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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. Adam

    Am I the only one who finds it hypocritical when religions pay to advertise themselves? Billboards are typically reserved for selling products (which is exactly what the Mormom church is doing here). If you're religion is the right one, quit spending your follower's money on ads. Send your god down to do the talking...he should be willing to give away his message for free, right?

    June 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Reality Check

      As an ex-mormon and an anti-mormon, I would guess that there is so much information and flat out lies being spread about them that they want to get their name out there so that people can check primary sources instead of the falsehood spewed. As for me, it was the primary sources that led me out of the church.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Daniel

      Nah I think any reasonable person finds the mormons and proselytizing in general to be a huge joke. Sadly we live in a country that grants exceptions to religion so they can get away with filth like they do.

      Any other organization with as many pedos as the Catholic Church would have been burned to the ground years ago. The Catholic Church still exists, still supports priestly celibacy, still molests, still steals from humanity, and still teaches non-birth control thereby contributing to the problems faced by low class people.

      The Mormons trespass on private property. They unjustly influence government thereby infringing on the rights of citizens. Until very recently they taught that people of dark skin color were "subhuman" they recently reversed this position (apparently the great infallible one changes his mind) Even though they have reversed this position their religion is still racist because it teaches that whites once occupied North America, were attacked and slaughtered by the natives, and that whites reclaiming this land was just because of that. What few people realize is that Mormonism is closer to Naziism than it is to Christianity. It was all about providing a religious justification for the wholesale slaughter of natives and theft of their land.

      Protestantism is just as bad. It was good when it came about because it severely weakened the Roman church but these days Protestantism is exactly what its founders were against. Again these people do not separate Church and State. They attempt to coerce me into living their ways through law. I therefore support the destruction of Protestant sects as well. They protest funerals to harass the living, they pass laws against recognizing a human soul is the sole owner of the body, they murder doctors, they steal money that could be used to benefit humanity, they attack education (intelligent design anyone).

      All in all I am on the Gandhi boat. Christ might have had some good ideas but Christians are a joke. Mormons are too, I don't consider them Christians but rather descendants of and influence by Christianity but with a whole different set of self-serving motives. The only Christians I can respect as being truly Christian are the Amish and Mennonites. They are the only groups practicing what Christ taught.

      I am all for freedom of the individual practicing whatever religion they choose but religion attempting to influence government should be a capital crime. They want that garbage they can keep it to themselves behind closed doors.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>Adam: “Am I the only one who finds it hypocritical when religions pay to advertise themselves? Billboards are typically reserved for selling products (which is exactly what the Mormon church is doing here). If you're religion is the right one, quit spending your follower's money on ads. ”

      So when at Christmas time and the Atheist ran a bunch of billboards, also in New York City .... I guess they were also a bit hypocritical as well? Nice to see that many groups are trying to express to society the best image of who they are to escape any negative views that are out there.

      It is nice to hear folks outside of the Faith trying to tell a denomination that goes around the planet doing good works, what they should do with their money.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>> Daniel: “I am all for freedom of the individual practicing whatever religion they choose but religion attempting to influence government should be a capital crime. They want that garbage they can keep it to themselves behind closed doors.”

      That sounds familiar …. It echoes of the Pat Robertson and the Gay and Lesbian issue back in the day. Or at least some of his less fervent follower's.

      Yep, ..”I do not agree with you so keep what you do out of society. ….be gay but be gay in the privacy of your own home.... best for you to stay behind closed doors as to not infect the rest of society”

      Sounds like you do more of 700 Club than Ghandi. 🙂

      June 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Actually that's a lie

      @Daniel... Where do you get this crap about mormonism = nazism = expropriating land for the Native Americans? Mormons actively proselyted native americans since the 1840s... Try backing up your claims instead of making stuff up. Show me where Joseph Smith stood to profit by writing a book and how it helped him exterminate and expropriate land from Natives... I can't fathom a connection

      June 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  2. Mark from Middle River

    Please CNN ... block all online videos.

    June 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • What time is it?

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3ZAGBL6UBA&w=640&h=390]

      June 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Lin

      Amen!

      June 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Lin

      Sorry, Mark, the 'Amen' is to you, but it kind of looks like I was amening the annoying video poster.

      June 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  3. John

    Religion is for people who cant handle reality. There is no God, There is no Heaven and Hell. When you die, guess what. You are dead. So live your life however you want to. But Mormons are some of the most dumbest people next to Muslims.

    June 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • roycers

      Can't handle reality? Go to Mormon.org and watch some of the video profiles of the people that are shown on that billboard. These people live life. I've been around several people with their profiles up there. I want to be like them. They live life better than I do and I need to be better at life than I am.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Xenu of the Lollipop Kingdom

      People can't handle lollypops either. Well some can, but only those with paper stick on them.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  4. Atheism is DEAD. It has been defeated and has no logic to stand on.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byN38dyZb-k&w=640&h=390]

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

    June 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  5. Guester

    Mormons are funny!! I love the magic underwear part...

    June 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • David

      Here's another stupid post by a stupid person.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  6. kd

    they say the church has grown in New York by 75%, to 78,000. What they don't say (and marketing is their 'thing') is how many quit. That's a number that's never in any of the calculations.

    I live in Utah. I've seen this tactic on a daily basis. And so much more...

    June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • roycers

      I baptized about 45 people or so over the course of my 2 year mission. When I went back later about half were actively going to church, and maybe 8 or so said they didn't identify themselves as Mormon anymore. It's hard work to be a Mormon. Like it's hard work to be a parent, and some people bail on hard things either because they don't have the support they need or because they realize this is harder than they wanted their life to be.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  7. Iconoclast

    I agree that most religions(not all though) seem to be predicated upon events that can only be a matter of faith. I do find Mormonism to be an extreme example of this. I heard it stated somewhere else that it seems to fill a need to "Americanize" the story of Jesus. All I know is it seems to place far too much faith in the words of just one man(Joseph Smith) without any hint of scepticism or doubt. Just about all other major religions have gone through a challenging process from it's members within yet with Mormonism there seems to be this crack proof facade they present with all of it's members as one voice universally happy. I find that notion at a minimum to be creepy and possibly downright frightening depending upon what extreme it is taken to.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Kyle

      You apparently haven't looked into the Church's history that much. Some of Joseph Smith's closest friends later fought against him. Some even tried to kill him. There were a lot of disputes withing the Church over doctrine, economics, and politics.

      The Mormon Church splintered when Church leaders banned polygamy (heard of Fundamentalist Mormons?). It splintered again when they announced that all males, regardless of race, may receive the Priesthood.

      Throughout the history of the Mormon Church, there have been disagreements. Yet the Church still stands. We're not as blind as others would have you believe...

      June 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • roycers

      Read the book. Unlike other religions we've got something you can get your hands on and examine and decide for yourself whether it's true or not. Read it! It testifies of the truth of the Bible too, making the argument for Christianity stronger.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Iconoclast

      I have read the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, as well as the Old Testament, New Testament and at least parts of the Koran(hope to read it cover to cover some day as well). I have only seen one other attempt that rivals Joseph Smiths' at "creating" a religion. When you read the Book of Mormon and you see all these fakey "sounds like" old Testament names and locations doesn't it strike you as being the least bit "hokey". Can you point to any archeological or other evidence that these names were ever used in the middle east. Never mind the golden plates and upper state New York. As to other attempts to accomplish what Joseph Smith did in the nineteenth century one only has to look at L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. Old L. Ron took his playbook straight from Joseph Smith and I'm certain there will be others to follow.

      June 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  8. We Love Mormons

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02biUra2vL4&w=640&h=390]

    June 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  9. Ivan Libya

    I'm not a Mormon but I dated one for 2 years, and you know what, they are wacky and do believe in wacky things. I went to a Mormon church with her just to see what it's about and they are just as crazy as other religions. How Joseph Smith came to power and how the church got started should be an indication to any relational person that this religion is fake, but so are all the others so I guess it's par for course.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Johnny Triumph

      Comments like this show the irrational prejudices still plaguing our great country

      June 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      A.) how is it irrational? B.) prejudice how? If you make a comment like that, at least back it up with substantiating evidence.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Kyle

      Wow. It took 2 years before you decided that your girlfriend was wacky?

      June 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Xenu of the Lollipop Kingdom

      Ivan, I'd like to offer you a spot in the Lollipop Kingdom. Don't be prejudiced towards us just because we suck. Cherries a great flavor and you'd like it too.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  10. freetime1

    The add campaign should read:" Mormons, sure it's crazy, but it's no more crazy then Christianity is." With talking snakes, men living in fish walking dead and virgin births I think we can call it a tie for stupid beliefs. Or they could go with "Mormons, at least we not muslim." That might go over better here because Christians' hate it when you point out how dumb their religion is too.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Mark

      Actually, there are DEGREES of craziness. What do I mean? Believing in something without proof is mis-placed trust (most all religions), believing in something that is demonstrably false (Mormonism) is down right gullible and stupid.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"That might go over better here because Christians' hate it when you point out how dumb their religion is too"

      Wanna know what is crazier .... when a 700 club Christian tells a Athiest that he is going to burn for eternity and then watching the show when a Athiest goes off the deep end because someone says he or she is going somewhere that they do not believe exist in the first place.

      Now that, is fun 🙂

      Funny, a religious denomination that has a focus on Christ are not Christians in some folks eyes... interesting.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Xenu of the Lollipop Kingdom

      You should believe in sucking cherry Lollipops. Only the best suckers join our religion.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  11. Erik

    As I have glanced over the comments one theme is clearly evident, those attacking the LDS church are quick to throw out insults and state opinion as fact with no real scriptural/historical/theological basis.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Artist

      Erik – "state opinion as fact with no real scriptural/historical/theological basis"
      ----------
      Now Erik this is an interesting statement. Lets talk about the basis of Mormonism. lol

      June 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      Artist, LOVE IT!! I can already hear it now, everything Joseph Smith said and did WAS fact. Like those scriptures he couldn't reproduce... 😉

      June 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Erik

      Sure, sounds good.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Xenu of the Lollipop Kingdom

      Artist, I'd like to explain the basis of the Lollipop Kingdom. See, we like Lollipops. They're sugar free because like oxygen, it's a mind altering substance and it's banned from our Kingdom. We sailed the Lollipop seas to get here and had this big fight with these blasted Chocolate lollipop lovers who were then turned as dark as chocolate! Can you believe it! So get this, if you suck on a lolly your entire life, you get your own Kingdom in the Lolliverse to subjugate to your hearts content. As you know, a life of sucking prepares you for the trials and tribulations of governing a universe and rulership.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  12. Former Mormon

    James – you say you've been to the temple hundreds of times and never made an oath that your throat would be slit from ear to ear and your browels torn out by their roots? That's feasible, but just means you've never been to the temple before 1990 when the temple ceremony was drastically changed to become more "Gentile" friendly. 🙂 They also took out the part about Christian ministers being under the employ of Satan. Ladies and gentlemen, I was as devout a Mormon as ever and I assure you, that Mormonism is in fact A CULT. It is a religion based on the magnificient ego and lies of Joseph Smith, Jr. The Book of Mormon is false. Jospeh Smith was a false prophey – you know this deep down in your heart trust me!! All the church wants is 10% of your hard earned money.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Artist

      Mormonism should be easy to prove being it is so young. Deliver the plates and evidence of jewish DNA in Native American as well as the "writings" of this tribe??? Of course the founder had no way of knowing what we would be able to verify these days.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Erik

      Sorry Former Mormon, but I was at the temple pre 1990 and what you say is false. So you lost faith, that is your issue. I know it's true and if others are sincerely curious I would say to find out for yourselves and not let someone like this dissuade you.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Erik

      Not having the plates or other writings in no way makes the LDS church untrue. As far as the DNA evidence is concerned, learn something about the people of the Book of Mormon. They were not from the House of Judah, but from Joseph, different mothers and on top of that find a pure blooded Jew first for comparison.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      Erik, Yes, that is exactly what not having EVIDENCE means. If you can't verify the authenticity of something, you cannot say it is real or true. Geez! Otherwise I could just say I have a bazillion dollars, oh, proof, you just have to believe me cause I said I did, see the fault in your post?

      June 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Erik

      Point is, fact and evidence are not what make the heart of religion true

      June 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Ivan Libya

      Oh, so let me guess, the 10% of my pay they want is what makes it real, right? If religion is based on faith, why do people have to prove their faith through monetary means? On one hand, the church wants YOU to prove your faith to them by paying 10% of your income, but on the other hand, if you want prove that the religion is real, what real prove are you given? Cause my 10% income is pretty tangible.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Xenu of the Lollipop Kingdom

      I keep telling people that about our magic sacred lollipop. Someone ate the damn thing and we can never get it back, but it certainly doesn't mean it never existed. We still have the wrapper though, and it had a lot of good advise about what we should do with ourselves and is therefore magical. We keep it in a box of Bazooka wrappers so that the true lolly king will be able to pick it out of the box.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  13. Brett

    It says a lot about CNN readers by the caliber of these comments. I have read more misstatements of facts on one page than I have seen on my surfing the web over the past month. Really people? If you don't know anything about a religion, do you need to post?

    June 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The LDS Hospitals are the cleaniest and treat you with dignity and respect. I'm not Mormon but prefer their hospitals over others.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  15. Litmus Boogliner

    If they have to run ads to prove they're "AS NORMAL AS EVERYONE ELSE!!!!!" then they're admitting they have an image problem. And they're also going against their beliefs, who cares what humans think? Doesn't their god know better and won't he deal with the South Park Boys in his own way? I do love this whacky God Stuff....

    June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "If they have to run ads to prove they're "AS NORMAL AS EVERYONE ELSE!!!!!" then they're admitting they have an image problem."

      So when at Christmas time and the Atheist ran a bunch of billboards .... I guess they were also dealing with a image problem? Nice to see that many groups are trying to express to society the best image of who they are to escape any negative views that are out there 🙂

      Sigh.... just another one of those, if you denounce it for one you might have to denounce it for others Litmus 🙂

      June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Will

    Joseph Smith is roasting in hell

    June 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Artist

      Which hell? Many religions have different types?

      June 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Actually that's a lie

      If you were in the least bit versed in the bible you would be able to understand that after death you don't immediately go to hell/heaven there is a waiting period between death and final judgement. Some call it limbo some call it purgatory some call it spirit prison... So no ones roasting... Yet...

      June 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  17. Charly Garcia

    Take a look to this video which describes what the book of mormon says:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuh0eA19PKg&w=640&h=360]

    I bet, mormons are going to get banned this video that shows their true belief...

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

      No I think banning it would not be the answer. The answer would be to just say that so much of it is sickly distorted.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Reality Check

      I am ex-Mormon and some would even term me anti-mormon and I started to watch this piece of crap and had to stop it was so poorly researched.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • JP

      That cartoon is ridiculous and all it's points are completely out of context. I was raised Mormon and have since decided that organized religion is not for me, however I believe in the accurate portrayal of facts and not the propogation of falsehoods and conspiracy theories. The Mormons are Christians, the worship God and believe Christ is their Savior....period.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mark

      Many have said this video is distorted or wrong. Please list the areas that are fallacy.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  18. Dustin

    Oooo I want to smile, mountain climb, ride motorcycles and surf. Where do I sign up?

    June 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  19. Charly Garcia

    Take a look to this video which describes what the book of mormon says: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuh0eA19PKg
    I bet, mormons are going to band this video that shows their true belief...

    June 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  20. Will

    Where are the gold plates?

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

      Only their founder could see them. Come on this is how all religions operate. Explain away the evidence or lack of and say..YOU GOT TO JUST HAVE FAITH

      June 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Lin

      No, Artist, other people saw the plates. Two groups of witnesses signed statements testifying that they saw them. Copies of the statements can be found in the introductory pages of any copy of the Book of Mormon or online at http://www.lds.org.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Scott

      Same place as the books of moses.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Artist

      "Two groups of witnesses signed statements testifying that they saw them."
      .
      Were these independent (unbiased) witnesses? Strangers, non-mormons etc?

      June 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Artist

      What I find interesting in religion is the sources are always biased. You never have unbiased witnesses etc. The evidence is always biased being it is no longer around and all that is left is the word of the presenter.
      .
      In this day an age it is amazing at the large percentage if ignorance.

      June 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Actually that's a lie

      Well define unbiased... If you look at half of those witnesses they apostatized and left the church. They never recanted having seen the plates. They affirmed to the very end, to the grave that they saw them even though they were bitterly against the church. They claimed that Joseph was a fallen prophet, but they still testified to the end that the plates were real, and had seen and touched them

      June 17, 2011 at 5:25 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.