SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A series of video clips in which an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses some of the questions most frequently asked by the news media were made public by the Church this week.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — the second-highest governing body of the Church — covers topics from “Are you Christian?” to, “Does the Church support political candidates?”
The video clips were produced to help better define the Church in the public mind — especially among journalists — at a time when it has become the subject of nationwide discussion. A series of national opinion polls has shown that a large segment of the population knows little or nothing about the Church.
Responding to one of the most common questions — “Are Mormons Christians?” — Elder Ballard said:
He [Jesus Christ] is the center of all that we do, all that we hope to be. All of our dreams and future aspirations are centered in our belief in Jesus Christ and our willingness to know what His teachings are and to strive to keep His commandments.
The unscripted interviews were conducted by members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff and announced during an online news conference this week, with the religion writers of several newspapers around the country.
The conference was a pilot to establish whether Internet technology would allow a news conference to run smoothly, given the delay between the time the questions are asked and when the questioner receives the answer on his or her computer.
Church spokesmen said that the posting of an interview with a senior Church leader was one of several steps being taken to more clearly define Latter-day Saint beliefs and practices. It is expected that other interviews will follow on a range of topics, and will include other apostles. Elder Ballard is presently chairman of the Church’s Public Affairs Committee.
Elder Ballard responded to the following questions:
- Are you Christian? What is the role of Jesus Christ in your faith?
- Do you worship Jesus Christ in your Sunday services?
- Why do some people say you are a cult?
- In what ways are you similar to other Christians?
- In what ways do you differ from other Christians?
- Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Are prophets necessary today?
- Is there scientific proof authenticating the Book of Mormon?
- Does the Church support political candidates?