Posted: Aug 22, 2010 8:14 PM by Jeannette Hynes
Updated: Aug 22, 2010 8:22 PM
They're artists, motorcycle riders, and neighbors. They're also Mormon.
The latest TV ad campaign for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shows regular people doing regular things - breaking old stereotypes about the Mormon church, or maybe more accurately, trying to erase misconceptions about the religion.
"It's somewhat wrenching for me to think that someone would misdefine me as a non-Christian when that's so central to everything I think and do," explains Mark McConkie, president of the Colorado Springs stake of the Mormon church.
The church says the ads are not because of backlash from the anti-gay marriage campaign in California. The director of Mormon.org, Scott Swofford, says the ads also are not because of a potential 2012 presidential run by Mitt Romney, a Mormon. Swofford says a recent church survey shows less than half of the people asked know anything about the Mormon religion, so they hope the campaign will strike people's curiosity.
"It's been fascinating. Traffic on Mormon.org is up significantly and we're getting more substantive discussion for people who get to sort of self select at their pace to talk to us, and I think they're enjoying their online experience," tells Swofford.
"I like them. Just because they show people we're normal, everyday Americans that do normal everyday things. We're not a cult. We're not people who believe strange things. We believe in Jesus Christ," says Kirsten Waite, a Mormon.
Other people who aren't Mormon say they like the ads too, but the ad is as far as it goes.
"I don't think I really think about it afterwards, but it kind of stops me in my tracks, because they pick people with interesting things about them," remarks Wendy Mullins.
Some find the ads invasive, but the Mormon Church says it wants to start a conversation.
"We hope somewhere in the course of their life, they'd have a chance to meet and talk with a Mormon, and if they haven't, take that opportunity and ask some questions," says Swofford.
The ad campaign started in late July. The ads are running off and on in nine cities across the U.S. until at least the end of the year: Colorado Springs, CO; Rochester, NY; Oklahoma City, OK; Tucson, AZ; Baton Rouge, LA; Jacksonville, FL; St. Louis, MO; Pittsburgh, PA; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. The cities were chosen based on their size (not too big to be too expensive for TV ads and not too small so as to reach a large amount of people) and based on places where the religion is already established.