The award-winning Broadway play called “The Book of Mormon”, created by the minds behind the extremely funny and raunchy animated show Southpark, has put an additional spotlight on Mormons when there would already seem to be enough, given that there are two Presidential candidates who are Mormon. So how do Mormons feel about the Broadway play? I haven’t surveyed every Mormon who has seen the play, but I’ve read a bit about it myself, and while I probably wouldn’t spend the money or time to see it and I’m certain I would fine portions of it offensive, I think overall it’s a positive for the religion.
Part of it is the “no PR is bad PR” factor, but I think we can’t ignore the content of the play. In reading interviews of Trey Parker and Matt Stone and in the clips I’ve seen of their Southpark episodes that featured Mormons or references to Mormonism, I don’t believe their intentions are malicious. I think they find Mormons curious, humorous, and perhaps odd, but in making fun of Mormons they always seem to work in a common message, which is “Yeah, they’re kind of crazy, but they’re also nice and mostly harmless.” In a way, this message might open doors that would otherwise be closed–it’s hard to be afraid of what you laugh at. And while some might make the case that it’s also hard to take seriously what you laugh at, I don’t worry much about this. Superficial humor and levity can more easily be overcome by missionaries than fear.
My favorite commentary so far on the Book of Mormon play comes from Richard Bushman, who also hasn’t seen it, but responds to questions about the doctrines and practices of the Mormon faith referenced in the play. If his opinion isn’t quite what other Mormons might hold, it’s the opinion I hold and that which I would hope most other Mormons would hold as well.