"The Mormons"--Modern-Day Look at History of the Latter-Day Saints (Documentary/PBS)

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A proposition: If your beliefs are any good, you needn’t be afraid to bring them out into the light. The proof: “The Mormons,” a thoughtful two-part series tonight and tomorrow on PBS. The tenets of the Mormon church may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the church members and leaders who speak in this program are admirably forthright about their religion’s history, strengths and challenges. It’s great to hear people who believe in something and can articulate it without sounding crazy or defensive.

“The Mormons” is the first joint production of “American Experience,” the history series, and “Frontline,” the public-affairs program. The history side, which dominates tonight, is the strongest.

The installment would be interesting enough if it merely related the fascinating story of the founding and evolution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the religion more commonly known as Mormonism. But it also manages to mix in, through some well-chosen talking heads, an intriguing discussion of what faith is, what religion is and what the Mormon story has in common with Judaism, Islam and early Christianity.

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