The world of the arts, sports and politics have been hit with a culture we Utahns are all too familiar with.
It’s a strange thing to say, but it seems that the Mormon culture is the latest thing sweeping the nation. For a culture that is such a large part of Utah, it is just one small subculture of the nation. Suddenly there are two Mormons bidding to be presidential candidates, Jimmer being drafted into the NBA, and the Tony Award-winning musical based on the Book of Mormon.
This has been a drastic change from the recent national attention toward the LDS church and its stance on same-sex marriage and the controversies surrounding the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As a Utah native and nonmember of the LDS church, I find this recent pique of interest in the LDS church fascinating. Hopefully in the long run, this could maybe eliminate a few of those extra-strange rumors and stereotypes attached to the word “Mormon” (like that they all have horns and eight wives).
Two Republican presidential nominees familiar to Utah, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr., both have Mormon roots. Huntsman and Romney will face a similar struggle of overcoming their religion’s stereotypes and misconceptions and focusing on their political platforms.
In a poll conducted in early June, a significant amount of voters showed that they oppose having a Mormon candidate. Around 18 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats who participated in the poll declared they would not vote for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
James Taft Fredette, better known as “Jimmer,” received attention not only because he was the NCAA’s leading scorer of 2011 and earned all major National Player of the Year honors, but because he played for Brigham Young University. He became a member of the LDS church when he was 18. Jimmer was drafted 10th into the NBA by the Milwaukee Bucks, and afterward traded to the Sacramento Kings.
The Book of Mormon musical has probably brought the most attention to the religion/culture. It was nominated for 14 Tony awards, one short of the all-time record held by The Producers and Billy Elliot the Musical. Overall, the musical won South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker nine Tony awards. Tickets are now selling for up to $500 or more because of all the hype the musical has received.
The debate about whether the musical depicts accurate satire of Mormons, their church and their culture is ongoing. Some church members have voiced that it could potentially reinforce negative or untrue stereotypes. Newsweek has even said that “The Book of Mormon may be the most obscene show ever brought to a Broadway stage.”
Perhaps to offset the satirical critiques of the Book of Mormon musical, the LDS church recently launched its “I’m a Mormon” campaign in New York City. The campaign, which refers people to the Mormon.org website, features a wide variety of church members and their experiences in and feelings about the church. These advertisements can be found on billboards, taxi cabs, subways and even videos in Times Square.
The new curiosity as to the different facets of the LDS culture will hopefully give the rest of the nation a glimpse into Utah culture that they hadn’t seen before.