Friday, April 16, 2010

Wright Words: I am a Mormon

I am guilty of waiting. For much of my career I have shyly waited for people to ask my religion, waited for the subject to come up, waited to share what I hold most precious.

Because I enjoy weaving spiritual themes into my signings or during more formal speaking engagements, often someone will approach and ask what church I attend. I love the conversations that follow. Frankly, there isn’t much I'd rather talk about than the faith that in many ways defines me.

I am a Christian. I am an imperfect follower of a perfect Savior. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Or, if you prefer the nickname sometimes used to describe members of the Church, I am a Mormon.

If you've read any of my novels, you know that I do not write books specifically about my religion. I write stories that contain the flavor of faith, but do not promote one religion over another. I write about broad themes important to all of us, no matter what church we call home.

I write about Christmas, forgiveness, redemption, family, marriage, charity, miracles, and life-after-death. Admittedly, I've learned and grown more from writing my own books than anyone ever will from reading them.

When I began my career as an author I was involved in frequent discussions about how prominent I should make my religion. Should we mention Brigham Young University in my bio? Should I reference my two-year mission to Brazil? Should we advertise that one of my two publishers is Salt Lake-based, home to Church headquarters and a high concentration of Mormons?

How shameful.

Five years and seven books later, I am ashamed those debates ever took place, and I accept that the blame rests on my shoulders alone. I am embarrassed that for years I simply wanted to be a New York Times bestselling author who you may or may not find out later just happens to be a Mormon. How shallow that I allowed the small percentage of consumers who won't buy a novel by a Mormon to dictate how I was introduced to readers.

Recently I stumbled across a blog that inferred a number of Mormon authors, including me, had been deceitful. The blogger complained that he never would have bought our books had he known we were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He even expressed pride at having uncovered the secret through a series of online searches and a complicated game of connect-the-dots. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes, no doubt.

This blogger's theory was that books like mine by Mormon authors, especially in the genre of inspirational fiction, are just thinly veiled attempts to spread our faith. He's half-right, at least in my case. I do hope my books spread my faith that God lives, that He loves us, and that the challenges we face everyday are universal and the occasionally painful lessons absolutely necessary to our growth.

But I also hope they are good ole fashioned page-turners that entertain and beg a second reading. If a reader wants to find inspiration and faith, that's wonderful. If a reader wants nothing more than to sit in a comfortable chair and escape life for a few hours, I'm just as thrilled.

In either case, in the future this well-meaning though misguided blogger won't have to don a black deerstalker hat to uncover my religion. I've added my faith to my website biography and press kits.

I wonder if this blogger or anyone else who won’t buy a work of Christian fiction by a Mormon knows just how much I appreciate his or her own religion. I have dear friends from all corners of religious faith and two of the most trusted people in my day-to-day career are Catholic and Jewish. One is my editor, the other my agent. I trust them both. I love them both.

I wonder if this blogger or anyone else who won’t buy a work of Christian fiction by a Mormon knows how many churches have invited me to speak in their chapels, sanctuaries, etc. Just this month alone I will speak in two Methodist churches and at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, a combined congregation of Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians. Next month I’ll speak to the Knights of Columbus and in years' past I've spoken to Baptists, Catholics and many more. I cherish those experiences more than any other.

Naturally it is important to know that I am not just a Mormon. I am proud to be a brother, husband, father-of-four, volunteer, neighbor, and friend. I am also a son of a loving Heavenly Father and the son of earthly parents who raised me to embrace my faith and to love the Lord and follow His example.

Perhaps I owe this blogger a thank you for jarring me from my quiet complaisance and for reminding me just how proud I am of my heritage, my faith, and the Church I love so dearly.

So, if you're reading this column and thinking, "I had no idea he was a Mormon," I sincerely apologize.

If you're reading this column and want to know more about what I believe, ask me. I’d love to tell you.

Finally, next time you're in a bookstore and you see a book with my name on the cover, it's buyer beware from this day forward: I am a Mormon.


  1. Jason,
    This is beautiful. I too am a Mormon, and I appreciate your work and your efforts to spread clearly positive messages to the world, not just to members of our church. Thanks for all you do!
    Lu Ann
    When Hearts Conjoin (RPE Publishing)
    Psychic Madman (Sourced Media)

  2. Wow. I've got to be honest and say I had no idea that you were Mormon. And to be even more honest, when I went to buy one of your books I couldn't find it in the fiction section. I asked for help and they pointed me to the christian section. I was baffled. I never really thought your books were that religion based. I was wrong. After rereading, I now know that they are even if they don't push you towards something.
    Thank you for sharing your beliefs and not "hiding" it anymore.
    If someone won't buy a book based on the denomination of the book then they're missing out on a lot.
    Sorry for going on and on.

  3. That was amazing. Thank you so much.

  4. Oh Jason,

    My friend and although I'm unpublished at the moment I like to consider you a colleague/mentor thank you for sharing. Your words and feelings were valid. You gave me some good advice in that first query letter. I have the opposite problem. I am so enthusiastic about it that people have felt I was being confrontational. There is a balance to it all and you and I both know it's about progressing and "line upon line." Thank you for all your lines.

  5. Jason,
    I have read quite a few of your books & have known from the first book I read that you are Mormon. We don't have the same beliefs, but that doesn't matter... To me anyway. I like your writing and have told many of my friends about you & your books. You religion has never been a care or concern, of mine or theirs. I'm sorry this Blogger was so rude, tho I am very happy you feel free to fully express who you are now.

  6. That is quite silly that someone would pick a book or not based on a person's religion. I can understand if the book was about teaching the religion or pushing it, but yours certainly are not. I of course knew you were Mormon, but I don't say hey thats my friend Jason the Mormon.
    You're books are wonderful. the end. period.

  7. Some people that have posted here say that they are also Mormon. To the best of my knowledge Mormon was the name of a man, a prophet, similar to Moses, that lived approximately 600 years before Christ came to the earth. Mormon was also responsible for maintaining a book of scripture which supports and validates many of the teachings that are found in the Holy Bible while expanding upon others. Because of his accomplishments and role in supporting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the name Mormon is now used as a nickname for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints. I would suggest that members of the church are not really "Mormon" but individuals who belong to the church which carries the nick-name.

  8. We are to speak with boldness, but I also appreciate your attitude of tolerance - allowing people find their way in their own way and their own time but in the mean time loving them and appreciating them for who they are.

  9. Jason, thanks for sharing but do not be ashamed. Your faith comes through your writing and I believe that is more important. You live your faith and that is more important then being a Mormon, Catholic, Baptist or whatever! You have wonderful children who are following in your "faith" footsteps. Be thankful and continue to write your awesome stories. The person who does not read your books because of "your" faith is missing out on some great real-life fiction!! Becky Lytton

  10. Just finished reading "The Wednesday Letters." Absolutely beautiful. I had no idea you're a Mormon, and neither do I care. I am a Catholic that has not been in church for a bit, so reading books like yours reminds me that Jesus loves me and will be there when I return. Reading your books helps me in my spiritaul quest.

    I'll be looking for your other books. Have to read them all now :)

  11. I've read all your books and thought you should become a "Mormon". I'm LDS, and am thrilled that there are so many great books out there.

  12. Jason,
    Well, I consider myself one of your 'Baptist' friends. Yes, I knew you were Morman. One of my dearest friends and family are also...yes your books and faith stir my faith...yes I recommend and have bought your books as gifts (autographed and not autographed)and will continue to do so...I will continue to give 'Christ'mas Jars....and last, but not least, I will continue to stalk you on facebook!! LOL

    Just to add my few cents....Our purpose is to serve God and others in every area of our is not a religion, it is a relationship with Almighty God...not a sign, outside a building with a Cross. God uses you to share your faith with others, hopefully those who have none. You will continue to be blessed because you are answering His calling.

    Okay, Okay I will get off the soap box!!! God Bless you and yours real good!!!

  13. Jason,
    You rock! What an inspiring, intuitive, positive, quiet strength you are. I so appreciate all your books, the messages and the perfect time they have each come into my life to inspire me and uplift me. What an great post to read. Whether a person is LDS, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant or any other religion should not matter. We all deserve to learn to co-exist. I love that I am LDS and that I don't care who knows. I don't push my religion on anyone but hope that I inspire by who I am and how I act. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I'm inspired by you! I think it's couragous of you to let it be known what religion you are. I knew from the beginning you were LDS. I am LDS myself. It shouldn't matter what religion the author is if great talent comes from it to hook the readers attention. Keep up the great work!!

  15. Well said. Who cares that you are Mormon?! There are a lot of Mormons out there, some very famous. If that stops someone from reading your books, well than they are missing out. Keep writing! I just finished Weds. Letters and LOVED it! I'm now a fan of yours!

  16. Great post, Jason. A friend told me about it last week, and I am just now procrastinating enough to take the time to read it. I loved it. And I echo it 100%.

  17. I really like this too. I too was afraid to mention the fact that I am Mormon on one of my posts. But I quickly learned if you are a good writer and friendly person, that doesn't matter. If people don't like you, that's their problem.
    A NY BESTseller? That is AWESOME!!!

  18. Wonderful post, Jason. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  19. Initially after reading this I thought "good for you, standing up for what you believe". But after reading all of your other books (including The James Miracle which was tough to find), I wonder why you have never used a Mormon character or even a charicter that could be a Mormon, in a book. While you come close, there is typically some reference to going to a bar, having coffee or attending mass or something that is decidedly not Mormon. Your latest book, The Cross Gardener, was great and I could see how a cross had to play a part because of the roadside memorial concept but it was a bit ironic considering that Mormon's don't seem to believe in or use the cross.