The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, teaches that God is a resurrected man from a previous world who, through a plurality of wives, produced the human spirits that now inhabit this planet. Further, that there are many gods and that LDS men and women are destined to become such.
Despite these and many other unbiblical doctrines, the LDS Church continues to double its population every ten to twelve years. Presently, it boasts a membership nearing thirteen million, continues to add about a million new members every three years or less, and projects a figure of ninety million by the year 2030.(2)
WHY ARE THEY SUCCESSFUL?
The reason for their success lies in strategic advertising. Before Mormon missionaries appear at anyone's door, the church's high-tech public relations organization moves in with its sophisticated advertising techniques, electronic broadcasting, satellite dishes, print media, telecommunications, motion pictures, and radio. With $550 million set aside worldwide, including $100 million for the U.S., they are determined to see that their message reaches every home.(3)
And, what is their message? Not that individuals can become gods, or that temple rituals are required for full salvation, or that heaven can only be gained through the certification of Joseph Smith--these doctrines and others are concealed.
Rather, they bombard the public with Christian values. More specifically, that happiness and family solidarity can be gained by following the teachings of Jesus Christ as contained in the Book of Mormon, the latter offered free through an 800 number.
Recently, they have devised a better strategy. Instead of a free Book of Mormon, they are now offering a free Bible.(4) What greater way to avert the public's attention away from their unbiblical theology! The free Bibles are then delivered by enthusiastic missionaries intent on telling people how the Bible has been so mistranslated that it is untrustworthy; but the Book of Mormon is the "pure" word of God.
In third world countries, rather than portraying family values, their advertising may focus on health and hygiene, law and order, or obedience to authority--whatever is applicable to that country's situation. Even sports are used.
BIBLES, BASKETBALL, AND BROADCASTING
In South America, BYU basketball games were broadcast free for five years. When the Mormon missionaries were finally sent in, they were instructed to look only for houses that had TV antennas. Introducing themselves as BYU students, they inquired if anyone in the household had seen the games. It was an automatic door opener.(5)
Advertising in foreign countries requires time and perseverance. For example, the church had to invest ten years of broadcasting in the Dominican Republic before they were able to organize a mission. But it worked. They attributed the first one thousand baptisms to their advance publicity.(6)
In countries that are against missionizing, the Church sends the Tabernacle Choir and BYU international dance teams as goodwill ambassadors.
However, they have more than goodwill on their mind. Their intent, as one BYU professor admitted, is to act in a "John the Baptist function in preparing these nations for the message of the (Mormon) gospel."(7) After sufficient goodwill is established, LDS leaders approach government officials and ask if Mormons can live in their country, assuring them there will be no proselytizing. Deceptively, members move in and begin evangelizing underground. Those unfortunate to be caught by the secret police are quickly arrested and deported.(8)
But, generally, LDS media campaigns are successful. The total audience reached through radio and television alone, is "2.3 million adults per day [or] 357.4 million people in a single year." Missionary activity has grown by 16 percent worldwide,(9) and the church is growing at the rate of 880 new members per day, 26,782 a month, 321,385 a year.(10)
STRATEGIES OF THE MISSIONARIES
After advertising has paved the way, missionaries are sent out. Performing as instructed, they talk about God only in orthodox Christian terms and conceal all unbiblical beliefs. Mormon leaders, F. Burton Howard and F. Enzio Busche, members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said: "We have an obligation to conceal our doctrines; [because] we are trying to be a mainstream Christian church . . ."(11) This deception is so successful, that many converts who later leave the LDS Church, said they believed they were simply joining another Christian church.
DO YOU FEEL GOOD?
One particular strategy used by missionaries, is to reiterate that the yardstick for truth is a "good feeling". At certain points during their presentation, they ask: "Do you feel good about what you've heard so far?" Impressed with orthodox-sounding beliefs, most usually say "yes". The missionaries then explain that these feelings are produced by the Holy Ghost. Similar questions are repeated as lessons progress, and contacts are soon convinced that whatever they feel good about, including unbiblical beliefs, must be God confirming the truth--no need to check the Bible. Further, when individuals are told to pray and ask God if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, rather than being told to use the Bible's criteria for testing a prophet, they are told to pray until they again receive a good feeling in their heart.
In addition, missionaries falsely prioritize Jesus Christ by giving the impression that they believe in full salvation through Jesus Christ. But, in reality, their church teaches that to enter the highest heaven where God dwells, Jesus is not enough. One must participate in temple ordinances and receive Joseph Smith's certification. Brigham Young stated, "No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the Celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith."(12) This explains why a member is expected to acquire a "testimony" of Joseph Smith's divine calling.
Another crucial strategy of the missionaries is to convince contacts that Mormonism was part of God's long-range plan from the beginning.
In the first lesson they show from the Bible that God had a "plan" for history: He planned to create man in his own image; he made a plan whereby his children could progress; he planned to send Jesus Christ, he planned to establish the New Testament church; he planned a heavenly reward for the faithful, etc. Over and over, the word "plan" is psychologically planted, creating a programmed mentality in the individual to anticipate more. Missionaries reason thusly: "If God had a plan, would he suddenly quit in the middle of human history after Jesus' resurrection? No! God would be continuously unfolding more of His plan so He could provide more blessings for His children."
With that persuasion, the individual is ready to hear why God has rejected Christendom, has restored the only true church through Joseph Smith, and has revealed the rest of his plan which includes the priesthood, Book of Mormon, temple rituals, work for the dead, godhood, and much more.
BAIT AND SWITCH
One subtle device, which often goes undetected, is the gradual replacement of Bible scriptures with Mormon scripture. For example, during the first lesson on God, the missionaries quote four Bible scriptures, but only one (biblically-sounding) Mormon scripture. Impressive!
But, then, a gradual change is made. In the lesson on Jesus Christ, Bible scriptures are gradually reduced to two and Mormon scriptures increased to four. Each lesson thereafter subtly diminishes the use of Bible Scripture until, by the sixth and final lesson, only Mormon scriptures are used--which are usually accepted without question.
Missionary lessons are given in the home of an officially-appointed "friendshipping family". When the missionaries conclude and are ready to move on, any individual reluctant to join, is left in the hands of "friendshippers". They are instructed to continue conversion efforts by down-playing religion and focusing on establishing friendly ties. This usually works.
PUBLIC RELATIONS OBJECTIVE
The total aim of LDS leaders, both through their missionaries and advertising, is to convince the public they are Christian.(13) To further facilitate this image, they have changed their logo by enlarging only the name of "Jesus Christ."
Determined to accomplish their goal, leaders continue to conceal doctrines and attempt to join ministerial alliances and ecumenical ministries. They attend Christian functions and continue televising messages on family values along side of Christian programming. In addition, they instruct missionaries to volunteer their time in community projects, approach Christian churches and help with their youth, assist toddler programs at local YMCAs and serve in soup lines. Plus, every Easter, members stage an extravagant performance of the life of Christ on the lawns of the Mesa, Arizona Temple.
THE ULTIMATE PARADOX
While the Mormon Church's efforts to promote a Christian image may fool some, for others it raises serious questions.
Can they really be Christian, yet teach that God is an exalted and polygamous man? Can they declare publicly that they believe in redemption through the cross, yet teach that Jesus' sacrifice isn't enough? Can they claim to believe in the truth of the Bible, yet teach Satan's lie, "Ye shall become as gods?"(14) Can they insist that temple ordinances are required for heaven, when the Bible says that ordinances were nailed to the cross?(15)
It is the ultimate paradox. How can the LDS Church claim to be Christian, yet persist in anti-Christian beliefs?
If the LDS Church truly wishes to join hands with Christianity, there is only one way--it must reject its unbiblical doctrines.
When they do that, the Christian community will be waiting with open arms.
The author, a former Mormon of thirty-four years, served two stake missions. She is also in possession of the official lesson discussions used by missionaries.
*Copyright 2003. This article cannot be copied and used in a professional publication without express permission of the author.
1. D. Michael Quinn, former LDS historian.
2. Anson Shupe, The Darker Side of Virtue (Buffalo, Prometheus Books, 1991), 23. Citing Neal A. Maxwell, “The Church Can Now Be Universal with Priesthood Revelation of 1978,” Church news, January 5, 1980, p. 20. In Shupe and Maxell’s account, it states twelve million. However, the new membership figure for 2006 is approaching thirteen million. This figure is from the National Council of Churches’ publication, 2007 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, (www.ncccusa.org) where it also lists the LDS church as the fourth-largest religion in the United States. Membership, as of 2006, is 12,560,869. The 2006 count of the net increase of members’ “children of record” who were baptized was more than 94,000. The count for “convert baptisms” for 2006 was 272,800. This figure probably includes the 94,000.
3. Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), 164.
4. The KJV, with cross-referencing to Mormon scriptures.
5. Shupe, 27, 29.
6. Shupe, 27.
7. Shupe, 37. See also, "Touring Groups Touch Hearts," Church News (June 20, 1981): 4.
8. Shupe, 33.
9. Ron Rhodes, The Culting of America (Eugene: Harvest House, 1994), 15, 108.
10. As of April 1997. See "LDS Church reorganizes area leaders" by Vern Anderson, Associated Press, April 1997.
11. The Salt Lake Tribune, April 23, 1994. Cited in The Evangel (Marlow, OK, September 1994), 4.
12. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Joseph F. Smith, ed. (1854-86; reprint, Salt Lake City: BYU Press, 1967), 7:289.
13. The statement that the Mormon Church is not Christian, means the church and its theology, not necessarily individual Mormons.