Mormon Church Steps Up PR Campaign To Change Image

The Mormon Church — one of the primary backers of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 amendment — is bank rolling a new public relations campaign designed to overcome “what it calls its ‘perception problem,'” the New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein reports. The multimillion-dollar television, billboard and Internet campaign began last year and was recently extended to 21 media markets. It relies on the tagline “I’m a Mormon” to suggest that the religion is inclusive — beyond its white, clean cut image — and “features the personal stories of members who defy stereotyping, including a Hawaiian longboard surfing champion, a fashion designer and single father in New York City and a Haitian-American woman who is mayor of a small Utah city.” The Mormon Church started to offer some acceptance of LGBT people last year, but still provides ex-gay therapy through church counseling. According to a recent Utah State University poll, nearly two-thirds of gay Mormons had tried to change their orientation, and 86 percent said church counseling that sought to end their same-sex attraction was not helpful, somewhat harmful, or severely harmful.