The irreverent, satiric musical The Book of Mormon starts playing at the Fox Theatre on Tuesday. Because this production is about organized religion, and Mormon dogma in particular, Mormon Reformation supporters organized a protest regarding what they call "Latter Day Saints' covered-up history and dishonest claims" to coincide with the musical's splash.
Read Sunday article from Eureka-Wildwood Patch for background regarding proposed inconsistencies: Will Wildwood Mormon Church Be Protested Today?
A Patch reader then posted Sunday afternoon about participating in the protest by e-mailing questions to local Mormon church leaders. The posts stated: "The reply I received was belittling and degrading." The reply, as shared by the poster, indicated Mormon leaders believed the original information supplied as part of the protest was "filled with half truths, misleading falsehoods, and a few downright lies."
The poster also stated part of the reply was: "You attempt to expose the Book of Mormon as proven false through science. If this is the test for spiritual documents, then the Holy Bible must also be false."
The Mormon congregation based in Wildwood is estimated to be about 500 people, with 100 of them deemed active congregants, said a member who will be called Pat in this article to protect the identity of the real person.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) in Wildwood is located at 17132 Old Manchester Road.
Pat tells Patch that Mormon Church leaders increased the number of missionaries in St. Louis during the time of this related musical from 200 to 600 in anticipation of issuing real copies of "The Book of Mormon," which is a sacred LDS text first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as "The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi."
Much of the current debate and protest focuses on the validity and authenticity of founder Joseph Smith's accountings, visions, doctrinal discussions and style of church leadership, which was said to include polyandry. Critics of Smith claim he plagarized portions of the book, and that archaeological evidence to support it is lacking.
"This could be an eye-opener happening in St. Louis. Controlling (people's ideas) within the Mormon church is so true," said Pat. "There is a manual for everything here. They don't appear to want people to think for themselves."
"Some Mormons are stepping out and just want to analyze the church's practices and teachings objectively. Some people feel Joseph Smith's actions were about usurping God's authority. However, nobody but God sits in the judgment seat."
Pat also shared the number of practicing Mormons globally (approximately 14 million) likely is inflated, because the church records and keeps members on its books until each one is 110 years old. Historically, there has been some debate as to how accurately membership records reflect the number of people who actually consider themselves to be Mormons. Read article in rd Magazine (Religion Dispatches): Mormon Numbers Not Adding Up
Additionally, the rate of activity (people who actually go to church regularly) in the LDS Church has been estimated at around 35 percent worldwide, which would put the number of active Latter-day Saints at under 5 million.
About the Musical Itself
Encore Atlanta indicated The Book of Mormon, winner of nine 2011 Tony Awards including best musical, tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naive and optimistic, the two missionaries try to connect with the locals.
The review specifically stated:
The show also won the Grammy for best musical theater album. It features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running musical hit Avenue Q.
Tough New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley called The Book of Mormon “the best musical of the century” and “heaven on Broadway.” He said it celebrates “the privilege of living inside that improbable paradise called musical comedy.”