Newsweek’s Offensive Mormon Cover
Hey Newsweek, this is not okay.
Frankly, it is about as far away from okay as you can get. Newsweek’s current cover mashing up The Book Of Mormon musical with Mitt Romney would probably be too much for Mad Magazine, and their entire business model is predicated on uncomfortable stabs at humor. But on the cover of one of the two major newsweeklies, it is just too much.
I’m obviously no fan of Mitt Romney or his brand of politics, but this cover trivializes his Mormon faith in a way that simply wouldn’t be acceptable with mainline Christian politicians. It just wouldn’t. Romney is a legitimate candidate for the presidency who doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment from a publication that purports to be a serious journalism product.
I don’t even think this cover would be tasteful in the hands of an ideological publication opposed to Romney and his ideas (eg. The Nation, The American Prospect), let alone Newsweek. If we’re going to have an atmosphere that encourages and embraces freedom of religion (or the lack thereof) we should be respectful of denominations no matter how small.
I think Newsweek went with this cover for a couple of reasons.
One, Mormonism is not often in step with mainstream American Christianity, and is unlikely to prompt outcries of solidarity when it is attacked or smeared. That is, a guy like the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is unlikely to defend Mormons with the same zeal he attacks victims of Catholic church abuse. It’s a cheap hit that doesn’t cost them anything.
Secondly, and more obviously, Newsweek is desperate. In recent weeks Newsweek’s covers have showcased The Olsen Twins and the royal wedding (and there was that pinup-style Palin cover from a couple years ago). There isn’t anything wrong with a provocative cover on a newsweekly designed to sell issues, but those covers made much more sense when People magazine did them.
Tina Brown is presiding over the merged Daily Beast/Newsweek in a bid to be relevant once again (doomed to fail, I predict) and covers like this are the byproduct. I can hear the editorial team now: OMG! He’s a Mormon, let’s Photoshop him onto the poster of that Mormon play that’s doing so well right now! Because… Mormon!
It’s lazy thinking, bigoted, and simply not okay. Our fellow Americans, who happen to practice Mormonism, deserve better than this.