The Church's Reputation: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunity

When the public understands that Mormons are a people whose practices and doctrine are rooted in Christ and that Mormons really do try as a whole to live their religion, we have reached a starting point. Joseph Smith himself, who organized the Church in 1830, said, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."

In the years ahead, segments of the public may not always agree with stances the Church takes on social or moral issues as it strives to teach its doctrine, and its members exercise their right to practice their religion freely. But even though some may disagree, they can still respect the Church as an institution for the good it does in society.

Such was the experience of English novelist Charles Dickens, at first a critic of the Church, but who, after visiting a Mormon emigrant ship in 1842, wrote of the Church that "some remarkable influence [has] produced a remarkable result." In short, the example and actions of the ordinary members of the Church carried enough weight to remove his misconceptions. In 1842, the Church had less than 25,000 members. Today, there are 14 million. In 1842, the world relied on a few newspapers and periodic journals.

Today, we have the internet, social media, and a host of other opportunities. No surprise, then, that most Mormons living today believe that the Church's best days are ahead of it.


Michael R. Otterson is the managing director of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born and educated in Britain, he entered journalism in his native city of Liverpool and later worked as a journalist in Australia and Japan. In 1976 he left journalism to work in public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

8/9/2010 4:00:00 AM
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