This edition of Getting It Right features a Time.com post that neglects key facts about Mormons’ understanding of the Bible, a rabbi’s lessons learned from touring a Mormon temple, a Los Angeles Times feature on a Mormon pursuing an Olympic dream, and the Church bringing relief to wheelchair users in Trinidad and Tobago.
Time.com: Studies Say Salt Lake Among Least “Bible-minded” Cities, But Neglects Key Facts About Mormons’ Devotion to the Bible
Time.com quotes two new studies – one from the American Bible Society, the other from BibleGateway.com – that rank Salt Lake City among the least “Bible-minded” cities in the United States. Because Utah and Mormons are synonymous in the minds of many Americans, it’s important to note that the BibleGateway study is based on how many people use its Bible-searching software – a problem because Mormons access the Bible primarily through LDS.org, the Church’s Gospel Library mobile app, or their physical copy of the scriptures.
It’s also imperative to recognize the many ways Latter-day Saints engage with the Bible on a weekly and even daily basis that neither the studies nor the Time.com post points out.
It’s a lengthy list. For example:
- The National Bible Association chose Salt Lake City as National Bible City and the location for its National Bible Week in November 2013. In fact, hundreds of people of many faiths gathered in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on 23 November 2013 for a concert to celebrate the Bible – the week’s signature event.
- A 2010 Pew Research Center study found that Mormons scored higher than any other group in queries about Christianity and the Bible.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Sunday School program – which takes place for an hour each Sunday – employs a study system in which members focus on one of its four books of scripture each year. This year, for example, Mormons across the globe are spending at least one hour a week during Sunday services studying and discussing the Old Testament. Next year, the text will be the New Testament, followed by the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and then back to the Old Testament in 2018.
- In 2010, the Church constructed a replica of ancient Jerusalem 56 miles south of Salt Lake City as part of its Bible videos project. To date, 67 Bible videos about the life of Jesus Christ have been produced, and have received 13 million online views.
- In honor of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011, BYUtv produced a three-part documentary on the remarkable story of this Bible’s coming forth. The sacred text’s impact on religion is detailed in more than 130 reenactments filmed in eight different countries (including actual sites where original events transpired), and 18 international scholars and religious leaders provide insight into the book’s origin. (See part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the documentary.)
- Also in 2011, MormonNewsroom.org wrote about the tremendous undertaking, completed in 1979, to create the Church’s own King James Version with study helps and other related resources.
- And in a seminal 2007 general conference address focused on Latter-day Saints’ belief in the Bible, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told Mormons across the world that “it is not by chance or coincidence that we have the Bible today. Righteous individuals were prompted by the Spirit to record both the sacred things they saw and the inspired words they heard and spoke. Other devoted people were prompted to protect and preserve these records. Men like John Wycliffe, the courageous William Tyndale, and Johannes Gutenberg were prompted against much opposition to translate the Bible into language people could understand and to publish it in books people could read. I believe even the scholars of King James had spiritual promptings in their translation work.”
Many more examples could be listed. Suffice it to say that Mormons love, frequently study and are deeply devoted to the Bible.
Jewish News (Arizona): What One Rabbi Learned From Touring the Gilbert Arizona Mormon Temple
Rabbi Jeremy Schneider of Temple Kol Ami says his faith teaches that “one who learns from ALL people” is wise. In that spirit, Rabbi Schneider describes what he learned from touring The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Gilbert Arizona Temple (the temple open house continues through 15 February).
Rabbi Schneider notes that this “magnificent temple is more than 85,000 square feet and houses exquisite furnishings from all over the world, including Jerusalem stone.” He also says his group was “treated with the utmost respect, and [the Mormons] were proud to show us what they believe to be their holiest place on Earth.”
Schneider says this experience teaches him about “complete faith” – a kind of trust that “gives [Mormons] serenity and an acceptance of adversity, which I admire. As a Jew, I am always ready to argue with God. But maybe there is a time simply to say, I believe in God and I trust in God.'”
He concludes that “we can all learn from our Mormon neighbors and many other worldviews. … Such open-mindedness can only make our religion and our faith stronger.”
Read Rabbi Schneider’s entire commentary.
Los Angeles Times: Mormon Kate Hansen Pursuing Olympic Dream in Sochi
Columnist Bill Plaschke writes about Olympic hopeful Kate Hansen, who will contend for a luge medal in Sochi. While Plaschke’s piece doesn’t focus on Latter-day Saint beliefs, it tells a compelling story of an everyday Mormon’s upbringing (including her family’s focus on religious studies) and pursuit of an Olympic dream.
Read Plaschke’s column at latimes.com.
Trinidad and Tobago Guardian: The Church Brings Relief to Wheelchair Users
Reporter Josh Suartes writes about a group of volunteers from across Trinidad and Tobago who received a three-day training from Mormon volunteers last week on how to properly measure and fit a wheelchair (according to World Health Organization standards) for those who need one.
The Church’s wheelchair initiative (one of LDS Charities’ seven key focus areas) strives to improve mobility, health and educational and economic opportunities for people with physical disabilities. In cooperation with local organizations, LDS Charities works to improve the services provided to the physically disabled and distribute manual wheelchairs or walking aids appropriate to individual needs and circumstances.
Read the entire article from the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.