By Margaret Burin.
The sell-out stage show The Book of Mormon mocks their faith. But rather than being offended Mormons are viewing it as an invitation to set the record straight.
It’s difficult not to be intrigued by The Book of Mormon hype.
As the internationally-acclaimed stage show premieres in Melbourne this weekend, huge banners announcing “the Mormons are here” decorate the CBD’s thoroughfares and trams.
The satirical musical by the creators of South Park follows two young and innocent Mormon missionaries to Uganda on a quest to spread their faith.
Piggybacking off its interest, Mormons have decided to start their own campaign.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are making their presence known by countering advertising in some of the busiest city locations and prime-time TV advertising spots, pushing slogans like “you’ve seen the show, now read the book”.
It follows similar campaigns that ran during the show season in the US and UK.
The LDS church claims to have about 150,000 members in Australia but believes most people don't know much about their faith.
These young Mormons say they won't see the musical, but they welcome the opportunity to start a conversation and dispel some of the common misconceptions.
Obviously it's not a great representation of what we believe, but I just went 'wow this is incredible that people are going to know who we are'. We're normal people. I just hope from the musical people realise we're here in Australia, a lot of people think Mormons are only in America.
It kind of paints missionaries as being naive and brainwashed and not really knowing much about life. When we decide to serve our missions, which is what the young men are doing in the musical, we fully are aware of what we're doing. It's a choice, we're volunteering to do it. We're sacrificing schooling, careers, dating, marriage, just to serve and help people.
I first told my friends I was a Mormon in high school and a week later, because they'd been on Wiki, they came back and said 'how many wives can you have?'. One. One wife.
There's a lot of funny things people have heard about Mormons that make me laugh sometimes, like we wear magic underwear. I've heard from people that they think we brainwash people. I have friends that are not members of the church. I've had people who've come to church with us and say how normal it is.
There seems to be this very common misconception that Mormons don't believe in the Bible. We do but we believe in it alongside the Book of Mormon. We don't believe in one or the other, we believe in both.
We believe that God still speaks to us today through prophets. In the ancient times there were prophets like Moses. A lot of people today believe that doesn't exist anymore, but we still believe that there are men on the Earth who speak with God and share those messages to us that are relevant to the time we're living in. We wouldn't ever make a decision without talking to Heavenly Father about it. It's a big part of our everyday decision making.
We're OK with people poking fun at us, Christian doctrine is to turn the other cheek. Engagement in religion doesn't reduce your freedom. If I wanted to become a secular atheist, which I find incredibly boring, I could be a secular atheist tomorrow. People accuse us of being naive or being ignorant. That's the thing with our faith, we want to keep learning. We want to keep pushing humanity forward and bringing them out of the Middle Ages.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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