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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

by Saint Mark (bio)

Nineteen years ago, when I got baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there was no source I could readily access to find out what mormons believed. Oh sure, there were missionaries and LDS chapels, but I was too young and intimidated to actually approach and talk to an actual mormon about their beliefs. Plus, I heard they were a cult and had horns so I didn't want to get brainwashed by their secret underwear or hidden wives.

Unfortunately, the only sources I could speak to were people who were adamantly against anything having to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the mormons. Family and friends who were not LDS would tell me rumors and gossip they had heard second or third-hand. I even knew of Christian churches that had material in their foyers depicting the "evils of mormonism" and "the lies of Joe Smith."

Thankfully, a friend who was mormon had the moxie to talk to me about the LDS church and it was then that I realized that all of the hooey about cults and brainwashing were nothing more than plain ol' discrimination and fear mongering. But, what about all the people like me who were "looking for truth but did not know where to find it"? I often thought about "what ifs" and how God had led me to talk to someone who was brave and open about her faith in Jesus Christ and His church.

Now, with the advent of the internet and the LDS church's website, no one has to be in the dark or listen to only anti-mormons. Anyone can literally peer into a mormon's life and see what I was able to see firsthand. At this Bonneville Communications website, anyone can access videos depicting the lives of Super Bowl winners and cancer survivors that are shared in television ads across the country. The videos are awesome and the stories of faith, struggle, and reliance on God brought me to tears. Some of my favorites are Deborah Gardner, Jeff Decker, Sheryl Garner, and Jarem Frye.

However, I know that there are those who would prefer to listen to critics of the LDS church instead of mormon sites or mormons. But, before we picked our universities or graduate schools, didn't we at least read the school's brochures and/or visit the campus? Before we bought a car, didn't we visit the dealership and read up on the maker's car facts? Before we married our spouse, didn't we talk to them about their ideas, dreams, fears and concerns? I know there is some value to listening to those outside the LDS faith, but I believe there is a lot of value and wisdom in listening and talking to people inside the LDS Church as well.

I'm grateful that the Church is giving a window to the world into the life of a mormon. It demystifies and normalizes the mormon experience and shows everyone what I learned nineteen years ago at the age of seventeen: that mormons are normal, mormons are followers of Jesus Christ and mormons are some of the greatest people I know on earth. And I am humbled and feel privileged to say: I am Saint Mark and I am a mormon.

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