Monday, March 26, 2007

Anti-Mormon DVDs distributed to home across Arizona

An anti-Mormon Christian ministry, "Concerned Christians," has distributed 18,000 DVDs to homes across Arizona, mainly targeting areas with high Mormon populations such as Mesa and Snowflake. 15,000 DVDs were distributed to homes in Mesa, Tempe, and Gilbert, 2,000 in Snowflake, and 1,000 in Tucson.

The DVD, titled "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith," argues against the latter but not the former. The DVD was apparently produced by and distributed nationally by Living Hope Ministries of Brigham City, Utah, a Christian church that criticizes the Mormon religion. [UPDATE (July 6, 2007): My cousin and his wife inform me in the comments that this is not correct, contrary to the statement from the Arizona distributor in the Arizona Republic's report, and that this was produced and distributed by TriGrace Ministries and]

That name was familiar to me--I suspected, and verified, that this is the same church that previously produced a DVD about how DNA evidence disproved Mormon claims about Native Americans being descendants of the lost tribe of Israel. In 2001, the pastor of Living Hope Ministries was Joel Kramer, who was the officiant at the wedding of my cousin Aaron Lippard, which I attended at their storefront church in Brigham City.

Kramer, a former Tucson resident, has authored a book, Beyond Fear, which tells the story of how Kramer and my cousin Aaron traveled across Papua New Guinea solely under their own power. I read the book after seeing my cousin present a slide presentation about his harrowing trip (and show off his septum piercing, which was pierced by a New Guinea aborigine with a bird bone, by sticking a meat thermometer through it). I found the book enjoyable, though preachy and annoying in spots. Kramer's voice as a writer struck me as arrogant and condescending towards my cousin, portraying himself as a Christian real-man and my cousin as an inexperienced, naive fellow who had much to learn about becoming a mature Christian male.

A film Kramer has produced is called The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon, which is reviewed here by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. This review makes a point that I've made about Living Hope's Mormons & DNA DVD and about Richard Abanes' One Nation Under Gods--they don't seem to apply the same standard of criticism to Christianity that they apply to Mormonism.

I'm sure the same is true of "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith."


Aaron and Ivy said...

Hi Mr. Lippard!
I just thought you should know that you are mistaken in giving Living Hope and Joel the credit for the Joseph Smith movie. Living Hope actually had nothing to do with the making,( and TriGrace ministries in Southern Utah are the people who did one.) nor the distribution of this!
Although I also feel the need to tell you Joel is over in Jerusalem LIVING now with his family to investigate and "put to the test" the Bible as well!

Jim Lippard said...

Hi, Aaron and Ivy!

The Republic article quoted the local distributor crediting Living Hope: "Utah-based Living Hope Ministries coordinated the nationwide distribution of the DVDs, Robertson said."

Thanks for the correction.

I hope Joel's methodology of testing is sounder than (for example) Ron Wyatt's!