Nominate the 2011 Mormon of the Year

December 9, 2011 | 48 comments
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Its that time of year again. The media will soon start reviewing the important news stories of the year, Time will soon select its Person of the Year; so we should get busy selecting the Mormon of the Year.

For those who don’t remember, T&S selected Mitt Romney as the Mormon of the Year for 2008, Harry Reid for 2009, and Elizabeth Smart for 2010. As in the past, the choice does not mean that the person is a good Mormon or even a good person. This designation is solely about the impact the person has had.

Note: We have made one major change to the nomination procedure: Nominations must be seconded! We hope this will make sure that nominations are serious, and not in jest as some have been in the past.

I think the other ground rules are basically the same as in the past (suggestions about changes to the rules are welcome – we try to improve the rules each year):

  • Nominees must be Mormon somehow — nominees must have been baptized and must claim to be Mormon.
  • Nominees must have been living at some point during the year.
  • The LDS Church First Presidency (including the Prophet) and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are not eligible (because they would win every year, making the selection pointless).
  • Nominees must have had enough of an impact to have made the news during the year.
  • Collective nominees (i.e., all those who did x) are welcome.

Please do not try to vote YET!! We’re just calling for nominations at this point. Voting will begin January 1st.

When you nominate someone, please provide a link to somewhere (such as wikipedia, news stories, etc.) where we can get further information on them). AND, please give us some rationale for why you think this person should be Mormon of the Year. We will also look at the number of hits on Google News (http://news.google.com) that each nominee has.

You can make nominations in the comments to this post until New Year’s Eve. During that time, we will try to post profiles of the major nominees. If you would like to submit your own profile of any nominee not yet profiled, we will consider posting it here. We hope that these profiles will provide additional information on the nominees.

Starting January 1st, visitors to Times & Seasons will be able to indicate their preference in an online poll. However, the final selection of Mormon of the Year will be made by the permanent bloggers here on Times and Seasons. There is no prize or award associated with this selection, nor will we make any formal presentation or even notification to the person or persons selected.

I look forward to seeing the nominees and selection this year. An election year in the U.S. always leads to new faces in the news, Mormons who have had a great impact or influence on Mormons and Mormonism during 2009.

Here are my own nominations:

  • Jon Huntsman, Jr. — Former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China, Huntsman formally entered the race for the Republican nomination for President this year, creating, for the first time, a presidential race with two Mormon candidates and significantly increasing the notoriety of what has been called the “Mormon Moment.” [9,450 results on Google News]
  • Jimmer Fredette — A hugely popular star basketball player at BYU, Jimmer led BYU deep into the NCAA championship during his final season with the team, and then was drafted into the NBA, ending up on the Sacramento Kings. [2,120 results on Google News]
  • Will Hopoate — Despite a promising start to a hugely lucrative professional rugby career in Australia, Hopoate stunned fans down under when he announced he would pass on a contract worth millions and serve an LDS mission during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The move gave Hopoate notoriety worldwide and among Mormons in the U.S. [85 results on Google News]
  • Stephenie Meyer – Like or hate her books, she is certainly the face of Mormonism among many people around the world, especially this year, with the success of the Twilight movies in theaters and news articles frequently mentioning her religion. [2,090 results on Google News]

And one nomination from my fellow blogger, James Olsen, sent to me by email earlier this year:

  • Stephen B. Allen — managing director of the Church’s missionary department and executive director of the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. I think this campaign has had a bigger impact both in and outside the church than anything else we’ve done in recent history.

I’m certain that I’ve left out many people who have had a significant impact. That is why we open the nominations to you, our readers. Please help us nominate those who have had a significant impact.

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48 Responses to Nominate the 2011 Mormon of the Year

  1. Julie M. Smith on December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    “with the first Twilight movie in theaters”

    I should probably be embarrassed by my ability to correct you on this: first Twilight movie was 2008.

  2. Rob Perkins on December 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I second John Huntsman, Jr. and Stephen B. Allen.

  3. Tim J on December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Yeah, Stephanie Meyer’s time has past so to speak so I think to award here now would be kind of odd.

    I think Huntsman would be the pick if he were doing better in the polls and people thought of him other than the “Other Mormon GOP Candidate.”

    Jimmer Fredette might be my pick. He brought a ton of exposure and did so commendably. Additionally, his ancillary relationship to Brandon Davies and his situation might also elevate him. The support BYU (and thus the Church) received from members of the press was quite surprising.

  4. RickH on December 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I nominate Neon Trees. They have at least one platinum single, three singles that have made it into the top 40. Plus, I saw a FB post by a band member’s wife (who was my wife’s mission companion) about listening to General Conference… ON THE TOUR BUS!!! C’mon, that’s gotta be a win, right?

  5. Cynthia L. on December 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm
  6. Jax on December 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I think Brandon Davies had more impact on “Mormonism” than Fredette. Fredette had MUCH more press for a longer period, but it wasn’t connected to his being LDS. Davies being suspended though brought about a weeks worth of serious discussion about LDS standards and the BYU Honor Code – there were numbers of NBA players tweeting about it. So I would at least second him to be on the ballot.

    I hate to nominate Mitt again after he won last year, but he is easily the most visible member whose membership is discussed regularly (ad nauseum!), and thought about Huntsman as well… I’d put them both on a ballot.

    But Stephen B Allen would have to get my vote at the end of the day. I second his nomination.

  7. Mike D. on December 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I would love to throw a nod to Brandon Flowers, a truly international rock n roll star, and a good example of someone who has become more faithful as his star has risen.

  8. MaryBeth on December 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    As the mission companion of the wife of the Neon Trees bass player, I totally second their nomination!

  9. Last Lemming on December 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I’m trying to figure out a way to sneak Elders Price and Cunningham in under the rules.

  10. Dave on December 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I second the nomination of Brandon Davies. It’s easy to be great when you’re a winner (Jimmer) or when you sell a million books (Meyer). Brandon Davies has been a great guy when things went all wrong. I think his episode generated enough headlines (at least on ESPN) to qualify.

  11. E on December 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I see that once again, you have carefully set the selection criteria so that I can never be mormon of the year. Thanks a lot.

  12. Last Lemming on December 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Among those who unambiguously qualify, it seems to me that Joanna Brooks hit the big time this year. She may not be an obvious winner now, but I suspect that in ten years we might look back and recognize that this was the year she became the Mormon to whom non-Mormons could turn for straight answers without getting herself excommunicated.

  13. Last Lemming on December 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Oh yeah, the supporting link. Here you go.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/59944_Page4.html

  14. Last Lemming on December 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    While I’m on a roll, I’d also like to nominate Jerry Lewis , who relieved the people of Arizona (not to mention the rest of us) from the curse of Russell Pearce. I don’t actually think he deserves to win, but I would like to see his name on the ballot.

  15. Kent Larsen on December 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Julie (1), that’s what I get for copying over the text from last year and not reading it carefully enough.

  16. Crick on December 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I second stephanie Meyer.
    I also nominate Mitt Romney because the odds makers have consistently shown him as the “front runner” in the GOP nomination contest.
    http://www.intrade.com/v4/markets/contract/?contractId=652757

  17. Kurt on December 9, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I nominate Michael Otterson for his substantial contributions to various and important discussions of Mormon issues throughout the year in the Washington Post. His blog postings have not only significantly influenced other journalists, but several blogs have included unique responses to questions that are anything-but-new.

    Otterson is the Director of Public Affairs for the Church and would therefore probably fall into the realm of a nomination category similar to Kent’s suggestion of Stephen B. Allen.

    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/michael_otterson/

  18. Claire on December 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I second Will Hopoate. Here in Aus this has probably been the biggest Mormon story. And it continues to have legs as Will is in an I’m a Mormon ad showing in Brisbane (where he will be serving)

  19. Left Field on December 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm
  20. Claire on December 9, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Here’s the Will Hopoate I’m a Mormon ad. http://bit.ly/u3qJLL

  21. rl on December 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Jimmer!

  22. Alison Moore Smith on December 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Cynthia, I came here JUST to nominate Rachel Vermillion. You totally stole my thunder. OK, I second the nomination! May she go down in history along with BYU’s pantless, test-taking coed!

    Like the Stephen B. Allen nomination. He isn’t well known, but his work is. Good call.

    Oh, and I nominate Johnny Whitaker.

  23. Zach on December 10, 2011 at 12:02 am

    One word: Jimmer

  24. WJ on December 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

    I second Yeah Samaka.

    I went to the church website to look up the statistics for Mali. I couldn’t find the country listed there, and thought it must have been a glitch. It turns out, Samaka is the only Mormon in a 90% Muslim country. And he’s a frontrunner for the Mali presidency. Cool story.

    http://news.yahoo.com/yeah-samake-malian-presidential-frontrunner-byu-alum-speak-081540545.html

  25. Ray on December 10, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Yeah Samake – since his story simply is awesome.

    Seriously, one of 19 kids who got a Master’s at BYU and then returned to his impoverished hometown to change the world there? As mayor organizing his Muslim community leaders into an “Elders Quorum” and taking them from almost the worst economy in the country to almost the best – and battling terrorism and corruption by creating jobs that pay better than corruption?

    Mitt Romney is a deserving candidate again this year, as is Will Hopoate – but their accomplishments pale in comparison to Brother Samake’s, imo.

  26. Jeremy on December 10, 2011 at 3:49 am

    I must second Elders Price and Cunningham. I mean, c’mon. I have many friends who only have three Mormon Facebook friends: me, Price, and Cunningham.

    Also, I’d like to nominate “I’m a Mormon” Mormons, as a category. I think the Church going to great trouble and expense to highlight unusual/exceptional Mormons will have a huge impact not only on the Church’s PR efforts, but on what Mormons themselves consider normative within Church culture.

  27. Rachel Whipple on December 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I second Joanna Brooks. She has acted as an excellent spokeswoman for Mormonism. Did you hear her on Talk of the Nation? She was far more articulate and direct than Michael Purdy, in part, I’m sure, because she is not part of the official church media program.

  28. Kent Larsen on December 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Sorry, everyone, as entertaining as a nomination for Elders Price and Cunningham would be, they don’t qualify.

  29. Bill on December 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Sounds like Samake is doing some good work, but he is hardly the first member in Mali:

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/19006/Trials-increase-record-keepers-faith.html

  30. MC on December 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    C’mon, it has to be Jimmer. How many times is a Mormon white kid going to win the Naismith Award? Or have NBA players tweeting that he is the “Greatest Scorer in the World!” Or have a “mania” named after him that even the national media picks up on. It’s Jimmer.

  31. Lucy on December 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    hmmm… my top three nominations are:
    1. The Lord (He fits all the criteria)
    2. John the Beloved or one of the three Nephites
    3. and a close third… Jimmer

  32. Sonny on December 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I realize that my nomination might be disqualified off the bat because my nominee barely squeaks by rule/bullet-point number three (and maybe it does not pass, but as it is phrased….), but I would like to nominate Bishop H. David Burton for his articulate and clear support for the immigration reform bill, which demonstrates a balanced and compassionate approach that many thought never could be attained. Not only did it instantly became a model for other states to follow, but it created a 180 degree turn in how many in the church approached immigration, and arguably sealed the defeat of Russel Pearce in Arizona. I realize he was representing the wishes of the First Presidency, but his support, I feel, was heartfelt, and genuinely his, and he was not simply there on the errand of President Monson.
    Years from now his appearance at the signing of the Utah immigration compromise bill may very well go down as the defining moment on how national immigration reform was finally achieved, if it indeed ever is achieved. But at the very least, his efforts have been instrumental, I believe, in stopping a heartless immigration movement cold in its tracks.

  33. Chris H. on December 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I do like Jimmer (heck, I am even a Ute).

    Nate Oman.

    Matt Bowman made a splash with his articles in The New Republic. His book next month may make him a stronger nominee for next year.

    I think that 2011 has very much been the year of Joanna Brooks. While I often differ with her interpretation of politics and Mormonism…she has dominated NPR. As I recently said on Twitter: I am not sure if this is the Mormon Moment…it surely has been the @askmormongirl Moment.

  34. Amira on December 11, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I’m glad Bill pointed out that Samake isn’t the only Mormon in Mali. There are many members of the Church whose countries aren’t listen on the website.

    In my corner of the world, Mitt Romney and Stephenie Meyer are the only two Mormons I ever hear about in real life.

  35. WJ on December 11, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Okay, apparently Samake isn’t the only member in Mali. In any case, there aren’t many of them in a 90% Muslim country, and Samake may very well be the first member to be elected as a national president.

    After Huntsman, that is.

  36. queuno on December 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    My 11yo nominates Obert Skye, who writes the Foo series.

  37. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    According to a comment on the LDS Publisher blog (http://ldspublisher.blogspot.com/2007/07/rose-by-any-other-name.html), Obert Skye is a pen name for Robert Farrell Smith.

  38. queuno on December 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    After looking at RFS’ list of books, my children believe should be nominated under his pen name.

  39. Jeremy on December 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    I second Sonny’s nomination of Bishop Burton for the immigration issue. I really feel like history will look back and recognize the profound influence the Church had on the immigration issue nationwide, given the general impact of the Utah Compact (and the very really possibility that Utah could have gone in quite a different direction).

  40. Reeder on December 12, 2011 at 12:36 am

    I feel that Michael Otterson and those members appearing in the “. . . And I’m a Mormon” ads are deserving of being seconded.

  41. Rameumptom on December 12, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I would second Mitt Romney, simply because he is the best known over the year.

    However, I would add one other nomination:

    All those who have profiles on Mormon.Org and involved in the “I’m a Mormon” campaign.

    For those in areas where the campaign is going on (TV, billboards, etc), it is getting as much press for the Church as is Mitt Romney, et al. I know I’ve had several people in my area (Indianapolis) ask me about what the campaign is all about. And yes, I do have a profile on Mormon.org (required statement for the T&S auditors).

    Reuters news

    Washington Post

    New York Times

  42. Miri on December 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I’d nominate Kevin Kloosterman.

  43. Kent Larsen on December 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Miri, it would be helpful if you would provide some links to background information on Kevin Kloosterman.

  44. Miri on December 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Right, sorry, forgot that part. :)

    I think the whole story is summarized best on Mormon Stories.

  45. EAJarred on December 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I 2nd the nom for Lewis and 3rd that for Burton–and also make a group nom for Mormons in Utah that participated in the so-called Utah Compact and also those who now promote “not enforcement only” (keeping families together, streamlining ag work permits, etc.) in other US states.

  46. tyler on December 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Dallon Weekes. Bassist for multi platinum selling band Panic! at the disco/ lead singer of indie band The Brobecks/ Returned missionary/ husband and father of 2.

  47. crazywomancreek on December 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    joanna all the way- she’s the hardest working woman in Mo-town :)

    but i want to add steven peck- he’s got a new book out and his science writing is accessible and lovely.