Students Wanted To Create A Non-Biased View Of Mormonism
The topic of religion is becoming one of the most difficult to broach in the modern day. Religion faces the ongoing battle of relevancy and recognition in a world that seems to be developing into a less welcoming place for different ideas. BYU’s award-winning AdLab has undertaken a project that seeks to share the Mormon faith and religious text, the Book of Mormon, with complete strangers on the sidewalk around their campus and across the globe.
The social experiment was designed so that individuals were given a simple task. They were assigned a page of the 531-page Book of Mormon that they would read on the sidewalk. While they were reading, each person was tasked with marking off the different places in the scripture where the individual reader found a reference or revelation delivered by or for God and Jesus Christ. After the readers had finished with their particular task, they were asked to share their impressions that they had gathered as a result of actually reading the Book of Mormon.
The reason that the BYU Adlab undertook such a task is more complex than merely exposing outsiders to their religious text. The problem that Mormons face in the United States and at large in the world is that their religious revelation of Jesus Christ is not widely accepted. In fact, it is one of the most controversial religious texts despite sharing a history with the Abrahamic religions.
The Mormons, often feeling persecuted for their beliefs, are simultaneously confounded by the fact that many people will condemn their religion without actually taking time to read the texts that create the foundation of their faith. This experiment made people who took part actually read, struggle with, and otherwise engage the text. They were able to read the foundational messages that are contained within the Book of Mormon, and then were able to compare that information to what they thought they knew about the Mormons all along. The results of the social experiment were very interesting.
The Adlab at BYU was able to find that people from across the United States and around the world did not know many of the specifics about the religion until they actually read parts of the text. Several people, including Muslims and various sects of Christians, were able to find that their beliefs shared many ideas and beliefs, if not directly in religion then in their worldview. Overall, the experiment was able to show people across a variety of different religions could find common ground if only they took the time to respectfully look for it.