Lead image from digitalspy.com
After performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their 2013 Christmas concert and starring in a BYUtv movie, John Rhys-Davies has had more exposure to Mormons and LDS culture than most in the movie industry.
Rhys-Davies, best known for his roles as Gimli in Lord of the Rings and Sallah in Indiana Jones, said of Mormons, "You're a strange community to us on the outside, but I find you very warm and very welcoming and very friendly—a considerate people. I like you. And you make it very clear you are willing to put up with me despite the fact that I am far less godly than you guys are."
One particularly interesting Mormon practice that Rhys-Davies has come to admire is that of LDS missions.
"Mormon youth has this structure of a mission, and it makes men, and good ones too. . . .
"[You] send people away from home with no contact with home except on birthdays or Christmas or something like that—to go to an alien country and to have to go out and meet people and make contacts. I meet these young men and they must go home night after night with a sense of abject failure. And [then they] have to get up the next morning and try and do better. When they finally manage to go home they will have matured and nothing again in their lives will ever be as hard and difficult as that.
"The ones that survive—and I imagine most of them do—turn out very splendid and very successful and quietly confident men. Nothing can be as bad. If I can do that, I can do anything, and that's a very significant ritual you have evolved. Very impressive."
President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan held Latter-day Saints in very high regard. In fact, he was the U.S. president with the best relationship with the Mormons and surrounded himself with Latter-day Saints in his administration.
"From his days as governor of California, the doctrines and the principles of the Church drew his frequent interest. As president, he often asked about Church programs. He recognized the Church's moral leadership and social influence, even declaring, 'A Mormon contribution to American life is beyond measuring.'"
In 1982 President Reagan toured the Church's welfare services, praising the Church for its incredible resources.
“You know that I’ve talked for a long time about Americans doing for themselves, about the private initiative, about citizens’ groups doing so many things that government thinks only it can do," said Reagan. "And I have just toured a cannery—part of the program of the Latter-day Saints for meeting the needs of their people when they have to have help.”