When you Google “Book of Mormon,” the first result is this:
The second is this:
Undoubtedly, the folks at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would prefer that order be flipped, but chances of that happening are slim to none. See, ever since Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone’s highly offensive and wildly funny musical cleaned house at the 2011 Tony Awards, it’s been the hottest ticket in town—this town (it opens its 12-day run at the Orpheum tomorrow), and any other it hits while on tour.
But Broadway isn’t the only channel broadcasting Mormonism. If you’ve turned on the TV or driven down an interstate in the past couple of years, chances are good you’ve seen commercials and billboards with “I’m a Mormon” campaign messages. The ads, sponsored by the church, showcase average Janes and Joes chatting about how they’re wives and husbands, artists and athletes, just like you and me—they just happen to be Mormon.
The religion got another media blast last August when Mitt Romney secured the Republican nomination for president. Although he rarely mentioned his religious affiliations, it still added fuel to the already-burning fire of criticism and negativity against the church.
Unfortunately, this opposition doesn’t surprise me—even with 20 percent of Americans identifying as having no religious affiliation, the majority of us are still quite religious and therefore have strong opinions on the matter. What I don’t understand is why Mormonism, the religion of less than two percent of Americans, is getting so much attention—and why we think it’s okay to use Joseph Smith as a punch line, but a near criminal act to poke fun at, say, Muslims? Or Jews?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone to see The Book of Mormon. I’m also admitting that this makes me a hypocrite. As an American and a Christian, I am proud of my rights to freedom of speech and religion. But I believe those rights should be exercised with compassion and discretion. If we are truly the land of the free, and if all men are created equal, then how can we allow our brothers and sisters of differing religions to feel unaccepted and unwanted? How can we allow for them to be bullied and cast aside?
Regardless of someone’s politics or religion (or lack thereof), I believe everyone has the right to be treated with respect—that it should be our common denominator as citizens of the United States of America. Plus, it’s worth remembering that although you may be in the majority today, tomorrow you could be the minority. And I’m pretty sure you’d rather not be picked on for no other reason than being yourself.