African Mormons

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Uganda Stake Presidency

The Book of Mormon Musical, which debuted in March 2011, is perhaps the most obscene play ever to reach Broadway, yet it has been greeted with standing ovations and much favorable press. This kind of vile and slanderous material is the same sort that was mounted against the Jews prior to the Holocaust. Such material would never be presented against the Jews in modern America. If it were, there would be an instant hue and cry of anti-Semitism, and yet it seems perfectly acceptable to the American population at large to vilify the Mormons, or accurately, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, one Jewish man commented upon a New York Times review of the play:

Why is it OK to mock Mormons and not Jews? As someone of the Jewish faith, I take personal offense at this show. People point to the feel-good outcome, but little attention is paid to how the show takes you there: by thoroughly mocking the faith of another. There have been some comparisons to The Producers and its Springtime for Hitler, for example. However, this comparison is baseless. The Producers does not mock Judaism—it does the opposite. It does not conjure up age-old bigotry (except to display it as ridiculous and stupid). What this show displays as ridiculous is the Mormon faith and those who practice it. If this show were attacking Jews or Muslims, there would be an international outcry. People would be fired, there would be lawsuits, boycotts, etc. It would be all over the news (in a bad way). This sort of thing happens to those of my faith in countries elsewhere in the world. But I cannot believe that New York, MY New York, where I was born and raised, would ever do such a thing. Shame on you, New York Times, shame on Broadway, and shame on all of us who stand idly by and do nothing while the faith of others is mocked. Religious and cultural Jews need not support such bigotry. — Levi, New York City [1]

And from John Mark Reynolds, Director of the Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University: [2]

I am no Mormon, but I have witnessed bigotry and ignorance directed against this American community. The LDS Church is placed in the difficult position of seeing their most sacred beliefs mocked in a nation that murdered their prophet in a shameful lynching. Broadway has given aid and comfort to the mob of ignorant folk who know nothing of modern Mormonism outside of their prejudices.
Theater has an ugly record of pandering to the prejudices of ticket buyers. Minstrel shows produced catchy music and made New Yorkers laugh, but they were shameful and wrong. The Book of Mormon is a minstrel show for our present age with Mormons as the joke.
Of course no group has been as cruelly treated as African-Americans, but Mormons have a history of being persecuted. They have been exiled in their own land, but have returned unfailing devotion to our Constitution.
This new play will pander to our prejudices and treat our Mormon neighbors as we would never wish to be treated. Some Americans will allow it to confirm unthinking prejudice, while cowardly Mormons will applaud it hoping for crumbs of respectability.
Meanwhile the actual Mormons in our midst will keep paying taxes, making strong families with children, and dying to protect the rights of a decayed and decadent theater 'elite.' I stand in solidarity with my Mormon neighbors.

The Book of Mormon and Latter-day Saint Missionaries

In the Book of Mormon musical, the Mormon or Latter-day Saint missionary who converts the Ugandans does so without a real knowledge of the scripture he is teaching. Because of his lack of knowledge, he weaves in mythology from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. However the real Book of Mormon is not a myth, but the story of a branch of Israel, descendants of the tribe of Joseph, who were led away from Jerusalem just before the Babylonian captivity. The Lord led them to the American continent, where they kept the Law of Moses, looking forward to their Messiah, Jesus Christ, whom their prophets knew by name. After His resurrection, Christ visited them. Because they were more righteous than the Jews in the Old World, Jesus taught them the higher laws of the gospel, and after choosing twelve apostles and organizing His Church, ordained them to the higher priesthood and established a nearly Utopian society that lasted over 200 years. However, the population then descended into horrible wickedness and destroyed themselves through bad government, organized crime, and violence. The Book of Mormon is the history, religious and secular, of a fallen people. This is no laughing matter, for the Book of Mormon was compiled and delivered to us of modern times as a warning and teacher to save us from utter destruction upon the Second Coming of Christ. Anyone who reads it and sincerely prays to know that it is true will receive that verification directly from the Lord.

The Book of Mormon musical also has great fun at the expense of Latter-day Saint missionaries, of whom there are over 65,000 serving at any given time. Mostly young men between the ages of 18 and 21, and young women between the ages of 19 and 21, they serve for 18 months to two years at great personal sacrifice because of their testimony of the Savior. They pay their own expenses and leave education, sports, careers, family, hobbies, and girlfriends or boyfriends behind. They are often homesick, frustrated by trying to learn a new language quickly, often worn down by constant rejection, put off by foreign food, and struggling to adapt to new companions. They do this out of a desire to serve and serve in ways beyond preaching the gospel, doing community service and mobilizing in times of disaster to give aid.

Latter-day Saints have a sense of humor and truly enjoy good, clean fun. The Book of Mormon musical goes beyond fun and good taste by making the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ the brunt of bathroom jokes. The musical is an offense against God. The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelations received by prophets for the Church. It is the voice of Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 71:7–11 it has the following message for Latter-day Saints:

Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord. Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you—there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; And if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time. Wherefore, keep my commandments; they are true and faithful. Even so. Amen.

Is the Church of Jesus Christ Doing Any Good in Africa?

Part of the premise of the musical is the sending of two eager young male missionaries to Uganda, where they discover that all their training and talents are useless when faced with the overarching problems (such as AIDS and poverty) of Africa. Is this really the case? No, it is not. The Church of Jesus Christ is growing quickly in Africa and is not only bringing its members out of poverty, it is educating its members to live the Law of Chastity and to respect women. The Church also emphasizes education and sends senior missionaries to train members in hygiene and health care. The Church also provides a great deal of Humanitarian Aid in Africa, and senior missionary volunteers help with efforts on the ground. The Church introduced a self-reliance program in African congregations of the Church in 2015. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ have also founded their own nonprofits to perform service in Africa (see links below).

Here are some images and videos of African Latter-day Saints. Compare them to the images you usually see coming out of Africa and see whether the Church of Jesus Christ has had a good influence there.

Latter-day Saint membership in African nations was approximated as follows in December 2023:

Country Members Missions Congregations Temples Notes
Angola 5,898 1 25 1  
Benin 5,606 1 26 0  
Botswana 4,406 0 17 0  
Burundi 1,541 0 4 0  
Cameroon 3,071 1 16 0  
Cape Verde 17,124 1 40 1  
Central African Republic 278 0 1 0  
Cote d'Ivoire 63,058 3 262 1  
Democratic Republic of the Congo 115,027 4 289 4  
Ethiopia 2,193 1 8 0  
Ghana 106,888 4 370 3  
Kenya 19,206 1 69 1  
Lesotho 1,562 0 6 0  
Liberia 21,441 1 75 1  
Madagascar 15,372 1 44 1  
Malawi 4,776 0 13 0  
Mauritius 576 0 3 0  
Mozambique 24,733 2 69 1  
Namibia 1,185 0 5 0  
Nigeria 232,654 7 810 5  
Republic of the Congo 12,626 1 36 1  
Reunion 838 0 4 0  
Rwanda 1,537 1 9 0  
Sierra Leone 31,080 1 94 1  
South Africa 71,889 4 194 3  
Swaziland 2,253 0 6 0  
Tanzania 3,969 1 25 0  
Togo 7,141 0 25 0  
Uganda 22,138 1 39 0  
Zambia 5,906 1 17 0  
Zimbawe 41,262 2 100 1  
TOTAL = 849,568 Latter-day Saints in African nations

Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Aid in Africa

African Latter-day Saints Clean Up Local Communities

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and organizations created and led by Latter-day Saints do much humanitarian aid work in Africa. The Church has ongoing programs, such as clean water initiatives, measles vaccination initiatives, and neonatal resuscitation training, that operate in Africa. The Church sends humanitarian aid missionaries to many locations but also organizes African Latter-day Saints to provide service in their own countries.

According to Church records, in seven years while the musical was written, more than four million Africans in 17 countries have gained access to clean drinking water through Latter-day Saint humanitarian efforts to sink or rehabilitate boreholes.
More than 34,000 physically handicapped African kids now have wheelchairs through the same Latter-day Saint–sponsored humanitarian program. To see a legless child whose knuckles have become calloused through walking on his hands lifted into a wheelchair may be the best way to fully understand the liberation this brings.
More than 126,000 Africans have had their sight restored or improved through Latter-day Saint partnership with African eye care professionals in providing training, equipment, and supplies.
Another 52,000 Africans have been trained to help newborns who otherwise would never take the first breath. Training in neonatal resuscitation has also been a big project for Latter-day Saints in Africa.
James O. Mason, former Assistant Secretary of Health for the United States, and then a General Authority prior to his death, received recognition in 2011 from the Utah AIDS Foundation for his work in combating AIDS and HIV.
The Church continues to offer emergency aid to Africa, including during the flooding in Niger, where the Church provided clothing, quilts and hygiene items to 20,000 people in six inundated regions of the country.[1]

The following are links to articles regarding Latter-day Saint humanitarian aid in Africa.

External Links