By Vickie Speek
Are Olympics the LDS Church's Golden Moment?
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The Public Affairs Department of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is already working to ensure
that the world gets a positive, and accurate, view of the religion
during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Olympics
have not been held in a city with such a strong religious identity
since the 1960 Summer Games in Rome.
Many church members believe the Olympics will offer a good chance to
clear up misunderstandings about the Church and its history. "Having
an event like this taking place within the homeland of the Mormon
Church and that being such a prevalent backdrop for the Olympics will
confer a certain amount of mainstream legitimacy," said Gary
Shepherd, who has written several books on Latter-day Saints.
The church known for its proselytizing will get a lot of free
publicity, but it will not preach to Olympians or sports fans,
officials say. "The church will not sanction official proselytizing
during the Olympics. It simply will not happen," Shepherd said. "The
single biggest proselytizing effect of this will likely be the media.
They will bring Mormonism to the attention of millions of people in a
way that for some might be a very positive message."
The church's best media opportunity may be through the lens of NBC
Sports, which will televise the Games. But the church will not be
central to network coverage. "You can't come and experience Utah
without experiencing Utah's history," said Lynne Cropper, a church
spokeswoman. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is
Mormons Await Golden Moment
Washington Post pgB09 10Mar01 S1
By Stephen Scott: Knight Ridder
Church of Latter-day Saints Prepares for Olympic Spotlight to Shine on Salt Lake City