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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. Not so

    I was a Mormon missionary and my associates and I loved the experience, the people (we did talk to many people every day). Twenty years later, these are some of my fondest memories and my best friends.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  2. Mark

    Joseph Smith was a verifiable fraud. Book of Mornon is a boring piece of fiction. He translated the BoM by looking in a magic hat for crying out loud!! Most gullible converts in the world!

    June 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • roycers

      Nobody who has read it cover to cover could honestly say they account for it as being fiction made up by an undereducated farm boy. Read it and you will agree absolutely. As has been said, "No wicked man could write such a book as this, and no honest man would, unless he were commanded of God." It's that simple. If the book is true, it's all true, and the book is true.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Stevie7

      The book is true because the book says it's true? That's some sounds logic right there!

      June 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  3. Mike

    I see those Moron kids dressed in white shirt and black pants riding their bikes around. They are supposed to be "missinoaries" and talk to people. I HAVE NEVER EVER SEEN THEM TALKING TO ANYONE!!! They know it's all a shamm and a scamm and they are being forced to do it by their parents. THEY HATE IT!!!

    June 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Mike

      Come to think of it I haven't seen them around much anymore. I used to see them a few times a week. I guess they have given up in this area. Altho I do still see the JEHOBAH WITNESSES!!! A group of them approached me the other day while I was doing yard work. I told them that I am an ATHEIST and to just move along and bother someone else.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • roycers

      I was a missionary in New Jersey 97-98. We baptized a lot of great people. I taught well over 1000 lessons in peoples' homes that invited us in during that time. Missionaries work hard and if the people you are teaching aren't prideful, they'll have thought about where they came from, why they're here, and where they're going after death. Missionaries have answers to those universal questions.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • David

      I absolutely disagree. While certainly there are those that go on a mission due to pressure from their family, etc. And there are those that go because they are encouraged to go and they feel it's the right thing to do. And there are those that go for all the right reasons from the very start. However, most experience some profound changes during their 2 years serving others. I was one of those that went on a mission because it was expected of me, I wanted to do the right thing, and I wanted to bring the message of my church to others. However, during the two years I learned much more. How to truly love others of a different culture, race, religion, etc. I have very fond memories of serving others during those 2 years. When you see those mainly 19-21 year olds out serving others, be a kind person yourself and show them respect. They deserve it. While other kids may be out thinking of their own well-being, partying, dating, etc, these kids are out sacrificing 2 years of their lives in a strange land. That deserves some kindness and respect. I have missionaries from other churches come to my door, and I treat them with respect. Those with a different view should not be reviled, feared, judged, etc.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  4. Hmmmm

    There is a lot of bigoted language here. But Mormons have been targeted for the last 170 years or so, so they are probably pretty immune. I've witnessed some bad treatment of them in High School and even people talking crap about them at work. Would you talk this way about Jews? No, because it's not P.C. Maybe some day our liberal minds will be able to wrap around not being bigoted toward anyone. Till then, lets hope the people who express such hatred don't ever get enough power to do anything about it. Have your opinion, but don't poison the well with hatred.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Johnny

      We didn't treat the girls bad in higschool... we slept with them all equally, and did they need it! 😉

      June 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Artist

      Hmmmm

      There is a lot of bigoted language here. But Mormons have been targeted for the last 170 years or so, so they are probably pretty immune. I've witnessed some bad treatment of them in High School and even people talking crap about them at work. Would you talk this way about Jews? No, because it's not P.C. Maybe some day our liberal minds will be able to wrap around not being bigoted toward anyone. Till then, lets hope the people who express such hatred don't ever get enough power to do anything about it. Have your opinion, but don't poison the well with hatred.
      ---------------–
      Mormons are an interesting bunch along with how their religion came to be. What I find interesting is how young the belief is and some of the things that is the core of their belief can easily be shown to be quite false. A belief system so young, yet not one shred of physical evidence that it is based upon. However, masses in religon are referred to as sheep for a reason. Mormons faith is one of the strongest in man or a man I should say.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Spencer W Kimball

      Restated...

      There is a lot of bigoted language here. But Mormons have been targetting non-Mormons in their communities for the last 170 years or so, so they are probably pretty adept at it. I've witnessed some bad treatment of them in High School and even people talking crap from them at work. Would you talk this way about Atheists? Yes, because its P.C. Maybe some day our conservative Christian minds will be able to wrap around not being bigoted toward anyone. Till then, lets hope the people who express such hatred don't ever get enough power to do anything about it. Have your opinion, but don't poison the well with hatred.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  5. mummzy

    Wow, what ignorant people there are out there to bash on peoples religion. And how can you entirely rely on the bible when it has been rewritten and tampered with for so many years.
    Yeah that is right "i am a mormon" and don't judge. I will respect your religion if you respect mine.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  6. Stephen

    For all it's profanity, The Book of Mormon(the musical) is actually kind of a sweet story.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  7. Mike

    LDS = Lots of Delusional Su.ckers

    June 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Search for David Cross and Mormons on Youtube for a good laugh...

    June 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Anser your telephone! Answer your telephone! Look at dem lights! Whew look at dem lights! :) :D

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZhUrKiRGrQ&w=640&h=390]

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHRP0I2SrVs&w=640&h=390]

      June 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Anser your telephone! Answer your telephone! Look at dem lights! Whew look at dem lights! :) :D

      That's what David Cross should look up on youtube.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  9. James Black

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

    June 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  10. cream of wheat

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAUSqrghdh0&w=640&h=390]

    June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  11. hi

    God will judge YOU, on your own heart no one else's. Why YOU made the decision you did at the time and if you feel sorry, or just for that decision. ALmost any religion is just, you just half to see the good in it, and greatness in people.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Sir Craig

      Frankly, not all that worried about a myth judging me, but thanks for your insight and concerns.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Mike

    They got the spelling wrong. Looks like they are dylexic, too. The billboard should read. "I AM A MORON"

    June 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes "dylexic" is dyslexic for dyslexic.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Joe

    It wasn't that long ago that Mormons preached that black folks didn't even have souls. They adjusted their beliefs in that regard, not out of some revelation about human equality, but because they were taking too much flak.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • The Real South Park

      Right you are. The same applies with polygamy. They dumped it because of outside pressure from the government.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Lin

      I don't know where you got your statement from, Joe, but, Joseph Smith said that black people had souls and were subject to salvation. From what I gather, there was some kind of ridiculous intellectual debate on this point back in the 1800s.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  14. The Real South Park

    I've got 3 words for you: Mountain Meadows Massacre. Look it up.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Lin

      Here's a few more words - "Haun's Mill Massacre" and "Missouri Extermination Order." Look those up, too.

      June 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  15. absurdist

    A. Goodwin: right on. Fair, informed, and level-headed comment. (Also, as a child of the '90s, I too loved Pearl Jam.) The Prop 8 fervency really is a sad, sad shame; all peoples should be given the same respect, rights, and compassion.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      I remember sitting at the temple (Salt Lake) during service one day and there was a sermon on free agency (essentially that it is the right for each to choose and to act for oneself). The principle of free agency is choosing between good and evil. I remember thinking – was drinking a beer or having a cup of coffee really evil? Were are my non-Mormon friends "evil?" It dawned on me that maybe the act of controlling what a person can do (like requiring them to follow these rules or else they would not enter the kingdom of God) might in itself be taking away free agency and thus be "evil." It sort of dawned on me in a very short amount of time that not only did I think the "Words of Wisdom" went against free agency – but also started to question how Joseph Smith found the golden tablets...and other story's that required a great deal of faith.

      I realize that believing in the Bible too requires faith. Perhaps that is why I am now agnostic (although I consider myself VERY spiritual and do believe in a higher power). I think for me, my ties to the Mormon church made me realize that I truly do not believe in organized religion. Do I pray every day? Yes, but not in the name of a particular religion.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  16. Charles

    If the mormon church weren't such a joke, this musical wouldn't be such a hit. The fact is, everything Trey and Matt make fun of is the real recorded history of the mormon church.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  17. s2kMATTers

    What did the Scientologist say to the Mormon?
    Your spaceship or mine?

    June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • shawn

      just awesome!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  18. mac

    I do not think I can trust a man "Joseph Smith" That had an indian ....a Pagan god worshipping barbarian ( in their eyes at the time) Gave him golden tablets in which god wrote upon. Im almost positive the new testament says that there will be no other books after this, and this is final. "Who so ever add or take away from the word of God be taken from the book of life"
    You add to the bible. You end up in hell.

    Pure and simple.
    Mormons all you have to do is read the bible and you will see your religion is a sham. (which all may be )

    Not to mention ole Joe Smith admitted his made the entire thing up on this death bed.... why isn't that taught a sunday school....?

    June 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Avatar9

      Oh no, not another one of these "my fantasy is better than yours" ROM-brains.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Bob johnson

      I dont know where you get your history but A. Mormons read and study the standard James version of the bible, as I have done all my life and B. Joseph didn't die in bed he was murdered by an unlawful mob, and in fact took his testimony of what he saw and did with him even though they killed him for it. I would invite you to educate yourself. Have a nice day.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • flipper

      Just to let you know. "Ole Joe Smth" jumped to his death out a third story window of a jailhouse to escape a mob that was breaking down the door to kill him. So unless he shouted his "deathbed" confession while he was flying through the air, I think you should get your facts straight.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • roycers

      Stop making things up. Joseph Smith didn't recant on his death bed. He voluntarily went to jail on trumped up charges knowing he was likely going to his death by surrendering to authorities. He and his brother would not have marched face first into their fate if what they stood for was made up. No charlatan in history has done that. He was murdered by a mob that stormed the jail.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • JDJ

      There are good moral people in Mormonism, but if you are buying everything they are selling, you miss the boat. The simple truth is that all of us have done wrong many times in our lives. The penalty for this is separation from God, now and in eternity. The good news is that God sent His Son to earth to live a perfect life and die for all bad things of all times. All we have to do is ask for God to forgive us and apply Jesus' "credit" to our account. The relationship is then restored. God loves all people and desires for all of them to be saved, but He leaves the choice with us.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bill

      Pretty hard to admit you made something up on your deathbead when you've been shot by a mob causing you to fall out of a window

      June 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Sir Craig

      It really doesn't matter which fantasy is more correct, both are based on errancies and inaccuracies galore. Joseph Smith was a con man whose "word" means about as much as that of John, Paul, or Luke (the one in the bible, not Skywalker). Yes, he was either murdered or about to be so any supposed "deathbed confession" is seriously unlikely, but it doesn't change the fact he was still a flim-flam man: No evidence, no ability to verify or even allow to falsify...patently silly for anyone to be arguing over this.

      For all sides who keep saying things like, "Perhaps you should educate yourself better..." I'm amazed at the total cognitive dissonance.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • David

      I think I am dumber for reading this post. Let's remember that men put together the canon of the bible and put Revelations as the last book when John wrote it before other books of the New Testament. If that quote is true then those books must be stricken from the New Testament. But they never have been, of course. Tell me what the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph is while you're at it.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  19. Big_D

    I always thank the LDS for being first in with aid after Katrina. All religions have their problems and good points. Too bad we always look at the bad. Having food available for natural disasters and a social network isn’t a bad thing.

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

      We can benefit from delusions form time to time.

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

      Well....IMO, not a lot of good comes out of religion in the long run or over past history. Rememeber too, their food work was prob not altruistic in the least. Most everything is this way. I bet you they sent squads of mormons to bike around (where ever they could) in Louisiana to take advantage of the upset, weakened people to take refuge in their belief system. Catch new believes when they are desperate. Most religions do just that. "Missions". So they were giving food to get something in return.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

      I agree I took too much LDS back in the 1970s too and started praying to my toilet.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  20. TheRationale

    Should say "I'm gullible."

    June 17, 2011 at 2:53 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.