The plot line in the Book of Mormon is quite simple. Curtain opens and we meet a group of clean-cut, buttoned-up young men who are about to embark on their service mission as members of the Mormon faith. The missionaries are called elders and they are waiting to find out where they will be sent. Elder Price is the lead elder and hopes to begin his mission in sunny Orlando. Instead, he gets sent to northern Uganda, paired with the lowest ranking elder and compulsive liar, Elder Cunningham. The two set off to evangelize for their church, by preaching to the villagers in a remote African community. What follows is a racist, sexist, and atheist production. It not only denies and disrespects the Mormon religion, but it denigrates religion and faith entirely.
The purpose of the musical is a satire of the Mormon faith, also called LDS (Latter Day Saints). It uses crude sarcasm to poke fun at many of the stereotypical beliefs of Mormonism. However, several of the lines and lyrics in the musical have been pointed out as inaccurate. The musical is a mockery of the African people in Uganda. It is incredibly racist in its portrayal of their intelligence and the customs that are embraced in their society. Also, one of the songs is an upbeat number by the Ugandans repeatedly chanting “F--- you God” in their native language. The unnecessary vulgar language did not stop there. This score seems to be determined to include just about every swear word imaginable. The humor is distasteful, and the obscenities are numerous and overwhelming. Forgive me for having too much class and choosing not to repeat them in this article. It is shocking as we see live scenes on stage that depict various sexual objects, inferences associated with "black stereotypes" that include humping on stage, sexual molestation of children and animals, and violence. Also, most of the music used in the songs are actually copied from other musicals that have been give new lyrics. If one really listens to the numbers, and knows their show tunes they will easily recognize that most of the melodies are not original at all. They took some of the best award winning (and wholesome) musicals, and built on their commercial success. However, the producers did not pay homage to these classics, but instead reworked the score to fit their agenda. With all of this in mind the Book of Mormon, came across as a live musical version of South Park, and perhaps everyone should have been pre-warned because they both have the same writers.
In contrast some people might say that it is simply a show focused on the religious extremes, and harmlessly pokes fun at those who take religion literally. They smugly set about ridiculing the followers of the Mormon faith, and generalized this further by pointing out that religion is just a metaphor, and those that believe are foolish and laughable. However, I believe that the Bible is a series of stories that incorporate a wealth of truths. Other people and religions may interpret the text in a different way, but at the core the Bible is the Word of God. The belief in the veracity of the Bible is not just based on faith (although that should be enough); aspects of the Bible have actually been supported by historical documentation.
For contrast, let's compare the Book of Mormon with the musical Les Misérables. The movie version came out a few weeks ago, but I have also seen this musical on Broadway. It is full of faith, good values and moral consciousness, all expressed in a heart warming story line. There is so much depth in this show that I could spend a whole article unveiling the many levels of the religious themes and the transcendent message. Let me suggest that you explore the musical or movie version of Les Misérables. Trust me you will not be disappointed!
What can we learn from this horrid example of a musical? New York City, Broadway, and the theater community have always been known for its liberal stance. The Book of Mormon takes disgraceful and outrageous to a whole new level. We find dialogue that is praised as witty satire, but is actually ridicule and malice against different races, cultures, and religious believers. The real "mission" that stands out is how the war on religion and traditional culture has become the main focus of this Broadway Hit. My hope is that this recent spike in interest for Les Misérables will inspire others to look more deeply into those themes that carry a more inspiring Christian message.