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Reader responses regarding "The Mormons" PBS series

Published: Thursday, May 3 2007 12:10 a.m. MDT

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

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