In conjunction with the Draper Temple Open House, the Church issued invitations to several national news outlets to come and see inside the temple which they so often label as secret or suspicious. Dan Harris from ABC News took the Church up on the offer and his interview with Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook appeared Friday in a 30 second story on World News Tonight (video here) and an eight-and-a-half minute segment on Nightline.

A similar text version of the Nightline story can be found here.

Both stories acknowledge that Mormons have had a rough two years in the media because of Mitt Romney’s run for the Presidency and the Prop 8 battle in California, and they say that this opportunity to sit down with two apostles of the Church is unprecedented, a chance for the Church to repair the image of their faith that has been badly bruised.

Elder Ballard told Harris, “We want to be understood, not misunderstood, and people are defining us in the wrong way. They’re defining us without having the facts.”

Both apostles were bold in their assertions:

“We know the voice of the Lord, we know when he wants us to do something,” said Elder Ballard, and shared the story of praying for rain in the midst of a drought. “Before we left the temple it was raining.”

The two stories used footage supplied them by the Church to show the inside of the temple and they mentioned that the belief in the eternal nature of the family

“Family is at the center of the temple rituals. There is a sealing room, where couples are married for eternity and bound together along with their children. In the Mormon religion, the family is the route to eternal salvation.”

They called the practice of baptism for the dead “controversial.”

Regarding Proposition 8, ABC reported: “In their early years, the Mormons were violently persecuted. And it is precisely because of that painful past that critics charge the Mormons with hypocrisy in ur ging its members, in a letter read from the pulpit in every church in California , to give their money and time to defeat gay marriage in California .

“‘We were for marriage between a man and a woman because that is the issue that will protect the future of this country and this civilization,’ said Cook.’It’s for the protection of the 5,000-year history of marriage being between a man and a woman.’

When asked if he thought that Mormons were being unfairly singled out for persecution over the Prop 8 battle or perhaps they were the victims of their own success, Elder Ballard answered, “Well, that’s part of it, but the other part of it is when something needs to be done, we know how do to it.”

ABC concluded, “And what the leadership wants now, the reason they brought us to the temple, is to be less timid about defending the faith, a faith based on ideas that many people still find hard to believe.”

“Yes, it is a big story, it is a big message, but it’s true,” said Ballard. “We get beat up out there telling it, but so what? We’ll keep doing it the best we know how.”