Newsweek Cover: 'Mormons'

Mormon President Promises Not to Use Olympics to Proselytize Visitors;

But Church Will Use Games As A Way to Showcase New Image



Sep 01, 2001, 01:00 ET from Newsweek

    NEW YORK, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Even as many wonder what kind of hosts
 the Mormons will be for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and how their
 religion will influence the Games, the church of Latter-day Saints has been
 quietly seeking to change its image and appear more mainstream, Newsweek
 reports in the September 10 cover story (on newsstands Monday, September 3).
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010901/NEWSWEEK )
     Anticipating unaccustomed scrutiny by national and international media --
 1.5 million visitors are expected, including 9,000 journalists -- Gordon B.
 Hinckley, the church's president and prophet, has promised not to exploit the
 Olympics to proselytize visitors. But Mormon leaders also regard the Games as
 a God-given opportunity to display the many facets of their faith around the
 globe. Some local commentators have already dubbed next year's games the
 "Mo-lympics" because the church and its puritan ethos so dominate the city
 Mormon pioneers created 150 years ago.
     And there will be plenty of reminders of what makes Utah so unique. From
 the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, wafting out of Rice-Eccles Olympic
 Stadium during the opening ceremonies, to the spires of Salt Lake Temple
 serving as a backdrop for the medals presentations, the Mormon presence will
 be hard to miss, writes Reporter Ana Figueroa. And the church is increasing
 its ranks of young women missionaries to take Olympic visitors on guided
 tours, in 40 languages, of Temple Square, already the state's most popular
 tourist destination. And at night, visitors can learn more about Mormonism
 through a sound and light extravagance called "Light of the World," with a
 cast of 1,500 telling "an Olympic-themed story embedded with our own message
 about Christ," says the church's spokesman Michael R. Otterson.
     Once a hated, hunted Utah sect, the Mormons are now a global church worth
 an estimated $25 billion and claiming 11 million members, a slight majority of
 them living outside the United States. And for more than two decades, the
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked hard to alter its
 image, reports Religion Editor Kenneth Woodward.
     The church is no longer whites-only, thanks to an infusion of converted
 Latinos, Asians and Africans. Once staunchly separatist, Mormons today
 cooperate with other churches in providing international relief. And it now
 insists that it be regarded as a Christian church. In this way, they aim to
 emphasize what Mormons share with historic Christianity, not what makes them
 different. More importantly, Woodward writes, the Mormon rhetoric is becoming
 more overtly evangelical, resembling Methodist or even Southern Baptist
 teachings.
     And as for the state's restrictive laws on socializing and alcohol
 consumption, Utah governor Michael Leavitt, a Mormon, insists there will
 "twice the number of places to buy a drink at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games
 than there were at Lillehammer and Nagano combined." In fact, Wasatch Brewery
 has just introduced a new product in time for the Games: Polygamy Porter, a
 brew that meets the state's rules of a watered-down 3.2 percent beer, which is
 being promoted with the slogans "Why have just one?" and "Take one home for
 the wives."
 
                       (Read Newsweek's news releases at
               http://www.Newsweek.MSNBC.com. Click "Pressroom.")
 
                      MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X21142519
 
 

SOURCE Newsweek
    NEW YORK, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Even as many wonder what kind of hosts
 the Mormons will be for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and how their
 religion will influence the Games, the church of Latter-day Saints has been
 quietly seeking to change its image and appear more mainstream, Newsweek
 reports in the September 10 cover story (on newsstands Monday, September 3).
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010901/NEWSWEEK )
     Anticipating unaccustomed scrutiny by national and international media --
 1.5 million visitors are expected, including 9,000 journalists -- Gordon B.
 Hinckley, the church's president and prophet, has promised not to exploit the
 Olympics to proselytize visitors. But Mormon leaders also regard the Games as
 a God-given opportunity to display the many facets of their faith around the
 globe. Some local commentators have already dubbed next year's games the
 "Mo-lympics" because the church and its puritan ethos so dominate the city
 Mormon pioneers created 150 years ago.
     And there will be plenty of reminders of what makes Utah so unique. From
 the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, wafting out of Rice-Eccles Olympic
 Stadium during the opening ceremonies, to the spires of Salt Lake Temple
 serving as a backdrop for the medals presentations, the Mormon presence will
 be hard to miss, writes Reporter Ana Figueroa. And the church is increasing
 its ranks of young women missionaries to take Olympic visitors on guided
 tours, in 40 languages, of Temple Square, already the state's most popular
 tourist destination. And at night, visitors can learn more about Mormonism
 through a sound and light extravagance called "Light of the World," with a
 cast of 1,500 telling "an Olympic-themed story embedded with our own message
 about Christ," says the church's spokesman Michael R. Otterson.
     Once a hated, hunted Utah sect, the Mormons are now a global church worth
 an estimated $25 billion and claiming 11 million members, a slight majority of
 them living outside the United States. And for more than two decades, the
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked hard to alter its
 image, reports Religion Editor Kenneth Woodward.
     The church is no longer whites-only, thanks to an infusion of converted
 Latinos, Asians and Africans. Once staunchly separatist, Mormons today
 cooperate with other churches in providing international relief. And it now
 insists that it be regarded as a Christian church. In this way, they aim to
 emphasize what Mormons share with historic Christianity, not what makes them
 different. More importantly, Woodward writes, the Mormon rhetoric is becoming
 more overtly evangelical, resembling Methodist or even Southern Baptist
 teachings.
     And as for the state's restrictive laws on socializing and alcohol
 consumption, Utah governor Michael Leavitt, a Mormon, insists there will
 "twice the number of places to buy a drink at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games
 than there were at Lillehammer and Nagano combined." In fact, Wasatch Brewery
 has just introduced a new product in time for the Games: Polygamy Porter, a
 brew that meets the state's rules of a watered-down 3.2 percent beer, which is
 being promoted with the slogans "Why have just one?" and "Take one home for
 the wives."
 
                       (Read Newsweek's news releases at
               http://www.Newsweek.MSNBC.com. Click "Pressroom.")
 
                      MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X21142519
 
 SOURCE  Newsweek