My husband and I finally had the opportunity to view at least parts of your documentary on the Mormons tonight, and we were very disappointed. The way ideas and opinions were slanted was so obvious to me, as a practicing Mormon, that I felt like the rest of the world was being cheated of the chance to form their own opinions. There were certain parts during which I found myself thinking, "If I didn't know anything about the church and learned about it from this, I don't think I'd want to join it!" However, with my years of experience as a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nothing could be further from the truth. Every joy, every blessing, every particle of hope I've experienced in my life has come from my membership in this church, and I'm a member of my own accord, as a result of my own research, pondering, and praying. While your documentary focused so much on the negative, our church is a religion of joy, hope, and happiness. It brings peace to people's lives, and its members desire to share that with the world. What can be so negative about that?
Cedar City, UT
For some reason or other, I have almost always had close friends that are LDS. So my experience with members of the LDS chruch has been constant, but at a low level. Since I was in Junior High, to my college roommate to my close friend who is in her 30's, as am I. I watched the program with her teenage daughter, who has been raised in the LDS church.
She was astounded at the information about the Meadows Massacre and plural marriages. She had a hard time understanding that polygamy was connected with the Mormon belief at all or that people today may think that the LDS church practices this. This lack of information could mean a couple of things. Like maybe she has no knowledge of her church's history because that this information is so repressed in the culture of the church OR that the community of the LDS church has moved beyond this history and doesn't want to keep stiring it up.
Of course, she only 17 years old, but has been an extremely active member of her church. (I was raised Episcopalian and we were taught a lot of church history as we grew up. Even the Henry VIII-kind of warts. lol)
I just thought it was very interesting that she didn't know a lot of the basic info presented in the film. I had heard a lot of the history portions before, particulary in relation to Native Americans (I am one, as is my friend and her daughter). But I was struck by the conscious effort by the film makers to keep a balance.
I can see why some may think that the documentary focused on some more sensational events/pratices, rather than the day-to-day events. However, the majority of viewers (non-LDS) have probably only heard of the sensational aspects and the film gave logical responses to reasons and trends that may have explained them. I appreciated the balanced presentation of a controversial topic. Thank you
I have just read some of the comments by other viewers of your show. I'm a bit surprised any member of the Mormon church would have reason to complain about the coverage because it was so obviously designed by them and for them to make their faith look good. This was not unbiased journalism. The people you interviewed and listed as "author" or "historian" were simply Mormons puffing their own religion.Your web site can not even state in black and white why Christians do not believe Mormons are Christians. In no place do you use any well-known Chritian theologians to explain the difference. Your poor journalism is only helping to continue the mystery that surrounds this religion and allows them to draw in unsuspecting persons.
Viewing this documentary was a positive experience for me. The family is of great significance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While writing about this topic, one person on this site commented, "I hope and pray that revelation will continue to come and that doctrine can be established soon to give hope to homosexual, single, and divorced children of God, because they are part of our human family too and will be saved." As a well-informed, divorced member of the Church, I can tell you that we teach that God loves all of His children. The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that every human being is a child of God. Those who do their absolute best to follow God in this life will be saved in the next - regardless of earthly marital status.
Thank you for the time and effort you spent on a well-made program. Thank you also for providing a link on this site to the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which provides an accurate description of our core beliefs.
I have watched a little over half of this series and really thought it was wonderful. I think it presented a balanced view of the Mormon faith and of their incredible accomplishments.
As an agnostic, I have tremendous respect for the Church of Latter Day Saints and for the way Latter Day Saints live their lives. I plan to show this to my AP US History class as an example of a reform movement that survived the Civil War and thrived while most of these movements, unique and wonderful as they were, faded away.
I don't think Mormons should be disappointed in this film. I think they should be proud. To put the polygamy issue and Mountain Meadows in some perspective, I would expect future filmakers to spend considerable time on the priest abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and not shy away from it. It is just being intellectually honest.
I thought Frontline did a great job handling the complex issue of polygamy and while current members may disdain polygamists as "not even part of the church," they must remember that they were once very much a part of the faith and many still believe they are. Polygamy in my mind does not put the current church in a bad light.
Long Beach, CA
As a convert of over forty years to Mormonism, I thoroughly enjoyed this great effort by Helen Whitney. My protestant upbringing has allowed me to view "The Mormons" production from both sides of the fence. I intend to read some of Ms. Whitney's works. "This Frontline special was as balanced as it could be in the brief four hour time frame allowed. Viewers need to understand that the theology of Mormonism is dynamic, fluid and always moving forward. It is an exciting journey.
I thoroughly enjoyed the program. It was historically informative. I cannot say that I believe or disbelieve however it helps with tolerance of all people to understand them a little more. It might be of assistance to some to say "we do not need to practice any specific "organized" religion to be able to speak with God". My belief (a baptized, non-practicing Catholic) is that He is within each of us and hears each of us. We can talk to him through prayer, or plain language - with praise, intercession, etc and follow those Ten Commandments given to us all - Thanks to PBS and to the producers and directors of the program.
FT MYERS, FL
Thank you for an interesting and enlightening story of Americana. I spent seven years living in Salt Lake City, and was a close friend of many Mormans. I understand that members of the LDS community would take issue with perceived criticisms of their sect, but I found the historical content to be fair and factual in nature.
Las Vegas, Nevada
I decided to watch this show to learn more about the Mormon faith because I had friends who were of that faith and wanted to know more about it. Though I am not an LDS member and cannot comment on whether this documentary focused on certain things it shouldn't have, I did not feel like the church was shown in a bad light.
I am glad to have watched this and better understand the history of the religion and the hardships that it's members have surmounted to gain acceptance. I also think that the people who have criticized the ex-communicated in the program are forgetting that most if not all of these people talked about the great sadness they feel at not being part of the church anymore and seemed to truly still love the actual religion. To me, that is a great compliment to the religion and the community.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
As a member of the LDS Church, I must admit I was reluctant to view a program by non-Mormons about Mormonism, even by such excellent programs as the American Experience and Frontline. However, I believe this program was as fair and balanced as anyone could hope for. I both cringed and smiled as different points were brought up, which I thought was the best indication of an unbiased view on an issue I am heavily invested in.
I was pleasantly surprised by the heartfelt stories of both members, converts, and former members as they described their experiences, which added a profoundly human component that has been absent from other documentaries about the Mormon faith. I had expected an overly sterile assessment and was pleased to find real people being interviewed rather than cold experts.
I especially thank the producers and the director for devoting time to the Mountains Meadows Massacre and the ban on blacks in the priesthood. These issues are perhaps the most volatile subjects concerning Mormonism besides polygamy, and I appreciated the sensitive way in which they were handled.
Thank you for continuing the tradition of quality that Frontline and the American Experience have amassed.
I thought that this film was wonderfully done (warts and all). As an active member of the church the portrayal of the church was given in an accurate and at times unpleasant light. The unpleasant part was not concocted by PBS or Frontline as some suggest in their posts but rather the inter-workings, politics and history of the church. I am happy to know that this film was produced and that it can act as a resource.
I am an Educated, Feminist Advocate, Black Mormon Woman that learned more about others views, ideas and examinations of the church through this film. I hope others have watched this film, keeping in mind that the more we learn about Mormonism the more we can unify as members and non-members alike in our quest for knowledge and truth. I hope that others can find the value in this film and films like it.
I was raised to believe that not only my religion but also my ethnicity was Mormon. I spent 23 years active in the church, married in the temple, and left the church for the reasons Margaret Toscano covers. Like others in this discussion, I discounted the program outright before viewing, however became an unwilling viewer as my Mormon mother was watching it while I visited her. I silently groaned to myself as one church official after another gave their views ("testaments"), and one active member after another shared their knowledge and belief (i.e. missionized). Then lo' and behold...other views were shared. I never expected in all my life to see any such program in which church officials and members willingly participate without any control as to the outcome. I was pleased shocked and stunned at the roundedness of the information and views shared. Guess what? So was my mother, the Mormon.
Great job Frontline!
San Jose, CA
I must admit I was extemely interested in what this series might say about the members of the church and our beliefs. I do believe that a lot of research was put into this documentary but as usual the story about the church, its leaders, and our beliefs are told by historians and journalists. I believe that it is good to have different view points however the story of "the Mormons" should be dominantly told by the men and women who do not research the church but who live it. How can the truth be told if it is not done so by those who understand it best. You may devote your whole life to researching religion but until you have faithfully lived it you can never truthfully portray it to someone else.
Thank you Frontline for presenting a fascinating examination of a distincly American story. As a non-Mormon I do not feel qualified to comment on the accuracy of the content, but as an avid watcher of your series I do feel that it is within my grasp to comment on the wonderful produciton of the show. The shots of Utah paired with what I thought were some very elequent speakers made for a kind of visual poetry that seldom graces basic cable. I espescially enjoyed the footage that was paired with the accounts of Joseph Smith's first revelation. Breathtaking.
I am disappointed to read so many negative comments from practicing Mormons who felt their faith was portrayed unfairly. I did not come away from this program with a false sense of Mormon fraud or scandel. Rather, I felt the same complex feelings I have about all major religions. Which, truth be told is the highest praise I could give of a religion I do not practice.
To current LDS members I would hope that in their comments they would choose not to confirm accusations of "anti-intellectualism" by condeming what was a thorough and complex, if not a believers, account.
Thanks again Frontline for contributing to a quality dialogue on TV.
I was surprised at how well this program was put together. I thought it was poignant and thought-provoking. I was able to empathize with the all the people interviewed from both sides. I want to formally thank PBS and Frontline for this production. It forced me to open my mind and really study the LDS church. The result has been life changing for me. I finally feel free.