Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Duce's Wild: Enough already: Mormons are Bible-loving Christians

By Stacie Duce, For the Deseret News

Published: Fri, April 25 5:00 a.m. MDT

 A recent study commissioned and released by the American Bible Society groups Mormons in the same category as agnostics when studying the results. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A recent study commissioned and released by the American Bible Society groups Mormons in the same category as agnostics when studying the results. Nothing could be further from the truth.

(Shutterstock)

I curiously read April’s release of an annual project commissioned by the American Bible Society to monitor beliefs and behaviors of U.S. adults in relation to the Bible. Zealous headlines read that as of 2014, the number of “scripture haters” equals the number of “scripture lovers.”

Since hate is such a strong word, I decided to read the posted results (see americanbible.org/uploads/content/state-of-the-bible-data-analysis-american-bible-society-2014.pdf). It didn’t take long for me to feel nauseated over the fact that the ABS would consider me to be a Bible hater because of my religion.

For analysis, it segmented the poll participants by age as well by religiosity — one group for practicing Protestants and Catholics, one group for non-practicing Christians, and another for those with no faith AND other faith.

To quote the study’s description of that last group, “Individuals who do not consider themselves Christian (including atheists, agnostics and other faiths); Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also included, even if they describe themselves as Christian.”

Apparently my opinion is equal to that of an agnostic when it comes to the Bible.

To the ABS, it doesn’t matter that each member of my family has a personal copy of the King James Bible next to his or her bed. It doesn’t matter that my daughter’s bookshelves of children’s literature contain no less than 37 non-denominational books on Bible stories. It doesn’t matter that I’m a Sunday School teacher who reads both Old and New Testament scriptures weekly with my students. It doesn’t matter that my teenagers have spent almost an hour before every school day for two years studying the teachings of the Old and New Testaments in depth.

I’m complaining not only for myself but also for the sweet Jehovah's Witness couple who knocked on my door recently. We talked for at least 10 minutes on Bible principles and our love for scripture. If they aren’t Christian — in demeanor, deed and dedication — then I’d have trouble finding their replacements.

I don't buy the statistical results of the ABS’s 2014 Bible survey because they categorically imply that those who also read and cherish the Book of Mormon are Bible haters.

In 1979, a new version of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was released that included years of painstaking research to cross-reference the writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent with those who lived in the Middle East.

So any time my topical scripture studies might focus on charity, for example, our amazing topical guide offers a list of 15 relevant scriptures in the Bible, seven scriptures in the Book of Mormon and three scriptures in modern-day revelation called the Doctrine and Covenants, with dozens of cross-references on related topics. My personal and class study rarely focus on one book of scripture alone and instead exemplify Ezekiel’s prophecy that the stick of Joseph and the stick of Ephraim would become “one in thine hand.

Some of the greatest definitions of truth and clarity on people, culture and gospel principles are found in a comprehensive Bible Dictionary — an addendum to our King James Bible that was compiled by Mormon scholars.

Since the ABS survey only deems practicing Protestants and Catholics as viable Bible readers, they are missing out on 6 million American Mormons with a lay ministry whose active members, including teenagers, have an impressive and well-earned comprehension and appreciation of Bible history, theology and everyday application.

Whatever ABS’ motivation to align Mormons with agnostics and ultimately to put them in the Bible-hating category rather than the Bible-loving category leaves out an entire segment that could give them more hope for change that occurs in society where holy writ is valued.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on deseretnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

Recommended
1. EternalPerspective
Eldersburg, MD,
April 25, 2014

The world has always rejected the claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is even Christian, let alone the restored Church of Christ written of in the Bible.

Lies, contentions, and persecutions may rage against us and even rise to levels of the past with mobs and violence. But, we have infinite hope that our greatest rewards are not of the world, but in the testimonies we develop and the works we do to glorify the Savior.

We are a peculiar people who have never been more tempted to minimize ourselves because of scrutiny from a mainstream culture that has departed so far from our values in this day.

It would be so easy to become bothered and saddened by the world's take on us. But only in and through the redemptive power of the Savior can we bear the shame of all the crosses of the world to stand in holy places and be not moved.

This is our time to shine forth the light and truth of the Gospel by works and not subject ourselves to worldliness or worldly lies, but rise above them henceforth and forever.

2. RG
Buena Vista, VA,
April 25, 2014

Thank you Stacie and I hope you have sent the American Bible Society a copy of your column as well as a request for an apology.

3. JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC,
April 25, 2014

Ms Duce highlights the problem with organized religion.

The animosity towards the "religious" is very often from others who are "religious".

It is very easy to SAY that we are accepting of other religions, but oftentimes those are just words. And people believe it, while unaware of their own animosity towards other faiths.

Seriously. Think about the general public perception of Scientologists. Or Muslims. Or Jehovahs Witnesses. Or the FLDS. Think about YOUR personal perception of these religions. Be Honest.

Then tell me that those perceptions don't affect how you view or treat those groups.

Even the religious cant come to agreements.

This is why religion should be kept out of the public square.

4. Karen R.
Houston, TX,
April 25, 2014

I've reviewed the study. I came away with the same impression as the author. LDS and other Christian-based religions that were not Protestant or Catholic were dismissed as "other."

The ABS web site claims that the ABS adheres to four core principles, one of which is "unity." It quotes John 17:21: "I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me."

It also claims "respect" as a core principle.

I do not find this irony surprising.

5. OldSoul
Gilbert, AZ,
April 25, 2014

Having taken a few statistics courses In my day I had to laugh at the bizarre way they grouped the data. Statistics can be manipulated so easily after the fact to achieve a pre-determined end.... That's what lit looks like they did. My mother, a non-Mormon who reads the Bible daily, was similarly marginalized.... It's a silly study.