Serious Fun: “Singing and Dancing to the Book of Mormon” edited by Holly Welker and Marc Edward Shaw

book_of_mormon_musical_book Since its opening, the Book of Mormon musical has been surrounded by controversy over its degree of vulgarity, its treatment of Mormons, and various other issues. It has also been tremendously popular in the US and abroad, notably sweeping the Tony Awards. It’s natural to ask whether it’s just fluff appealing to the lowest common denominator or whether there’s some substance there — and if there’s substance, let’s tease it out and have a look.

Welker and Shaw’s book Singing and Dancing to the Book of Mormon does just that. They’ve collected a remarkable set of original essays by various authors analyzing every facet of the play including its treatment of Mormon culture and beliefs, its treatment of Africans and women, its messages about faith in general, its use of bawdy humor, its illustration of Joseph Smith’s techniques and trajectory through the character of Elder Cunningham, and many other points.

Even for those of us who have been following the online discussion of this musical, there are plenty of fascinating new ideas in this collection. In the discussions I’ve read online, the consensus has generally been that the errors in the portrayal of Mormonism are small and superficial, especially compared with the deeper cultural themes the play got right. Some essays in this book expand upon that point, but I think the book really shines when the authors go beyond the obvious question of “Is it fair to Mormons?” and start to tackle its treatment of other groups. Here’s a taste:

As Max Perry Mueller writes in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, “Say what you will about the accuracy of the ‘Africans’ depicted in The Lion King musical, at least ‘Hakuna Matata’ actually means something in Swahili.” “Hasa Diga Eebowai” is akin to a modern Broadway musical, set (for example) in China, including a number entitled “Ching Chong Bing Bong”—-an unthinkable occurrence. Yet, because this is Africa, this cultural appropriation receives a pass from its predominantly white audience.

and:

More shocking and upsetting still was seeing Nabulungi reduced to an accessory—not someone who assists in accomplishing an action, like an accessory to a crime, but in the sense of being an object that completes an outfit. Nabulungi does something that’s a punch line in “You and Me (But Mostly Me)”: she literally stands next to [Elder Cunningham] and watches.

One of the running jokes in the musical is the white Mormon missionaries’ ignorance about Africa — yet ironically the musical itself is just as ignorantly Eurocentric, treating Africa and Africans as cardboard cut-outs whose real-life counterparts are irrelevant and uninteresting to the (white) audience. As much as I want to love this play for how well it nailed so many aspects of Mormon culture that I remember from my Mormon upbringing, I can’t overlook its blind spots and treat them as minor issues. I’m glad to see that this book gives those questionable points some serious scrutiny.

I’d like to thank the editors and authors of this book for their insights. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys textual analysis and has an interest in the musical.

[disclosure note: I am listed in the acknowledgements of this book for having provided some feedback on one of the essays.]

Have something to say about “The Book of Mormon” musical?

For the past few years, a colleague and I have been working to compile a collection of scholarly essays about “The Book of Mormon” musical. We’ve got a signed contract with a press and some really great essays, but there’s room for one or two more. If you have an idea for an essay of 4,000 to 6,000 words critiquing the BOM musical from any discipline, send an abstract ASAP to: bom.musical.interp @ gmail.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: No planet for you edition!

As cool as it was when the CoJCoL-dS dumped its racist doctrines, it was clear (even at the time) that there are disadvantages to giving the keys of defining Mormon doctrine over to the quorum of the anonymous website maintainers. Officially endorsing questionable apologetics on the Book of Mormon (like limited geography) was bad enough. Now they’re repossessing your planet.

Some say they never really wanted a planet anyway, but others (including me) are understandably disappointed. (We talked about this way back when they first started floating the idea of denying the “own planet” thing.)

I especially think it’s a shame because the doctrine of eternal progression is an interesting one (that the article could have expanded on), and it’s no more ridiculous than the doctrines of other religions. But it looks like the new church essays are determined to deny anything that could embarrass the CoJCoL-dS in any way. I just hope that in the next essay they decide to deny they ever claimed that masturbation is a sin. Hey, website prophets — remember how people were laughing at Mormons for that BYUI masturbation-as-war video (* hint, hint *):

And, while Mormons who are at least 30 generally remember learning in church that the purpose of this life is to learn to become Gods of our own worlds, it’s surprisingly tricky to find quotes to back it up. It’s a tribute to the effectiveness of the church’s strategy of disseminating doctrine through anonymously-authored manuals that are updated every year (and now in anonymous web pages). Maybe the CoJCoL-dS did openly teach us this doctrine 20 years ago, but good luck proving it!!

I can understand why the CoJCoL-dS may want to de-emphasize some of Joseph Smith’s more science-fictiony doctrines — after all, it’s right there in the Mormon scripture that the sun’s light comes from Kolob. The problem is that is you want to claim that you are getting information directly from an omniscient God, it’s hard to explain why that info is so often wrong. One strategy is to give up on having doctrines, which is great, but leaves some wondering why they should be obeying the church leaders. Other religions have consistency problems as well, but Tim made a valid point about how the new essay is unfair to Christians:

I’m happy for the church to clarify its own beliefs on this doctrine but found myself frequently frustrated by their justifications for the doctrine. On the one hand the church ask that its beliefs not be caricatured (having your own planet) but it has no problem creating a caricature of Eastern orthodoxy and the early church fathers for its own benefit.

Last week’s topicthe gay agenda — is still resonating. Just Jill helpfully posted her gay agenda, and Mormon X found a pro-mutant message in the film Frozen. Both J-G W and Joseph Broom explained that the existence of successful mixed-orientation marriages doesn’t mean mixed-orientation marriage is a viable option for everyone.

Then there were some more ripples of discussion about that Ensign article about “The Lord’s Standard for Morality”. Holly Welker wrote that it promoted rape culture (what else is new?), so Dan Peterson called on faithful women to tell Holly how wrong she is. Some rose to the challenge, but they also felt the original article had some major problems. (Tangential: Here are some interesting women.)

Now for scripture study!! In this week’s Book of Mormon readings, some ancient American prophets predicted Jesus’ life in some detail but failed to predict some Mormon doctrines that Joseph Smith didn’t think of until after translating the Book of Mormon. Daniel Midgely’s Old Testament lesson was about how the Old Testament is in fact a really terrible guide for morality, contrary to Dallin Oaks’ recent claim:

Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process.

Actually, several people objected to Oakes’ recent talk.

As a general trend, America is secularizing, including from moderate religions and the rest, largely because the Religious Right is so intent on making religion look rotten. (Plus the gospel of un-god is really convincing.) Not everyone, though — Thunderchicken wrote an elaborate allegory explaining some reasons for staying the the church. And church attendance may be increasing in some places!

In individual stories, Profet left the church largely for his kids’ sake. Andrea outlined some of the specific problems in the CoJCoL-dS. Aerin and Jen reflected on the role of Mormonism in their lives. And Knotty has had to move on from epinions.

In random stuff, “Cosmos” is coming back!! Plus we have some tasty looking recipes, a rave review for Joanne’s book.

Have a great week — and let’s all try to make this our paradise planet, since we won’t be getting our own new ones!!

The profound truths of the Book of Mormon

A few weeks ago — after more than two years of loving the album — I finally got to see God’s favorite musical performed live! I love all of the songs, and in particular, I think that the song You and Me (But Mostly Me) is my #1 favorite Broadway show tune of all time. It’s not just clever and funny — I love it because it so perfectly captures my own Mormon experience. I’m happy to enjoy the abstract beauty of music, but I really love songs that express real emotions — songs I can sing with my whole heart.

In this case, as I’ve said:

it was listening to “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” that made my whole youth and childhood pass before my eyes. Standing there, happy to supportively sing “my best friend…” while somebody Awesome! sings his heart out about serving God. [..] I completely agree with Holly’s assessment that this would be perfect sung as a duet between a young LDS guy and his fiancee. I don’t think that’s reading anything into it that’s not there. Hierarchy colors so much about Mormon interpersonal relationships. And the (officially unequal) partnership between missionaries sets the model for marriage.

One point that is pure genius is the fact that their unequal relationship isn’t quite the central focus of the song. The leader’s earnest desire to do something great for mankind and God is as central (if not moreso). And the fact it’s tied in with his own ego is winked at. […]

focusing the song on his grand dream — that is exactly the right way to illustrate it. There are probably songs where the subordinate sings about his/her feelings about being in someone’s shadow. But that’s wrong. As soon as you shine the spotlight on the subordinate’s feelings, then s/he’s now in the spotlight — and you’ve completely missed the boat on portraying what it’s like in the shadow.

And I loved seeing the visual, where — as soon as Elder Price went into his heartfelt song about how he’ll do something incredible — a backdrop was added to highlight him, and Elder Cunningham had to awkwardly go around it in order to be visible on the stage and continue singing his admiration for his best friend. 😉

Many people had a similar reaction to the song “Turn it off”. The tremendous pressure not to simply act happy but to be happy (no matter what) can train people to turn off feelings “that just don’t seem right” — and those people felt the song really validated their experiences.

As a wise person once said: “The Book of Mormon musical is not without error, but it seems to me that a person can get closer to Mormons by studying it than by just about any other work about Mormons.”

This post so far has been essentially review, but I have a few new points I’d like to discuss that weren’t covered in the earlier posts I’ve read and written. I don’t promise to avoid spoilers, so don’t read this if you don’t want the musical spoiled for you (and there’s something to be said for that — there are some really funny surprises!)

Spooky Mormon Hell Dream

We’ve talked about how it’s true that Mormons are often plagued by irrational guilt over minor offenses, but my initial objection to this song was even more basic: As soon as I read the song titles, my first thought was, “O M Gosh, don’t they know that Mormons don’t believe in Hell?”

Buuuuut… Mormons do believe that Satan literally exists and is a real being with demonic fallen-spirit minions that try to harm and tempt the faithful. Mormons don’t believe in Hell in the sense that they don’t believe that the less-saved will be tortured for eternity (they’ll simply be less rewarded and prevented from progressing). But “Hell” is in the scriptures, and it actually does have meaning for Mormons. Look it up in your LDS Bible Dictionary, and you’ll see that Hell is the name of the realm of Satan, and it is also used as a word for the spirit prison where the spirits of unrighteous dead people await the day of judgement. If they’d had someone use the term “Spirit Prison” in reference to the dream at some point in the play, the impression of inaccuracy would evaporate.

Like most Mormon Theology, the concept of Spirit Prison is kind of vague, so there’s a lot of room for speculation, but being trapped in a place with Lucifer and demons and the spirits of dead evil people basically captures the essence of it.

Can you leave your mission?

I vaguely remember reading a complaint on a faithful LDS blog that the musical gives the impression that you can request to be transferred to another mission if you’re not happy with the one you got. There’s definitely something to that complaint — like why’d they have Elder Price say, “We don’t really have final say over where we get sent.”…? They don’t have any say at all.

But missionaries having breakdowns and/or running away from their missions (like Elder Price did in the play) really happens. I don’t think the play has the responsibility to take the audience aside and explain, “If Elder Price had succeeded in getting to the Mission President to request a transfer to Orlando, he wouldn’t have gotten it — Mormon missions don’t work that way.” It’s a story, not a documentary.

The making of a prophet

One of the principal themes of the story is essentially a response to C. S. Lewis’s trilemma about what Jesus must have been: “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.” The obvious problem with the trilemma is that those aren’t the only possibilities — I can think of two others that are more likely than those three.

In Jesus’ case, everything we know about him was filtered through a few decades of the game of telephone before being written down — and in particular we have only tales written by his followers. Even if nobody intentionally lied, it’s just the way that memory works that — as the group increasingly moves towards the belief that their founder was a messiah, and maybe even a God — that colors the way they remember the things he did and said. This principle is illustrated in the way Joseph Smith was elevated by his followers to almost divine stature shortly after his death (see Praise to the Man), and it was also hilariously illustrated in The Life of Brian, where Brian’s followers attach profound meaning to every random thing Brian does once they’ve decided he’s the messiah. I don’t think that we have sufficient evidence to conclusively state that the historical Jesus claimed divinity during his lifetime.

The fifth possibility (in the now quintelemma) is illustrated by Elder Cunningham in the play. He understands that he’s “making things up again, kind of” and that he’s “taking the holy word and adding fiction.” But he feels that it’s justified as he sees that his teachings are helping people. His ego is a part of it, but he’s not a cynical, lying con-man. Instead he begins to believe that he’s called and inspired to help people by teaching them his new doctrines. As I recall, this is essentially the portrait Fawn Brodie painted of Joseph Smith in her groundbreaking work No Man Knows My History. In a recent podcast, my brother described Joseph Smith’s motivation in much the same way, as an explanation for why it’s reasonable to venerate the Book of Mormon as a holy book even though Joseph Smith was aware that he was making it up. The same scenario might also apply to the historical Jesus, though, really, so little is conclusively known about what he actually taught that we can’t do much more than speculate about him and make educated guesses based on what we know about religious leaders that we have more information about.

Tomorrow is a Latter Day!

After Elder Price gets tired of Elder Cunningham constantly chirping “Tomorrow is a latter day!” he explains to Elder Cunningham that the term “Latter-day” refers to the afterlife.

Wrong. In terms of inaccuracy, that ranks right up there with having the Mission President randomly interject “Praise Christ” in discussion. The term “Latter-day” refers to the millennialist belief that we are living in the last days before the second coming of Jesus.

But, if you’ve been following General Conference, you probably know that the CoJCoL-dS has been toning down the millennialist rhetoric. So maybe it’s helpful to come up with an alternative interpretation. Plus, I thought the whole “Tomorrow is a latter day!” thing was cute and clever.

Also, I think this one is probably more a case of artistic license (changing their fictional version of Mormonism to fit the story) than it was an error. The “wrong” line was included as a setup for a very nice line in the finale:

What happens when we’re dead?
We shouldn’t think that far ahead!
The only latter day that matters is tomorrow.

Who gets to be a Mormon?

In the play, after the Mission President learns that the missionaries in Uganda have been teaching a bunch of new, made-up doctrines, he closes up the mission, sends the mishies home, and tells the new converts that they’re not Latter-day Saints.

Could that really happen?

Yes, it could. If a part of a mission goes rogue and forms a new sub-sect of Mormonism, the mission can be reorganized (in such a way that the offending parties are excommunicated). The story is unrealistic in the sense that LDS missions are generally in close contact with headquarters in Salt Lake, so there’s little chance of a sub-sect forming. But if an isolated zone started teaching all new doctrines like in the musical, the Mission President (after conferring with headquarters) would close it up, send the mishies home, and excommunicate the ringleaders.

On a more “everyday experience” level, the incident in the story highlights a profound truth about being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: The leadership hierarchy gets to decide who’s in and who’s out. They can and do kick people out, and there is a strong cultural belief that you have no right to consider yourself “Mormon” if you don’t believe in the divine authority of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

People (like me!) fight against the idea that the hierarchy of the CoJCoL-dS gets to decide who’s “Mormon” and who’s not. The CoJCoL-dS doesn’t own the term “Mormon” and they’re not even the only “Mormon church” — they’re simply the biggest, most visible one. But the idea is really ingrained, so if you’re a non-believer, it’s very hard to identify as any kind of Mormon except “ex-Mormon” or “post-Mormon.” That’s why I love the lines leading up to the finale. After the Mission President has told the missionaries and their converts that they’re not Latter-day Saints, Elder Price explains:

We are still Latter-day Saints. All of us. Even if we changed a few things, or break the rules, or have complete doubt that God exists… We can still work together to make this our paradise planet.

And we can! 😀

How is lying an improvement?

In case you haven’t heard, LDS Inc has updated their scriptures.  Most of the changes are cosmetic, apparently, but Peggy Fletcher Stack notes some that aren’t so cosmetic: changes that reflect views on race and polygamy.  But what’s confusing me is the spin that’s going on with these changes.  In Stack’s article, almost everyone she interviews talks about how refreshing and helpful these changes are.  Yet, some of them are lies and half-truths.  Take the change in the heading to Official Declaration 2:

The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.

Okay, yeah, that’s a quote from the BofM, but the BofM also says dark skin is a curse from god.  But the big whopper is this line, “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.”  Really?  That’s the best you can do?  So, the idea that blacks were less worthy in the pre-existence that was taught from the pulpit, was pervasive in the teachings of numerous prophets, and was largely considered doctrine, doesn’t count.  Huh?  That’s funny.

Now, I get that it’s not entirely clear why a formal policy was developed disallowing blacks from the priesthood right around the time Joseph Smith died.  But the justification that arose to defend the policy was everywhere, and there isn’t a hint of admission or recognition of or apology for that racist doctrine in this supposedly refreshing and “modern” version of the scriptures.

Another change appears to be a “victory” for reason and evidence, but it’s actually just an under-handed compromise.  The new introduction to the Pearl of Great Price now calls it “an inspired translation,” code for those in the know that it is really “completely fabricated and indefensible.”  This is a great compromise.  For the people in the pews who don’t know any better, they won’t catch the difference and will be none the wiser.  But for those who do know better, now they can say, “See, the church doesn’t claim Joseph was making a literal translation either.”  Ignoring the fact that all the evidence suggests he thought he was.

I’m sure some people are going to get on my case for criticizing these efforts.  They’ll say things like, “Come on, they’re making efforts.  Can’t you give them some credit?”  To those people I say, “No.  These aren’t efforts to be more open and honest.  These are efforts to cover their asses and more carefully hide the truth.  I’ll give them credit when they say, “The Pearl of Great Price was just made up by Joseph Smith.  It wasn’t any more a translation than the Book of Mormon the musical is a translation of the sealed portion of the golden plates” or when they say, “We used to teach really racist things.  We’re sorry.  The people who taught that obviously were not inspired or they would have known better.  We don’t speak with god any more than anyone else does.  We’re a bunch of old, white men running a corporation and carrying on a charade.”  When they say those things, then I’ll give them props.  No props for lies and half truths.

And…The Book of Abraham is de-canonized

When I was growing up, I had a triple combination. This was a copy of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Abraham in one book. We studied the Book of Abraham in seminary, the same year as the Old Testament. I remember my seminary teacher actually built a cardboard replica of Urim and Thummim breastplate (and glasses) to bring to our class.

So I was shocked to read the other day that the Book of Abraham is now an “esoteric” work. I know some faithful mormons who would also find that surprising. It’s true, I don’t remember the Book of Abraham being discussed all that often (much like D&C section 132 about celestial marriage/polygamy). But it was still included as scripture, revealed (restored) to Joseph Smith by God.

If it is de-canonized, that certainly makes things easier to explain for LDS leadership and apologists. The Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) doesn’t consider it to be a religious text. The Egyptian from the facsimile and papyri do not translate into the text in the Book of Abraham.

I just think the process of determining what is LDS doctrine is fraught with peril. It would be nice if the LDS church would have a Vatican council (like the Roman Catholic church did) to better define what is and what is not scripture. Until that time, I suppose answers from a public relations specialist for a national news program will have to do (much like “I don’t know that we believe that” about eternal progression with Larry King Live.)

Troy Williams @ Sunstone 2011: Thoughts on the Sacred and Profane

Troy tried to buck me up after my latest mini-meltdown over l’affaire Lyman and it reminded me that I need to remember to catch Tabloid (91% “Fresh”!) at my earliest convenience. Here’s Troy riffin’ at Sunstone (go show their Youtube channel some love) on his role in the Errol Morris documentary and his thoughts on the Broadway Book of Mormon:

Enjoy.

Soliciting Essays for a Critical Collection on the BOM Musical

The official reaction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to The Book of Mormon, the musical from Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park and Robert Lopez of Avenue Q, consists of a single sentence: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the The Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

But the musical has done much more than merely attempt to entertain people for an evening: it regularly brings audiences to their feet in a wild ovation at its end, and it earned a whopping 14 Tony nominations, winning in nine of the categories it was nominated in, including “Best Musical.”

What is going on in this show? In Varieties of Religious Experience, William James states, “a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of their fate.” Certainly the individuals in the BOM musical struggle with the crises of their fate; are any of the characters “great-souled”? What “revelations” are contained within the musical itself?

We seek essays of 4,000 to 6,000 words from a variety of disciplines for a critical anthology exploring this new musical phenomenon. Please send a 500-word abstract to BOM.musical.interp@gmail.com by November 1.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: the Book of Mormon Edition!

This past week we’ve had tons of great discussion inspired by The Book of Mormon! The musical, that is. It’s so dangerously fun that even Mitt Romney is going to see it! I especially like Andrew S’s piece about the relevance of religion (or lack thereof), and don’t miss Dad’s Primal Scream’s overview of all of the accurate/inaccurate points of the musical. He also discussed the portrait of niceness. Roger Hansen and Atheist Dad used the musical to discuss faith, which was another popular theme this week.

Then, in a bit of a redux of the religious brainwashing topic, there was a series of contrasting atheist and Mormon parenting posts. (Can you tell atheists from Christians by the empathy they have for one another?)

On a related note, what are we teaching the kids about modesty, body image, sexiness, sexual tension, and (obviously) porn?

Due to how hard it is to pin down Mormon doctrine, we had a bit of a dispute here over the whole get your own planet doctrine. I think in such cases it’s important to keep in mind that that belief is not nearly as hilarious as the Bigfoot is Cain doctrine. In other policies, it turns out that the CoJCoL-dS is cracking down on family sacrament meetings! This is news to me because I never knew that family reunions were ever allowed to organize their own sacrament meetings — I thought that vacation was also (blissfully) vacation from church. Well, now it is. See also how LDS temple worship has evolved. Oh, and if any of you are still in a position to extend LDS callings, please pay special attention to the guidelines on extending callings to women.

This was also an interesting week for missionary and fellowshipping discussions.

In exmormon videos, I hope you’ve watched this story, or — if you’re LGBTtell your own story! For everyone: How do you feel about your pioneer heritage and experience (or lack thereof)?

I hope you all are having the opportunity for a little fun in the Summer sun, like I am! (Actually, I’m starting to worry that I may have major affective disorder, pleasant type.) If you’re not, there’s plenty of interesting stuff in this batch to keep you reading for the rest of today. Have a great Sunday and a great week!

Memphis station posts four Mormon stories

1) Local Memphis TV news report mocks Mitt Romney’s Mormon beliefs (and ace reporter* Ben Ferguson reminds viewers why some folks prefer to avoid the Bible Belt). The cringe begins at 03:21:

2) Local musical director (and LDS church member) Steve Danielson offers his opinion of the Tony-winning Broadway musical.

3) 89-year old Church of Christ apostle, William Sheldon, explains the origins of the Mormon religion.

4) Meet a pair of Memphis area Mormon missionaries.

*CORRECTION: From comments at Politico:

Benjamin “Ben” Ferguson (born 1981) is an American radio host, conservative political commentator, and author. Ferguson was homeschooled by his mother through the tenth grade.

He was a local talk-radio host throughout his teens. Ferguson was selected by the Bush White House to join President Bush and Ben Stein for a town hall meeting in an effort to educate the public on the issue of social security reform. Ferguson also spends several weeks a year on the road speaking at youth leadership conferences, high schools and college camp uses nationwide. Ferguson addressed the 2004 Republican National Convention. [emphasis mine]

While Ferguson’s anti-Mormon antics may be annoying, that last sentence is downright frightening.

FRIENDLY HEADS UP: In future, anyone looking to poke some fun at Mormons might consider popping round here first and asking MSP for tips on the latest fair target. For example, this qualifies (Sister Kristen M. Oaks touting “The Testimony Glove” for Deseret Book):

Use the glove, feel the Spirit

Blech! You’d think that the wife of Apostle Dallin H. Oaks would be anxiously engaged in something other than helping DB promote their goofy faith promoting inventions (h/t r/exmormon).

Or, if you’re specifically looking to find a reason to get nervous about electing Mormons to public office, this quote from leading Mormon apologist Dan Peterson’s latest op piece in the Deseret News ought to do the trick:

“You may not like what comes from the authority of the church,” said President Harold B. Lee, serving at the time as a counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith. “It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. Let’s keep our eye on the president of the church.”

HIT LIST:
Mediaite: Great Moments In Journalism: Local News Segment Mocks Romneys Mormon Faith
The Commercial Appeal: Fox 13, Ben Ferguson take heat for segment on Romney, Mormons
Commentary: Unbelievable: TV Reporter Mocks Romneys Mormonism
The American Prospect: The Mormonism Question, Going Nowhere
Deseret News: Fox affiliate ‘making fun of Mormons’
Mediaverse: On The Book of Mormon (Ben Ferguson)
Mother Jones: Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem
ABC4: Memphis reporter mocks Mormon beliefs
Politico: Making fun of Mormons in Memphis

BONUS REDDIT HEADLINE CONTEST:
r/politics: Memphis reporter sets out to prove how weird Mitt and Mormons are … Pot. Kettle. Black.
r/reddit: Wake-up, Mormons: Broadway & teh gays are much nicer to you than so-called Christians.
r/religion: Local Memphis TV news “report” plumbs depths of Bible Belt anti-Mormon bigotry
r/exmormon: Local Memphis TV news report mocks Mitt Romneys Mormon beliefs. *Cringe*
r/lds: Mitt Romney ought to step up and put these hillbillies in their place.
r/offbeat: What’s weirder: Memphis or Mormons? It’s a toss-up, apparently.
r/Christianity: Do Christians think it’s OK to mock Mormon beliefs?