Mormons have received a lot of media attention lately, and not all of it has been good. We've taken a lot of heat for our beliefs during Mitt Romney's bid for presidential candidacy, in the aftermath of the raid of the FLDS compound in Texas--a group which has no affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and most recently because of the involvement of Mormons in passing Proposition 8.
But the stories which indicate that Mormons really do believe in being "benevolent...and in doing good to all men [and women]" (Articles of Faith 13) are largely overlooked.
Joseph Smith, whom Mormons regard as a Prophet of God, once said, "Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." (1)
Here are some notable illustrations of Joseph Smith's point.
A group of food scientists at Brigham Young University have developed a process whereby small, local tortilla mills in Mexico can fortify tortillas with vitamins and minerals "that are too often absent from Mexican's diet." Read more about their work here.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has presented 750 wheel chairs worth 100,000 dollars to the Department of Social Welfare for distribution to disabled persons in three regions of [Ghana] this year." According to this report, here, "last year, the church presented 600,000 wheel chairs to 60 countries world wide and provided some relief items to 52 countries as humanitarian gesture."
The state of Georgia is known to many as the Peach State. But recently Georgia charities found their shelves rapidly emptying as more people hurt by economic troubles and bad weather came for assistance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The Mormon church sent 70,000 cans of peaches to charities in metro Atlanta. Apricots, too." Those peaches came from Utah and Idaho where orchards experienced bumper crops. "The fruit was picked and processed by church members at church facilities, packed in boxes in Salt Lake City, and shared among churches for their needy. There were still tons left over." So they were sent to Georgia where they were greatly needed and appreciated.
The forgoing are but a sampling of ways in which Mormons are seeking to reach out beyond themselves to people of all ethnicities, nations, and religions to "bless the whole human race."
BYU student-designed device to help poor East Africans coax oil from coconuts. Read it here.
BYU and Empower Playgrounds install electricity-generating merry-go-round in Ghana. Read it here.
And Who is My Neighbor?: Highlights of humanitarian endeavors during 2007. Read it here.
1. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company, 1979, pg. 174.