek the truth of the matter. Jeff Lawson, Longmont, Colo.
As a faithful Mormon, I must say that overall the piece "The Mormons" was good. I've seen far worse representations of our faith and far better. Of course the better ones are usually produced from the inside of the faith and the bad ones from the Anti's. So Helen Whitney has shown, for the most part, a balanced enough view that both sides are not completely happy...which has to be a good thing I guess if you are a documentary producer.
There were times I got mad, like the ex-members sharing just a tad more about the temple rites than they know they should have, but it's a free country and that's between them and God. I also didn't appreciate so much time on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, since it was a one time incident that we learned a great lesson from as a church in whole. We're not Muslim extremist here, but one could certainly see how if our people hadn't learned that important lesson, we could have wound up like them. An important doctrine, found in the Book of Mormon, strictly forbids "secret combinations", which are oaths that are essentially cover-ups for murder to protect the murderers.
I appreciated the fact that Ms. Whitney was actually trying to be very careful about our sacred rites in the temple, but of course (like every faithful member who watched) when the narrator said something to the effect that the temple used "secret rites" my skin crawled. I know darn well if they had written this for a Buddhist temple rite, even if it was secret, they would have called it "Sacred" rites. More than any other word, most Mormons hate the term "secret" in place of "sacred" in mention of rites or the temple in general. Like I said I can't remember exactly what the narrator said was "secret", but it's just one of those make your skin crawl kind of words with many of us.
One theme that I feel could have been shown more was the fact that many women in the church are homemakers and not professionals out of the home, and STILL are fulfilled. Yes, there are a few years when you can't feel that fulfillment to well while you're having babies, but for the most part, I and others like me are grateful to be home with our kids and not have them raised by semi-professional babysitters.
The only thing that really bugged me was that if a man or woman is a homosexual in the church, just like the one church historian said, they have a choice to marry the opposite sex or be celibate. He made it sound so sad for these people that the church would ask a gay or lesbian person to be celibate if they want to continue actively serving in the church, but failed to mention we ask this of ALL church members. Either be married or live a celibate and chaste life, no matter what your natural inclinations are. That's what our church doctrine refers to as "putting off the natural man". It also failed to mention that when members live by the standards of sexual purity before marriage (which my husband and I chose to do) there are a lot of today's social and sexual diseases that couples don't have to face. The same goes for when they choose to live a faithful married life.
The other thing about being a homosexual in the church is that, so long as you are living a celibate life or have married someone of the opposite sex, you can still participate in most callings in the church. In the Catholic church, if you are gay, you can serve in much higher positions, but you still have to live a celibate life in order to be a priest or bishop. The hard part for many, understandably so, is if they choose to live a homosexual "Lifestyle" and are therefore excommunicated from the church. The same thing happens when someone cheats on their spouse or teaches false doctrine or unapproved doctrine and won't stop or decides they want to become a Polygamist.
The whole polygamy segment didn't bother me so much, except it hardly went into mainstream Mormon families on the first episode and that really bugged me. I feel a lot more mainstream Mormons could have been interviewed and shown, but I'm sure the Anti's felt there wasn't enough of them represented too.
So anyway, I think overall this production was well thought out and I can tell that Helen is a brave and caring woman. The documentary might even help open doors for our missionaries to answer questions, because so much of the doctrine was only touched upon or left out all together. That, or they'll get shot at more. Tell Helen thanks for me. Watching it was like eating at a restaurant and really liking the steak and the dessert but not really caring much for the green beans and potatoes served along side it. Mrs. J. Keyser
Some of The Mormons was good. I actually felt the Spirit two times. But most of it I could not enjoy and felt, again, we are presented to the world as something we are not.
The music was eerie (like inner sanctum?) and not spiritual and beautiful. The picture that represented an angel was black with hair sticking straight out.....more like the devil. If the world wants to know more about Mormonism, why don't they ask a Mormon? not a non-Mormon!! Those who want to write about our church should study it, attend our meetings, listen to the missionaries, get a feel for it, then write. This may be a good time for the church to put out its own wonderful version, now the world is more inquisitive. We could include the heads of nations thanking our church for the service we render. This would be a good time to show The Testaments nationally, on TV. It would show the world we believe in the one and only true Christ. When my husband and I were on our mission, the Baptist Church put out a pamphlet saying, "The Mormon Christ is not the REAL Christ" and they had fire in his eyes and all around his head. It was awful! We were counseled by our leaders to ignore it, to be kind and to teach the truth. But if most churches believe this, our film would be wonderful to air. no name
While it may be accurate to say that "both sides" of Mormon history, doctrine and experience were presented, I would certainly not say that it was properly balanced. A disproportionate amount of time was given to apostates and detractors and to topics that while sensational (e.g. Mountain Meadows and polygamy) do not fairly represent what it means in people's lives to be a Mormon. In my long experience in the church it has been my observation that members with wonderful positive experiences (e.g. in temple worship and as women) vastly outnumber those with negative things to say. All too often allegations by detractors, such as those accusing Brigham Young of complicity in the Mountain Meadows massacre, were not sufficiently countered by those with an educated but opposing view. It is fair to say, however, that there was a soft side to the show and we may have to be satisfied with the fact that it could have been worse. Mark Worthington, Woodbridge, Virginia
Revealing details of temple ceremonies, which faithful members of the LDS Church consider to be sacred and confidential, and which they do not discuss outside the temples even among themselves, is grossly insensitive. This willingness to trample on sacred things exemplifies the producers' attitude toward "the Mormons." no name
I would just like to comment on the recent documentary on the Mormons. As one trained in historical methodology and as a believing Mormon, I thought that for the most part the documentary was fair and balanced. I think it was extremely valuable to show a multitude of different viewpoints from Mormons and non-Mormons, from scholars and artists. Although some may complain that this technique does not show the true Mormonism as believed by many, I think it is valuable to hear the perspectives of those outside of the believing Mormon world-view in order to get a more nuanced perspective of Mormonism. I think the series leaves the believer and non-believer with a pretty balanced view of Mormonism as viewed from the outside. Of course, if someone really wants to know the truth of Mormonism spiritually, there is a different, established procedure for this. I especially appreciated the second segment of the series as it discussed several pivotal issues that current Mormonism has to deal with. I am glad that LDS authorities participated in the film and commented in such a sincere and frank way about these issues. I do think the documentary spent too much time on the Mountain Meadows massacre, even though I agree that it needed to be discussed. I believe the documentary can be very valuable for especially believing Mormons to recognize and reconcile the issues addressed in the documentary in light of their religious convictions. Thanks for the opportunity to give feedback. Dan Combs
I thought the "The Mormons" was a fair and very unbiased piece of documentary work. It looked at the church from many directs and facets. I don't think the church could have had a better unbiased look at the history and how the church is today. You may disagree with some of the comments, but this was a work of art and I think the LDS Church really came out looking very good. John Herbst III, Ogden, Utah
The dissidents and outsiders were postmodern intellectuals, finding in Mormonism whatever they were looking for. The faithful were sincere. Honest truth-seekers will recognize the difference. Randall Lund, Lindon UT
I really enjoyed both Segments. I think it took a very well balanced look at the church. I thought the praise for the church was very well done and highlighted what I love about being a member. I know many members want to think everything about the church is perfect. In my opinion the only thing imperfect about the church are it's members, hence incidents like Mountain Meadows, Prophets (as men) misspeaking hence John Taylor. Kevin Fletcher, Bozeman, Mont.
I appreciated the effort to try and get both views on the different aspects of the Mormons, of which I am a member, but it still left me with a negative feeling. There is so much more to know on the positive side. Since I have been a member all my life, I have had years to learn about so many wonderful things about the church history and present events. I worried about the feelings a new member would have from watching this documentary. Thanks, Sharol Snowball
I feel the "documentary" should have been titled "The Mormons: A Few Facts and Many Opinions".
It's like all documentaries, you get skewed sides depending on where your beliefs are. As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California (born and raised here in the golden state) I have a very strong testimony and this show just proved MORE to me that the Gospel is true. There was only one perfect man who walked the earth and that was Jesus Christ. The rest of us are all going to make mistakes along the way.
The church is true, Maryann from California
I didn't like the dark, foreboding tone or the music during the program. Left me feeling down and depressed. Not enough positive elements to lift our spirits. This was not my perception of the LDS Faith. Karen Ellis
I am a member of the church. I am responding after having seen only the first 2 hours.
I contents of the first 2 hours of the documentary were not totally unexpected by me. When outsides investigate and report on religious movements, they tend to focus on the bizarre, the abnormal, the different, as well as the failings of movement members to hold to their professed standards. After all, the public generally wants to see the sordid. So the time spent on peep stones in hats, "embellishments" to the First Vision in later versions, polygamy, the Mountain Meadows incident, and so forth was not surprising.
I cannot and will not recommend this product as an impartial introduction as to who we are. Do we really look this strange to the world??
I look forward (with a skeptical eye) to the second night. Monte Clason, Altus, Oklahoma
Having a brother who has left the church it was like visiting with him all over again. How sad it is that once we have a knowledge of what revelation can do, what do we do with it? To have so many unhappy voices describing the " Mormon Church" was a bit sick. I felt sorry for their displeasure as I do with my own brother who's life is forever bitter against the church. I think a better title would have been "How bitter members feel when they leave the Mormon Church". This would have prepared me to know what this documentary was all about. It missed the mark and any history or other documentary will only do the same ... you can't express what you feel when you feel like a Saint in the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ... there are no words in all of the earthly languages to get it right... ALL YOU CAN REPORT IS EARTHLY EXPERIENCES THAT WILL ALWAYS REMAIN HERE ON THE EARTH, EXPLAINED AS VOID EXPRESSIONS OF DARKNESS AND NEVER ACSEND TOHEAVENLYHEIGHTS OF LIGHT AND TRUTH. no name
The very few (positive comments) and comments from church leaders were nice, but the overall tone was nothing more than the usual hatchet job the church gets, even by our own local media. They made no effort to explain Joseph Smith other than his being a fake or an out and out liar. If this is the best and fairest that media can be, it's no wonder that people are totally misinformed and have bias against each other. Perhaps some day we will get a fair shake from someone doing a documentary about the church, but this is not the one. no name
I found the parts I watched biased to a view that does not accurately reflect what I believe as a member of the church. In particular, I think this reflected in the over-reliance on ex-members of the church and not really investigating why they felt the way they did. If the film-makers had spent more time truly understanding why the church had removed them from the church and understanding the principles of revelation. It would have presented a more balanced view. Instead, it seemed to reflect the feelings of anger and animosity that ex-members have in blaming the church and others for their plight and not looking inside to evaluate what they did wrong. David Davies, Vancouver, WA
I was very impressed the presentation. I believe at the end of the day this documentary will do much to have positive influences for the LDS church. Because it is not an LDS production it will hold credence. I did not find any major faults with the veracity of anything that was presented. John, Twin Falls, Idaho
My name is Jennifer and I live in Alexandria, Virginia. I am a Mormon. I thought "The Mormons" was pretty well done. There was focus on the negative aspects of the church's history, but in reality there are controversial parts of Mormon history that are hard to understand...even for a Mormon. I thought people were fair minded and well spoken. Anything that has been around long enough to have a history will have less than perfect moments. I don't think the show would have a negative impact on a believing Mormon and probably wouldn't cause those who are opposed to the church to like it any better. But it gave information and I think that's a good thing. Jennifer, Alexandria, Va.
Holding grudges against the church doesn't portray the truth! There were ALOT of distortions in the 4hr show! How would it be if the Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants had a 4hr show given by non-believers?(see Moroni 10-4-5)Truth will prevail with or without distortions. Sincere prayer is the answer. no name
I thought the documentary turned out fairly well, which surprised me. I had been interviewed by telephone by Helen Whitney (the film's writer/director/producer), and the first things out of her mouth were: "I love to speak with intelligent people, people of faith, people of strong beliefwho can be so fascinating when they express their doubts. I just find it so enlightening to listen to that kind of thoughtful, engaging candor. So tell me when it comes to the Mormon Church, what are your doubts?"
That is known as a "leading question." In fact, though Ms. Whitney seemed extremely gracious throughout the interview, that is probably the most comically over-the-top leading question that I had ever heard. I'm a lawyer, and in law you are allowed to ask leading questions only to someone who is an adversary, someone considered a "hostile witness." So her question immediately made me very wary, though I doubt that was her intent.
I told her I didn't have any doubts about the church, that one thing a testimony brings is a certainty that allows me to make personal sacrifices for the gospel, etc. "Oh, everyone has doubts!" she insisted. She then named a prominent writer who had expressed doubts to her, and she invited me again to be more "engaging" and "intelligent" by expressing mine. I told her a personal experience I had had with the Spirit as a young man, which forever erased any doubts about the truthfulness of the gospel, and I added that other experiences since had only reinforced my conviction that the church is true, that the gospel Joseph Smith restored is in reality pristine Christianity.
"Hm, you sound just like President Hinckley," she said, with just a hint of disappointment. If she intended that last as a veiled insult, she REALLY missed the mark! I was smiling all day that someone would say that about me. It's probably the nicest compliment I've ever received.
Now, again, I want to stress that Ms. Whitney was extremely gracious in talking by phone with me, and I was left with the impression that I would like her personally. But she also spoke with disdain about FARMS (the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) at BYU, saying that though the professors themselves are kindly in person, she finds their work "mean." (I could not disagree more about the work/research done by FARMS.) She also seemed positively shocked when, at the end of the interview, she attempted to find common ground with me by mentioning what an awful disappointment it was that Pres. Bush had been re-elected in 2004. "I voted for him," I noted. She very clearly equated functioning human intelligence with "Democrat."
Anyway, she got in touch with me later, wanting to do more interviews, but I begged off. I did not at all have high hopes for the documentary, but all in all I thought it went all right. Parts of it were maddening, but other parts were deeply moving and favorable to the church (i.e., accurate).
Best regards, Ken Kuykendall, Draper, Utah (formerly of Atlanta)
I felt the documentary featured too many non-members and descendants explaining how the church originated and why they do not believe in it.
I felt far too much time and emphasis was spent on polygamy and the Mountain Meadow Massacre.
I think it was inappropriate to insert the information about Warren Jeffs and his church (who is not affiliated with the church in any way - but implying that they are somehow connected) into a documentary about "The Mormons".
I give the film two stars out of five. Joseph Hall, Sandy, Utah
It was a disappointment to hear comments without knowing about the person making the comment; e.g., several participants were identified as "Historian" but their qualification to speak about "The Mormons" was not identified. It was impossible to assess the speaker's bias without knowing more about them so I am left without a basis from which to form an opinion. Given my lack of ability assess the speakers bias my overall impression was that the Monday presentation was more of a "hit piece" than it was a "documentary;" the Tuesday presentation appeared to more balanced. Ogal Claspell, Muncie, Indiana
It would have been more relevant to include the positive aspects that have come about, especially in the lives of converts to the Gospel--those who have lived as members of the church who can contrast that with non-Mormon life. It was like critical neighbors describing your family life inside your home, when all they see is you rolling out your trash barrel to the curb each week. Rose Marie, Park City
I felt that the film concentrated too much on the negative, and not enough on the positive aspects of the church. Thank you Mrs B. Lowder Meridian Idaho
Having non-members, apostates and pseudo intellectuals trying to define the church is like Catholicism being defined by "The Godfather", "The Da Vinci Code" and pedophile Priests. no name
The documentary was biased. Every segment dredged up polygamy. Why Joseph Smith was given directed to practice this escapes mortal understanding. Next time PBS interviews the Lord, they could ask him/if they dared.
Some elements were fairly accurate/others demonstrated lack of doctrinal understanding. no name
IT WAS AN UNFAVORABLE REPORTING OF THE CHURCH AND WILL SURELY PERPETUATE MYTHS ABOUT POLYGAMY AS A CURRENT PRACTICE. PBS HAS LOST MY DONOR SUBSCRIPTION. no name
Most Mormon families don't home school, and don't have eleven children. no name
As a Latter Day Saint watching "The Mormons" I came away with mixed emotions. Appreciation for the exposure of some gospel truths and the early struggles of the saints. Offended at the exposure of temple rites held sacred and which members only understand symbolically. Missing was the excommunicated member who has been loved back into the gospel and his or her feelings about church courts. The shock was the portrayal of a completely foreign Angel Moroni in red, looking evil. Joseph Smith's account clearly describes the Angel Moroni, radiant and in white. Janet Dickson, Arizona
I refused to watch it. Every "documentary" is simply a commentary from the producers' point of view. Even so-called history program are tainted with an agenda. History is written by the victors, and so far, in the physical history of the Mormon people, the victors are still writing the history. Brian Boyd, Morristown, TN
SINCE I DON'T LIVE IN UTAH, THE COMMENTS BY THE VARIOUS EXPERTS ON SCREEN SEEMED TO BE CALCULATED TO LEAVE TWO VERY DIFFERENT IMPRESSIONS ON THE TOPICS PRESENTED. DR.DON LINDLEY, MANHATTAN ,KS.
While it was intriguing to watch, it was also bothersome. They focused on a lot of negative stories in church history as well as current day issues. The people they interviewed had been excommunicated, how is that not a slanted story? And the families they choose to highlight are not the typical LDS family. No most families do not have 11 children, and no most families do not get their family portrait taken as if they are in heaven. Going into such detail about Mitt Romney being a part of our faith and placing our faith in such a strange way could not have helped his campaign. I thought that the most common questions about our faith still went unanswered. no name
As a non-member living in Utah, I have only words of praise for the balanced look at the LDS Church's origins, history and spiritual components in KUED's two-part program, The Mormons. I feel it was particularly important to present, along with the early persecution of church members, the social and spiritual torment of those who, for any reason and under any circumstance, have left the church. As one interviewee put it, "there is a dichotomy about the church" (approx. quote) and in the end, more than one dichotomy was addressed which helped me learn and understand more of this young faith. I do have a question, though: I got the sense from the program that more outspoken women ;have been excommunicated than men, and I would like to find out if that is the case maybe in the Friday night follow-up. Look forward. Thank you. Susan Nyikos
I just wanted to give my opinion. Having watched both Monday on Tuesday, I felt it was a fair documentary piece. I personally felt that Monday's segment was a little bit more biased or so it seemed as the majority of the people interviewed were non-LDS scholars and historians trying to explain LDS history. In a documentary about religion, it is impossible to separate faith and the historic events. But Monday's segment attempted to explain polygamy and the pioneer exodus purely from an historic context, and it really needed additional LDS members or leaders to provide the insights regarding the faith that prompted such action.
However, I felt that Tuesday's segment was much more balanced, and I felt it was a very fair perspective. Had Monday's segment taken the same approach, I would have been happier with the piece overall. Dustin Tate
On the whole, the attempt by the producers of this documentary to be fair and balanced was not accomplished. Choosing a homosexual male who had forsaken family and faith and an axe grinding, male bashing former member as the voice of dissent by "so called intellectuals" for commentary on core doctrine and beliefs of the LDS Church was very much like having Lenin comment on American democracy. You know where he is going and which way he is going to take you. You are familiar with the old tired commentary, complete with rhetoric intended to inflame and defame and you are surprised by none of it.
Respectfully submitted, Jack Peck, Sandy, Utah
It's too bad that they hadn't tried to give more of the facts. I found that they dwelled more on the negative than the positive. To make a program to understand a religion, one would think they would want to bring to the front, the reasons why there are so many people who follow this religion. Instead I found it leaning towards, Why did????? people follow this religion and still continue to. Interviewing people who are bitter towards the church certainly bring a tainted opinion. You know it's OK to have different beliefs, but, you should respect each ones belief. That is the only way to bring understanding to any difference there is. From A Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints / Linda, California/ USA
I would like to comment on the Mormon PBS special. I am an active member in Lakeside, Montana. My name is Debby McCready. I thought the 1st part was fairly good. I felt that someone watching it might get an idea about what we are about. I felt that even the critical portrayals were done in a way that left the audience to have enough info to decide for themselves. There were enough positive to balance the negative.
However the 2nd night was awful. I was offended by the comments of excommunicated members that obviously had a bone to pick. Without a working testimony, sacrifice, dedication and commitment to and in the church can not be understood by those who do not have a testimony. I was even concerned by some of the comments made by active members that may have been taken out of context when only portions of full statements were aired. I was particularly offended by the way missionaries were portrayed. Being the only member in my family, with parents and siblings that hate the idea of my daughter serving in Uruguay, and didn't like my other daughter in Peru on missions, I was praying that they were not watching the special, because it would have given them more fuel for their opinions. there were not enough positive missionary experiences. the way the Primary children were portrayed singing I hope they call me on a mission looked like a segment of brain washing rather than a testimony building activity. I also felt that they missed the boat when things like home teaching, visit teaching and youth programs were not covered. Debby McCready, Lakeside, Mont.
I have not yet seen the second segment. However, I thought the 1st segment was fairly evenly handled. Yes, there are historical problems that many in the church do not recognize. However, that need not erode their faith. One need only remember that although the gospel itself is true, people are fallible.
I agree the Mountain Meadows segment was long but was treated well, and gave a basis for understanding How it happened. Unfortunately, it is an event that cannot be comprehensively treated and answers found in a few minutes. Thus leaving more questions than answers. The polygamy segment bothered me only in the sense that it made it to appear that the church abandoned polygamy to stave off persecution, and create legitimacy. Unfortunately, an outsider could easily view it that way and they did so. I did not appreciate the inclusion of modern polygamists as they are heretics, not part of the church about which this documentary was supposed to be. Randy W. Smith, Pocatello, Idaho
As an active member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was extremely disappointed in the documentary about the church. Most of the historians portrayed the historical events as if they had been there and through a negative or anti perspective. The thought came that they are "ever learning, but never coming to an understanding of the truth." Not at any time did it portray what the church really is except in the cases where apostles or faithful were interviewed, yet the materials surrounding those tiny segments seemed to put an unrealistic and negative slant on the church! The spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ was minimal, while the spirit of doubt and questioning was there in abundance - how disappointing! no name
I was disappointed in the 2 part series "The Mormons". I was hoping for something that was less bias against the LDS church. While everything discussed was accurate as I understand it, I felt it always had a negative slant on the way it was presented.
I feel they spent way to much time on the Mountain Meadow Massacre and polygamy. For example they spent 6 minutes discussing the exodus west, with no discussion of the Mormon Battalion and it's influence on the history of the church. Yet they spent 16 minutes on the Mountain Meadows. Is there not some bias in that treatment?
In discussing polygamy, while President Hinckley firmly said there was no such thing as a fundamentalist Mormon the show repeatedly referred to the polygamy groups as such. And the interviews were totally with those who are NOT LDS defending their right to practice polygamy but not one interview with a person whose ancestor practiced this in the early church and who had tender feelings about it.
I felt there were many interviews with those who had chosen to leave the church for various reasons and who had bad feeling toward the LDS church. You don't think they had an axe to grind? Where is the counterbalance? For example the woman who had 8 great-grandmothers who walked across the plains and left the church because when she did a reenactment of a trek didn't have the same feelings her grandmothers recorded in their journals so it wasn't true. Well duh!! It wasn't even the same experience with the same fears and commitment level. Where was the interview with a practicing member who had done the same thing and felt closer and a better understanding of what they went through? Not biasI don't think so!!
Honestly, I did find the 2nd night a little better. But I still found it interesting that so much time was spend on excommunication. The interviews were with those who were bitter about that. What about those who had been through the process and found the journey back a healing process?
I'm sure it is obvious that I am a member of the LDS Church and I saw this from that point of view. I even felt that maybe I was seeing this and feeling this from a defensive point of view. But interestingly I have had a number of my non-LDS friends express the same views. Every single person who has talked to me about this was surprised at how biased against the church this was while trying to appear neutral. I was told by a number of them that they had watched this excitedly to better understand the church and its history. Yet they too came away feeling that it did not fairly reflect the church. They too recognized that too many people were interviewed who had reasons to have grudges against the church and not enough stalwart members interviewed.
Maybe it is not possible to present a totally neutral program on this subject and by recognizing this realize that the only way to know is to visit, talk to and learn to appreciate those who live this culture. By doing so, all can appreciate what makes a Mormon a Mormon, a Jewish person Jewish, and Catholic a Catholic. Debbie Johnson, Athens, Georgia
I was lead to believe this might actually be an objective view of the faith I converted to as an adult. It was tragic. I regret asking my non-LDS brothers and sisters (the biological type) to watch it. It clearly was produced with a bias. From the topics covered, the persons chosen to decry our faith, even to the strange images and music used when depicting Joseph Smith, the First Vision, his early life it was pathetic. I will stop, but it is hard to do so given the terrible injustice done to a faith and a people so undeserving of this mischaracterization of history. John Patterson, Ogden
While theatrically well produced, The Mormons lies on a poorly constructed foundation. Investigative reporting should start with the source. Church doctrines as taught by church authorities will indicate the organizations beliefs. While interviews with disgruntled, critics, or disenfranchised members may shed light on that persons individual interpretation of doctrine and their personal struggle with it, these interviews may be sensational as the persons bear their inner feelings but they are not the doctrine of the church. Perhaps the interviews should have been weighted by the populous percentages of active members and inactive/non-members. Wayne Fausett, Cedar City, Utah
Helen Whitney's "The Mormons" failed to ask the most important question regarding Mormons, a question that most viewers surely must have been asking themselves, "Why are so many intelligent people willing to tithe, sacrifice time and talents, and genuinely love a church that asks so much of them and has such a strange history?" Ken Zeeman, Centerville
To try to define what makes Mormons what they are by spending 20 minutes about the Mountain Meadow massacre is like doing a 4 hour documentary on defining the Spirit of the United States and spending 20 minutes on the Mai Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and leaving the impression that Americans are driven to murder to further the American way. Comparing the history of plural marriage in the LDS Church to an old man that we wish would go away is like telling Jews that the story of Jacob who had 12 sons by four wives should be taken out of their history, because it doesn't fit modern morals. For others to worry about Mormons doing baptisms for the dead ancestors of other religions indicates their lack of faith in their own faith. If they really believe in their own religion they would not even worry about what the Mormons are doing. If their own faith is correct then the Mormon effort is a huge waste of time. It is not like a Mormon baptism is going to take a Catholic out of Catholic Heaven if the Catholic religion is true. So why worry about it at all. Do other religions worry about Catholics lighting candles as they pray for themselves and family members. It is a part of their religious ritual. And we should appreciate their sincere feelings and not mock those feelings. But Hollywood and most modern media seem to enjoy mocking the rituals of all religions. They want us to worship at the alter of Hollywood's perception of a Godless world. I could go on, but the documentary missed the power of Mormonism. Because they don't understand spirituality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the gift of the Holy Ghost. That is it's power! It is God's power! Tim Benedict
Mormons such as myself want such work to either be a fluff piece or a missionary tool, and this was certainly neither. I think Whitney wanted to bring some balance to the story, but it seems like she devoted more time than necessary to the negatives of church history or policy, using dissidents to tell the story. Little was said about why people find great joy in their church membership. Overall, however, I think it was pretty well done. We just have to get used to the idea that negatives still exist. Steve Baldridge
The program failed to discuss the preface to the Book of Mormon. The fact that mortal man in this dispensation actually saw and witnessed an Angel and saw and handled the Gold plates and that the voice of the Lord commanded them that they should bear record of it. These things were omitted. These are the things that I prayed about following our visit with the missionaries many years ago; that I prayed and received a witness that these things are true. Many important items were omitted. The temple experience is NOT SECRET, but sacred. The word sacred was not emphasized. A clip from President Hinckley, but no interview, an interview from Elder Dallin Oaks that was of course was positive. No interview though with a Regional Rep. such as Elder John Anderson following the Katrina tragedy, no interview with a seasoned Stake President( such as Douglas B. Carter ) or with a seasoned bishop ( such as Richard J. Sampson ), or a seasoned Mission President ( President Farnsworth )nor a temple president ( such as Blaine W. Johnson ). An interview with any of these individuals I believe would have made a tremendous difference in presenting amore positive view.
The ' program ' may be of some assistance however, to our missionaries in the Field if many of their contacts did view it, then the Elders and Sisters may be able to clarify what was and or what was not said.
Thank you for asking. Richard Clay, Crystal River, Fla.
Those not of our faith are not able, as hard as they may try, to tell our story. Only a Latter-day Saint can tell our story, only we know this story. The problem with typical journalism today is they must present a "balanced" account, so they go dig up dirt, talk to excommunicated members, anti-Mormon leaders and scholars, and present that as what the church is and what it believes. This is blatantly dishonest, not factual, and misrepresents what the church is and what it believes. PBS totally misrepresented the origins of polygamy, for example, and did not tell the facts, but quoted non-members and excommunicated members for the origins of this doctrine. The segment about the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press was also not put in context, and slanted to make Joseph Smith look like a complete tyrant. It's these kinds of misrepresentations that offend us, when someone outside the church attempts to tell our story--they simply cannot do it. Rex Jensen
A winner! As Dorothy Kilgallen used to say" "There's no such thing as bad publicity. Just be sure to spell my name right." Lowell Farley, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
I was disappointed in the documentary particularly because it ignored the work by FARMS and others regarding the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the uneven balance of "anti"- versus "pro"- time given to the speakers. Its point-for point format substituted personal vignette time for substantive response time. I also think it failed in its purpose to clarify mis-understandings. Which stereotypes does Helen Whitney think she has now successfully vanquished? She fed into many of them. Cynthia Nielsen
By far, the most fair and balanced portrayal of our church and its members that I have seen. Brian Fitzgerald
I felt that because "A picture is worth a thousand words" that the visual portrayals of the prophet and especially the appearances of Angel Moroni were very derogatory to the mission of the church as presented to the world especially in Part 1of this documentary. Also it seemed that in true journalistic fashion, most of the interviews with so-called experts were presented in such a way that their comments appeared to be taken out of context which left questions hanging in the air in the minds of the viewers, casting shadows of doubt as to the validity of the truthfulness of the gospel. I am concerned that because the spiritual aspects of our sacred beliefs were not incorporated that some of my family members who are not LDS have just received justification for their skepticism of the purpose for our religious convictions. Doni, Utah
What was that about I have never seen a church disciplinary council held in a room that looks like that with the old wooden chairs lined up like that. I thought it was a little "funky" no name
I was disappointed with "The Mormons". Although it's important to provide balance, the program focused about 50% of it's efforts on viewpoints which do not accurately portray the church. Roughly 25% appeared neutral, while the remaining 25% presented things from an LDS point of view.
I had to repeatedly ask myself, "Will a non-member come away from this program understanding what Mormonism is all about?" The answer, over and over again was a resounding "No". PBS had an opportunity to air both sides of many issues, including difficult ones. Unfortunately, the scales of information were never balanced. Don Layton, Bend, Ore.
I watched both segments. It's about as good a documentary as one can expect from a "world" point of view. There was no God in it. Everything was portrayed as "Joseph's"; no surprise there. Folks that do not understand spiritual things will always get it only partly right. When you understand their struggle in that sense, well, it was as good as they could do. No offense taken. Lee Rosenhan
I'm a BYU bishop. The program kept on addressing "Joseph's church" while use of the words Jesus Christ could be counted on one hand. So many of the comments seemed negative, especially from the ex members. It seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I'd rate it a 2 out of 10 for objectivity, and a 3 out of 10 for thoroughness. Several factual errors such as "you have to come alone" to a disciplinary council to the "membership files in SLC for those who stir up rebellion". What about the comment that President McKay's white suits were a PR move, or the elder who would blow himself up as a suicide bomber for his mission president? The church and its truthfulness are spiritually discerned, and cannot be understood by an outsider. If the church is so "mainstream" then why were there so many negative comments about it? no name
My expectations were not real high and were based at that level because this was not a production by someone who truly believed and lived the Mormon faith. Therefore, how could they really tell the story about the Mormons correctly? It was an outsider's depiction of what they felt Mormonism was all about. Couple that with the pressure and need to be "fair" and allow for both sides. It is my feeling that the producer erred on the side of having a greater representation of "non-Mormons" or "former Mormons" trying to tell or interpret the story about the Mormons. I too agree with Jan Shipps that the hour plus on the Mountain Meadow massacre and polygamy was overkill. The piece on polygamy got to the point where it became a documentary about a non-Mormon sect and was not addressing the Mormons. Finally, I didn't realize how confused and stressed out I and my wife are because of our Mormon membership. If the producer and critics think Mormons are stressed out about "perfection", all they need to do is go investigate the corporate world, Hollywood and Theatre, super modeling, politics, sports, etc. I believe that after looking at those worlds, they would realize that Mormons are just normal people trying to be the best they can be. On a whole, the production had some good points and some not so good points. It was better than many past productions on the Mormons, and that is a good thing! Regards, Jim Hopkins
I found the work to be the usual trite efforts as in the past. There was nothing new or particularly interesting in the approach to summoning up Mormon beliefs. I think the producer did a sloppy job of defining her objectives. It would be nice not to be told what I believe and actually be asked how I had arrived at my beliefs. Jennie Williams
I didn't like the show at all. My family watched the first fifteen minutes together and we knew it wasn't any different than other news or magazine articles or shows from the past. We all felt the bad feeling it brought to our home. I have since watched a bit more of it myself. Why anyone would give a moment's credence to non-members pretending to represent our history and beliefs is beyond me.
This is what it brings to mind: If you want to buy a Mercedes, would you go to a BMW dealership and ask them to tell you about a Mercedes? No. Of course not. That would be ridiculous. They don't know every detail of a Mercedes. Their expertise is with the BMW. They want you to buy the BMW. Their response will be that a Mercedes is terribly inferior.
This show proves that without having a knowledge of the church through the Holy Ghost, you just don't get it. Susan Unklesbay, Fairfield, Ohio
I think The Mormons was focusing way too much on the bad parts of our history, it had a lot on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I think it is very insulting, and I really didn't like it. They had a lot of non-Mormons who didn't understand our religion speak on it, and only a few Latter-day Saints. They have the completely wrong idea about our church. no name
As a 58 year old man, who was raised LDS, I thought the documentary was more than a fair representation. Sometimes the truth hurts but it's still the truth. If Mormonism can't withstand the whole truth being revealed, then I believe it shouldn't be trying to convince the world that Mormonism is the one and only way to God. In the years since I parted ways with the church, I've discovered that there are very good people in all religions, and, I know for a fact, there are some very less than righteous individuals representing themselves as "Good Mormons". So here's to the righteous in all religions, those who truly love their fellow man. Yours is the Kingdom. I'm happy in just trying to be as good as you. Kip Ellsworth, Lihue, Hawaii
Perhaps the reason for the surprising lack of response, is what more is there to say? Most of the topics covered by Helen Whitney have been covered by others. Choosing to spend so much time on polygamy, Mountain Meadows Massacre, excommunicated member interviews, etc. is the same tired rhetoric. Ms. Whitney chose dark, sinister looking images when explaining the founding of the church. She claimed ahead of time to be able to clear up misconceptions about the church. This piece only fueled the fire, and created more distrust and misunderstanding.
There was nothing new in this, and people can't go away knowing more about the people and why they embrace the faith. It was an opportunity lost. Ms. Whitney chose to emphasis the sensationalism about the church, instead of what is sensational about the church. Joanne, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
I thought that the documentary showed the view of people who were not members and their opinions of Mormons as well as members who have left the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their views are those of someone who is not main stream Mormon and as such provided a tainted view to the viewers. I believe there was too much time given to polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. There should have been more time given to the extermination orders and murders in Missouri which I felt was washed over. The presentation made it seem like the Mormons caused the uprising and not that the people wanting to steal land, homes, furnishings and developments from the Mormons. The fact that the residents feared the Mormon population was growing too fast and that they could become the leadership in these areas was skimmed over. Now it looks like the rebuttal or follow up will be more of the same people and still not present and accurate picture. I am glad that this view will not be the view of members or of those who truly investigate the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think it is very interesting that this aired at the time an active Mormon is in the presidential race. John Gray
There were very few complete positive explanations of our teachings, and too much time spent on polygamy, Meadow Mountain and a woman who had an ax to grind. Her true colors came out, if she was truly exed for no good reason she would never make light of sacred things. The Lord will use this for furthering his cause. Jeff, Seattle, WA
I was not impressed. There were so many errors and accuracies. First, the church does not baptize dead members. Second, If Joseph just let his imagination run away from him, what about the witnesses that actually handled the Gold plates. No mention of that. This production went to out its' way to cast doubt on the teachings. It spent way too much time with polygamy and the Mountain Meadow Massacre and way too little time on the atrocities in Missouri and Illinois. Why wasn't the Mormon battalion talked about? Having sat on several church courts, not one was as Ms. Toscano represented. The process was totally misrepresented. The critique could go on and on. This was nothing more then an effort to give church dissidents a platform that they don't deserve. Dennis Peterson, Oklahoma City
I did not like being defined by people who had left the church or had been excommunicated. I am sure they are nice people, but pretty full of themselves. There were lots of chances to indicate the majesty and power of the faith, but most were missed. There was a lot of talk about how in order to survive the church will have to move beyond it's founding history. It seems like the church is doing pretty well with the march forward without shedding it's roots. I was not uplifted by the documentary and if that is as close as you can get to the Mormon experience after three years of research, then I would find other work. There were, of course, moments within individual stories where you felt she was close. But, after trashing the founders and their receipt of the framework, the individual stories seemed to take on the look of "but we do have some poor deluded fool stories for you". Howard
Count me as one who was disappointed in the four-hour series, "The Mormons." Ms. Whitney could have reached beyond the same old approach that many outside of our religion take in trying to portray the issues and events that define Mormonism. Gracie Jensen
I thought it was pretty much middle of the road however, prone to making a few extra left turns toward the negative's. Paul Linford
We members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living here in the panhandle of Florida watched the series with interest. "Lean not unto your own understanding...." came to mind several times when we heard so much from the former members who fell away for various reasons. Some of them rely little on faith and fail to see the simple truths. The series borrowed a lot of photography from past LDS productions, which seemed a little ironic.
I found disturbing the portrayal of something good, which was followed by a much longer portrayal of someone's disaffection. Too much time was spent on the polygamy issues, featuring the Short Creek polygamists in a long segment immediately following the prophet's statement that the church does not condone polygamy in these days. The coverage of the Mountain Meadows Massacre was overdone and even though there was a portrayal of the persecutions, stealing of land, killing of families and the "Extermination Order" of the members, there was little coverage of the illegal trials and imprisonment in the early days. The treatment of the murder of the prophet was so lightly covered as to not have been important.
Needless to say, I came away with a greater appreciation of my ancestors and thank them for the great sacrifices they made to allow me to be a member of this great church.
Thanks PBS for trying to tell the story. Melba J Cox, Niceville, FL
I only saw the first half of the documentary which aired on Monday. Overall I was disappointed. As a member of the church for 37 years, I felt that it was slanted and did not give the church a fair shake. In fact, I came away with a sick feeling, concerned that those who are not of my faith would come away from it either disillusioned or with negative feelings toward the church. If I wanted to know more about the catholic church I would ask members of the catholic faith; not apostates and uninformed members of other faiths. Mike, Denver, CO
If you wanted to know about Ford Trucks would you go to Toyota to ask them. What would you expect Toyota to say about Ford. If you wanted an unbiased opinion on Ford trucks would you go to a group of disgruntled Ford truck owners without taking into account the percent of disgruntled Ford truck owners to the percent of people who are happy Ford truck owners who still own them and who constantly buy them again and again. The only way to know what merit there is in owning a Ford truck is to talk to happy Ford truck owners. They and they alone will point out the advantages and why they keep buying them year after year.
I don't own any trucks, but I am a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it did not take me long to realize that watching the PBS special " The Mormons" was a waste of my time. Being a truck owner is a whole lot different than being a member of a church. Being a member of a church is not being a member of a social organization. It is being a member of an organization who's head is God himself. Who's declared purposes are God's purposes. The organization is the scaffolding, the outward collective structure of an inner individual commitment to do God's will and to serve him. The only way anyone can know the truth of the organization is through prayer to that being who's organization it is and to receive confirmation from him. This can only be done through a spiritual experience. No amount of research and studying of history can substitute for revelation from God. Leah Wallen, Orem, UT
Case in point: "Joseph was really good at it". If he was so good at divining for gold then where is the gold he was so good at finding? They failed to give even one fleeting reference to support his success or failure at his gold hunting skills let alone give his own side of the story about his gold digging experience.
This one sided bias sums it up perfectly. Vince Warner
"The Mormons" is a nice red herring name for more anti-Mormon propaganda. Did I miss it, or did Ms. Whitney fail to mention Missouri Gov. Boggs' "Extermination Order?" I guess Ms. Whitney is cool with Gov. Boggs' attempted Mormon genocide. The only things she failed to mention was our horns and temple orgies.
Propaganda Broadcasting System (PBS) is a clear illustration of what happens when government funds a broadcasting enterprise. no name
I was not impressed with the documentary. Although there were some good lines and quotes, I was very weary of the excommunicated woman who got many things dead wrong. The piece missed the mark and didn't focus on our over-arching belief in Christ. It spent too much time on the Mountain Meadow Massacre and having an extensive interview with a modern-day practicing polygamist was ridiculous. What did that have to do with polygamy in the past and the church today? There were parts that made us laugh out loud such as explaining the massacre was influenced by the color of the red rock of southern Utah. no name
I am writing to express my utter disappointment with the recent documentary entitled, "The Mormons." I am convinced that the maker of the film had her own agenda and chose interviews that supported her own beliefs about what Mormons are. She did nothing to dispel the myths which surround Mormons, and instead gave voice, interview and supposed 'expertise' to these myths. Persecution of the Mormons is still alive and well in 2007! Debbie, Gardiner, Maine
I found the airing to be mostly negative. The Mountain was too one sided and the story too long for the segment.
The story left out the "Mormon Money" which the saints used. Also the Relief Soc. and Grand Teton stories. The welfare of the church was poorly covered.
Overall I found it boring. It could have been so much better.
Thanks, no name
Both my wife and I watched both parts and really did not think that it was a favorable picture of what Mormon life and Mormonism are really about. We thought that the documentary failed to give equal time to both sides of the story, but focused more on those who left the church or those who were not even members (for example too much time on the "fundamentalist" piece). And lastly, the documentary did not do a very good job overall of why the church has such doctrines and they missed tying all of it together. From Pennsylvania
It was odd to witness one's beloved faith, prophets and beliefs defined by people who don't understand them. It was like a psychologist interpreting and explaining science. I am disappointed. People looking from the outside of a house can't understand the happiness that can be felt inside a home. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a high privilege and joy, the joy that comes from God and from the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the happiness is real and complete. Gloria R. Rivera, Seguin Texas
Well done, although not all accurate. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS Church and am not influenced by those involved in "intelligentsia", who set out to destroy the greatest power for good that exists on this earth. no name
Going into the film I was led to believe that one of the main purposes of the four hour series was to clear up public misconceptions about the church, on the contrary, I came away feeling that public misconceptions were reinforced, even to the point that the misconceptions were given an air of credibility. I felt the fringe elements of the church were brought forward with heavy emphasis on the misconceptions defectors or others with an axe to grind and while the church's response was edited in the style of a "60 Minutes" hit piece. Almost everything sacred was ridiculed or made light of. Jeff Owen, Gardiner, Maine
They spent way too much time and energy focusing on negatives and who someone said we were, rather than who we are. no name
There were a few bright spots in "The Mormons," but from the beginning with the eerie music playing as a backdrop to weirdly negative impressionistic art, the documentary failed to capture the reality of what the church is and instead focused heavily on negative comments from those who have left the faith, and controversial issues that hardly anyone in or out of the church can accurately speak about because no one is left who knows the whole story, if indeed anyone ever did (Mountain Meadows Massacre).
In a nutshell: If I wanted to know what Republicans believed, I would ask neither a Democrat or someone from another country. no name
Who are these 'experts' in this video that are listed as "author or historian, etc."? Why are their true identities being cloaked? Margaret Duven
The documentary was inspirational and faith promoting with stories that put a human face the LDS faith and showed outsiders why we believe. At the same time there was a dose of healthy realism and criticism that addressed many of the controversies about the church in a fair way. Any program that offends the radicals on both sides of an issue at once has to be considered a success! Jared Szymanski, Texas
I am disappointed that my hopes for a fair and balanced portrayal of the church and the people of the church were not brought to fruition. While expecting there would be attention given to polygamy, Mountain Meadows, gays, blacks holding the Priesthood, and excommunicated members, I also hoped that equal time and attention be paid to important areas such as Relief Society, taking care of our own, callings in which members faithfully serve, home and visiting teaching, and so much more that is positive. As a convert to the church, I am able to see clearly the differences in the LDS church and the Protestant church I was raised in. It would have been nice if the PBS series had given both views equal time so that viewers would have the opportunity to weigh differences fairly. This (the PBS series) is yet another hurdle for us to deal with here in the Bible belt. Leigh
It was sprinkled with truth and fiction both of which only active LDS people may understand and realize. I think if a person was looking to understand the church and learn about it the documentary it would have turned them the other way. I am a convert to the church since 1975.
I think the LDS Church should create a documentary and correct the untruths stated in the documentary and share the truth. Otherwise, many misconceptions and untruths will be thought of as "the truth!"
The first segment gave to me the strong feeling that people in the LDS Church do not have any free agency and are told what to do, say and think.
The second segment which stated that President Taylor said that "black men were sent to represent the devil" was a terrible statement to air.
In general too much time was spent on the negative regarding polygamy, mountain meadow massacre and the time frame when the black males could
not hold the priesthood. The airing of people that had left the faith and had problems with the church was not evenly represented with those that enjoy the church. Phyllis Henley, Rangely, CO
Along with the others, I must say that after in-depth study of Mormon history on my own, this documentary was entirely too nice. It glossed over many things that should have been told, such as Joseph Smith killed some people before he himself was killed. His death was a shoot out, not an innocent, unarmed man being ambushed in jail. He had a gun and he used it.
Polygamy needed MORE not less coverage. The subject was whitewashed with a bit of dirt to show, but it was presented nothing like the truth of the ugly situations that polygamy inspired. Ditto the handcart fiasco, blood atonement and other subject matters that were either ignored or glossed over. An honest documentary would be a breath of fresh air. D. H.
The pictures are dark and spooky, depictions of black and white smeared landscapes appear, the scary music begins in the background. I wonder what I'm watching! Is it Jason part XV?, is it the Blair Witch project part III?, or maybe Dracula 2007? No, nothing so mundane. This is the new PBS "fair and objective" look at those crazy Mormons. An appropriate sub-title may have been, "Joseph Smith, the delusional gold digging womanizer and his hypnotized followers". I'm looking forward to the next "fair and objective" PBS Frontline Mocumentary, preliminarily titled: "The Jews" written and produced by the award winning film maker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Russell Rowley, Taylorsville, Utah.
It seemed to me that "The Mormons" documentary was produced like all of the rest with an underlying desire to tarnish and "disprove" the tenets of our religion. Why can't someone produce a film that paints a picture of the goodness, kindness and service to mankind that is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Why didn't we hear from people like Jan Shipps, an outsider who seems to have a true understanding our church without the negative bias that was presented by the anti-LDS individuals who permeated this documentary? I suppose the persecution of the Saints of God will never cease?
Dan Morris, Moncks Corner, South Carolina
My family and I were pleased with the recent PBS documentary about the church. Overall, the program was fair and informative and also inspiring. If we believe in the truthfulness of the Restoration, then we have nothing to hide and should not fear scrutiny of the church. The power of the message of the Restoration always transcends other elements of the story. As a church, we are fortunate to have received such broad, national exposure. Nate Sharp, Texas
Doctrines of the church being addressed by non-LDS "intellectuals and scholars" instead of LDS ecclesiastical leaders created "misinformation"some truth mixed in with a lot of opinion and perceptions of what we believe. You don't go to a Ford dealer for information on a Dodge truck. You would not address Billy Graham for his explanation of doctrines of the Catholic Church. Skewed doctrine is part of the stereotypical Mormon image. If the intent of this documentary was to set the record straight, it failed in many respects.
Adding the segment on modern polygamists further contributed to the stereotypical Mormon image. The early history of the practice of polygamy in the church would be expected. However, confusing the issue by interviewing those who choose to practice polygamy today "muddied the waters" and was very misleading, especially to anyone who joined the documentary in progress.
The Mountain Meadow Massacre is also part of this church's history. This was a horrific event, but spending so much time interviewing "historians" who prefaced their remarks with "I feel ... I think.... it appears" ... and then went on to express controversial references mingled with personal opinion left me wondering if this was an excerpt from the trailer for Jon Voight's new movie.
I believe that a heartfelt effort was attempted by Helen Whitney and at the very least, I'm grateful for that. Sandy Kucera, Minneapolis, MN
I guess the mere nature of a documentary does not lend itself to a point, counterpoint type discussion. I was irritated that individuals who were either not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or were former members were allowed to give definitive comments on the topics discussed. All the topics brought up were fair game but to allow a secular explanation of a spiritual matter or a biased opinion based upon that individuals encounter with the church is not accurate. Perhaps if the same question or topic were allowed to be answered by a church representative each time or a persons comment addressed I think you may get a better picture of how the LDS Church views understands and deals with things. There was nothing new brought up just new people saying the same old thing. On Monday nights episode one gentleman stated he could not agree with what was taught or the truth in the establishment of this restored church and yet he did not believe Joseph Smith was a con man seeking to fool or manipulate people. If I wanted to know about the Catholic Church I would not go to a Mormon, or a defrocked Priest. If I wanted to learn about Islam I would not speak with the Amish, and if I wanted to learn about the LDS Church I would not speak to one who has left the faith or was excommunicated or to an evangelical of another faith. I would go to the source and become embedded in a congregation or family for an extended period of time to really understand what it is and how it works.
One last comment. I found it interesting that when interviewing LDS General Authorities they did a close up and many times ended cropping their heads and showing it in a dark or subdued lighting. Whereas for the other commentators there was a more pulled back view of the individual. Visual manipulation of the presenters also? Michael A. Wightman, Virginia
I found the program to be very informative and interesting. Seeing my religion and beliefs examined from different points of view was both enlightening and affirming. One unexpected, yet delightful benefit of watching the program was the dialogue that ensued with my thirteen year-old son as he asked about topics that had not been addressed in his church classes or our family discussions. Incidentally, the fact that my son, without any parental prompting, disengaged from his Wii, unplugged his Ipod and watched with rapt attention for all four hours of the program speaks volumes about the presentation. I can't get him to pay attention to me for more than three minutes on a good day! John Montague, Ogden, UT
I thought that it was pretty much a fair look at the church. I do feel that some things were said by supposedly active members that will need some clarification. I am not sure if it was supposed to sound that way or not but the sister who spoke about genealogy said something to the effect that a person cannot be "saved" in the Celestial Kingdom unless their entire ancestral line is also worthy to go there. That idea totally eliminates "free agency" and would imply that if any of a person's ancestry chooses not to do what is necessary to get there that the entire line is doomed to a lower glory. I also thought the handling of homosexuality was too "politically correct" . Ottis Thomas, Macon, Ga
Sorry, I actually fell asleep and missed the controversial parts in the 2nd part: homosexuality, temple service revealed. In part 1, I was struck by some of the interviewed people's conclusions after much research into the available documentation, that they knew what Joseph Smith and/or Brigham Young were really all about. So what is that intellectual revelation? I was sorry that their progenitors in the early church had been maltreated and I am sorry that those who currently practice polygamy have attributed such importance to it. But I joined the church in this century, and my driving reasons for living my religion come from the scriptures, not necessarily from the examples of imperfect members. Jennifer Lanning, Florida
I realized the moment they showed the freaky painting of the Angel Moroni (instead of the widely accepted one of him in white robes standing above Josephs bed) at the beginning that this was not going to be a fair and unbiased representation.
Every topic and subject discussed in the next 15 minutes (which is all that I could stand) was laced with such sarcasm and half truths and out and out attention grabbing sensationalism that I got disgusted and turned it off. I did not even want to watch the second segment.
It showed the beliefs of the church in a shallow and misrepresented way. If the Ms. Whitney wanted to show the church in a way that would help the world to know who we are and what we really believe in, she failed miserably. She should have had someone like Bro. Marlin K. Jensen acting as an active advisor to let her know when her topics of discussion were getting off track and not showing them truthfully. Dennis Stone, Calgary, Alberta
having invested the required 4 hours into viewing "The Mormons" my opinion is - don't waste your time unless you are simply curious to see it. although it was not a bad as it might have been it was by no stretch of the imagination - unbiased equal time was not given to members/pro-church 2/3 or more was the opinion of excommunicated members or people whose feelings about religion in general and the Mormons in particular was kinda - we don't if they are dangerous or not but we'll pretend to humor them and keep a close eye and many of the Ex'd were not identified as such until much later (and then they were portrayed as 'misunderstood' and given much more credibility than they merited)
if anyone doubts what spirit authored this - they are terribly misguided or naive.
I am eagerly awaiting the Brethren's take on this Linda M Hall, Ridgecrest, CA
The Mormons, was like watching interviews of ancient Egyptians complaining about the nut Moses and his fantastic story of a burning bush, while Egyptian mothers relived the horror of finding their first born dead. Every now and then we cut to the desert: Someone complains of being rejected for making a "reasonable" request that everyone to go back to Egypt. Once in awhile someone says something nice about Moses.
But the exercise does make a point: It really DOES all depend on what you believe. Was Moses a true prophet? Then the story of the Exodus is a story of freedom and covenants kept. Were Laman and Lemuel justified in their anger at leaving home and losing the family fortune, or were Lehi and Nephi truly inspired to lead them away from danger and toward a new promised land? Was Joseph Smith a farmer with crazy ideas, or did The Father and The Son really visit him?
It depends on what you believe. no name
I was very disappointed and only watched the first 30 minutes before turning it off. I also did not watch part 2. Their depiction of Angel Moroni and a red hued apparition was creepy as well as some of their images of Joseph Smith. I'm very glad I did not invite non member friends to view it. Suzanne, Pleasanton, CA
I was appalled and disappointed at the reckless way sound bites were strung together to supposedly document the history of the Mormons but fell so short of the mark that I can hardly believe PBS would even air this clumsy and lopsided attempt.
One talking head after another is thrown at us with their opinions of our history and yet nothing was mentioned of their biases, their educational backgrounds etc. etc. We are just supposed to assume because their faces are on our TV's that they must be experts or at least true historians. While 10 percent of this "mockumentary" may be true, the other 90 per cent was rumors, half truths and conjecture. For instance, Ken Clark, identified as a "former church educator" is allowed to proclaim as fact that Joseph Smith had an affair with a young girl in his home and then dreamed up polygamy in order to sanctify his lustful ways. The fact that that is a salacious and outrageous lie is bad enough but Ms. Whitney did not let anyone refute that or address it. It was simply put out there like it was a true statement. Any non-member hearing this has got to be thinking if Joseph Smith was a lying lascivious "charlatan", that Ms. Whitney's program has shown him to be then who's to say that he didn't lie about everything???? Including and especially the First Vision. Mr. Clark, the disgruntled ex-Mormon should have been followed with another talking head who, unlike Clark, doesn't have an ax to grind, and would have vouched for the high integrity and morals of Joseph Smith. There are many, many qualified true historians within and without the church that would have been happy to do it. Joseph Smith at least deserved that much. no name
We watched the documentary as a family. Our children 16 and 12 yrs. old were upset. They couldn't understand how they are portraying Joseph Smith as a sexual deviant and a creator of a religion. My daughter felt sick and cried. I personally did not know about the massacre in Mountain Meadows. I will watch the second part tonight, even my children want to do it. RosaMaria Hurst, Laie, HI
It is dishonest journalism. When those who were speaking of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young began saying what the two leaders were thinking and what their motives were in regard to things that were happening, the whole documentary lost its validity. no name
As a church member, I could only stand to watch about 45 minutes. What I saw was overly critical, with a very negative tone, and it seemed that 75% of the show was presented by ex-Mormons and scholars who are obviously critical (in a negative way) of the church. I was disappointed for sure, and I hope that my non-Mormon friends, who saw the show, will ask me to help clarify why I believe the way I do. Ken Tobler, Lubbock, TX
I had high hopes for this documentary but now that all is said and done, I am angry and sorely disappointed. I feel Helen Whitney has done the Mormons a huge disservice, that money was raised for the film under false pretenses, and that faithful Mormons were not given their fair share of air time. It was very much one-sided and failed to show the many wonderful and beautiful aspects of the Mormon faith. I'm not an intellectual, but I'm smart enough to know the Mormons were duped into thinking this would be a documentary that would at least give them a fair shake. Not so. Ellie Pocock
I felt that Monday night showing was very negative. It seem as if they spent one half of the show on polygamy and mountain meadow. However, Tuesday night show was more on the positive side. I think interviewing former member of the church was a waste of time. After all how else would they describe there relationship with the church except being negative. They are not capable of giving a fair and balance interview. Hulen Clark
The 2nd episode was much better than the 1st. Not perfect... still some cockeyed statements that were wrong, but much better. I'll give it a B- Paul Bennett, Grand Prairie, TX
That was THE MOST uninformed, distasteful, misguided bunch of JUNK I ever saw. What on earth was a professor of Islam doing talking about us? They needed to pump up the brightness setting on those paintings. And that picture made Jesus look like a Pagan devil-spirit. It gave me bad dreams, making me wake up at 2 am. no name
I loved the first 2-hr segment and cannot wait to see the 2nd!
The show was intelligent, "feeling" and beautifully done with superior taste.
As a non- Mormon, non-polygamist and even a non-Utah resident, I have been interested in the entire story for years.
Hopefully if lots of Americans see this documentary, SOME of the horribly misunderstood concepts of this church can be "exposed" to the public....... in this fair and dignified way!
Three cheers for the producers for a winner! Pat LoGiudice, Plantation, Fl
As a convert to the LDS Church, I enjoyed this PBS feature, as I do their other works. coming from a small village in SE Alaska-the Mormon Church & BYU, was my first contact to the Western World. And a positive one at that. can't wait to see the second part and am going to purchase the DVD. Oscar Frank Jr, Fairbanks, AK
What a disappointment. The church gives them free access to their archives, leaders and other resources and what does PBS do? They use some commentators who are obviously filled with venom (Ms. Flake) who use great distortions and untruths. The assertions about Joseph Smith as early as the Kirtland period having affairs should be substantiated rather than just merely reported. There is nothing new here that anti-Mormon people haven't used before. The segment on polygamy focused almost entirely on modern day issues which are found in the Fundamentalist LDS Church not the Mormon Church. This is using association where it does not exist rather dishonest in my opinion.
I really wish Helen Whitney would go strictly to the source and leave out people who have an axe to grind. There are plenty enough people who dislike the church due to their own apostasy or whatever it is. To use these individuals in a documentary is preposterous. For someone who has spent multiple years putting this together it is unbelievable that she would do shabby reporting like this.
I expect more of the same tonight as I have already seen the topics. Lynn Johnson, Tulsa, OK
was way off the way from the way it should be!!! no name
It was an interesting program; we are looking forward to seeing the second have this evening. Who cares how we Mormons are depicted. I truly know what I believe and all the marvelous experiences I have being a dedicated Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This documentary certainly hasn't shaken my faith. I believe in Revelation and that it continues today through the restored church. We are truly blessed to have a prophet such as Gordon B. Hinckley at the helm of our church. I try hard to be kind to my neighbors and treat them the way I would like to be treated. I have had some great experiences talking with members of other faiths. Their religion doesn't intimidate me. I learn from them, but know I have all that is meaningful to our family in our church. When I moved to St. George, I had the opportunity to sing with our choir members and the Shepherd of the Hills United Methods Church at a special Christmas program. They didn't have many members as they were just getting their church started here, it was a wonderful experience and I appreciate them. Now they have a great choir and have even been back to Washington to sing. I try very hard to live the teachings and standards of the church and love it. My faith has certainly carried me through some heart wrenching situations. I love my Savior and Heavenly Father and am appreciative that I know them and have the promptings of the Holy Ghost to help me at work and in our family.
One day I hope to go on a mission for our church. It is sweet and reassuring. It is the people who are at odds with the gospel that make such waves. When they leave, why can't they just leave it alone and go on with their lives. We all make choices for whatever reason, let us live with our choices.
I could go on and on, but I think this pretty well gives you how I feel about my faith.
I really like the Deseret News and read it daily. We were happy when it changed to morning delivery
Thanks, Roene B. Wilkinson, St. George, Utah
I wish that when the discussion of polygamy and the manifesto comes up that just once someone would bring up the 12th Article of Faith that we believe in obeying the laws of the land. The Edmunds/Tucker Act made plural marriage illegal and because of the repercussions of breaking that law and what it would to the church and the membership, it is not illogical to think that President Wilford Woodruff would get instructions/inspiration to stop the practice.
It would also be an interesting item that if people who studied US History recognized that the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositer was not an unusual event. History shows that it happened several times before Nauvoo and that it was a practice that was not considered to be an extreme event.
The show itself was about what I had expected - you can't have someone try to explain a religion from a historical view without an understanding of the spiritual precepts. It's no more than what life was like when I was growing up in Colorado and tried to explain what I believed to my friends. B Jeppson
The so-called documentary, "The Mormons," shows very strange pictures of Joseph Smith! What is that one they keep coming back to with Joseph Smith in three different poses or stations of life? The middle one shows him with such a pained look on his face. From where do these originate? They sure show him in a less-than-normal light!
And, the story of the saints moving to the Great Salt Lake Valley shows pictures of Goblin Valley? Cedar Breaks? The red rock area around Moab? Monument Valley? It paints the whole move westward as very surreal and STRANGE!!! No need to say anything about it! Just show odd pictures to cast a strange shadow on the church! (And, by extension, on the LDS candidate for President, Mitt Romney)??? Mark Anderson, Thatcher, Arizona
As a LDS member I have to admit I was somewhat scared to watch the PBS special last night, not so much for myself, but for other members out here in the mission field (New York) who might find some of the history shocking and disturbing. I always worry about those who follow in perfect blind faith when these types of informational and sometimes painful programs and books come out. Without appropriate guidance, these things can be life shattering.
Growing up in the church, we rarely discuss controversial issues or debate the legitimacy of President Smith and Young's radical methods and philosophies. Although in my adult years I have studied the true history of what occurred in the begging years of the church, I have found that most members aren't familiar with the details of our past "dirt". I worry that without proper discussions in a ward setting, members, especially new converts will find themselves confused and upset by our history.
I was impressed with all the objective interviewees from the program, except for ex-Mormon Ken Clark who showed obvious signs of anger and bitterness toward the church. He is the only person as of yet that I felt discredits the program in comparison to all the other logical and somewhat unbiased historians and religious leaders.
It's time we members don't shy away from how our church was founded and our history. It's time we embrace all truth, and educate ourselves in a manner that will give us the knowledge we were sent here to get. It's time our leaders facilitate discussion groups that allow and embrace these delicate questions and concerns to be addressed. Kristy R. Jensen Coleman
Totally one sided against the LDS faith. I was hoping for a fair and balanced report, but got the same old tired stories about Joseph Smith being a treasure hunter, Joseph Smith changing his explanation of his first vision, polygamy and the Mountain Meadows incident. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hasn't been dealt with fairly in the news media since the church's inception. Please pass on to the front-line people that they missed the mark.... again. no name
I was pleased to see the "documentary" I still think that they focus on a few things in the past that have been misunderstood and not enough on the actual authorities who embrace our faith. I imagine that tonight will be different but overall it has been pleasing. Some of the authorities have no business commenting on Joseph Smith such as, the "former church educator" He could have educated nursery and been excommunicated for misconduct. So now he is an authority on Joseph Smiths misdeeds? Come on! Bryce Hansen
I really think that this production has grossly misrepresented the roots of my faith. They had an opportunity to set the record straight, but from the first moments of the documentary, using bleak, random images and somber music, I could tell that someone had an agenda for the LDS faith and it wasn't positive. It just goes to show that Joseph Smith's name will be "held for good and for bad" through out time. Unfortunately for Ms. Whitney and for the viewing public, Frontline missed out on a great chance to tell the most important story on earth, without throwing its main characters under the bus. I was very disappointed. Next time, someone should actually try using authentic sources of information, and not simply the speculation of "intellectuals." Zach Peterson, Ogden, UT
Cast a shadow.
Too much time given to so called experts that embrace old notions and stereotypes, and who have not done their homework.
Disappointed. Paul Bennett, Grand Prairie ,TX
Well, it wasn't spectacular. We, as LDS members, were already warned about it, so we knew it wasn't doctrine. Funny how other people always think they know more about our religion then we do. We weren't impressed, and will not be watching Part 2, as Law & Order: SVU is on tonight, and that show is more important. :-) no name
I felt they glossed over the 1st vision and angel Moroni's visit very glibly....trying to appease non-Mormons way too much. It's very hard to watch when you know in your heart it's true!!!! Tom Bassett
It put too much emphasis on polygamy and wonder where some other info came from because it wasn't from any scripture I've read. The natural man just doesn't get the truth or how to obtain it!! no name
The documentary didn't explain the doctrine of polygamy or plural marriage. Mormons still believe that the practice of plural marriage is necessary to achieve the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom. Mormons still practice polygamy in the temple, i.e., a man who has been sealed to his wife and then his wife dies can be sealed to another woman in the temple and so forth. A man can be sealed to many wives as long as they pass away. That's not true for women who can only be sealed to one man. If she wants to be sealed to another man, she has to have her sealing cancelled. The Mormon church should be straight forward and say that they believe in polygamy and that it will be practiced in heaven, but at this moment it has been put on hold. no name
Regarding last night's two-hour documentary on THE MORMONS. I would like to share the following observations:
1. Much of the documentary was credible. However, I believe there were several errors of both omission and commission.
2. The statement was made that Joseph Smith is the Alpha and Omega of the Mormon religion. That is not true. Joseph Smith is recognized and honored as the prophet who, through revelation, restored Christ's true church upon the earth, but Christ is the Alpha and Omega of our religion.
3. The documentary did not explain that Joseph Smith was following the counsel found in the New Testament, James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him," when he went into the woods to pray. People who do not believe that the Father and Son appeared to Joseph and gave him answers to his questions, apparently do not believe what the Bible teaches about revelation nor about people receiving answers to prayers.
4. The statement was made repeatedly that members of the church are required/expected to give 100% obedience to church leaders. What they failed to say is that members of the church believe in personal revelation and are encouraged to pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ to find out for themselves what is true and what is not true. The Lord promised his disciples that, after his death, he would send the Holy Ghost to comfort, teach and testify to them. The Holy Ghost also testifies to each honest seeker of truth what is and is not true. People have the right to personal revelation. Members of the church are taught to be obedient to the truth as revealed by the Holy Ghost.
5. While the documentary mentioned that Joseph Smith restored the same organization that existed in Christ's early church (prophets, apostles, and so forth), the documentary failed to explain how and why Brigham Young became the second president and leader of the church and the role played in the exodus and early history of the church by the other members of the twelve apostles.
6. The documentary indicated that Joseph Smith's teaching regarding plural marriage was based on his sexual desire. That is erroneous. Plural marriage finds its basis in scripture. Abraham and Jacob and others were all authorized by God to have more than one wife. However, God instructed his people to have one wife only, unless he specifically authorized an individual or group of individuals to have additional wives for his own purposes. God also instructed his people to obey the laws of the land. Plural marriage was practiced because God ordained it. It was discontinued because the laws of the land forbid it and God revealed to Wilford Woodruff that the church should discontinue the practice. Those who practice it today are in violation of both God's law and the law of the land.
7. Various historians, Mormon and non-Mormon were quoted, but no documentation was given to support any of their opinions. Thus, we were just left with personal opinions and hearsay.
Respectfully, Lynn F. Price, Salt Lake City
As a lifelong Mormon, I found the documentary to be second-rate at best. The so-called "historians" obviously have slanted views of the church. And where did the producer dig up that picture of Moroni in the opening scenes?
I suppose the most appalling statement was saying that we view Joseph Smith a prophet in the same way that the Muslims view Muhammad. Again, a radically liberal producer letting her political views be made known. A better correlation would be Joseph Smith to MOSES!
I hope that LDS Church leaders speak out strongly AGAINST this documentary, but of course, they won't. We need to get back to our roots and stop trying to be so "mainstream".
Thank you, Tracie, Seattle, Washington
Thus far I've only watched the first half. I give it a C+ rating...I found that they didn't do their homework...One example is the part where they say that Joseph, instead of running away, turned his horse and went to Carthage. In reality as I know it Joseph was in a boat on the Mississippi and was torn about going into hiding and said, "If my life is not of value to my friends, it is not of value to me." He returned with Hyrum, his brother and they left for Carthage. He returned, after only a short distance and said his goodbyes to his family three times before continuing on. If this small part could have be portrayed it would have put some personal touch to the mind and heart of Joseph...Which apparently was not to be intended by the writers and/or researchers. Another, is the body being returned to Nauvoo in a wagon...There were two bodies, together in that wagon...Josephs and Hyrum...Again incorrect and lack of detail proves they didn't do their homework. Diane/Ken Baguley, Elk Ridge, Utah
It was evident to me from the beginning that the purpose of this documentary was to present a very dark and foreboding picture of the LDS Church, when in the introduction they stated their intent to delve into the "controversy and mystery" of its history. The impression I received from seeing the dark-eyed, stern pictures of Harry Reid and Mitt Romney, was that I needed to be warned by the intelligent and enlightened people who put this program together, about what these two national leaders, and other Mormons, really stood for.
I took issue with the program's "fact" that everyone struggles with Joseph Smith, because that isn't true. When his life is studied within the context of the times in which he lived, he is looked upon with greater understanding. I appreciated the later thought that presented the difference between the "flawed" man, Joseph Smith, and the prophet. Don't we look upon all religious people in this context, except Jesus Christ, who was sinless? I also took issue with their "fact" that the origins of the Book of Mormon are a cause of embarrassment to scholars in the church, because that is false. I appreciated the point that someone made that the origins of the LDS Church are miraculous, just the same as many other churches.
I don't know how long they interviewed Truman Madsen, but they chose a terrible excerpt to include in the documentary, and once again, the close-up shot of his face left a negative impression. I enjoyed the comments of the evangelical minister because he was so thoughtful and fair, even though he could not believe the truth of the early LDS history.
Don't you think that if someone wants to present an accurate picture of a church to which they are not a member, they would have a knowledgeable member watch the program before it airs to see if there are any glaring mistakes? It is false that Christ came to America during the three days following His death, and most members of the LDS Church know that He did something else that was very significant during that time. And did the producers not know that the church has specifically asked to be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, and not by the nickname, The Mormons? The very title of the program, "The Mormons," seems to be meant to further engrain that name into the minds of people. Did they purposefully leave out the true foundation of the church, which is Jesus Christ?
I thought that Ken Verdoia did a very good job and congratulate him on his thoughtful comments. I also thought that the historical polygamy discussion was good. But once again, I questioned the reasoning in presenting such a long discussion of modern-day polygamy, when the church has not practiced it for well over 100 years, and has so strongly spoken and acted against it. All it did was perpetuate the false idea that polygamy is, indeed, a sub-culture in the LDS Church, which was very unfair.
Now, as to the Mountain Meadow Massacre, once again I believe it is false to say that this episode is a huge challenge to believing Latter-day Saints. As if that terrible event has anything to do with the doctrines and beliefs that members hold true! It certainly was a terrible mistake and crimea dark part of LDS historybut it is such a small part of the total history. Once again, the "doom and gloom" purpose of the documentary became evident when the success and miracle of the colonization of the West, which was huge, was swiftly passed over in favor of presenting an extended history of this dark event.
I will be interested to watch the program again tonight to see if their presentation of the modern-day church is any fairer. no name
I was disappointed in the first two hours of The Mormons. The overall feeling I received is the author of the film as a axe to grind against the church with unbalanced reporting about the Mountain Meadows Massacre and polygamy, portraying Joseph Smith as a sex predator and early LDS members as poor brainless sheep falling over the cliff. Many important facts regarding the early years of the church were glossed over and you never heard anything about the 40 years of professional research done by FARMS and others regarding the Book of Mormon and the incredible evidence supporting its authenticity. Some of the individuals are outspoken critics the church and get a large percentage of air time with only a small number of pro historians and scholars who get small snippets of time. I hope tonight's program does a better job of portraying the church as it really is.
Thanks John W Ford, Seattle, WA
I am a committed Latter-day Saint and watched the program last night with great interest. Overall, I would give it a B+. Some of it, however, was very weird. What was that about the "red rock country and the fire burning?" And all the shots of Goblin Valley and Monument Valley were very out of context. For a moment I thought we were watching a John Ford movie and that John Wayne was going to come riding over the horizon. The flying hair on the Moroni/angel figure was just creepy. Ken Verdoia was very good and very insightful but to label him a journalistÉwell. The end part about dancing was just surreal, what was that even about? Too much time was spent on the Mountain Meadows Massacre as well as modern-day polygamy although the two clips of President Hinckley stating the connection between polygamists and the modern church was very good although the narrator still referred to them as Mormon Fundamentalists. I'm looking forward to tonight's 2nd part. Steve Handy
After watching the first segment of the PBS documentary "The Mormons," I actually only take issue with the portrayal of Mountain Meadows. I found the segment on polygamy quite fair and balanced. While some, including the Deseret News's own Scott Pierce (no relation) felt it unnecessary to mention modern polygamy, I disagree. "Mormon" is more than just the LDS church. Like "Protestant," it is also a label for all of the groups that trace their lineage to Joseph Smith. In that sense, I was all right with the documentary's take on polygamy.
However, the segment on Mountain Meadows really bothered me. As an historian, I take serious issue with the documentary's over-reliance on Will Bagley, whose work poses serious problems of analysis. The fact that Mountain Meadows got more attention than Haun's Mill or the other Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois persecutions is especially troubling. The work of a small band of men, the Mountain Meadows massacre, while tragic, should not continue to haunt the church to this day. There is in fact absolutely no evidence at all that Brigham Young ordered the attack or even was aware of its full implications for several years after the fact. Talk of a "cover up" by church leaders is stretching the point quite a bit as well. Only a small group of men knew what had happened, and they weren't talking.
I'm waiting until after tonight's finale to make a final judgment, but the Mountain Meadows segment is quite troubling.
Sincerely, Samuel Pierce, Florida
This so called documentary is just another opportunity of the critics and non members of the church to voice their opinions without facts to back them up. This was definitely not a fair and balance presentation. It was full of distortions about church doctrine, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Much of the church history was distorted opinion. No mention what so ever about the Mormon Battalion and their contribution to our country. One would think that they could have at least accurately presented our basis beliefs such as the Articles of Faith. If this were a basketball game I would vote this as the anti-Mormons 80 and the Latter Day Saints 20. KW, Salem, OR
To Scott Pierce: Did you watch the same piece that I watched on Monday night? From your review I think it impossible. This "assault" was as sophisticated as I have viewed and it went on for two hours? Interestingly the "Massacre" was the one unit I found more or less factual until it came to the opinion strongly stating President Young ordered the massacre. The "other side" of that bit of hate was presented as tepid pap. Nor was any time given to the church's attempts at reconciliation with the decedents of those who lost their lives that tragic day. Anyone who has judged a debate contest would give this one to the detractors of the LDS Church, hands down. The presentations of the "pros" and "cons" was as equal as pitting Terry Bradshaw's Supper Bowl Steelers against Don Shumate's 1956 champion Junction City Tigers. Did anyone notice that at no time was the Son of God referred to as central to all that the "Mormons" believe or did I somehow manage to fall asleep through that 2 second segment? And the painting of the angel Moroni, what was that? In my several decades of intense involvement with this church that particular piece of art has totally escaped me. At first I thought it was a depiction of Gov. Boggs having one of his better days. The timing of its inclusion implied that was how Joseph depicted Moroni as he appeared in his bedroom. How in any man's world could you view this as an impartial and fair presentation? Once again I ask, did you really see the full two hours of the Monday episode before you wrote your review? Incredible!!! I can't wait for Tuesday night, no, I can't wait; the specter of watching a rehash on national television of the Tanner's "God Makers" looms large on the horizon. With considerable regret, G.P. Mill, Idaho Falls
I just finished watching the PBS special 'The Mormons'. Overall?....disappointing.
Lets hope tomorrow nights segment is better.
On a scale of 1 -10 ( 10 best) I would rate it as a 5. Gina S Davis, Victoria B.C. Canada
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