On Dec. 10, I attended the dress rehearsal of "The Book of Mormon" at the Bank of America Theater. A friend who needed an escort for the production invited me at the last minute. As the show progressed, I found myself becoming more and more unsettled by this spectacle playing out onstage. I was disarmed and alarmed by the explicit language proffering as intelligent parody.
As an African-American religious leader, I also found it extremely difficult to stomach the debasing and mocking of people of faith. Equally offensive were the portrayals of "Africans" as little more than blackfaced minstrels.
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My late father, the Rev. Paul Jakes Sr., took his stand against this type of bigotry many years ago. I feel it is my duty to likewise stand up and speak out against this type of distortion. I found the exploitation of the African men's genitalia unnecessarily overdramatized and ultimately insensitive. Moreover, the "F-bomb" being used in reference to God has taken Broadway to the lowest responsible level -- but I'm sure it earned the laughs the writers were after.
But after attending the show, I strongly urge that the directors and writers of this play to do some soul searching as this popular show winds its way around the country. Perhaps a broad, public warning or a disclaimer to any unsuspecting patron, "to attend at their own risk of being spiritually maligned." I am praying that you hear this word of wise council.
Rev. Paul L. Jakes Jr.
Chairman, Christian Council on Urban Affairs
Pastor, New Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church