In 'The Book of Mormon' musical program, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS = Mormons) had a series of full-page ads somewhat rolling with the humor of the show to invite people to delve deeper into their religion. Warm, welcoming, with a QR code! LOADS better than ads taken out by Scientologists, which tend to be prickly and defensive.
Bear in mind that for a hundred+ years the Mormons did not allow blacks to fully join the priesthood (in Mormonism, all males may become priests able to minister to their families and gain full entrance to the temple). Why was there supernatural racism in a book purportedly full of wisdom and love? Blacks took the wrong side in the war in Heaven, silly! There was a group of people who were less valiant in the God versus Satan war, and that group got their skin turned black as punishment
10th LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith (in the 1960s): "There were no neutrals in the war in Heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits" (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:61, 65-66; emphasis added).
With Look magazine in October 1963, President Joseph Fielding Smith had more ripe quotes, including:
"I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Negro. 'Darkies' are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church."
More from Smith, including the Old Testament "mark of Cain" meaning an entire person's skin was pigmented dark as a curse:
"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was place upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning… we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our Negro brethren, for they are our brethren--children of God---notwithstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness" (The Way to Perfection, 101-02).
Contemporary racist rhetoric for the 60s? Sure. But based in allegedly holy writ. This stuff doesn't have the excuse of being culled together by flawed, dumb human beings thousands of years ago, or 1,500 years ago. The Book of Mormon was written in the 19th century under hilariously shoddy & scammy circumstances by a twice-convicted con man (Joseph Smith). Actually, it was not written by Smith. It was dictated. Speculation is that Joseph Smith could not write, but could ape the verbal rhetoric of the King James Bible. He read aloud, translating from golden plates from behind a curtain (Smith never let anyone else see these golden plates).
Lo, and behold! Haters, attend! Deliverance is nigh! Among growing social pressure, in 1978 the Mormon President Spencer Kimball received a call directly from God that black people are a-okay and can become full members of the Mormon Church. And there was much rejoicing. A PBS account of how this revelation (blacks are nice, and definitely not eternally cursed for decisions their ancestors made in a fantasy some dude made up!) swept through in a wave of relief is amusing. Thank god?
Okay, I passed out and suddenly find another few hundred words I've typed up about the flaws of believing in magic books written by fellow primates and blind faith in magic institutions run by fellow primates. How does this keep happening? Is it Satan? Odin? An instrument of Shiva? Shake it off. Concentrate.
Mormons, on a personal level, can be really nice people. But so can everyone else.
The Mormon Church contributed millions to the Prop 8 campaign in California, banning same-sex marriage. It learned nothing from their "black" experience on wanting to ban civil rights. Their millions of dollars poured into California hurt thousands of families, inheritance rights, ability to see spouses/partners in the hospital. If "traditional" marriage is meant to create children, should we ban marriages that don't produce children? Of course not. History will judge Mormons and anti-gays harshly. Good.
Scientology remains the most annoying western religion. Is anything more annoying than dim-witted people thinking they are super-smart because they repeat it to themselves, and pay thousands to have it said to them, over and over again? Tom Cruise thinks he's smarter than all psychiatrists, for Christ's sake!
For the record, my gut instinct remains that Tom Cruise is a genuinely nice guy, but worried about holding on to talent and success and wanting routines and rituals to maintain and build on that success and praise.