POCATELLO — One of the organizers of a media campaign that is using billboards in Pocatello and other cities seeking to convince Mormons of perceived errors in their faith says the group is not attacking members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The reason we do this is that we really do have a love for the Mormon people,” says Mark Cares, president of the group that is organizing the campaign. “Our ministry is to reach out to the LDS people.”
He says while the campaign does question LDS doctrine, it is not meant to attack Mormons. LDS members see the campaign differently.
“We’re used to it. It happens a lot,” Roger Porter, an LDS spokesman for the Southeast Idaho area, says about anti-LDS campaigns. “It’s too bad it happens in the name of Christianity.”
The campaign includes two billboards in Pocatello (on Pole Line Road and Highway 30), two in Idaho Falls and one in Rexburg. The campaign will also include mass mailings.
The billboards, which show a woman in obvious emotional distress holding her head, ask the question, “Feeling worthy?” and direct people to the Web site, www.hishealingnow.com.
Though they’re subtle, the billboards are undoubtedly targeted toward LDS members, especially women.
“They’re not in-your-face, but if you’re an LDS member, it will be hard not to know they’re directed toward you,” Cares says.
The “Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons” campaign is organized by the Truth in Love Ministry of Nampa.
Cares says the central message of the campaign is that Mormonism is a religion of works.
“In Mormonism, you have to ... pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” he says. “The emphasis of Christianity is what God has done and not what you have to do.”
“Mormonism is grace-plus,” he adds. “In Christianity, the message is grace alone. There are (major) differences between the messages of Christianity and Mormonism. In our experience, we have found this is a message many people in the LDS church need to hear.”
In response to questions about the campaign, an LDS media relations manager in Salt Lake City released a statement explaining the church’s doctrine on salvation.
The statement says the church does not believe people can gain salvation through their own unaided efforts.
“We must work to our limit and then rely upon the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel to see us through the struggles of life and into life eternal,” the statement said, quoting from chapters of Nephi and Moroni in the Book of Mormon. “We believe that while human works are necessary — including exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, receiving the sacraments or ordinances of salvation and rendering Christian service to our neighbors — they are not sufficient for salvation.”
Porter says it’s unfortunate that groups such as the Nampa church feel the need to attack Mormon doctrine, but LDS members aren’t offended because they’re used to those campaigns.
“We live in a free country and society and people can speak their minds and do what they want,” he says. “Our intent and objective is to get along with all people and work with (them) to accomplish good things for the community. If some people don’t want to do that, we just have to ... move on and do the things we’re trying to do to accomplish some good.
“We’re confident in the direction we’re going.”
Cares, who is also a pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Nampa, says his group is accused of being anti-Mormon all the time and the recent billboard campaign has been a topic of discussion on talk radio shows in the Boise area.
“If you’re driving down the road and you discover that around the curve the bridge is out, the loving thing to do is sound the warning,” he says. “If I truly believe the bridge is out, the loving thing to do is warn people.”