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The Mormon group – whether they like it or not
Vocal Point performs on NBC's the Sing Off with host Nick Lachey.
December 8th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

The Mormon group – whether they like it or not

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - When Shane Wright met with members of Vocal Point, a Brigham Young University a cappella group that was considering competing on NBC's singing show "The Sing Off," the main question he had for the nine male students had nothing to do with their singing talent.

Wright, the artist manager at BYU, wanted to know if the team was prepared to not only represent themselves and their school but to be viewed through the audience's understanding of Mormonism.

"I went around the room and asked the guys, how would you handle this or that type of question or situation," Wright said. "In our meeting we discussed several scenarios. I wanted to get them thinking about various situations before they were put in the fire."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints oversees BYU, and the members of the singing team Vocal Point, whether they liked it or not, were going to be representing the church on primetime television. And with a recent Pew Research poll finding that nearly 25 percent of people have negative views of the Mormon Church, Vocal Point would be representing a misunderstood and at times maligned religion.

According to multiple members of the team, while representing their faith was not necessarily something they sought to do, it was a reality they knew they had to accept.

"We knew that a connection would be made between us and the Mormon Church whether we tried to or not," said Keith Evans, a 25-year-old member of the BYU team.

"Because the church has an obscure image, we thought this would be a great opportunity to show that this church is made up of normal people and is not as esoteric as people think," said Evans.

Other members hoped the team would show what young Mormons are really like and that they "do normal things."

McKay Crockett, a 24-year-old Mormon member of the team, said that while the team did understand there were misconceptions of the Mormon faith, their goal was "to show that Mormons are a lot like [everyone else] and we live life a lot like they do. It was a daunting task, but I do think we were able to do that in our kind of humble, awkward way on the Sing Off."

Vocal Point lasted a majority of the show, beating 11 other teams to finish fifth. The team sang a variety of songs, too. While they got high marks for an Elvis medley and their take on "Jump, Jive an' Wail," the judges said they were stretched by the Temptations "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You."

No matter the song, though, a connection to the Mormon Church was regularly made. Fans left comments about the team's Mormon faith on message boards and Mormon newspapers and blogs began following Vocal Point's weekly progress.

The shows judges commented on the team's religion, too.

After the team sang a cover of Justin Beiber's "Never Say Never," singer/songwriter Ben Folds, one of the shows three judges, said, "I will never again say that I could never enjoy Beiber sung by a bunch of Mormons." Sarah Bareilles, also a singer/songwriter, described the group as a bunch of "wholesome thunder cats."

On the whole, said Evans, the response from the Mormon community was "largely positive."

"Maybe a person or two objected to one of our song selections," said Evans. "Some of them thought it was a bit too wild and crazy for a bunch of Mormon guys."

But Evans says that the fact that at times the team could get "a bit wild and crazy" shows that, "we [Mormons] are allowed to be a little wild and crazy. We are allowed to have a good time."

The judges kicked the team off the show after the R&B week, where Vocal Point sang the aforementioned Temptations song, along with a rendition of Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step."

Jake Hunsaker, a 22-year-old member of the team, said that though the loss was "disappointing," the team felt privileged to have gone as far as they did.

"I think for us it is a privilege to represent members of the Mormon faith," said Hunsaker. "Just to be able to expose people to what a Mormon is like, to be able to represent Mormons and let people know that we are normal was an honor."

Members of Vocal Point said that they were humbled by the experience and are a little stunned by the way people recognize them around BYU and Provo, Utah.

With a bit of sarcasm, Evans said that ultimately he hoped Vocal Point showed people that "a Mormon's faith isn't so different to the point that they create some weird species of person that is unapproachable."

And jokingly Evans said he wanted people to know that Mormons are good singers.

CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Entertainment • Mormonism

soundoff (312 Responses)
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    August 10, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  3. The Other Guy

    Well, in the Mormons' defense, all religions have that "kill everyone else" doctrine. Jesus openly preached about killing all non-Christians in between helpings of "love thy neighbor," Judaism preaches the same thing in the Ten Commandments, and Islam has Sharia law, for example. Besides, Mormons are just another group of Christians anyway. I'm not a Mormon myself, because the whole "God is an alien" thing's a little too far for me, but as insensitive and cruel as their doctrine can be, don't forget that it applies to EVERY other doctrine out there. In conclusion: religion sucks

    January 7, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  4. flutinkat

    I'm an ex-Mormon, but I would like you to consider the impact of your words. No, it's not a cult. I'm a Protestant now in a mainstream church, and there aren't that many differences. Yes, there are some strange teachings that Mormons would rather forget about and don't practice, such as the aforementioned Kolob, but there's plenty in the Bible as well. (Numerous accounts of incest? Check. Children eaten by bears? Check. Women should not speak in church? Check. Etc, etc.) yes, baptism for the dead is a thing, but it isn't actually baptizing dead people – how ridiculous! Since the Christian faith teaches that we cannot get into heaven without baptism, the Mormon church baptizes living people in proxy of the people that are dead and never had a chance to be baptized, so they can choose whether or not to enter heaven.
    Just think before you speak. Remember that people are still people, even if they believe differently. If you are a Christian, you should follow the teachings of Jesus and accept everyone. Intolerance only breeds discontent and anger.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  5. Bullet

    Hey, Mormonism might not be too bad, you can have a wife for every day of the week and you dont even have to go to divorce court like Newt. maybe Romney can convert Newt from whatever he is this week and Newt could take his other two wives with him. Woulldn't that be a kick in the axx.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Joseph Smith

      Mormons think they will be gods and will live on the planet Kolob...and then there's baptism of the dead. I am NOT making this up. Yikes =O

      January 6, 2012 at 2:44 am |
  6. Dave

    Wow, there have been quite a few opinions shared on this article. All I have to say is that I'm so glad I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has literally changed my life and has made all of the difference for me and my wife and daughter. If anyone has questions about it, they really should just look straight at the teachings of the Church on mormon.org. Or talk to a practicing Mormon and find out why they do what they do. We're all just people trying to do our best, so ask us why we feel the way we do, if you want to know. For my family, it's brought so much happiness.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You must be white.
      Testimony from LDS church member Darron Smith in 2003:
      "Even though the priesthood ban (on black clergy) was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness".

      From "The Juvenile Instructor" – and LDS tome used to indoctrinate children:
      "We will first inquire into the results of the approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of Heaven placed upon some portions of mankind. Some, however, will argue that a black skin is not a curse, nor a white skin a blessing. In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing, and that the ne.gro is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth; but to us such teachings are foolishness.
      We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)

      Correspondence from the leaders of teh Latter Day Saints in the mid 20th century:
      "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
      "Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
      – George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay

      The modern line:
      "if a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

      I don't much like what members of the Church have to say about their practices.
      Sorry.

      January 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jeff

      It's easy as pie to spot propaganda. Revelation to the current church presidency and the quorum of the twelve supercedes all past doctrine that may differ from what the current prophet states. Remember Peter who tried to get the church members to accept gentiles in his day? And Paul who was persecuted for preaching to the Gentiles and including them in temple worship at Jerusalem? God works through each prophet under his direction at that time.. It is the same today. Revelation from God is needed for new problems and changing situations. If you don't believe in revelation you don't believe in God. Think about it. What would be the point of a God who shut himself off and didn't involve himself in the most important aspect of His own work... man and woman.... who didn't give us guidance on important matters like these.... who had a church that was stagnant and unable to accomodate his purposes as he needed to change and reveal them. It would be like a business with an inflexible business model that couldn't adjust to the current recession. Situations change and God reveals how to deal with things when necessary. If you look at his dealings with our forefathers you will see the same thing.

      January 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      Dave, you do know that your "church" thinks that all other religions are "an abomination", right? Please understand the you are being brainwashed. How sad for you...

      January 6, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • flutinkat

      Hey, Joseph Smith, I find your moniker confusing. Are you going by the name to be ironic, or do you really just want to associate yourself with a person you so clearly hate? Either way, you are either an embittered ex-Mormon who left the church for reasons other than doctrine or someone who just finds glee in tearing Mormons down because that's what their church taught them to do. (I'm not kidding, I've been to churches that actively teach against Mormonism and spread these awful lies.) Please see my main post for a rebuttal to your argument about Kolob and such.

      January 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  7. neniatak

    From the article: "And with a recent Pew Research poll finding that nearly 25 percent of people have negative views of the Mormon Church, Vocal Point would be representing a misunderstood and at times maligned religion." I am really surprised they keep calling themslevels Mormons, since the "church" wants to do away with that moniker and call themselves Latter Day Saints. Anyhow...Yes, they are misunderstood. If people understood the true teachings. there would be a whole lot more than 25% with negative views. If you study the teachings of their "prophets" you will soon realize that even the average Mormon on the street has no understanding of the underlying Satanic base.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • ignorance

      Hey "neniatak", you are so ignorant. My best friend is a mormon. He goes to seminary classes early in the morning like 5am or 5:30am. While you are still snoring in bed, he is learning about the scriptures-old testament, new testament, book of mormon. So don't say the average mormon has no understanding of their religion. They learn about the scriptures and Christ's teachings since they are 3 yrs old. What do you know about your religion??

      January 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • It's pronounced du-MAS

      Yeah buddy, that's his own hair!

      January 5, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Norman Aberschnakle

      @neniatak, Nice, "anyone that's not like me is satanic". What a fruitcake you are, go crawl back under a rock. I'm not defending the cult of Mormon, but I sure as heck don't like yours either.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • flutinkat

      Mormons call themselves Mormons because plenty of other people call them that. It's like giving up and answering to a nickname because that's what everyone calls you anyway. I had a healthy understanding of all the Mormon doctrine by the time I was 16 – it is actually what drove me away from Mormonism, because some of the finer, more obscure points didn't line up in my opinion. The average high school student who is Mormon does go to a before-school class daily that studies a specific book (the New Testament and Old Testament are two separate years) for at least an hour a day. They are encouraged to memorize over 200 passages and discuss each part of every book. I'd be curious to see how many non-Mormon Christians have even read the Bible cover-to-cover once – most Mormons have read it several times by the time they turn 18.

      January 6, 2012 at 8:02 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.