Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

The Book of Mormon on Broadway, and the Church’s Interesting Response

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of Southpark are enjoying great success with their Broadway show, “The Book of Mormon.”  The show makes fun of the weirder teachings of Mormonism and traces the experiences of two young Mormon missionaries as they struggle with doubts during their assignment to Uganda.  A friend in New York called yesterday to share an interesting story surrounding the show. 

She’s a Catholic, and admitted that if Stone and Parker had done a Broadway show making fun of Catholicism, most likely there would be Catholics standing across the street protesting in front of the theater.  Evangelicals are no different.  We’ve protested Hollywood, big corporations we don’t agree with – even advertisers who don’t say “Merry Christmas” in their holiday advertising.  But my friend reported the Mormons are doing something completely curious and different.

Yes, they’re lining up across the street from the theater, but instead of protesting or urging a boycott of the show, they’re handing out copies of The Book of Mormon.

Now, instead of the public walking away from angry people upset over the show, they’re walking away from nice people and taking a copy of The Book of Mormon with them.  Whether or not it’s organized by the Church itself, or just individual Mormons taking action, it doesn’t really matter.  It’s a brilliant response.

Wow.  How an approach like that could change the conversation…..

What do you think?

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  1. Gabe is right! This response is brilliant! If only evangelicals would respond this way. I feel so often times we are a road block to the message of the Gospel. This evangelical is going to go see this next time he is in NYC cause it looks hilarious. 

  2. I’m Mormon and I think it’s a great response. In fact, I’ve had a ton of people ask me about the Book of Mormon since the show came out. I love questions and this is awesome. Nothing is worse than having things shoved in our faces. Anyone been to Vegas and tried walking the Strip? ugh.
    Anyway, no reason to protest freedom of speech. We live in America. I’m curious to see it, too : ) 

    great post!

    1. Hi,   When white-shirted members of the LDS church come to my door they don’t want to discuss certain specific things about their faith…………….such as the non-Mormon belief that we get to Heaven by taking/accepting Jesus into our hearts, and that’s all it takes.    We don’t secure a place there by doing “good works” (i.e. knocking on doors and riding around foreign countries on bikes).   Also, what would Jesus say about LOCKING OUT non-Mormons from the Mormon temples after the original opening ceremonies for those temples?    Is that the attitude/belief that Jesus would have us follow?   In other Christian churches, ALL PEOPLE are encouraged to enter the church and feel welcome and accepted.    Also, if Jesus visited North America at some point(Mormon belief), where is the secular, historical evidence of this?

      1. Mormons believe that almost everyone will go to Heaven.

        And.. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 100 operating temples around the world. Visitors are welcome to visit the temple grounds at all of these temples and attend open houses prior to dedication. However, only baptized members who are qualified and prepared are allowed to enter a temple after it is dedicated.
        In temples, Church members participate in ordinances designed to unite their families together forever and help them return to God. In the temple, members:Learn eternal truths.
        Receive sacred ordinances, including those that bind husband and wife together for eternity, as well as join children and parents (Malachi 4:5-6).
        Provide ordinances such as baptism for those who have died without the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:29; 1 Peter 4:6”

      2. Anyone no matter what faith they are are accepted into all of our chapels. And not all Mormons are allowed in our temple. Even our members need to be found worthy to enter into our beautiful temples.

  3. I have posted my comments twice on here but they keep disappearing. Can anyone else see them, because I don’t want to keep posting it if it is showing up somewhere!

      1. Thanks Phil, I appreciate that. I was meaning the initial comment I made to this post kept disappearing after I posted it. I had an external link in my post… would that keep it from “sticking” to the wall?

  4. Thanks for sharing this conversation that you had with your friend. I
    always find it refreshing to read an article that was sparked out of
    real life experiences with real friends! It makes me feel like my friends and I aren’t so off in our thoughts!

    This article made me think about a blog I recently read by Pastor Mark
    Discoll of Mars Hill Church. He was commenting on an upcoming publicized
    protest that was to take place outside of his church by Westboro
    Baptist Church (interesting people..) It is the opposite situation but
    his response is pretty amazing. I thought so anyways, check it out and
    see what you think:

    Blog: Westboro Baptist Church, This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings
    Welcome You to Our Whore House for God’s Grace and Free Donuts

    It is so easy for us as people to get defensive about the things that we
    love or that are important to us, or turn a blind eye and pretend we
    don’t see anything (my personal weakness, working on it). I think it is
    time that we stopped being so defensive and learn a lesson from what’s
    happening and find innovative ways to share the amazing story that is
    inside of us at every opportunity that we can! It will certainly be on
    my mind this week in a fresh way.

  5. Ingenious response. However, the kindness that people will no doubt be impressed by will soon be overshadowed by the incredible teachings found within the book the Mormons insist on handing out.

    I watched the Tony telecast (and yes, I am a Christian pastor who loves musical theatre, believe it or not!) and was amazed that all the huge laugh lines from the play’s song “I Believe” are just blatant statements of actual Mormon doctrine and beliefs.

    However, I do believe that Christians should learn from the Mormon’s response and try not to over-react to every perceived offense in the culture. It’s time we became known more for what we believe than all that we are against!

  6. So how can we extrapolate this concept to, say, The Playboy Club? Do we start raising funds for CovenantEyes or XXXChurch so they can buy some ads?

    1. I don’t think we always need to be looking for opportunities to “sneak in” and advertise but that we can learn to make the most of opportunities as they arise. Ads in those places wouldn’t be a bad thing but what I was able to take away from this article was learning to seize potential “negative” situations and using them to communicate in a positive way.  This can be done on a larger scale like a Broadway production or a new TV series launching.

      I think it is also very applicable to our personal lives on a smaller scale. Finding those creative opportunities to share your story with people who oppose or mock your values and beliefs in a way that doesn’t paint you with the same stereotype that they already have for you in their head. People, in my experience, are way open to hearing about what you stand for and not what you stand against.

      So combine “creative opportunities” with a story told out of love, Add in a splash of the “signs-and-wonders-that-follow-those-who-believe” and you’ve got a whole new platform to share from.

      On a side note – the stuff xxxchurch is doing is brilliant, going to tradeshows and handing out custom bibles is totally in the same stream. The problem seems to be when Christians step out and take these “creative opportunities” the biggest backlash comes from within our own community of believers… kind of counter productive!

  7. Smart idea! Imagine if we Christians applied this very concept in our personal lives next time we’re bashed for our faith. Nothing is won and all is lost when we respond defensive and angry.

  8. I disagree with your friend: Most Catholics I know (in Louisiana and the Caribbean, mind) would be cracking up at a musical mocking them. 

      1.  Not like those sweatshop-derived books will be used for anything good. Lets hope most just get tossed out or donated to Salvation Army.

        1. The Book of Mormon is the most true book and you will never get closer to God with any other book. Read it with the bible and you will find out for yourself .

  9. I think they are very smart to respond in peace and take advantage of the attention through promoting their own cause.  Though I don’t support their faith, I think that Christians should be that pro-active, instead of re-active and response to criticism with service, and love and not be defensive or offended by bad press.  For instance, when Saddleback Church in Orange County was being picketed on a Sunday morning in their parking lot because the church was not supporting Gay Marriage Initiative, the leadership of the church decided not to throw them out but to go out to them and serve them coffee!  BRILLIANT.  Let’s learn from Saddleback and from the Mormons that there is a more effective way of responding to negative press.  How freeing that would be!

  10. It’s funny the more we try to influence by force the more we push people away. The more we try to influence with love and acceptance, in a contemporary way, the better our chances of actually achieving our ultimate mandate. We are not settling we are succeeding.

    1. How are mormons accepting when they don’t allow “non-believers” into their “dedicated” temples?

      1. They aren’t very accepting outside of you being receptive to their message – anyone who says they are accepting are just masking that point. They are generally very prejudice people – they’re just very quiet about it most of the time. I know because I was a Mormon for most of my life, served a mission, all that. But, just like any group/religion/culture, they look down on outsiders with a quiet disdain.

        But, as far as the temple goes, that’s considered a sacred place to them where you must be worthy to enter only after paying tithing, being chaste, all that fun stuff. They tend to say “it’s not a secret place – it’s a sacred place”. Trust me, it’s not much to see anyways.

  11. I’m actually surprised that no one has gotten mad over this situation. Even the HBO show Big Love managed to draw some hate mail towards themselves

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