Mormon of the Year candidates from this past summer?

October 18, 2012 | 22 comments
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In May I asked readers here to look at those who had made the news during the first part of the year and suggest who among them should be considered for “Mormon of the Year.” The theory is that looking at the question periodically during the year means that we will include those who have been forgotten by the end of the year. This way, we avoid a bias towards recent events. So, I’d like to suggest that we look at who has made the news since April and suggest possible candidates for “Mormon of the Year.”

I’m sure that almost everyone thinks the choice this year is obvious. Its hard to dispute the fact that Mitt Romney has had a huge impact in the news so far this year. But this misses one of the fun parts of the Mormon of the Year designation—discovering Mormons you don’t know about who have made some kind of impact in the news during the year. Its not just about naming the top guy on the list, its learning about the rest of the names as well.

So, since Romney is such an obvious choice, for the purposes of this post, we won’t mention him further (I’ll list him below so that no one thinks we’ve left him out). Instead, let’s put together a list of those who, based on what has happened so far this year, we should remember in December. OK?

First, to get them out of the way, here are the names (in alphabetical order by last name) that were suggested in May:

  • Glen Beck — named to The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power 50 and to Forbes’ Celebrity 100.
  • Randy Bott — made statements perceived as racist which led to controversy that may have diminished lingering racism among Mormons.
  • Matt Bowman — author of the highly regarded history The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith.
  • Joanna Brooks—columnist and academic who self-published a memoir, Book of Mormon Girl, which was subsequently picked up by a major book publisher, and attracted significant attention for her Religion Dispatches column from fans and detractors on both ends of the political spectrum.
  • Orson Scott Card — supported defense of marriage act in North Carolina and released a novella version of Hamlet in which his father is a gay pedophile.
  • Larry Echohawk — former head of the U S Bureau of Indian Affairs who accepted a call as a General Authority at April Conference. [He is eligible -- only 1st Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are excluded from the Mormon of the Year designation.]
  • Gay BYU students & Mormon parents of gays — For their viral videos attempting to reduce gay suicides.
  • Bryce Harper — baseball player selected #1 in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft who made his major league baseball debut with the Washington Nationals this year. Became famous for his rejection of a question about drinking beer with the response “That’s a Clown Question, Bro.” Harper went on to have an exceptional season hitting 22 home runs, a national league record for a teenager.
  • Jon Huntsman — Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor who competed with Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.
  • Mia Love — black, conservative GOP politician running for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives.
  • Gordon Moon, of Duchesne, Utah — an LDS Bishop who was accused of failing to report a sexual assault (charges were later dismissed). IMO, the case publicized how local leaders should handle potential abuse cases.
  • Mormon Tabernacle Choir — because, well, they are well known and continue to draw attention.
  • Jon McNaughton — illustrator whose politically-themed paintings drew fire from national pundits and political shows.
  • Neon Trees — Provo-based musical group made headlines because of its objections to alcohol and tobacco ads and sponsorships at their concerts around the world.
  • Jabari Parker — Gatorade National Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Still in High School, Parker is highly regarded and seems destined for an NBA career. Has indicated he plans to serve an LDS mission.
  • Mitt Romney — Named the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the United States.

And, I’ve added the following names that I’ve noticed since then:

  • Brandon Flowers — The Killers frontman stood up to athiest Richard Dawkins on a Norwegian TV program.
  • Jeff Kent — The former baseball All-star and potential Hall-of-Fame candidate is currently a contestant on the reality show Survivor.
  • Carlos “Wizard” Martins — Brazilian multi-millionaire and owner of the Wizard chain of language schools whose book made the Brazilian bestseller lists.
  • David Twede — managing director of the “questioning” website mormonthink.com made the news with a claim that he was subject to church discipline because he criticized Mitt Romney. In fact, any discipline seems to be because of material posted to the website. [I have reservations about listing Twede, but I think he does meet the criteria established.]

Who have I missed?

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22 Responses to Mormon of the Year candidates from this past summer?

  1. Bethany on October 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Josh Weed! He’s now one of my favorite bloggers. Likeable, real, friendly, funny, righteous, and -gasp- gay! Whatever he’s done for the world, he’s been a fabulous example of real life love to my family.

  2. mapman on October 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I believe Imagine Dragons is made up of Mormons. Their debut album Night Visions charted at #2.

  3. Jax on October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    LOL

    You said you’d list Mitt so that nobody thought you had left him out, then left him out of the list…

    I know we aren’t voting yet, but other than Mitt, my vote(s)are for B Harper and J Parker. It’s been fun to read the articles about their accomplishments and find the paragraphs about their Mormon faith, and especially in Parker’s case, how he is such a well-grounded person.

    Really liked Brandon Flowers grace under pressure as well!!

  4. Ivan Wolfe on October 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I wish people would stop misrepresenting Orson Scott Card just because he doesn’t support a particular liberal agenda.

    He’s already stated that Hamlet’s father was not a gay pedophile. He was a pedophile. OSC stated there are no gay characters in the story, and he was not attempting to conflate the two (I think a case can be made that his Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are gay, but that’ about it).

    http://www.hatrack.com/osc_responds_halmets_father.html

    “Hamlet’s father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don’t show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make. “

  5. Kent Larsen on October 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Jax, you caught me once again. I fixed it and added Romney.

    I must be getting old or something…

  6. Steve Smith on October 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    What about Yeah Samake, the founder of Mali Rising Foundation and a candidate for president in Mali in 2012 before the coup. He is Mormon and has a fascinating story. And he certainly has my vote as Mormon of the year.

  7. Julia Taylor on October 19, 2012 at 1:16 am

    If you missed The Killers, and Brandon Flowers, on Stephen Colbert, I thought he did a good job of being Mormon and not repudiating Romney, even when he had the chance. His consistent refusal to let his politics get put in the middle of the Mormon Moment is something I respect.

    I honestly hope Romney isn’t this year’s winner, but there are a number of names on the list that belong as nominees, but I would cringe if that was the final choice. I really do appreciate that other Mormons are brought it. I have a “Fantasy Fourth Ward” of famous Mormons. Some on the list aren’t on it yet, and I will wait a week or so to add them. Feel free to join in with your suggestions.

    http://www.poetrysansonions.com/2012/10/mormon-moment-laugh-with-me-fantasy-4th.html?m=0

  8. Niklas on October 19, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Here comes second vote for Yeah Samake. Even though the elections never came in Mali, he has still done some pretty impressing and important work there.

  9. Dave K on October 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Brandon Flowers. But not because of the Dawkins eposide. The Killer’s new album is simply awesome. Also, for people outside the US, Flowers is probably the best known member of the church apart from Mitt.

  10. JT on October 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    If you are including Jabari Parker, you have to include Manti Te’o and Bryce Harper as well. I can’t confirm if Bryce Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated this year, but Te’o was.

    Manti Te’o has become one of the 5 most popular Notre Dame players of the last 25 years, and certainly the most popular since Brady Quinn. Moreover, he is one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy this year, which rarely ever goes to a defensive player.

    Bryce Harper is often referred to as “The Natural” and is perhaps the best baseball prospect to arrive in the MLB in decades. He is the youngest All-Star ever – so young that a reporter asked him during his July trip to the All-Star game in Toronto whether he would take advantage of Canada’s lower drinking age (18), not knowing he was Mormon. His response has gone viral and coined the popular new phrase: “That’s a clown question, bro.”

    Jabari Parker, Manti Te’o, Bryce Harper – 3 world-class athletes, 3 world-class individuals.

  11. JT on October 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Sorry – I skimmed right by Bryce Harper in the original list. Please disregard that portion of my comment.

  12. JT on October 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    More on Manti Te’o: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsbyusports/55113938-65/byu-dame-football-manti.html.csp

    Including this quote from Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly:

    “What I do know, is that as a leader, there has not been anyone in my 22 years [of coaching] that is a better leader, both on and off the field, and represent the kind of ideals that you want in college football, than Manti Te’o. And I don’t even think that’s close. And I have had extraordinary young men that have played for me.

    “So that I know for sure, that as a leader and a representative of our program, unmatched.”

  13. Cameron N on October 22, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Maybe these should be a series of awards. Flowers definitely gets best testimony by a celebrity in an awkward situation award.

    Jon McNaughton wins most unintentionally harmful mormon artist award.

    If Romney wins the election, he should win Mormon of the Year IMO.

  14. Kent Larsen on October 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Cameron, the thought of multiple awards has occurred to me, but I really don’t think that this kind of thing should end up going the way of the academy awards or the grammys, where they seem to divide up into so many micri-niches that the overall awards seem diminished to some degree. I could go for it if there was some general logic to prevent the number of awards getting out of hand….

  15. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 22, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Regardless of the outcome in two weeks, Romney is clearly the Mormon who has had thr.most effect on our relationships with the rest of the world. The fact that Billy Graham has taken Mormonism off his cult list reflectsnthe fact that 75% of Evangelical Christians are going to be voting for a Mormon, something many of them thought unthinkable a year ago. The ability of Protestant pastors to attack Mormons in their sermons is going to be restrained by the knowledge that Mormons are good enough to be ptesident, and there are worse things than being a Mormon.

    I doubt Romney cares about this poll, but the only way to maintain its credibility is to give the award to Romney this year, and have categories of the rest featured.

  16. Suleiman on October 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I would vote for Yeah Samake.

  17. Sam Brunson on October 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    RTS, though it certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion, there’s almost no way Romney doesn’t take MotY this year. That said, it is certainly fun to think about what other Mormons have made a splash over the summer, even if their splash was smaller than his.

  18. Jax on October 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I’m eagerly looking forward to the 2015 poll when Jabari Parker wins for his NBA Rookie of the Year award… Am I allowed early voting?

  19. Kent Larsen on October 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Sam (17) and RTS (15), I’m certainly open to categories, but, as I said above, I’d prefer some kind of structure that keeps them from multiplying ad nauseum.

    Jax (18), the biggest problem with your suggestion is, of course, that we don’t know what year he will reach the NBA. He has said he will serve a mission, IIRC, but will he enter the NBA immediately after that? No college? And if the pressures to go to the NBA will make him skip college, why wouldn’t those same pressures convince him to skip a mission? [Not that I'm in favor of that, but realistically, the idea seems plausible!]

  20. Sam Brunson on October 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Kent (19), I’m not interested in subcategories. But, with MotY a virtually foregone conclusion this year, my main interest is in who else could be nominated. Basically, I think it’s fun to think of the runner-up this year (though I’m not suggesting that we do a formal runner-up; if Romney wins, though, I would suggest that he get the same effective disqualification—for 2013-whenever his term ends—that GAs currently get. Not because he wouldn’t be a worthy MotY, but because knowing every year for 4-8 years that it would be Romney makes the game a lot less fun).

  21. Kent Larsen on October 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I agree, Sam. I also wonder if we shouldn’t boost the nomination requirements this year — require not only seconds, but thirds or fifths or something. I’m thinking about it.

  22. Jax on October 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Sorry Kent, I counted wrong. I planned on mission and 1 year in college but didn’t count it our right. Make that 2016…

    I second the idea that you can only win once for doing the same thing. Romney can’t win year after year just by continuing to be President. If as Pres. though he does something extraordinary in the LDS sphere I would consider him for that deed.

    If Romney wins, then I think Glenn Beck’s exposure and openly Mormon position will be most responsible for eliminating the stigma of being Mormon in politics. He is very popular to religious conservatives and if they show up to vote for Romney then Beck’s influence could be the biggest reason why Evangelicals think it is okay to vote for a Mormon. So if Romney is an obvious winner, then Beck should be up there for runner up since he has made Romney’s success much more likely