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?