A Positive Spin on Satire: How the Mormon Community is Combatting Misunderstanding

I found this news story interesting due to the idea that the Mormon communtiy is using a play which mocks them in order to bring their history and their beliefs into the public eye. Rather than protesting and back-lashing against the musical, which is a satirical comedy of Mormon beliefs and traditions, Mormons are using it as a platform to spread education about their belief system to a highly uneducated American audience. Its also interesting to notice their use of technology in this process as they have implemented a scan code within the program booklets which helps direct viewers to The Book of Mormon, the fundamental literature which is the backbone of the movement. I think that in today’s society, a large misunderstanding and negative bias are both present toward not only the Mormon religion, but all new religious movements in general. It is therefore wise to educate the public in order to alleviate negative attitudes and replace them with concrete understandings of who the believers are, what they believe, and their reasons for doing so. Our textbook, Understanding Cults and New Age Religions, opened with an introduction which emphasized the tendency that Evangelical Christians have to judge, scapegoat, and ostracize religions other than their own. I think that through the use of humour and satire, the Mormon community has successfully implemented a system which will help decrease levels of stigma and confusion and replace them with understanding and perhaps even additional members to their community of believers. Since the Mormon religion is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, it is important that as much education is provided about what they stand for as possible and this unique method was definitely a wise way to approach this goal. I think that education is the most efficient way to combat misunderstanding and prejudice against new religious movements and I definitely think that the method used here is beneficial to the livelihood of the Morman community.

 DC #341

17 thoughts on “A Positive Spin on Satire: How the Mormon Community is Combatting Misunderstanding

  1. This is quite intriguing to me as I went to high school with several Mormons and went to a few of their youth events even though I knew little about their belief system.(I’ll be honest and say most of my knowledge of it came from South Park episode.) What I’ve noticed having Mormon friends on Facebook is that the Mormon religious leaders have been very good at using present day technology as they have set up several user-friendly websites that very helpful to all those interested and also put up videos of conferences. I don’t see this with other religions and due to this blog I know why. What I also found interesting about this blog is that I had absolutely no clue that this was going on. Normally when a religion gets mocked there is a huge enough uproar that gets media attention. If I had to venture a guess I would say that its because the Mormons took control of it by laughing at themselves and thus giving them the power.

    I agree with DC’s statement that education in any way eases away confusion and biases. This blog certainly helped me become more aware of a positive aspect of Mormonism; technology

  2. I agree with the author of this post, that the key to defeating misunderstandings about new religious movements is education– I think & hope that most people in the world believe that knowledge is power.

    I’m curious to know if the Book of Mormon, the musical on broadway, was produced by a Mormon? This post leads me to believe so, and if true, I find it very interesting. If I were a Mormon, I presume I would be disgruntled by an extremely popular broadway hit which pokes fun at something I would so strongly believe in. I’m not sure that Mormons would at all appreciate a musical making fame and fortune from mocking their religion. Again, I strongly believe that education is vital in every situation, however, I am not convinced that a satirical broadway musical is the approach I personally would take to provide factual information on my religion. I have friends who have seen, and thoroughly enjoyed, The Book of Mormon (musical), and none have come back and decided to pick up the Book to give it a try…

    -HAR 341

  3. The use of this method in explaining,educating and negating the misunderstanding and negative biases affiliated with mormonism is very effective and truly displays pure values of mormon culture and religion. Furthermore it should be used by all religious institutions and individuals to educate and clarify religion from its biased, discriminatory and false assumptions that are spread around the world. As you said, it is wise to educate the population upon religions to negate negative discriminatory conflictual attitude and assumptions that conspire religions. In this era Islam is affiliated with terrorism , threat to humanity and many other conflictual false and discriminatory values; that are unrepresentative of it true values and virtues. I believe a neutral method that primarily just educates the populations upon religion such as the education method presented by the mormons is very beneficial in negating religious terrorism. In terms of islam, education is very necessary in alleviating negative attitudes that exist around the world, creating violence and terrorism that slanders the image and virtues presented in the islam. since primarily all islamic affiliated conflict is justified through Jihad, concept that demonstrates defence of islam which can be ether intellectual or conflict orientated further clarification and education upon jihad in islam can greatly negate religious conflict done upon islam name or against muslims. furthermore education undermine the ability of individuals’ to manipulate and control populations for their personal gains justifying it through religious duty. Providing factual and neutral education, that is respected and representative of the respective religion, is a very effect method in eliminating religious conflict and discrimination.

  4. I think that this was a good move on the part of the Mormons. I think that recognizing the fact that Mormonism is often the butt of some jokes was a good start for them be taken more seriously by others because it shows that they are aware of their image outside their church. I think this will lead some skeptics to stop and rethink their stand on Mormonism and learn more about it.

  5. I have to agree with the education part!
    I think something that is missing in new aged religions is the education that is needed to fully understand the fundamentals behind them. Each religion has such an interesting perspective that can be missed if it isn’t completely explored! Like SRRP341 said, “good move on the part of the mormons”!


  6. I also agree that knowledge is power. Through conveying an understanding of their religion using creativity and satire, the Mormons will not only being reaching a larger audience but as the author pointed out, possibly even acquiring new members.
    This New Age religious movement is using New Age ways to promote their religion, and it seems to be working!

  7. I think that the LDS Church made a great move when they decided to work with this “mockery” instead of fighting against it. There is often a stereotype spread throughout our society that religious people are uptight, or without a sense of humor. I could see that keeping a lot of people away from organized religions, particularly one that is known to be as strict as Mormonism. Given the amount of publicity and media attention this ad placement has gotten (I had heard of it before even reading the posted article) I think it is a step in a great direction in terms of changing people’s perceptions of the LDS Church. Potential members that would have stayed away may feel those biases melt away, thinking “Oh, I *can* have fun as a Mormon, after all!”

    It seems that anything a church can do to attract more members, especially youths (precisely the target audience of anything written by the writers of South Park) who have not yet made up their minds concerning their faith, is in the best interest of a church that hopes to continue growing.

  8. I completely agree with the author’s emphasis on education and how important it is for understanding a new religion. However, I believe that education is also important for understanding world religions as well. Many world religions are mocked and discriminated against due to the lack of knowledge about their beliefs and values. For example, Christians are viewed as judgmental hypocrites, and Muslims are seen as terrorists. Both of these ignorant statements are misconceptions. Through proper education and unbiased research, society will be able to understand all religions.

    GCW #341

  9. To answer the above comment, according to http://ow.ly/imdB4 – an article published on Deseret News, an LDS news group – the Broadway musical is not an LDS production but a production of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Despite this the article indicates that the LDS church has bought ad space on the production playbill encouraging people to “read the book” that the musical is based on, as you’ve mentioned in your miniblog. And as you’ve noted apparently the Church has not reacted negatively to the publicity and instead has used it to promote its message through the comical interpretations of quirky missionary stereotypes.
    The Church’s official response to the musical is as follows, “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” (http://ow.ly/imdY1). It seems that the Church has used this potentially negative publicity to showcase its modernity. As we’ve read in the textbook, Mormonism is based on Joseph Smiths doctrine, which “is clearly a mythologization of the idea of progress and evolutionary philosophy” (Understanding Cults and New Age Religions, 56). Maybe this progressive reaction from the Church is a reflection of the progressive theme upon which Mormonism is based?

  10. I think this is a new, interesting way to spread education about new religions and movements. With our new generation trying to grasp such topics with an older thought of mind, it is incredibly important for new strategies to be taken for us individuals who reside outside of the particular religious group to comprehend the beliefs and practices of the people. Anytime any individual becomes extreme and narrow minded when it comes to others understanding his/her beliefs and practices will definitely put a strain on the “moving forward” aspect of their movement. All movements and religions will be given harsh criticism for the sole reason of it being ‘new’. The religious leaders in these movements must have an open mind, to be able to see the outsider perspective, and how they can go on to explain and preach their beliefs to others. In some religions, there are extremists that do not understand how to handle criticisms and take all comments negatively and become unwilling to negotiate and discuss further connotations. The fact that the Mormons have agreed to go alongside a play that does indeed mock them in a subtle way, shows that they can understand and handle criticisms, but then later go on to explain them and rule out any stereotype through satirical education. This, in my opinion, is a great way to educate spectators of the religion.

  11. “All press is good press”. Or at least it is in this specific circumstance for the LDS Church. I think that the way they have responded to The Book of Mormon is impressive and very proactive. In the past many other religions (ie. Christianity with “The Da Vinci Code”, Islam with caricatures of Mohammed) have overreacted to and condemned works that poke fun at or question their beliefs. The Mormon Church however has used this spotlight to help broaden their impact and to help spread their religion. What good would meeting this controversy with complete negativity do anyway? With their approach the Mormon Church has shown that they are accepting of the opinions of others and believe in the freedom of “all” press. This is something many other many other big religions cannot claim. The Mormon Church should be an example to other religions on how to deal with controversy.

    -OV #341

  12. I agree with the commenter above me, I think the Mormons made a really good choice, and step forward, by allowing some humour alongside their doctrine. Mormonism is often the point of many a joke, but also quite a bit of skepticism, alarm, and uncertainty. By allowing this satire to co-exsist, and by including a more technological 21st century approach to how one can access their literature, they are opening doors to a younger, inquistive generation. A generation which appreciates and thrives off humour, satire and technology.

  13. I completely agree with the author on this note. Firstly, education is essential to understanding any outside or “alien” group other than our own. I especially enjoy how they go about doing it, using theater as a creative outlet and humour as a common ground in order to establish a relationship between the two groups while presenting the audience with information on their religion in order to help bridge the gap that they have been experiencing, all in a very non-threatening manner. I would agree that this would enbale them to reach virtually all groups and kinds of people.

  14. In light of how Scientology dealt with its competing propaganda on the internet, the move by the Mormons seems all the more effective. Scientology attempted to remove the competing propaganda on the internet spurring more controversy and attention to the issues raised. On the other hand here the Mormons seem to effective address the competing propaganda by interacting and even make use of a musical which is critical to the Mormon faith.

  15. The post seems to assume that negative attitudes toward New Religions are always immoral or prejudicial. While education can be an important tool in erasing misconceptions about a new religion and providing a balanced perspective, it is also true that some negative attitudes toward New Religions are justified. Examples include the cults that devolved into mass suicides and oppressive totality, such as the Heaven’s gate cult, the Solar Temple, the cults of Jim Jones, David Koresh etc. On some occasions, abuses within a new religion and religions in general, must be adressed rather than ignored,even though this is not meant to imply that negative attitudes are warranted toward Mormonism.

  16. I was really caught by this blog post mainly because I have two friends who are Mormon. Before I met them I never really understood their religion, I only heard about Mormon people and I never thought it was reasonable or by any means acceptable. I felt this way because of the things I have heard. Polygamy is acceptable in their faith, and I never agreed with that. But when I met these two people, and became very close friends with, all that changed. They are actually very kind and moral people, they principles in their faith guide them to be respectable people. This blog talks about their educational methods which I think are also very brilliant, in fact my friend told me about their annual conferences. They are very educational and are on television so others can see. I think this blog was very interesting and it made me think more about how all religions share similar problems when comes to how media portrays them as.

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