Newsflash! Mormons are misunderstood and unliked.
Recently, it was announced that most Americans don't understand what a Mormon is — and, ohmyheck — have an "unfavorable view" of Mormons.
That revelation — ahem, so to speak — was made by a national pollster last week in Salt Lake City.
Memo to pollster: This was news — about 180 years ago.
Get back to us when there's a new development.
Well, maybe you'd expect something had changed since then due to, oh, thousands of missionaries, Donny and Marie, Mitt Romney, Steve Young, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on "60 Minutes," the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, numerous disaster relief efforts, TV ads, etc.
And yet public opinion pollster Gary Lawrence said 67 percent of Americans don't know if Mormons believe in the Bible; 77 percent don't know if Mormons are Christians; 75 percent believe Mormons practice polygamy.
In other words, it's the same old story.
Mormons feel about as understood as a teenage girl.
There's more. Lawrence said 49 percent of Americans have an "unfavorable impression" of Mormons.
That's old news, too — but it still hurts. Let's be honest, we Mormons want to be liked and accepted like everyone else. We rush out to claim with open arms any celebrity who had a cup of (decaffeinated) coffee in Salt Lake City or had some remote connection with Mormonism. We're so desperate for acceptance and recognition that we tried to claim Steve Martin, Elvis and Christina Aguilera, who may or may not have been a former Relief Society president.
I kid! I kid!
We considered it a compliment that Howard Hughes — who saved his fingernails and urine in bottles — preferred to surround himself with Mormons because he could trust them.
Right now we feel like Sally Field in reverse — You don't like me; you really, really don't like me!
We want to be liked, of course, but not at the expense of our dignity (BUT WHAT IS IT? THE WHITE SHIRTS? THE JELL-O JOKES? TOO MUCH DONNY? OR MARIE? PLEASE, TELL US — WE'LL TRY HARDER!)
Somewhere, Mormonism gets lost in translation — always has, always will. There are still some people who think Mormons have more than one wife, the way people did in Biblical times. Mormons haven't had multiple wives since the turn of the century — the last one. Some people even think Mormons have horns — not just on their minivans, but also on their heads. This is patently false of course. Mormons haven't had horns since the turn of the century (the last one).
If you're a non-Mormon, you're probably wondering: What does a Mormon look like and would I know one if I saw one? Is he housebroken? Could I take one home with me?
Mormons come in all shapes, sizes, professions, looks, colors and nationalities. Everyone from cuddly David Archuleta to rocker Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the band The Killers. Everyone from ultra conservative Glenn Beck to ultra liberal Harry Reid. From Ken Jennings and Rick Schroder and Gladys Knight (but not her Pips) to the late Arthur "Killer" Kane of The New York Dolls punk band.
It's not enough, of course. The misconceptions persist. It's been this way from the beginning. No matter how hard Mormons try, no matter how many votes Romney gets, no matter how many TD passes Young throws, no matter how many hospitals Jon Huntsman Sr. builds, no matter how many Mormons are trotted onto the national stage to be prodded and poked and studied, they're still misunderstood.
There was a man in England, for instance, who told a Mormon missionary that he was in on their secret: He knew the Mormons had a secret tunnel under the ocean from England to America that they utilized to transport their plural wives.
That was back when they had horns.
Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. Please send e-mail to [email protected]