Today, the public face of Mormonism is bizarre to say the least. In broadcasting you have Glenn Beck, in politics you have Mitt Romney, in entertainment you have Donny and Marie Osmond (and let’s not forget Derek and Julianne Hough). And in literature there is Stephenie Meyer.
Glenn is keeping alive the over-the-top conspiracy theories of uber-conservative Mormon Cleon Skousen. And to make matters worse, Glenn recently urged his viewers to leave churches that preach social or economic justice saying they are code words for communism and nazism. “Look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church Web site,” Beck said. “If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.” And, of course, Glenn is very famous for his histrionics (maybe learned in F&TM).
Mitt Romney’s current pandering to the right-wing of the Republican Party is also embarassing. I believe strongly that Mitt is very much his father’s man. I knew his father. He was our Stake President in Michigan and he was also our governor. George was very much a centrist (as I believe Mitt is). Be that as it may, the country doesn’t need another “W”. I think there is a real danger that the public will assume that Mitt Romney’s stated views represent those of the Mormon Church which further puts us in the camp of the Evangelicals. This to me is a problem.
As for Donnie and Marie, I just wish there was more there. I feel bad for Marie’s latest tribulations. And I do recognize her concern over the Church’s stand on gay rights, but there needs to be more depth if she and her brother want to taken as anything but buffoons. I realize it’s just entertainment, but still.
The case of Stephenie Meyer is bizarre. While her Twilight book series (about vampires and such, and which is targeted at teenage girls) is wildly popular, it is apparently banned at Deseret Book (an LDS-church-owned book chain). I find this rather curious, since Deseret had a recent book signing party for Republican hit-man Karl Rove. So literary vampires are taboo, but political vampires are okay. Particularly, if they are Republican conservatives.
The Mormon Church is full of really bright and committed individuals. And many of these members are changing the world, actually making serious contributions to society without selling out. Why can’t some of these members, with more than just surface depth, be our symbols? I guess they are just too boring; they don’t show up on TV enough.