Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman have a nationally syndicated religious column called “The God Squad.” In their latest column, they comfort a worried Methodist parent whose 18-year-old daughter is about to join the Mormons. They write:
We love Mormons and we love the Mormon Church. The church’s required year of service for young people is by far the most impressive spiritual youth activity we’ve ever seen. We’re also extremely sensitive to the prejudice directed against many smaller religions (although Mormonism and Islam are the fastest-growing religions in America). Mormons are Christians and they are part of the community of faith that helps the world heal itself from sin.
(Printed in my local newspaper, The Post-Crescent, on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006, p. E-3.)
Nice of them to offer a positive view on the Church. A couple of details could be corrected. For example missionary service is not “required” and is not a year, but either 18 months (women) or 24 months (men). I’m also not sure that it’s one of the top two fastest growing religions in America anymore, but there are so many ways to compute growth that I’m sure you can find a way to do that. For example, do you report average growth rate over the past 5 years, 20 years, or 100 years? DO you filter out extremely small organizations where adding 100 members might result in a 500% growth rate for 2005?
But I do appreciate the authors calming down a worried parent who is getting overwhelmed with the fear spread by anti-Mormon literature. Fear and shock is what it’s designed to generate, so I really appreciate some calm voices from outside.