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June 17th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

As ‘Book of Mormon’ takes New York, city gets Mormon church ad campaign

By Julia Talanova, CNN

New York (CNN) - First came the popular Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” which won nine Tony Awards on Sunday.

Now, the actual Mormon church is hitting the Great White Way, with a big electronic billboard just around the corner from where "The Book of Mormon" is playing.

The new billboard is part of a broader “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign the church launched Thursday in New York, which also includes signs on taxicab tops and subway ads.

The ads show people from diverse ethnic backgrounds doing things like smiling, mountain climbing, riding a motorcycle and surfing, all with the tagline “I’m a Mormon.”

The Times Square Billboard is around the corner from the Eugene O’Neill Theater, where “The Book of Mormon” opened earlier this year. The irreverent play is by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

"Our Church is known for our efforts to share our message,” said Richard G. Hinckley, Executive Director of the Missionary Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the Mormon church. “This is one way to get to know us — through the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

New York joins nine other cities in an ongoing campaign launched last year. The LDS church says New York State has seen a rise in its membership over the past decade, growing to 78,000 members, a 75 percent increase since 2000.

The ads will be on display for the summer, with the church launching additional U.S. cities this fall.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Mormonism • New York

soundoff (825 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Mormons are not Christians because they believe in the silly magic hat, magic stones, new prophets, and of course magic underwear. Mormons, like Scientologists and Evangelicals are a bane to education, science, and discovery.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Artist

      So do they still have the magic hat and stones on display?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Not sure how that's different from other religions – like Catholics who eat flesh and drink blood and think evolution is all fine and good, except when it comes to humans, which pretty much boggles the mind.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  2. SCMorrell

    Actually, it is pretty nice that an organziation that tries to deliver humanitarian relief anywhere in the world it is needed and allowed, has a sustainable business plan.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      It would be even nicer if they paid taxes.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • jadey

      Business plan sourced by funds from their congregation. Ask what not your church can do for you but what YOU can do for your church.

      Rather give money to a homeless shelter. At least that way I'd get a tax receipt.

      June 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  3. RichS

    Judge not lest ye be judged. But the reason Mormanism is called a cult is because there are parts of their theology that don't line up with the Bible, and they don't adhere to evangelical theology. Some of their terms of speech may sound okay but they mean different things to them than to a Christian.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      So if they aren't really Christians, they're a cult? Is hinduism a cult? Is Islam a cult? Is Buddhism a cult? Perhaps your definition of cult needs revision. To me, all religions are cults, including Christianity. Some are just more popular than others.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  4. Julia Native American

    The Mormon religion believe that the only way a woman can go to heaven(their version of heaven) is through the good works of her husband. Mormon – the founder of the male chauvinist PIG

    June 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Artist

      Julia, have they detected jewish blood in your tribe?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • SCMorrell

      Nope. This is categorically false. We believe that men and women are punished for their own sins.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  5. Duwayne Anderson

    Folks might also be interested in hearing from people that have "been there, done that:"

    http://www.exmormonscholarstestify.org/

    http://www.exmormon.org/stories.htm

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWmCBlABILw&w=640&h=360]

    Duwayne Anderson
    Author of "Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science"

    June 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  6. Reality Check

    So let's just look at the numbers of mormons who are divorced, single parents, felons, drug users, convicted child molestors, ect.. they are better than you, live with it.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      Salt Lake City is a rough place and full of strip clubs and vice. The prisons are full of Mormons. They are just like other people. Give it a rest.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Prison Statistics by faith.

      Mormon 298 0.399%
      Scientology 190 0.254%
      Atheist 156 0.209%

      Apparently Scientologists and Atheists are better then mormons. Deal with it.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • BuckeyeJim

      Caught one down her in Phoenix, wife of a politician ( and probably her daughter) abusing a 13 yr old boy.
      Almost went after a brace of bishops, too.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  7. palintwit

    Has Sarah Palin weighed in on this yet? Is there any such thing as a Mormon teabagger? Do Mormons watch nascar? Do they believe in the Flintstones?

    June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Yabba Dabba Doo!

      June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  8. Carolyn

    The only reason this cult is putting out ads showing diversity is a rich member of the cult is running for president and they need to look more like a religion and less like a cult.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • MrOpinionator

      As much a cult as the Catholics and the Baptists and in fact the whole lot of them, I might add.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • MrBo

      Cult = Religion

      What cult do you belong to?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      Well, that Broadway show making Mormons look crazy is also about Mitt. Attack his policies, please, and his big arrogant unemployed mouth, but knock off the religion stuff. He's going to get teased about his three wives the way Barack got teased about his African heritage, except that Mitt can never prove that he doesn't have two more wives. Heck, I'll tease him myself. But actual attacks, like "He's in a cult!" "Mormons eat babies!" are out of line.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  9. Pope on a Rope

    The cool part is the managed to get all three minority mormons onto the same billboard.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Alan Thompson

    Any religion that has to advertise is questionable.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      Correction: All religion is questionable.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Correction to your Correction: All faith is baseless and logically should be dismissed.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  11. Ian

    I was raised Southern Baptist and was taught at a young age to "Fear" and "Not Associate" with Mormons. The one mormon family in our high school were treated like outcasts (since our school was predominantly Christian). They were always very nice and polite, and now that I look back, I feel badly that I was part of religious intolerance. I still consider myself non-denominational Christian, but I now hate to see God Fearing people like Mormons get bashed. The world is moving secular and agnostic and the more believers stay united, the better chance we have in protecting a moral code that was given to us through the Bible (which, believe it or not, Mormons adhere to). Moral people should be respected regardless of religious belief.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • MrOpinionator

      All people should be respected. What 'moral' people often miss is that they are the ones doing the judging and the disrespecting.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Not Catholic

      Ian, the most truly moral people I know are atheists.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chuck

      I'm atheist and can honestly say I live truer to positive values than 95% of the christians I know. It has to do with making yourself feel good and others, not trying to please a god.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Artist

      Not Catholic

      Ian, the most truly moral people I know are atheists.

      -----------

      That is interesting you say this because I have experienced the same. Most giving and caring people I know are in fact non-believers. However the christians sure like to spin them as lawless and evil lol

      June 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      Chuck, my values are pretty much the same as most Christians, and why not? Love your fellow man and keep your word, what's wrong with that? I'm not a bully, I don't steal or misuse, I'm a husband and parent, and I even drive respectfully. But I just don't believe there's a huge spirit which will torture me if I get it wrong or reward me if I follow the rules correctly. I just live as a good person because it's right.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • jo an

      I shy away from "GOD FEARING"...my religion is GOD LOVING...

      June 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Ian

      Sorry guys, very ignorant responses. First off, judging may be an issue with a select group of Christians. The majority of us (including Mormons) are fine with others living their lives however they deem appropriate – as long as they allow us the same freedom. You forget that most Mormon's are OK with Civil Unions (many disagreed with their church's stance on Prop8). I also have many Mormon friends that accompany me to the bar on weekends (they don't drink but hang out). They seem to be the ones judged on this forum, not them judging the haters. Live and let live, but adhere to principals you deem moral.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Ian, if you mean to say that religious beliefs are a requirement for moral behavior, I take exception to that. I don't need to believe in the imaginary friend for grown-ups in order to behave in a rational, compassionate, and considerate way towards others. I respect many believers and understand that I'm in the minority where belief in god is concerned. I jwant equal respect in return, but rarely receive it.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Ian

      @lettucePray – Moral is anyone who promotes and adheres to civility, virtue, charity, and a desire to improve rather than degrade the human condition. Christ, Buddah, Mohammed, and Sarah Palin are good examples... (kidding about SP). I welcome Atheists into that mix as long as they 'respect' the beliefs of the religious. The challenge (as you will read in the majority of the posts) is that many Atheists find it their mission to disrespect or disprove those who believe. Why not allow Holy traditions and beliefs to remain somewhat sacred. Would one walk into a buddhist monastery and ridicule the Bardo Thodol or bash an Orthodox Jew for their strict adherence to the Law of Moses? Any organization which helps maintain a Moral Code (as described above) should refrain from dissing on others doing the same. And for those who can merely assume religion is a fairy tale, consider that many of the worlds brightest leaders, scientists, professors etc continue to count themselves among the believers despite a HUGE and OVERWHELMING amount of evidence that states that GOD DOESN'T EXIST. It is because many of us have had experiences that supersede common logic. We know the whole thing seems crazy, but there is little that could sway conviction based on experiences. So, if you don't believe simply because you have never experienced anything, or that the evidence shows that God does not exist, I can tell you that as a physician who understands science and wishes that I could pass religion off as a fairytale, I have experiences that tell me that there is something beyond the understanding of science. I know the atheists will disagree, but there is something real behind the madness. That said, I don't know if Christianity is the answer, I just know that something very real happens after this life ends.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • gmccyclist

      Actually the mormons don't adhere to the bible. They will use parts of the bible as convenient. The Book of Mormon reigns supreme. The admonition by Christ that there would be false phrophets that would follow him (the phrophets mohammad and Joseph Smith come to mind) are glossed over. Core to christianity is a belief in the trinity, but that isn't a part of the mormon beliefs. Had the mormon church been created in the 20th century and not the 19th, it would generally be considered a cult. Still is to me. The Utah based LDS church probably wouldn't exist today had it not been for the civil war. That war interrupted the investigation into the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Brigham Young and the leaders of the church at that time should have all been hanged for that Massacre. Without a Brigham Young the LDS theocracy in Salt Lake City would never have become entrenched in the state.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "Actually the mormons don't adhere to the bible. They will use parts of the bible as convenient. "

      ------–

      Replace mormons with any other Christian denomination and you'd still be accurate.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  12. lonewolf777

    Any belief that says I can't have a glass of wine with my dinner should be condemned. Nuff said.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  13. NotaMormon

    The musical is genious!

    "I believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people!"

    June 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Kal, PhD

      Was it that soon? Could've swore on the Book of Mormon that Black people were accepted in 1985!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  14. James

    This is a CULT. Woman you can not wear any type of Pants/Slack to worship on Sundays, only "Modest Dresses"

    Sports are NOT ALLOWED on Sundays! What is America on Sunday's then playing ball with your friends and family?!?!?

    Can't swim on Sundays either, because Satin is in the water on Sundays! 11:55pm Sat night you may swim, but come the strike of midnight out of the water!

    Girl's can't date until 16 because the cult leader said so!

    You cant go to heven unless you pay the CULT 10% of your money! (Or as they call it the "Celestial Kingdom")

    June 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • JoeS

      Maybe you were an ex-Mormon and cannot able to abide with all these golden rules and they kick you out.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • James

      3rd Generation of your CULT! Grandparents were Polygamist! Finally got out of the MORMON CULT and truly free and peaceful!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Alexander

      That is a rather narrow lens in which you choose to view the Mormon religion. By definition then, you are saying that any religion or group who adheres to certain rules, whether it be following lent, partaking of the passover, or heaven forbid lowering the statistic on teen pregnancy by not dating till 16 is indeed a cult who has been brainwashed into following strict rules rather than be human and think for themselves. Last time I checked, in order to join the "Mormon Cult" you actually had to make a choice to do so. Same with any other religion out there. It is simply a choice or preference of religion that some choose to follow just as some choose to eat chicken for dinner rather than beef.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Kurt

      James – you don't know what you're talking about. Learn the facts first, then make your comments.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • James

      Oh KURT I am a return missionary...worked in the temple for three years, 3rd generation CULT mormon (grand parents were Polygamist) I KNOW what I am talking about! MORMON = CULT. Period!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • DK

      James,

      The church abandoned polygamy 121 years ago. For your grandparents to be Mormon polygamist would make you either the worlds oldest man or it means that your grandparents were not part of the actual Mormon church, but instead a splinter group like the FLDS.

      It puts the rest of what you say in doubt.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  15. lonewolf777

    The lonliest person in the world is a Mormon archaeologist.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • JDJ

      That's hysterical! It does make it difficult to find remnants of ancient civilizations that did not exist.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  16. Fast Fred

    This is all so entertaining. Were the only species on the planet who kill each other by the millions because we judge them wrong if they don't believe what we believe....... Look in the mirror people, if you can.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • DK

      Very few wars have been fought truely because of religion. If you look deeply at the causation of most 'religious' wars you will find the mundane reasons. Most often religion is used as justification by corrupt leaders. If religion did not exist, another excuse would be found.

      Honestly, were the Crusades about reclaiming the Holy Land or is more likely that European powers wanted control of the riches trade routes of the era?

      June 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  17. Bill

    I really am amused at how "chic" it seems to be an Atheist these days.(I'm Agnostic myself) I can't help but start to feel that some of you are more obsessed with proclaiming yourselves as "religion free" than Christians are about being Christian...(or any other religious faithful with their own religions) That and you seem perfectly fine trying to force YOUR beliefs (or lack of) down everyone's throat. Sadly you're becoming the monster you all claim to be fighting....

    June 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • MrOpinionator

      Nothing 'Chic' about being right.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • MrOpinionator

      Matt and Trey have so destroyed Mormonism, it's not funny. Mormons are dangerous, make no mistake, and they should be fought. Hopefully someday reason will prevail, bot probably not before Utah is stripped of its statehood.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • JoeS

      Mormons never force anybody to Join their Church. God commanded them to do so, and so that during the Judgment day you won't have any objection or reason why you were rejected in the Kingdom of God.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      How can you force non-belief on someone? What a wild idea! Let's try it: Look everyone, it's NOTHING! There it isn't. Right there not. Well, that didn't work. Let's try something different: Hey, this $20 bill doesn't exist. Look, it vanished. I'm waving nothing, right? Oh, you can still see it? GOD says it's gone. Still there? Drat. Hey everyone, "Bill" is an agnostic. Do you believe that? Yeah, me neither. Hey, it's working.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  18. MrOpinionator

    Seriously, Mormons are morons.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      Did you think of that all by yourself?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  19. A. Goodwin

    As a former member of the Church of Jeasus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I feel that as a whole there are a lot of good people in the Mormon Church. The Church is no more cult-like than any other religion out there. I was 18 when I joined the church, and shortly after I moved out (alone) to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah. Life in Salt Lake was low key....maybe TOO low key for my own personal taste. I come from a liberal background, and as I began to meet more and more Mormons, I felt like I wasn't being true to who I REALLY was. I was what THEY wanted me to be – not really who I wanted to be. I like hard rock music, none of my friends did. I missed parying – and like that was going to happen. I missed all the things that the church told me I couldn't have – like coffee and alcohol and even a ciggerette at the time. I was a young adult – I wanted to be "out of my element" and here I was living a life where everything seemed to be dictated. It in a nutshell – the Mormon's preach that we have our own "free will" – but then again, you really dont have the free will to do much. I felt suffocated by my own church! Needless to say I moved back home to NH – and the last day I walked into church Pearl Jam tickets were going on sale. I went to the church phone to see about buying some – got in – got my 4 tickets and that afternoon never walked into another Mormon Church again.

    Now that I am an adult and can look back and reflect on the why's of how I got involved, I'm not sorry. I learned some good lessons being part of the church. However, as a liberal independent who has gay friends – I am very sad to see that the Mormons are going to such great lengths to ensure gay people do not have equal rights. One can look no further than Prop 8 and the mass funding the Mormon church put towards ensuring gay people could not marry. This truly angers me now as I have many close friends who are gay. Thankfully since I live in NH we have gay marriage and its a non-issue. But in CA where the Mormon Church is really financing the opposition to gay rights...I'm really upset that they would take this on and deny loving couples the right to marry whom they want. If we have "free agency" shouldn't that "free agency" also include the ability to love whom we want? I feel so incredibly sorry for gay mormon kids...or any religion who imposes such unattainable moral standards when being gay is hardly a choice.

    I say good luck to my Mormon friends. Meanwhile, I'm going to have a nice lager and contemplate what Beastie Boys song I like off Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • MrOpinionator

      Living large, relatively. You go.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • lonewolf777

      Yep, no bias here. Move along people.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      Lonewolf – HUH?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      So it's either Moroni or Pearl Jam for you, eh?

      June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      It was a bunch of things, including the fact that nobody in my family was Mormon...none of my friends were Mormon, and the Mormon friends I made at the University of Utah...I just couldn't be myself around. I think I just didn't want to walk on eggshells around people all the time. I missed the "old" me where I could say what I want, do what I want and those who loved me accepted me nomatter what. Then I put myself into a situation where everyone around me would be critical of me if I didn't live as righteously as they expected me to. And about that Pearl Jam concert – that was when tickets used to sell out in 1 min or less. I really think God was telling me to go have fun...to be myself. And I've never turned back. I'm still friends with some of my Mormon friends from my local church here in NH and in UT, and they are great and good hearted people. But the Mormon religion was simply not for me.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  20. MrOpinionator

    So close to advertising the truth, which is "I am a Moron". Hear them roar.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.