Many “The Book of Mormon” musical attendees were greeted by Mormon missionaries in the past week outside the IU Auditorium, cheerfully handing out free copies of the real “The Book of Mormon.”
Elder Dallin Smith, a missionary from Boise, Idaho, said rather than protesting the musical, he sees it as an opportunity to spread the word about Mormonism.
“Personally, I don’t feel very offended,” Smith said. “Our church has done a great job of turning this so-called ‘negative’ into a great opportunity to share the truth and what the real ‘Book of Mormon’ is about.”
The musical tells the story of two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they go on a mission trip to a village in Uganda and face difficulties helping the residents there. From the creators of “South Park,” the controversial musical satirically makes fun of Mormonism.
Freshman Alexis DePaolo said the musical's ultimate message promotes the positive impacts of love and service in communities.
“I think the overarching story in the musical isn’t necessarily about Mormonism in general, it’s making fun of religions as a whole,” DePaolo said.
DePaolo said she and her friend were approached by missionaries on their way to the musical who offered them religious materials.
“I think I found it really ironic because the whole opening song part is about the Mormons being very very persistent about being missionaries,” DePaolo said.
Smith said he has seen bits and pieces of the musical and agrees while it is funny, it does not paint an accurate picture of the life of a Mormon missionary.
“Not all of it is accurate,” Smith said. “If you want to learn what a real missionary does, we can definitely tell you.”
Smith said the ultimate effect of the musical has been positive because it’s allowed a greater audience to learn about Mormonism.
“Our church put out press releases when it won a Tony Award and said, ‘This musical can bring you happiness in the earthly state, but we know that the real 'Book of Mormon' can bring you an eternal happiness and eternal joy,’” Smith said. “I think it’s handled very well, and I think it hasn’t really been a negative.”