Bryce Harper’s ‘clown question’ quip speaks to Mormon prohibition on alcohol
Bryce Harper's 'clown question' clip has lit up the Internet.
June 14th, 2012
09:38 AM ET

Bryce Harper’s ‘clown question’ quip speaks to Mormon prohibition on alcohol

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Nineteen-year-old baseball phenom Bryce Harper isn’t known for drawing attention to his faith – he’s kinda the anti-Tim Tebow in that way – but he didn’t hide his dismay Tuesday when thrown a question that intersected squarely with his Mormonism.

A Toronto reporter asked Harper, a Washington Nationals outfielder, whether he’d have a beer to celebrate a whopper of a home run and the Nationals’ win against the Blue Jays, taking advantage of Ontario’s lower drinking age.

Harper’s response: “That’s a clown question, bro.” The quip quickly blew up on the Internet.

The player appeared to be alluding to the Mormon prohibition on alcohol, rooted in a law that Mormons call the “Word of Wisdom,” which is found in Mormon Scripture.

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Joseph Smith, who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1800s, is said to have received a law from God regarding healthy living, inaugurating a Mormon ban on drugs and alcohol – along with tobacco, coffee and tea.

"[S]trong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies,” according the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of Mormon scripture. "Hot drinks are not for the body or belly.”

The LDS church’s official website says the Word of Wisdom is aimed at keeping humans strong in body and mind.

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“Our body is a precious gift from God,” the site says.

“God promises great physical and spiritual blessings to those who follow the Word of Wisdom,” the site continues. “Today, the scientific community promotes some of the same principles that a loving God gave to Joseph Smith nearly two centuries ago.”

Harper was raised in the Mormon fold Nevada, which is home to a large LDS minority. His faith is detailed in the recent book “The Last Natural: Bryce Harper's Big Gamble in Sin City and the Greatest Amateur Season Ever.”

Author Rob Miech spent time with Harper during his year as a college ball player. Harper left high school after his junior year, took the GEDs and enrolled in the College of Southern Nevada so he could focus on baseball.

While many young Mormons take two years in their early 20s to perform a mission trip for the church, Miech writes that Harper chose baseball as his mission.

“I feel I can be a walking Book of Mormon and help people on the baseball field and off it,” Harper told Miech.

In college, Harper inscribed his bat and the tape around his wrists with Scripture verses, including 2 Samuel 22:33-34, which encompasses a song from the Jewish hero David after an epic battle with King Saul.

“God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect,” the song says. “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me on high places.”

The verse is fitting for a rocket-armed rookie who is one of the fastest runners on his team.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Mormonism • Sports

soundoff (272 Responses)
  1. naemi varna

    Fantastic website. A lot of useful info here. I am sending it to a few friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you to your effort!

    August 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  2. Harperfan04

    You do realize you can have a fun eventful and entertaining life without being drunk all the time right? I think it's pathetic if you have to fill your body with harmful chemical to have a good time. On average Latter Day Saints live longer because of our lifestyle. No girl wants a guy that is a pathetic drunk! It's just the plain fact! And no it wasn't a rude response...if your going to be a reporter don't ask stupid questions (:

    July 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  3. Sigh...

    It's a clown question because he's 19. Not because he's Mormon.

    July 14, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  4. dx2718

    It's a "clown question" because it has absolutely nothing to do with the way he does his job. Plus, the answer ought to be obvious to anyone aware of his faith and/or character. I think it was a fine response to the question.

    July 14, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  5. mark

    He could have just been a class act and said, "No, that's not for me." Instead, he acted like a punk.

    July 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  6. Just Saying

    No offense to Mormons, but I dont believe the "clown question, bro" statement had anything to do with Harpers religion. I just looked online and found this article, in which Harpers brother is quoted as saying:

    That is actually from one of my good friends,” Bryan Harper said, referring to Donn Roach, a friend from the Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas. Roach was drafted by the Angels and is now in the Padres system.

    “That is one of his (Roach’s) words. He has always used 'clown' as an (adjective),” Bryan Harper said.

    As for how his brother used the reference in context: “That is some saltiness. A little bit of veteran swagger right there for Bryce.”


    Honestly, I thought it was just one of those typical immature comments that a young player in the pro's would make. Its a bit of a stretch to say he was referencing his religion, since he said nothing about his religion afterwords...

    July 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  7. feebletroll

    Why do you always invite 2 or more Mormons to your social event? Because if you invite just one they will drink all your booze and smoke all your weed.

    July 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  8. exmo

    It is interesting how many Mormons (LDS) solely focus on the part of the Word of Wisdom that shuns booze and cigarettes. What about in other parts of D&C 89 that say eat animals sparingly? I guarantee 99% of mormons don't follow this rule, but follow the "no coffee, tea, alcohol, or tobacco" thing to the T.

    July 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • tingsteph

      As a Mormon, many members of my faith take that scripture to mean to eat red meat sparingly. Some choose not to eat meat at all. We keep this scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants in mind:

      Whoso forbiddeth that man should not eat meats is not ordained of God, D&C 49:18–21

      July 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  9. SchmittySchmittyBangBang

    Going beyond religion, the question was a 'clown question' because he's only 19 years old. Last time I checked, the legal drinking age is 21. Let me check again...Yep. Still 21.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Paul

      Last time I checked 21 was NOT the legal drinking age in Toronto where the question was asked. What a clown response bro!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Dave

      @Paul –

      Actually, the reporter asked if he was drinking and what his preferred drink of choice was. This implies that he drinks. He doesn't LIVE in Toronto – so the opinion that it's a clown question because he's 19 does make sense.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  10. John Dough

    Well, he's certainly a master of inane cliches. While I have nothing against Romney (ANYONE is a lot better than Shizzle-Nizzle Al-Bummah!), teetotalers generally S U C K!

    June 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Bough

      John D. Active, "Living the Word of Wisdom" Mormons don't drink or smoke. It is because we have a choice of rather or not to, not because it is so ill reported, "prohibited" Tryst me they still have AA and NA and CA and SA meetings in UT..just not as many.

      June 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  11. rabecca

    we all have our own beliefs obviously. so where do any of you get off judging this guy and his beliefs???!! that's not your place. if you have a problem with his beliefs then maybe you shouldn't be keeping tabs on his life or what he's doing!! look over it and just move on! how about the rest of us judge you on your beliefs and see where that goes? that's what i thought. moving on!

    June 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Mike

      We don't know whether the reporter knew that the kid is a Mormon; maybe he didn't know much about him at all. If not, it was a fair question and it's really immature and inappropriate to call someone a clown when they're basically just trying to congratulate you.
      Either way, all faiths are NOT equal, and this is one of the battiest. Nobody's being judgmental for calling a spade a spade.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Darth Cheney

      Harper had no problem judging the reporter.

      June 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Paul Hartzer

      Indeed. The article states that Bryce Harper is using his baseball career as his mission. The point of the mission is to educate people about Mormonism. How does ridiculing people who don't know the details of your faith educate people about Mormonism? Quite the opposite: Harper's comment suggests he already assumes that the people talking to him know the details of the Church of LDS. Which in turn suggests that he's really using the riches from his career as an excuse to skip the missionizing.

      Everyone has a bad day or a misstep, hopefully this was one of his. His comment isn't consistent with his alleged purpose and beliefs.

      July 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  12. Defenders of the Faith

    "We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

    We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

    We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

    The First Presidency
    January 1, 2000


    June 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  13. Defenders of the Faith

    "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
    2 Nephi 25:26


    June 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      June 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  14. jberlat

    God created alcohol.

    June 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Please wait for me to run to the fridge for a cold brewski and we'll discuss the proper consumption of alcohol for a Christian.....

      June 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Ahhhh, I'm back with 12 cold delicious ounces of Bridgeport IPA.
      Floral and hoppy, delightfully complex.
      Smooth and satisfying (says so right on the bottle – i tested it – it's true).

      June 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  15. Gary in Tampa

    A "clown question"?

    Mormonism is a "clown faith"

    June 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Matt

      Why would you post that? Please explain your comment.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Guest

      A clown faith with clown underwear

      July 2, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  16. Mitch

    I'd rather party.

    June 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  17. Mensaman

    Mormons have a very long lifespan that can be attributed to their lifestyle. Facts are facts.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • RadTad

      What good is a long life without a little booze here and there?

      June 20, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  18. jim

    "Today, the scientific community promotes some of the same principles that a loving God gave to Joseph Smith nearly two centuries ago.”

    Sorry you can't use science to try and given credence to Mormonism but then ignore it when DNA proves that the native americans are not the lost tribe of Israel.

    June 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Athiest Bob

      lol... if there are so called tribes

      June 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Jesus Loves A N A L

      It is called selective thinking. You cannot give much credit to a person who buys into a newly created cult only 200 years old in this day and age. There is not integrity to the book of morons period. The creator had no integrity as well. How can you feel sorry for stupid?

      June 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mitch

      True, the Cajuns are the lost tribe of Israel.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Get your facts straight. LDS do embrace DNA technology. We do not claim what you say, and the tests you allude to do not prove what you say.

      June 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  19. kindness

    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    See for yourself. You will be on a battlefield for christ

    June 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Keelak

      Just replace "Christ," "the Lord" and "God" with the word "Apollo" as you re-read the above and you will see for yourself how completely empty and meaningless it really is...

      June 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      @ Keelak...

      Just ignore this one. 'kindness' copys/pastes this whole post repeatedly to each and every comment thread on this section.

      I *think* it may be a real person, but it acts like a spam bot.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Which God??

      Kindness sounds like a clock we all know of, Coo-Coo. Hey numbnutz, your personal testiclemony doesn't mean anything. Need scientific proof, not your word or drummed up scripture.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  20. Cinchy

    I don't think Tebow tries to draw attention to his faith. The media incessantly barrages him with questions about it, and he chooses to answer them directly, rather than attempt to side-step them.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • fintastic

      Down on one knee on the field praying?... nope, that doesn't draw attention to his faith in the make-believe.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • HeavenSkunt

      Yeah, those bible quotes under his eyes and his christard infomercials are meant to draw zero attention to his faith.

      Are you retarded?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:10 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.