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South Park's Mormon Obession

from the out-of-obscurity dept.
The Daily Universe is running an article containing excerpts from an interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker--the creators of South Park--about the use of mormons in their show. They make references to the Church quite frequently and in November even had a show entitled "All About the Mormons" in which a mormon family moves into the neighborhood. It seems to me that in the last few years the Church has really been cast into the pop-culture spotlight. The BYU girl going on "The Real World", the 2002 Winter Olympics, and South Park are just some of the things that have happened recently, but I know there's been a lot more. I'm curious to know what impact this will have on the general public's perception of the Church and also on our perception of ourselves. Somehow it seems to me that as this trend continues church members will come to feel that their religion is common--just like all the rest. Am I right about this? What do you think?  UPDATE: Devin Athey and Kevin Sowards submitted this letter to the Daily Universe with more details about the show.

Re: South Park's Mormon Obession

I think that as long as it isn't derogatory, we can't complain about the Church being in the spotlight. President Hinckley has said that he wants the Church to be viewed as mainstream rather than extreme, so I would say that recent publicity increases awareness of the Church. I haven't seen South Park, but from the article it sounds like overall the writers have a positive view of the Church. We can't argue that we are a bit peculiar. Interesting note on the infamous Real World Julie--she has her own website: and it sounds like she's going around the country promoting morals--no alcohol, drugs, sex before marriage, etc. But she's also wearing immodest clothes, which just kind of makes me wonder.

I haven't heard the best stuff about "All About the Mormons"

Can say that I've seen it, but from what I've heard, "All About The Mormons" really picks on our beliefs. I've never wanted to read anti-Mormon literature because I feel uncomfortable reading it and I don't like to have the beliefs I know to be true criticized. It sounded like this episode was somewhat critical, so it may not be the best thing to watch.

immodest clothes?

Just checked out Julie's website... exactly in what way are here clothes immodest? As far as I can tell, she'd be able to take an exam at BYU in those clothes...

does anyone know?

I have heard that the one or more of the creators of South Park were/are LDS. Can anyone shed any light on this?

Actually, it's not that bad...(sort of)

Except for some profanity, "All About The Mormons" isn't that bad. The show basically tells the Joseph Smith story (with surprising accuracy); however, it does make light of the lost 116 pages of the book of Lehi. Basically, it suggests that "Mormons" believe the following: since Martin Harris lost the transcript, God got mad at him, and Joseph translated the book of Nephi, it proves The Book of Mormon to be true. It also suggests that "Mormons" believe thier history because currently the church teaches good things about the family and moral values.

Obviously, the makers of South Park aren't active members of the church and don't believe what we do, so one can't expect this episode to be faith promoting, per se. What I can say is that they showed considerable discretion for a show that is known for being crude and offensive. Most anti-Mormon literature that I have come into contact with is full of half-truths as well as blatant lies, but I found none in this episode. In fact, anyone who watches it will walk away with a fairly accurate understanding of the first vision, Moroni's visit, and the translation of the Book of Mormon. I'm sure that there are better things to watch, as has already been said, but there are also much, much worse.

On the edge

I looked again, and the picture I thought was a tank top could easily be a t-shirt with light colored sleeves. So she's better off than I thought. I still wouldn't want my daughter wearing the other shirts she's wearing, but as we can see it's hard to tell from these pictures so I decided it's pretty lame to judge her based on what we can see on the site.

I've heard . . .

I think I read somewhere that they had good LDS friends growing up and were therefore familiar with it.

The best thing I have ever read

from what I've heard,
I feel uncomfortable reading it and I don't like to have the beliefs I know to be true criticized.

What did you hear? From whom? Is this how we make decisions and inform ourselves? This same line of reasoning exactly what started the furor over 'The Passion of the Christ.' People that hadn't even seen it said it was anti-Semitic. How did they know? Well, from what they heard it was. If someone was saying something offensive about the most important thing in my life, (say, I dunno, Jesus) I would -at the very least- investigate it. I think that is a bit better than the 'LA LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU' Argument. Then again, there is a thin line between 'investigating' one's faith and heresy, so I'll stay out of this.

If you ever do want to watch it, for whatever reason, here it is for free:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the daily universe article itself ...

... said that neither of them is/was ever LDS they just had good LDS friends or something.

But, did you know that MC Hammer was LDS???

Yeah, ok, so i just made that up ... but he could have been ... right?

did you even watch the episode?

I'm fairly sure that reading the book out of a freaking top hat is a blatant lie.


states: "For the remainder of the translation process, Smith used "seer stones" he himself had discovered years earlier. To translate by the later method, Smith would place an inverted top hat on a table, place the seer stone in the hat, bring his head down and look into the hat—shielding his eyes from outside light—and concentrate on the stone in order to render the inspired translation into English."

You're honestly using signature books as a reference.

Signature Books has time and time again been proven wrong by even scholars that aren't even non-mormon. Where did signature books get this reference from?

Do we really not even know our own history?

You really don't know about Joseph Smith translating using seer stones and a hat? Ask any institute teacher. They teach it at BYU also. We really need to educate ourselves about the true history of our church so that we can explain our beliefs accurately without sounding foolish. We don't need to apologize for the truth. Maybe you can start with reading Richard Bushman's book, "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling." He is a faithful patriarch who has studied Joseph Smith's history extensively. Joseph was not perfect, and we need to know that as faithful LDS members. We shouldn't let that shake our faith, but it will if we are blind about the truth. Many faithful LDS members come across a more accurate representation of the truth later in life (the meat after the milk) and leave the church because they find out things weren't exactly the way they thought they were. We can have a solid testimony based on the fact that we can go to God Himself and ask Him the truth of the gospel. That is what Joseph Smith gave us--the model of how to reach out to God individually to gain a solid testimony of truth. Not every part of our history is something easily explained or understood, but if we have a personal witness of truth, we'll be able to jump over those confusing episodes in church history.