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LDS Church issues statement on Book of Mormon satire

SALT LAKE CITY — With the premiere of a satirical Broadway musical called "The Book of Mormon" scheduled for next month and in response to news media requests, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a brief statement Monday afternoon.

"The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ," read the LDS Church's statement.

The production was written by "South Park" co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with Broadway composer/lyricist Robert Lopez. According to the New York Post, the musical follows two young Mormon missionaries sent to preach the gospel in a dangerous region of Uganda.

It is scheduled to open March 24, following previews that begin Feb. 24.

The church's statement was released on its newsroom blog site and included a link to a March 2009 LDS Newsroom post called "The Publicity Dilemma."

Stemming from issues in the wake of several seasons of the HBO series "Big Love," the 2009 post acknowledged that, like other large faith groups, the LDS Church recognizes that it and its members will receive all sorts of media attention — some depictions accurate, some false or stereotypical, some in bad taste.

The church said it does not as an institution call for boycotts, since boycotts increase media and audience attention. LDS leaders instead encourage members to "conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness" in times of public expression.

"The Publicity Dilemma" also cites several past examples of what it called "extreme misrepresentations in the media" and how they appeal only to narrow audiences and have little adverse affect on the church.

One of the examples mentions a previous LDS-themed production by Parker and Stone.