On July 7th (2011) Politico drew attention to a local news report in Memphis that showed man-on-the-street interviews about Mormon teachings. The context of the relevance for the news report was the presidential campaign; this was one report in a series of four that the station had aired in one day (July 4th). In this particular segment, asking “the questions somewhat joking with them and trying to be a little bit light-hearted,” the reporter appeared to treat little-known Mormon doctrines with disdain. He asked people things like, “Can you name the candidate that’s running for president that believes that if he’s a good person in his religion he will receive his own planet?” And, “What country do you think hosts the Garden of Eden? Did you know it’s in America?”
The news report has caused public outcry from Mormons and non-Mormons alike. It has been condemned as “offensive,” a “disgusting underhanded attack,” “shameful,” “distasteful,” “stupid,” and, of course, “anti-mormon” (to list just a few epithets).
Reading about how upset people have been over the news reporter “making fun” of Mormonism made me wonder why nobody has raised a public eyebrow over the LDS Church-sponsored mocking of Christian doctrines that is depicted at the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, Utah every year.
During a 2011 performance, Christian evangelist Russ Bales filmed this early scene of the pageant:
In this short clip, the Mormon Church pageant makes fun of the Christian doctrines pertaining to the nature of God and eternal punishment, portrays Christian pastors as being unwilling or unable to answer the most basic of life’s questions, and misrepresents the “fervor of religious revival” with “the exhortations of contending preachers, each proclaiming his own church the only avenue of escape from the horrors of a burning hell.” The narrator jeers, “Amen, Hallelujah”; one of three pontificating preachers drones, “It is only here that you will find salvation. Only here,” while churchgoers dismiss the play’s sincere truth-seekers, Mary and Robert, with an annoyed sweep of their arms.
Is the tone of this scene in the Mormon Miracle Pageant substantially different from that of the Memphis news station’s man-on-the-street segment? Some may think the Pageant scene should also be condemned as “offensive,” a “disgusting underhanded attack,” “shameful,” “distasteful,” “stupid,” and “anti-[Christian].” What do you think?
Thursday’s Mormon Coffee blog post will take a look at the LDS doctrine that promises planets to the faithful (as mentioned in the Memphis news report).