The Book of Mormon, a Broadway musical created by cultural icons Trey Parker and Matt Stone, keeps popping up in conversation and articles about religion. Although it has won awards galore and re-energized Broadway some religious people consider it “insulting” and an attack on religion, Jesus and apple pie. I haven’t seen the show, but I have listened to the Soundtrack—and I think its genius.
But even if The Book of Mormon musical were pure, childish mockery so what? Every Sunday across America, tens of millions of people gather in churches. These denominations create literally thousands of pageants with expensive sets, singing and production values as fantastic as any Broadway show—all created in large part to vilify and insult unbelievers (and rival religions).
Even excluding “liberal” religions that don’t bash on Atheists, there are still tens of thousands of conservative, evangelical churches that spend every Sunday’s telling believers why I (and those like me) are going to burn in forever agony and flame for our ignorance / evil / god denying—you pick the bullshit reason. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for hurting the feelings of people who buy into this crap.
Mormons aren’t generally a hellfire denomination, and I have a soft spot for many of them. They are a polite bunch of fuckers, if ever I met any. I’m related to a truck load of them, and they are nice as hell to me. I also have sympathy for that particular religion because it is so often criticized by “traditional” Christianity. Some fundamentalist bible thumpers won’t even vote for a Mormon. All this deep-seated Mormon bigotry sure isn’t coming from Atheists (we find all religions equally preposterous).
Many fundamentalist religious faiths seem to relish the Mormons’ discomfort at the The Book of Mormon musical. These Christians don’t realize that the satire is a damning critique of all religion. It’s a condemnation of unquestioning faith and the hypocrisy that is the hallmark of so many religious organizations.
Those who do attack the show have no fear of torturing logic to do so. A blogger for the Washington Post, John Mark Reynolds, compared The Book of Mormon to a “Minstrel” show, in essence likening religious satire to racism. This is both insulting and complete nonsense. Religious belief and action are not inherent traits, and religion is the source of so much suffering on the planet. I guess Reynolds would like to outlaw all criticism of religion.
Even if Mormonism was singled out for ridicule, this particular religious institution has brought much of it on itself. For instance, Mormons gave millions of dollars to campaign against equal rights for gay people in California. If the Mormon Church and so many other denominations are going to meddle in civic affairs in hope of enshrining discrimination into law, they’re going to get poked.
This is America, so churches and pastors can say and do whatever they like, so long as they don’t violate tax rules. But if they want to keep weighing in on how the rest of us live our lives, they had better be prepared to take a little heat—and more than a little mockery.