Mormons Rock

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Mormons Rock is the title of a cover article appearing in Newsweek on June 5, 2011. The cover of the magazine shows the logo, a dancing Mormon missionary, from the Book of Mormon musical with Mitt Romney's head. The premise of the article is that Mormonism creates leaders and people who help define American culture. The slug line reads, "They've conquered Broadway, talk radio, the U.S. Senate-and they may win the White House. Why Mitt Romney and 6 million Mormons have the secret to success."

Mitt Romney, Mormon presidential candidate

The author of the article, Walter Kirn, refers to the "Mormon Moment," a catch-phrase floating around the media. It seemed to be a Mormon moment, since both Mitt Romney and former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr. had announced their candidacy for the U.S. presidency for 2012. Meanwhile, Glenn Beck had staged the most peaceful and well attended rally ever in Washington, D.C., and captured the eyes and ears of millions of Americans on radio and T.V; Stephenie Meyer captured the imagination of millions of readers with her tales of vampires and werewolves, giving her characters a moral restraint inspired by her faith; Stephen Covey was teaching everyone how to be perfectly organized with personalities made for success; and Mormons were shining on song and dance reality shows, and even the Biggest Loser.

Indeed, Mormonism does create leaders, and the doctrines of the gospel and the organizational structure of the Church teach guiding principles that yield more than spiritual success — they generalize to all aspects of life. Serving a Mormon mission hones these elements, creating Mitt Romneys and Jon Huntsmans.

Kirn makes an argument that Mormon politicians need to be more forthright about the tenets and habits of their faith in order to dispel misperceptions and increase understanding. Kirn says, "Those inclined to think of Mormons as a band of zealots bent on amending the Constitution to outlaw cappuccino may never be convinced. But the rest of us might benefit from hearing the country’s most prominent and influential Mormons tell the truth about their faith: that the distinctiveness of the Mormons is actually the secret of their success." [1] He describes the hard work that active Mormons engage in to keep the Church (which has a lay clergy) running: "In an age of spiritual consumerism, when many people regard religion as a therapeutic lifestyle aid, faith is often expected to serve the individual. For Mormons, it’s the other way around. More than many other faiths, the Mormon church prepares its members to engage intelligently with the broader culture and the wider world."

That Mormons serve so hard, is part of their secret to success.

Kirn's article, however, while mostly laudatory, yields to the temptation to denigrate the faith of the people he praises. Citing Mormonism's unusual doctrines, he names "special underpants, and magic spectacles." The special underpants he refers to are the Mormon temple garments. All faiths use ritual clothing of some sort, many in their weekly meetings or in public. Mormons wear ritual clothing in their temples, as do Buddhists. They also wear a symbolic undergarment, as do the Jews. Substitute the word "Jew" for "Mormon," and you have Jews wearing "special undershirts." This would be considered an anti-Semitic comment, but it's allowed against Mormons, and that's the catch. Just as the drama critics loved the Book of Mormon musical, which is obscene and slanderous from beginning to end, the same critics would be complaining if the musical were about Jews. Any jibe at the Mormons is considered acceptable.

Kirn sets out to laud the Mormons, and somehow joins the crowd of their detractors.