The following Q&A appeared on CNN’s website (27 Jun 2011):
Q: Professor (Richard) Bushman, the character of Elder Price, an American Mormon missionary in modern-day Uganda, questions his faith, but regains it while performing the song, “I Believe.” He sings, “I believe that God has a plan for all of us./I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.” Is that lyric based in Mormon belief?
A. I have been living in California and Utah for the past year while the musical “The Book of Mormon” has been packing the house on Broadway. I have not seen the show, but I have read endless reviews, listened to parts of the score, and talked with Mormon friends who have seen it. Based on what I have heard, and the lyrics of Elder Price’s song, the musical gets a lot of laughs, but it is not meant to explain Mormon beliefs.
Mormons experience the show like looking at themselves in a fun-house mirror. The reflection is hilarious but not really you. The nose is yours but swollen out of proportion.
Take the issue of getting your own planet, for example. Elder Price talks about a planet for himself and one for Jesus. Those are not really core Mormon beliefs. Mormon scriptures and Church leaders don’t say anything about people getting their own planets. The idea is more like lore than doctrine.
Mormons do believe in the principle of theosis, the doctrine that God wants humans to become like himself—in effect gods. That belief leads Mormons to speculate about creation. Will beings with god-like qualities have the powers to form earths? Perhaps, who knows?
There is no fixed doctrine on the subject. Mormons themselves joke about the planet business. But they do take seriously that we may grow up to be like Our Father in Heaven.