Kathleen Flake writing for the Washington Post (viewed in the SLTrib 6 April 2011), asks the question: What should Mormon presidential candidates do or say about the current Broadway hit musical “The Book of Mormon”?
. . . I say embrace “The Book of Mormon”–Stone and Parker’s version, not just (Joseph) Smith’s. The “South Park” characters have been making a compelling case for religious tolerance for almost 15 years.
But according to Flake, there is an even bigger issue here:
In 2003, its (South Park’s) take on Mormonism was voiced by Stan’s spurned friend Gary. After a half-hour of hilarity about what Mormons believe, and after Gary realizes that his religion is just too much for Stan, the otherwise mild-mannered boy yells: “Maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up. But I have a great life and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches is loving your family, being nice and helping people.”
This appears to be the point of the Broadway musical as well. But the point most relevant to politics comes in Gary’s last words to Stan: “And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty, you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy.”
Latter-day Saints have proven good neighbors, citizens and politician. It’s time to admit them to that well-populated club of people whose religion is not our own . . . but who are perfectly acceptable presidential candidates.
Flake is preaching tolerance, particularly of non-Mormons toward Mormons. But the reverse is even more necessary.