A non-member relative living about 2,000 miles from me has asked this question: “I find it interesting to see the intensity of interest devoted to this (family history) by the Mormon church. Does the interest arise from the religion or is this happenstance?” As a member raised in the LDS Church with a good education and also a researcher of Family History, I have too many things going on in my mind to be able to ‘narrow’ it to just what he has asked. I encompasses EVERYTHING we believe! Can you suggest or give me an answer that would explain clearly and to the point that could be understood by a non-member? Thanks so very much.
I would use the article on Mormon.org as a template for your response (Family History | Mormon.org). Mention that family is very important to those of our faith, and that we believe that these relationships we forge in this life should remain in the next. From there, you can mention some of the things you’ve learned about your own ancestors and how you look forward to meeting them and swapping stories.
You should also briefly mention the doctrine behind our emphasis on families – either the coming of Elijah, or temple work. I would just pick one that your cousin would be more familiar with. For most people our temples are recognizable, so it’s probably best to mention that in our temples we are sealed together as families so that when we all make it to the other side we will continue as a happy family. As appropriate (you know your cousin better than I do), share the account of Elijah visiting the Kirtland Temple to give Joseph Smith this authority for joining families (D&C 110:13-16). Point out that it is not just the hearts of the Latter-day Saints turning to their fathers, but this turning is happening to people outside of our faith as well. Your cousin is a fulfilment of prophecy! You should keep this brief so that your cousin can follow up with additional questions on the parts that interest her.
Finally, refer your cousin to the article I linked above and let him know that he can ask you any additional questions.