Brendan Behan said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary.” I suppose to a corporation like the Mormon Church that makes a lot of sense.
The Mormon Church has a correlation committee to which even prophets are subject and that ensures the right, consistent message goes out to the world. It takes every opportunity to publicise its “good works” in church magazines and in ads taken out in prestigious secular publications.
Whatever new technology comes out you can be sure the corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will utilise it to every advantage and they are really good at it. Indeed, it might be said of them:
Whatever is new, whatever is trending, whatever is slick, whatever is popular, whatever is getting attention, whatever it is people admire – if anything is applauded or praised by the masses – we think about how to capitalise on it.
I wonder, however, if this time they have gone too far. For some time now most of my Google Alerts for Mormonism have been about the progress of The Book of Mormon, the musical written and produced by the makers of that other high point in American culture South Park.
The show opened on Broadway in 2011 and came to the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End in February 2013. It has been described as appallingly vulgar, blasphemous and sacrilegious. Well, what did you expect from the makers of South Park to whom nothing is sacred and there is no such thing as bad taste?
What is puzzling is that the Mormon Church has chased this show around the world, not to protest its appalling treatment of their religion – and religion in general - but to take advantage of the publicity attendant to its success
It had people standing outside the Broadway theatre where it first showed handing out Mormon literature and has taken out billboard ads near theatre’s where it has been playing. Most recently it has bought ads in the show’s official programme in Toronto, Canada.
“You’ve seen the play... now read the book,” says one ad.
“I’ve read the book,” reads another.
“The book is always better,” concludes a third.
There is a link and a QR code that lead to official Mormon sites.
Christians will remember the blasphemous Jerry Springer, the Opera that ran between 2003 and 2005 and the protests outside theatres and in the media from Christians appalled at its blasphemy. How might Christians have reacted if a major denomination had advertised the faith in such a show. That would be the equivalent of what the Mormon Church is doing with this musical. But then the Mormon Church is not a Christian denomination, indeed it is more a business than a religion and acts accordingly.
I am reminded of another quote from Abraham Lincoln
What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself