In a published interview in Time online April 11, 2012 Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the South Baptist Convention stated that “...Mormons and evangelicals are in competition”.
This guarded stance may help explain the often hostile views that Baptists and many evangelicals in general have towards the LDS Church. Even among what are often labeled “mainline” Christian churches there are significant doctrinal differences. Yet, the LDS faith seems to have been singled out as the target of near-obsessive public and private negative comments.
Land went on to say that “Most evangelicals know what Mormons believe. Their pastors have taught them in order to inoculate them against the missionaries going door to door.”
Predictably, information presented by pastors designed to “inoculate” members from the missionary efforts of another faith is often presented in an unfair and unflattering light.
National TV coverage of Pastor Jeffress labeling the LDS Church a cult from the pulpit of his Dallas mega-church to the sounds of enthusiastic applause of his congregation is stunning.
The effect of these efforts is the vilifying and stigmatizing of the Mormon Church and its people in the eyes of many evangelicals.
The Mormons on the other hand view relations with other faiths quite differently. The idea of “competition” with other churches is not part of LDS thinking according to Jan Chappell an LDS Church public affairs representative in the Houston area.
“We are busy trying to be the best people that we can be and prefer to serve shoulder to shoulder with those of other faiths in our communities, irrespective of their doctrinal beliefs.”
In fact within the LDS Church there are no lessons, courses or seminars that discuss other faiths. No comparative religion classes are taught and other churches are never discussed over the pulpit.
The role of Mormon missionaries is also viewed differently from inside the LDS church. Missionaries spend their time serving in the community and presenting church teachings.
According to missionary sources, more often than not, discussions with Mormon Missionaries result in the individual becoming recommitted to their own faith rather than converting to Mormonism.
In the church’s April 2011 General Conference, Boyd K. Packer one of the senior apostles in the church stated as a caution to those considering the LDS faith, “If someone is looking for a church that requires very little, this is not the one”.
With over four million members in the U.S., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the nation’s fourth largest church.