Mormons are increasingly borrowing and marketing to evangelicals, a fact that is causing considerable unease among some evangelical leaders.
The Christian Research Journal (Volume 25, Number 2) reports that after ads and reviews of the new film The Other Side of Heaven appeared in many Christian newspapers, radio stations and web sites, it was discovered that it was produced and directed by Mormons. Evangelical critics charged that the Mormons were deceptive in publicizing the film in evangelical outlets’ and the ads were soon pulled with apologies made to readers for the oversight. But director Mitch Davis says that while Mormons are portrayed sympathetically, the film has a naturally wide appeal because of its focus on morality and basic Christian beliefs.
The fact that the film and others like it [see the December RW for an article on the renaissance of Mormon filming] have been accepted by many evangelicals shows the similar culture of evangelicals and Mormons. “Step into the typical LDS bookstore, and you’re likely to find the same types of pop-culture alternatives that appear in a store owned by evangelicals,” writes Doug LeBlanc.
These stores are as likely to carry evangelical “contemporary Christian music” and evangelical children’s videos as more traditional Mormon fare. Leading the effort to blend with and borrow from evangelicals is the Salt Lake City-based Excel Entertainment Group. Excel head Jeff Simpson runs the company on the assumption that the divide between Mormons and evangelicals is not very wide, and he actively scouts for evangelical musical talent for Mormon venues (without making an attempt to bring Mormon music or films into evangelical bookstores).
Mormon director Richard Dutcher is up front about the LDS identity of his films, but he also believes that niche filmmking could be a means of dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons. He adds that Mormons could help improve the flawed quality of many evangelicals’ films.
(Christian Research Journal, 30162 Tomas, Rancho Santa Margarita 92688-2124)