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I think those new Mormon ads are brilliant but I also think they are dishonest and misleading when used to promote Mormonism.

Back during the Prop 8 campaign, the gay advocates should have created ads such as those. “I pay taxes. I’m honest. I have ideas and talents that prevent you from stuffing me in a neat stereotypical box. Blah, blah, blah. I’m interesting and I’m the type of person you’d imagine would hang out in a coffee shop.  By the way, I’m gay.”

The biggest obstacle to gay rights is people’s misunderstanding of homosexuals.  Studies confirm that the more a person is intimately involved with a gay man or lesbian as a friend or acquaintance, the more likely they are to believe in their equality and support their rights for such things as marriage.  And the truth of the matter is that homosexuality is only one small part of a person’s character and humanity.  It is truly just a footnote.

In the case of Mormons, however, their Mormonism isn’t just an added “by-the-way” in their lives.  It is a core element that clouds every decision in their daily lives from the clothes they wear, the activities they choose to the food they eat. The truth is more along the lines of, “I’m Mormon, but I’m also creative and interesting and outside the stereotypical box is these ways….”

It may be a small difference, but it’s a more honest one.  The other misrepresentation of the commercial is that it is a good example of Mormon leadership speaking out of both sides of their mouths.  Out of one side of their mouths are the expectations they set for the membership.  Out of the other side of their mouths are the image and brand they want to project to the world.

To the membership:

  • We are a peculiar people.
  • There are predetermined, hard coded gender roles, women are to stay at home and nurture children. Men get jobs that will support as many children as possible.
  • Get married young and don’t postpone having children.
  • Devote all your time talents and money to the church and obey church leaders
  • We are the ONE true church on the face of the earth
  • Men can be sealed for eternity to more than one wife in their lifetime.
  • Intellectuals, feminists and homosexuals are the enemies of the church.
  • Don’t think too much. The learned are foolish.

To the world:

  • Mormons are working mothers and highly creative fathers who have time to pursue interests other than church work.
  • Mormons are people who have interesting professional pursuits that almost certainly required postponing marriage and children in order to succeed in them.
  • Mormon political candidates won’t defer to church leaders and church doctrine when making public policy.
  • We are just Christian.  Why don’t other Christian religions accept us as such?
  • We don’t believe in polygamy anymore.
  • The Glory of God is Intelligence.
  • All are welcome.

Perhaps if it were more like an aspiration for Mormons than a commercial then it would be effective and honest. But rarely is outreach ever undertaken without missionary overtones so I highly doubt it.