The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) preached to 17 million people last month—in the April issue of Reader’s Digest, United States edition. Another 1.5 million readers of the German and Austrian editions found the same twelve-page detachable insert, called “7 Keys to Mormonism.”

Readers who gasped at the scope of this Mormon media project may have wondered about its cost: the April advertisement, which explained basic Mormon doctrines and listed its articles of faith, cost more than $650,000, according to a Digest spokesperson. Since the Mormons plan to carry eight-page inserts in three more Digest editions this year, they can expect to pay another $1.5 million.

Why the big investment? The Mormons sponsored four pamphlet inserts in the Digest in 1978, also, said press relations director Jerry Cahill, and were pleased with the wide audience that as a result “gained a better understanding of the church.”

The 1978 promotion focused on family life—a kind of Mormon preevangelism. Cahill said that 10,000 persons have written to receive a free booklet, offered in the December insert, which described the “family solidarity” of the singing Osmond family, who are devout Mormons.

The current promotion is more explicit in its explanations of Mormonism: it “gets down to distinctions of doctrines” that distinguish Mormonism from other faiths, said Cahill. Subsequent pamphlets will describe Mormon doctrines regarding God’s revelation, salvation, and Christ.

So far, the Digest reports little reader reaction to the Mormons’ advertising splash. “There have been a few letters from people who didn’t agree with Mormonism,” said a spokesperson, “but then you would expect that for any religious group that took out an ad.”

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