The Church in the news – impacting public policy

An AP writer wrote a great article on the church today. If Mitt Romney has done nothing else, he sure has focused attention on the LDS church. In the past I have sometimes been outraged by the poor reporting the church has received. Articles have been full of misconceptions, stereotypes and outright falsehoods.

For the most part, the press coverage on the church during this campaign has been favorable. This article is a good example. For example, Jennifer Dobner, the AP writer, quotes Richard Mouw, head of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena CA: “Mormons believe that God and humans are of the same species. In our eyes they have tried to bridge that gap in ways that really is a fundamental violation.”

What a great quote that invites discussion. What is the ‘fundamental violation’ to which Mr Mouw is referring? A violation of what – somebody’s idea of God? Surely not the Bible’s. God is our Father in Heaven. He is the Father of our spirits. That means we are the ‘same species.’ What’s so hard about that? We are his spirit children and children grow up to be like their parents – but that’s a discussion for a different day.

The Savior made that clear so often as he taught. So did Paul in Hebrews 12:9: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” And Malachi 2:10: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

No wonder this is such a favorable article. Jennifer Dobner is an employee of The Deseret News which is owned by the LDS Church. That’s OK. The article still invites discussion because of the great quotes from others who do not share some of our doctrinal viewpoints. For example, she quotes Randall Balmar, professor of religion at Columbia University.

Referring to the Book of Mormon he said, “Here you’ve got an additional testament of Jesus Christ and a source of continuing, authoritative revelation. It simply rubs evangelicals the wrong way.” Yep, the Book of Mormon sure sets us apart from most other Christian religions. But it sure is good evidence that speaks for itself. I like the fact that he referred to it as ‘an additional testament of Jesus Christ.”

I assume the ‘source of continuing authoritative revelation’ he is referring to is modern-day prophets and apostles who speak for the Lord by virtue of the priesthood and their callings. That’s a great place to lead a discussion because that is also a major difference between the LDS Church and all others. We have the apostles and prophets who claim authority from God to speak in His name.

These are bold declarations. I wonder how much Mitt will touch on in his speech tomorrow. It will probably contain very little doctrine and focus more on the role of religion in guiding the candidate and potential future president of the United States. To quote Richard Mouw again, “a lot of people worry that a church with a very strong authority center could influence a public leader by suddenly getting a new revelation that has an impact on public policy.”

What do you think? What are the chances of ‘new revelation’ impacting public policy?