Does Hollywood Ever Portray The Church in a Positive Light?

Alrighty, let’s talk about some of the most iconic Hollywood pop culture references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of them are pretty wild, and while stereotypes and misrepresentations can be frustrating, there are actually a couple of things they got right! Let’s check these out.

Stranger Things

First up, Stranger Things Season 4. We meet Suzie Bingham, who is portrayed as being from Utah and, surprise, surprise, is a member of the Church. The show kinda-sorta got it right—and by “got it right” we mean there sure are members in Utah! But the show portrayed Suzie’s family as being a little too innocent and out-of-touch, not to mention members are very generally described as “rigid, white Americans.” Try again, guys. This Church is a global one!

Under the Banner of Heaven

Now, let’s talk about “Under the Banner of Heaven,” the TV show. It’s based on the book by Jon Krakauer and explores the history of a fundamentalist sect of the Church. The show lumps the reasonings of a murderous family in with supposed historical teachings of the Church, but in so doing misrepresents what is actually taught today. Unfortunately, the Church as a whole is portrayed as secretive and cultish, violent, and unaccepting of diversity. We wish there was more to celebrate about this show, but overall it veers from what our doctrine teaches and focuses instead of extremists who divert from it.

South Park – “All About Mormons”

Next up we have South Park’s “All About Mormons” episode. It’s probably the most well-known portrayal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in popular media, and it’s a doozy. We get to see a Latter-day Saint family move to South Park and become besties with the main characters. While the episode got some things right, like the importance of family and the missionary program, they got a little too creative with the Church’s founding story; instead of the sacred, religious experience that Latter-day Saints believe, the episode portrays it as a big ol’ scam. Yikes!

The Book of Mormon Musical

Next up, we’ve got The Book of Mormon musical. You know, the one created by the South Park dudes. It’s a satirical take on the Church and its teachings, and it definitely takes some pretty significant liberties. The show gets some things right, like the non-swearing swear words that we’re known for, but they take some serious jabs at the church’s founder, Joseph Smith. They portray him as a con artist rather than an inspired religious leader.

Big Love

And finally, we have the HBO drama, “Big Love.” This show follows a polygamous family in Utah, some of whom are members of a fundamentalist group of so-called Latter-day Saints. While the show does accurately depict the existence of polygamous sects in Utah, they mistakenly lump these groups in with active, practicing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who teach and believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Let’s keep it separate, guys.

So there you have it, folks! A rundown of some of the most iconic pop culture references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While many got one or two things right, we can confidently say that they got a little too creative. 

One of the most common misconceptions about members of the Church is that, for some reason, we are seen as somehow being “fake christians.” Of all the things people get wrong about us, that might be the one hurts the most. Even though our entire faith centers around Jesus Christ and his teachings, for some reason the world still gives us that label. 

If there is a stereotype that we should actively combat against, it’s the label of being “fake christians.” So to help, we have created a special social media challenge called the “Christian Because…” Challenge. By downloading our “Christian Because… “ Stories Pack and joining the “Christian Because…” Challenge, you’ll get 7 Instagram stories to post over 7 days that will help you complete the statement “I’m a Christian because…” and join with other Christians around the world in one, unified voice of faith.

Click the link below to download the “Christian Because… “ Stories Pack and add your voice to our mission.

Join The “Christian Because…” Challenge

Mauricio Cabanillas grew up in Bakersfield, California, the son of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. He served a mission in Chile and currently owns a small media company.