A cult-monitoring organization based in St. Louis says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is using an edited version of the Genesis Project’s New Media Bible to recruit new members.
According to Personal Freedom Outreach, Mormon churches use a version of the Bible films copyrighted by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elaine Faulkner, director of marketing for the New York City-based Genesis Project, said details of the arrangement between her organization and the Mormon church were confidential.
The Genesis Project was started in 1975 as a for-profit organization. Funded by private investors, its goal was to film the entire Bible word for word. Painstaking attention to reproducing the cultures of the Old and New Testaments made the films expensive to produce. The organization completed only the books of Genesis and Luke, known together as the New Media Bible. The Genesis Project also produced the feature-length film Jesus, which is widely used by evangelical Christians in overseas evangelistic efforts.
The Mormon version of the New Media Bible apparently was adapted to accommodate Mormon doctrine. It moves directly from the Creation to the Flood, skipping the accounts of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.
“Mormons in effect believe the Book of Genesis is defective,” explains Bill Schnoebelen of Saints Alive, a group that educates the church about developments in Mormonism. Mormons are uncomfortable, he said, with the serpent in Genesis tempting Adam and Eve by saying, “You shall be as gods,” since Mormonism teaches that each believer will someday be god of a universe. Also, until recent years Mormon teaching held that dark skin was the mark of Cain. Although this teaching has been moderated, vestiges of racism remain, including opposition to interracial marriage.
In general, Mormons uphold traditional values—shunning alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, and championing patriotism and the family. The church’s doctrine, however, is unorthodox. It holds, for example, that three books in addition to the Bible are products of divine revelation. Also, according to Mormon teaching, Jesus and Lucifer were once “spirit brothers.”
Kurt Goedelman, of Personal Freedom Outreach, said his organization is determining if further changes were made in the Mormon version of the Genesis Project films. In a letter to the Genesis Project, Goedelman requested details of the organization’s agreement with the Mormons.
In a written reply, John Heyman, Genesis Project chairman and producer of the Bible films, said his organization sells the New Media Bible to anyone who wants to buy it. Heyman noted in his letter that Mormons were “by far the largest purchasers of the New Media Bible this year.”
When CHRISTIANITY TODAY tried to contact Heyman, the Genesis Project’s Faulkner said he was out of the country. She added that she knew very little about Mormonism, expressing surprise that some regard it as a cult.
By Randy Frame.
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