My Thoughts on The Book of Mormon Musical, Religious Tolerance and Respect

I'm angry. I'm annoyed. I'm frustrated. I'm sad. I'm sick of it.

And I need to get over it. But before I do, I want to say a few things about it.

Last night I read an article that compared the way the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Muslims were handling their religious mistreatment. It's an interesting article, but be warned--there is R-rated foul language in it. After I read that article, curiosity sent me to read a couple of reviews of The Book of Mormon--The Musical. I can't link any of those here because they were so disgusting.

As I read of the sacrilege, blasphemy and disrespect that is being praised by critics, enjoyed by liberals and humanists, and touted as fantastic entertainment, I got sicker and sicker. I know that the creators of this show mock other religions, but they are not equal opportunity mockers. They have chosen to single out a religion and walk all over the things held sacred by members of this church--all in the name of humor.

IT ISN'T FUNNY! Can someone, anyone, please explain to me why, in a country that has been taken over by the religion of political correctness, Christians, and especially Christians who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are free game. Make fun of them. Ridicule them. Get your laughs off them. It's okay. Don't do it to the Muslims. Don't do it to the atheists. Don't do it to blacks. Don't do it to illegal immigrants or homosexuals. Don't do it to women (unless they happen to be Mormon women). All of these special groups need to be respected, handled carefully, raised up, helped, even reverenced.

But Christians? LDS Christians? They're fools with superstitious ideas. Only idiots would believe what they do, so have at them. Make fun of them. Mock the things they hold sacred. Make fun of their Savior, their founder, their prophet, their missionaries, their scriptures, their beliefs and their God. They don't deserve the same respect as every other group of people on the planet.

It's not new and it's not isolated. Members of the church were driven out of cities and states. I had friends whose parents didn't want their kids to associate with me because I was a member of the church. You'll find Mormon jokes in movies, television shows, in books and now Broadway.

Mitt Romney, a viable candidate for president has to answer ridiculous questions that no other candidate has to answer. President Obama's controversial religion and religious views were glossed over and those who tried to ask questions or get answers were called racist. The LDS Christian candidate starts the race from two or three laps back. Simply because of his religion.

The Book of Mormon teaches that there will be opposition in all things--light and dark, good and evil, right and wrong. As followers of Christ, there will be opposition. So while I'm angry and tired of it, I have to recognize that it probably isn't going away.

The LDS church issued a short statement about The Book of Mormon Musical. It's short and to the point and helps me remember what's really important. I guess I should just feel sorry for those that don't know any better. It was the Savior who taught it best. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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Anonymous said...

A lot of what you write it true, but I'm a little confused about the Obama part. I'm pretty sure his association with his Chicago pastor was the highlight of the campaign for quite a while, prompting him to disassociate with that particular congregation. Again, after being elected, he now constantly gets lambasted from the right for being Muslim (which he is not). If anyone rivals Romney for the need to justify their religion, it's Obama

Leslie said...

AMEN to this. Great posting. It is all SPOT ON!

Anonymous, with all due respect, you are wrong. Even IF the right tries to bring up the religious preferences of Obama, the left wing liberal media won't let it go anywhere (it wouldn't be politically correct)... so you are wrong that he deals with it at anything close to the same level as a Mormon.

'politically correct'... THAT seems to be the new religion in our country... the religion of political correctness.
Well, unless of course you are Mormon, or white... then you are not allowed to reap the benefits of the religion of political correctness.

Politically correct... That term drives a wedge between citizens and NON citizens more than anything ever has. ITS LAME!

Anonymous said...

I'll say this, as a Mormon who lives in Ohio, we honestly hear very little about Mitt Romney. Even during the election. While his religion was mentioned, much more of the talk centered around his ever-shifting positions on political issues. On the flipside, there is nobody the equivalent of O'Reilly who regularly challenges Obama's birth and religion (rarely his policies). A Pew Research Poll showed that over 1 in 10 Americans believes Obama is a Muslim. How do you think the number gets so high if nobody is talking about it? I used to resent people who categorized Utah Mormons as different, but living outside of Utah, I'm beginning to understand why.

Jewel's Gems said...

Hey Anonymous, as a "Black" Utah Mormon from NC who has been a Mormon in Utah for almost 22 years now, I find that there are Utah Mormons everywhere you go. Demographics do not matter, however, the judgments we harbor in our hearts do. We are told to seek after anything that is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. This play doesn't fall under any of those titles.
I am not offended easily and it takes a lot to rub me the wrong way, but I can empathize with those who are offended by the musical. And though I am not offended easily, when something offends God, it DOES offend me. I think it's safe to say that the Savior is not doing a happy dance over this piece of work some call entertainment.

Karey said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your comments. It's always good to hear other perspectives. But I think it's important that you know that the term Utah Mormon is an unfair generalization in the same way you say Obama has been treated unfairly.

Each person, Mormon or non-Mormon should be allowed a right to their opinions no matter where they live. The parents who didn't want their kids to associate with me weren't in Utah. I lived in the midwest. I have spent many years living outside of Utah and I don't think my Utah citizenship has anything at all to do with my views about this play, religious intolerance or my political leanings.

Like Jewel, I consider myself pretty tolerant of people and other ideas. The thing I take exception with is that the same tolerance I try to afford others (and that many others expect of me) isn't afforded to Mormons. I'll be the first to admit that there are funny things about Mormon culture. Laugh at those. But please, please, please don't blaspheme my Heavenly Father or my Savior. The lyrics to some of the songs in this play are reprehensible. I don't know how this can be up for debate.

Lisa said...

okay i was already sick about the musical and the fact that our country is going to hell in a handbasket. but another thing i cannot tolerate is rash and unfounded 'utah mormon' comments. as if the fact that we are mormon and live in utah means that we are all one person with one brain and one life.

missy said...

I am so glad you wrote this post. I read it this morning and then came back and read it again because I've been thinking about it all day. I, too, have been following some of the reviews and hype about The Book of Mormon Musical. Thank you for verbalizing some of the thoughts that have been kicking around in my head.

cucciolo25 said...

Hi. Oregon Mormon here. Sorry for my fellow Non-Utah Mormon's flippant, ignorant comment about "Utah Mormons." I know a LOT of "Utah Mormons." Some from school, some from my mission, I'm even related to some. I liked some, I liked others less. The ratio seems to be very similar to what I find among Non-Utah Mormons. Actually, the "Non-Utah" ratio just changed a little. Thanks Anonymous!

Oregon Mormon

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am going to post this as anonymous because I am afraid of my opinions and others. I also don't like Utah Mormons. They are sooooo mormony. I am from an eastern state, therefore I am more intelligent than you silly backwoods folk. Have a nice day though.

Jewel's Gems said...

And so comes another of the many things Satan will use to divide the Church. Sad but oh so true:-(

Leslie said...

i agree with all of the sentiments about the stereotype about 'utah mormons'.

as someone who has lived outside of utah AND in utah, i have to say that the people i have run into who talk negatively about utah mormons are usually just jumping on a band wagon and don't really have anything substantial that can back up what they are saying. somehow, it is become an 'in thing' to bash utah mormons and i am not sure why some people have decided that it is the fashionable opinion to take. as though they are SOOOOOOOOOOOO much cooler and more righteous if the DON'T live in utah.

the mormons that i know in utah and outside of utah are basically the same... most having a testimony of the gospel trying to live what they know to be right, falling short, turning to the Lord, picking themselves up, and trying again. persevering through the trials and tribulations of this life and striving to return to live with our Father in Heaven again.

because i live IN utah now, maybe i have forgotten how the mormons outside of utah think (not really)... but i have always thought those living outside of utah were also striving for the same things as us here in utah. Eternal Life with our Father in Heaven. is this not true? (yes i am being sarcastic... all the mormons i know outside of utah are also striving for this)

so, maybe someday those who stereotype utah mormons will just realize that i (a utah mormon) have struggles and trials and try my hardest to live what i know to be right... just like i hope they are trying to do.

(p.s. since i mentioned political correctness in my above comment, i will say this as well... is it the politically correct thing to do to bash utah mormons and drive a wedge? just wondering... ;)

GMHigg said...

I love everyone. I love all Mormons, even California ones.

Cindy C Bennett said...

Wow, how did a blog about athiests bashng Mormons become a forum for Mormons to bash Mormons?

I can tell you firsthand how our prophet, Pres Monson, feels about the differences (or similarities) in the church based on geography:

I have a friend who is a pilot. On a Sunday layover in Africa, he decided to attend church. He found an LDS church, dressed up, and went. He knew it would not be in English, but he didn't care - he just wanted to partake of the sacrament and feel the spirit.

After services were over, the Bishop came up to him, introduced himself in English, and asked my friend to please not come back to their church again. When my friend asked why not, he was told he was the wrong color to attend their church. He was shocked: isn't the gospel the same everywhere?

What this Bishop did not know is that my friend knows Pres Monson personally (calls him Tommy, as a matter of fact). My friend immediately phoned Pres Monson once he was back in the states. How fast do you think an apostle was on a plane to Africa to teach the congregation that we are all brothers and sisters in the gospel, and that we welcome all into our church houses, no matter who or what they are.

So now, answer this. How do you think our prophet, Pres Monson, would feel if he knew that Mormons are bad-mouthing other Mormons because of the state they reside in? Isn't it enough that we are contantly having to defend ourselves against the world (and trash like this play)? And what do you think Heavenly Father thinks of all of this, which he KNOWS is going on?

Bottom line: no matter what color you are - or where you live - we are all the same: same values, same beliefs, same commandments, same teachings, same ultimate goal.

Just something to think about.

FYI: My friend, NOT a Utah Mormon, in case you're wondering. (He's from Texas)

Anonymous said...

I'm from Seattle. I'm 19 years old. I tour with tattooed, pierced, angry kids in a van playing punk rock in hole-in-the-wall venues anywhere I can. I have a mohawk. My parents are divorced, bitter people. I got C's in high school. I have no intention of ever attending BYU. I have bad language at times. I stopped one merit badge short of my Eagle Scout, just to stick it to my father. I spend more time reading style and music culture blogs than religious text. Choirs all sound the same to me. I make jokes about Mormons. I am not a perfect person at all.

I do however, have faith that Joseph Smith restored The Church in these Latter-Days. I love my savior, and his great atoning sacrifice. I sustain the general authorities of The Church as prophets, seers, and revelators. I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I know that I am on this Earth to be tested, and to try to live worthily enough to return to live with my Heavenly Father in celestial glory someday.

When people see me in the street, they do not look at me and say 'Mormon.' For the most part I would say that I have never really fit the outward appearance roles of a Mormon. But whether I'm a 'Utah Mormon' or not, that should not matter. We're all here for the same purpose. We all have the same beliefs. I may not say things like 'fetch' or gasp when I see someone smoking a cigarette, but that doesn't make me any different from so called 'Utah Mormons.' I may act, look, talk, and even walk differently than a 'Utah Mormon,' but whether I'm a 'Utah Mormon' or a 'Seattle Mormon' what matters most, is that we're all brothers and sisters in Zion.

To refer to someone as a 'Utah Mormon' just shows signs of intolerance, ignorance, and pride. To esteem yourself over someone of your own faith, same aspirations, and same goals is to me, a poor, non-Christlike attribute. Mormons are Mormons. We're all here for the same purpose. Whether my suit is from Sears or Nordstrom should not matter. It's still a suit.

Leslie said...

great comments. i sure love being a mormon. (latter day saint :)

Hope said...

it makes me sad to see someone who is a member of my faith label me and pass stereotypes and judgments on me because of where i live. i'm trying to be the best disciple of Christ that i can be. and i also happen to live within the borders of utah. when Christ visited the nephites, after he instituted baptism, the FIRST thing he addressed to these believers (members) was contention among themselves. he said this: "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me". he said that "such things should be done away". (3 Nephi 11) i say to the fellow believers who live outside of utah...please do away with the term 'utah mormon'. thank you.

karey, thank you for sharing your feelings about this so called 'musical'. i hope to never hear about it or read about it again. let's hope it just goes away.

Steve Westover said...

Intolerance is ugly whether its an atheist mocking mormonism, or a mormon mocking mormons who are not exactly like them. This post and string of comments is a good object lesson.

As a general rule people who are afraid to stand by their words should rethink saying them at all.

Thanks for the post Karey.

Rich said...

Wow, Karey, you sure know how to stir the pot, and my hat is off to you for it. You make some great points in your post. It IS unfair that LDS people are singled out, and our religion - actually just about any Christian religion, anymore - is mocked, while Muslims are off limits. You also provoked some great responses. The best was from the punk rocker in Seattle. That guy has it figured out.

There are two things that I keep in mind when I read anything about “The Book Of Mormon” play:

1. Who is more powerful, Heavenly Father or the creators of South Park? The answer to that one is obvious. I recently read a review of “The Book Of Mormon” that talked about the portrayal of the LDS missionaries in the play, and how it humanized them and made some viewers realize that Mormons aren’t the racist, polygamous weirdos that the media likes to portray us as. Here’s a link to that article I think this article gives an interesting perspective to the debate. I am not defending the play, but I think all things eventually serve God’s purposes. The play might seem blasphemous and cruel now, but wouldn’t it be ironic if some good came of it?

2. The LDS Church has been attacked since the day Joseph Smith founded it in 1830. The first anti-LDS book, Eber D. Howe’s “Mormonism Unvailed (sic)” was published in 1834. People like Sandra and Jerald Tanner have devoted their lives to destroying the church, yet it’s still here, and still growing. In the eternal scheme of things, “The Book Of Mormon” play is less than a minor blip on the radar.

I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

Laura said...

Interesting post! Interesting comments!

Anonymous said...

Here's my e-mail, so you can reply to me if you want:

Actually, you should probably check out more of Matt and Trey's stuff before you get too upset about them not treating each religion fairly. In their show South Park, they've hit every single religion I know of. And homosexuals. And atheists. And Obama.

And the Book of Mormon isn't supposed to be offensive... The message at the end is that faith is good, that it can give people hope, whatever that faith may be. That's the important part. And that's what Christian religions believe, don't they? That God should give them hope?

Anonymous said...

You're easily the stupidest person I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. May your God have mercy on your tainted soul.

Anonymous said...

the mormon religion is ridiculous and anyone who kids themselves into believing it is just looking for something to believe in. muslims are hated and women are oppressed too. it's wrong. nobody should be hated but mormons have ridiculous views about blacks and other races. listen lady, why don't you just put a sock in it and wait till you're on your own planet to nag about musicals that you probably haven't even seen. it's all factual stuff, it's funny because it's totally bogus. enjoy living in your fantasy world. i'm going to go have a cup of coffee.