Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prompted By Interest In Mitt Romney's Campaign, The Times Of India Reports On LDS Activity In Bangalore, India

The presence of Mitt Romney, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the American presidential race has triggered media interest in the LDS community all over the world, even in Bangalore, India. Prompted by the Romney story, the Times of India published a short report on LDS activity in the city of Bangalore on March 14th, 2012. Bangalore, located in southern India, is the country's third largest city with a population of over 8,000,000, and is considered the "Silicon Valley" of India. Its higher elevation mitigates typical tropical heat.

Interviewed was Robert K. William, identified as the managing director of its Indian branch in Bangalore. This may be a mistranslation because we don't normally use the title of "managing director". William reiterated the LDS Church's statement on political neutrality as well as the Church's counsel to members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner and to vote in elections, respecting the fact that Mormons encompass a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion.

Robert K. William is a convert to the Church; his conversion was prompted by the example set by his older brother while performing a service project. William said, "I saw in him what I could become and so decided to join. The church encourages us to follow The Word of Wisdom and we have to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol and harmful drugs. I married a member of the church [and] now have three children who are being brought up as Mormons."

This, of course, is a reminder that people watch us and judge us and our religion by our example moreso than by our words.

The Times notes that there are about 9,000 LDS members in India (9,188 according to the LDS website), with 1,100 of them in the Bangalore District. One branch meets at a church on Convent Road, while the other three branches in Ramamurthynagar, Whitefield and Indiranagar meet in leased facilities. To perform temple work, Bangalore District members must travel to the Hong Kong Temple, which shows that many LDS members worldwide still must make considerable sacrifices in time and resources to do temple work.

While the Bangalore District, with 11 percent of Church members in India, has established itself as one of the Church's beachheads in that country, it appears that the Hyderabad District may become an organized stake in the next couple of years. Not all areas of India are equally friendly towards the Church; in September 2010, the Indian cities of Ahmadabad, Pune, Surat, and Kanpur were on LDS Church Growth's list of largest cities without an organized LDS presence.

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