the koran in florida and the mormons on broadway

This week, two different religions were mocked and disrespected in the United States and the followers’ reactions couldn’t have been more different.  While a lone preacher in Florida burned a copy of the Koran, a Broadway show opened in New York making fun of the Mormon faith with irreverent humor and sacrilegious musical numbers.  Some Muslim followers in Afghanistan reacted to the burning by storming the UN compound and killing innocent international public servants.  The Mormon Church reacted to the musical by pointing the public to the superficial nature of it and the supernatural power of their faith.

While burning the Koran is religiously intolerant and insensitive to our Muslim brothers and sisters, to suggest that it endangers American lives in and of itself is ridiculous.  What endangers Americans’ lives is the over-reaction to the burning by extremists, not the act of free speech.  The assumption that people will kill because of the burning of a book and therefore the book shouldn’t be burned justifies the over-reaction and makes it a rational answer.  There should be a universal condemnation to the killings because it isn’t rational or acceptable.  Radical followers of Islam killed innocent people in reaction to a radical follower of Christianity’s lighting a book on fire.  I would characterize both radicals as not truly following the God they claim to be following.  Islam and Christianity teach peace and acceptance not provocation and death. 

To assume that people are going to be killed if a Koran is burned is a dangerous supposition.  The patronizing reaction by many liberals and politicians to condemn the burning of the Koran on the same level as the UN killings – and many times in the same sentence – left an assumption that the reaction was a natural outcome of the action.  President Barak Obama’s statement on the UN murders also wasn’t helpful in teaching religious tolerance.  Obama elevated the Koran burning to an extreme offense and therefore gave comfort to an extreme reaction.  “The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,” said Obama.  The White House’s use of the word extreme was inappropriate for this situation. 

Compare American liberals’ reaction to the Koran burning with their gleeful embrace of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s Broadway musical about the Mormon faith.  A musical with a song called: “Fuck you, God” and described by the authors as an “atheist love letter to religion”.  New York Magazine said, “What’s so uniquely winning about The Book of Mormon is its scruffy humanism, its eagerness to redeem its characters—even its smaller ones.”  And Jon Stewart was left speechless after he said “it was so good, I almost don’t know what to say.”  The reviews for the musical have been the best any modern Broadway show has ever seen.  And very few liberals have condemned the defilement of the Mormon Church’s holy text as Obama has for the Koran.  If we believe that desecrating a religion’s holy text endangers lives then so does the accolades and support for The Book of Mormon on Broadway.  I, for one, don’t accept this premise. 

For American Mormons, the Broadway show and its embrace by the mainstream and liberal media has been embarrassing and humiliating.  But the even tempered official Mormon Church reaction should make everyone take a second look at the religion.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a statement saying, “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”  The actions of some Afghan Muslims who killed UN officials as a reaction to the burning of a Koran in Florida cannot be justified or even confused to be a rational response.

  • Jim

    Right on target.

  • Guest

    Thank you for this! Very well said.

  • Guest

    No, Richard Grenell, burning a Koran and making a play are not equal acts of aggression against religion. Burning a book is inherently violent, making a satire is inherently comical. Of course they are going to illicit different responses. You can’t juxtapose these two events and compare the reactions by extremist Muslims and the Mormon church.

    I can’t believe anyone would explain to any of the victims’ families that because it was that pastor’s right to burn books as he pleased, he should not be so condemned for his action since the blame rests almost solely on the Muslims for being so irrational. In an American mindset, yes, it seems very irrational, but they are not American. So when you take actions that affect people who are not American, do not hold them to American standards, especially when you know it could cost innocent people their lives. Some sects of Islam are known to be violently extremist – this outcome was easily predictable, almost inevitable.

    If you have a problem with the way extremists react to religious opposition, then take it up with them personally or find a way to coexist peacefully. Whether the Florida pastor’s act of free speech directly caused the victims’ deaths or indirectly caused them by inciting violent people, the bottom line is that lives were lost, and that pastor started the process. You can’t change what extremist Muslims believe is right or wrong, but you can change the way you interact with them so that you avoid conflict. Since the pastor did not do this, he should be held accountable for his actions.

    Also, don’t call the writers of the play extremists. Many, many people make fun of Mormons. Most religions in the US are at some point the butt of a joke, whether it be in a talk show, tv series, play, movie, or any other form of media. If it’s that common, by definition it can’t be extreme. We can consider it immoral, but it’s definitely not extreme.

    The main problem that I have with this is that you does not take into account the fact that the followers of Islam in question simply live in a different world than we do. If we were raised to kill in response to opposition to our religion, than we would truly believe it is a rational and moral action. You did not take this into account, nor did the Florida pastor. While to us, the two crimes are equally offensive and immoral, but the consequences are not equal. And who are we to say that we should use our belief system to evaluate whose response is justified? Who are we to call another religion completely illogical if we are the ones to deem it extreme?

  • Pjohnson22

    It is apparent that the person(guest) that wrote the comment that said it was not the same, is not Mormon. To me it is exactly the same, maybe even worse. For some reason in todays world it is OK to hate Mormons. The Mormon Church teaches to never villify other religons even though everyone seems to villify them. Personally, I will always stand with the Church.

  • Nlewis009

    This would be a nice comfy statement if what you say were true. “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” But it is not. The Book of Mormon is not a correct book. However, I do agree that we must be tolerant to all other people and their beliefs, regardless of whether it is a correct belief or not.

  • jj

    That statement was not the author’s but the LDS churches statement. And the statement says it will bring people closer to Christ…it was not a statement trying to prove its veracity.