The recent success of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon has LDS Church members in the spotlight again. The question becomes: Are we learning anything from our recent experiences of being in the limelight?
According to Laurie Goodstein writing in the NYT (1 Apr 2011):
The arrival of a Broadway musical that ridicules their religion . . . is proving to be a cringe-worthy moment for many Mormons.
And yet, even though the very name of the show appropriates the title of the church’s sacred scripture, there have been no pickets or boycotts, no outraged new releases by Mormon defenders and no lawsuits.
This is intentional. Mormons want people to know they can take it.
They have held their heads high during “Big Love” and “Sister Wives”–two television shows about polygamists who follow fundamentalist Mormon sects. They survived scrutiny during the Olympics in SLC in 2002, and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008, and they are bracing for more in 2012 when two Mormons may enter the race: Romney . . . and Jon Huntsman.
Commenting on the LDS Church’s official reaction, Laurie writes:
The church’s reaction has been to release a one-sentence statement carefully crafted to be nonchalant: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.
The church issued the statement well before the show opened, trying to set an example for members not to get defensive or angry. Some are waiting to hear whether Mormon leaders address the issue at the church’s General Conference in SLC this weekend.
It appears as if the LDS Church’s public-relations department is maturing. This muted response seems entirely appropriate. After all, according to the old adage, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Adam Ford, a lawyer in Alpine UT said he thought the play was “inspired.” He said he is the great-great-grandson of Willard Richards, a private secretary to Joseph Smith.
“The things they’re making fun of are the myths that don’t affect our everyday lives,” said Ford, a father of six who teaches gospel doctrine, the Mormon term for Sunday school.
The myths may be outlandish, he said, “but most people are blessed by it.”