Guest Post: A Church for Rockstars
Not everyone loves Mormons, but what average Joe doesn’t love a good looking rockstar?
I think this is probably what the PR of the LDS Church was thinking this week as Brandon Flowers of The Killers jumped into the ‘Mormons are Christians” argument as the star of the church’s “I am a Mormon” campaign.
Mormons are gushing over the LDS lead singer and his Youtube video. It seems like friends are talking it up, my mother-in- law just sent me the email link, and in the last 4 days nearly 50,000 people have shared this video on facebook.
The ads, which seek to extinguish harsh stereotypes, include auspicious professionals, underrepresented blacks, working women, and artists. But here when they included Brandon Flowers on board I’d like to think the Church is laying claim to a new category – flawed and even edgy.
Brandon has settled down and outgrown both his black mascara and some of his risqué lyrics. Just like any pop star though he has produced a few salacious music videos in the past which include a little artful but cheeky burlesque and some sweaty bedroom action. It’s a track record that makes him an unlikely poster boy.
Last year when interviewed by The Telegraph he was asked about church and explained, “So it’s a struggle. I wonder if it’s legit. But I can’t help but go for the good I guess. Especially after having children – I think, what kind of mark do I wanna leave? For the most part, that’s the person that I am. I think I’m a positive and optimistic person.”
His words are nothing to be published in the Ensign but still are frank, honest, and easy to respect. Millions of unorthodox Mormons are probably in this same camp.
In his ‘I’m a Mormon’ ad he admits “A lot of people love to come up to me and tell me they were raised in the church. They expect there to be this camaraderie about, ‘Oh, we’ve outgrown it now. We’re smart enough now to not be in it.’
“It started happening so often that it really made me take a look at myself and I realized I was raised in it and there’s still a fire burning in there.”
I’d like to think that in accepting him in their PR campaign, the LDS Church is saying “So what if a guy misses church, has a ‘part member family, or doesn’t always “walk the walk.” If his heart is in the right place, we want him in the fold”
I almost would go as far as to compare the church’s motives to fMh’s Joanna Brooks’ “Mormon Identity in the 21st Century: Claiming and Belonging” speech “If you identify as a Mormon, I hear you. I recognize you. I claim you” Basically I’m hoping the church is saying if your family once believed it, you once practiced it, or it still has any place inside of you, we acknowledge you.
I know some dismiss the entire ad series as only misleading. Yes, we still have a long way to go until we reach our melting pot ideal. But wouldn’t we all love to see the church go more in this direction? I attend a DC area ward that actually happens to resemble those “I am a Mormon” ads. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a large population of blacks, working mothers, artists, and immigrants in the congregation on Sunday. Two women with Ph.D’s teach our Sunday school. Dads drop their kids off at the bus stop as their LDS wives make their name as politicians, government advisers, professors, lawyers. A few weeks ago I even sat next to a woman in RS that voiced her favor for gay marriage. Maybe things are slowly starting to change.
I’d like to applaud this step in the right direction. Even if it’s a baby step, Let’s go ahead and give the church the benefit of the doubt. From where I stand, LDS are becoming more inclusive and less prohibitive.
Of course, like any LDS in the spotlight, Brandon Flowers is receiving some public criticism for this little stunt. Some Mormons aren’t missing the chance to label him an unfit example. Other non-LDS fans see him losing his edge and going soft. I say we stop the conjecture and just let him be who he is- a worldwide star, ”A father, a husband, a Mormon.”
What can we do to foster this inclusive attitude in the LDS community? What would need to happen for you to feel like we are making big enough changes in this direction?