Mormon Media Symposium: The Mormon dilemma

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By Ashtynn Glenn

“The Mormon Dilemma: The Pros and Cons of Being a Peculiar People” By Dr. David Campbell

PROVO — Studies back up claims that Mormons should reach out to members of other faiths, keynote speaker David Campbell told those in attendance at the Mormon Media Studies Symposium Thursday.

Dr. David Campbell, once a professor of political science at Notre Dame University, came to BYU yesterday as the keynote speaker. Dr. Campbell is noted to be the author of American Grace, which has won many academic awards, along with many other novels and academic articles.

Dr. Campbell discussed Mormons as a peculiar people and the pros and cons that come from being identified as such.

According to research conducted by Dr. Campbell and colleagues, Mormons are a peculiar people because of their collectively high activity in religious and non-religious volunteering, their distinctiveness, and their cohesiveness.

Dr. Campbell compared Mormons to a sacred tabernacle. They have symbolic boundaries drawn between those who are Mormon and those who are not Mormon. This sacred tabernacle Mormons metaphorically create distinguishes their identity as a Mormon community.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Campbell and colleagues for his book, American Grace, Jews were ranked the most popular religion in the country. Right beside Jews were Catholics and then Protestants. Further, Mormons were in the bottom three, followed by Buddhists and Muslims.

He believes that Mormons are at the bottom of the spectrum because of the sacred tabernacle they build. In comparison, the reason Jews are at top is because they build bridges on the outside. Campbell explained that Jews have more friends or family outside of their religion than Mormons.

In his presentation, Dr. Campbell presented several studies that showed how people who knew a Mormon well were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney for president.

“When Americans know a Mormon well, their attitudes toward a Mormon change,” said Dr. Campbell.

Dr. Campbell proposed that members of the Mormon faith move away from the sacred tabernacles that they build.

Mormons should reach out, the biggest factor to being viewed positively by other Americans is the personal relationships members have Campbell said.

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