Nominate the 2012 Mormon of the Year

December 7, 2012 | 40 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 (Mitt Romney has been nominated); 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, Elizabeth Smart for 2010 and Jimmer Fredette for 2011. 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: Last year we changed the nomination procedure: Nominations must be seconded! In addition, we ask that when you nominate someone you use your real name, rather than an online nickname or pseudonym. 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 what they did this year). AND, please give us some rationale for why you think this person should be Mormon of the Year.

You can make nominations in the comments to this post until New Year’s Eve.

Please consider submitting a short profile of the person you nominate. I will try to post profiles of the major nominees if I can find the time. But I am not likely to be able to write a profile on everyone, and I could use help. 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, and thus Mormons who have had a great impact or influence on Mormons and Mormonism during 2011.

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.”
  • Joanna Brooks — The columnist and academic 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.
  • Bryce Harper — The outstanding baseball player selected #1 in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft made his major league baseball debut with the Washington Nationals and promptly played at or above expectations including hitting 22 home runs, a national league record for a teenager. He was not only selected as National League Rookie of the Year, but drew attention far outside of baseball with his comment to a journalist ignoring his religious beliefs “That’s a clown question, bro”.
  • Brandon Flowers — The Killers frontman stood up to athiest Richard Dawkins on a Norwegian TV program.
  • Mitt Romney — Named the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the United States. Despite a long and turbulent campaign he lost to Barak Obama in the November election. Need we say more?

And the following nominations are from two posts earlier in the year: Who to Watch for MOTY?(May 11) and Mormon of the Year candidates from this past summer? (October 18)

  • Jabari Parker — Become the fourth non-high school senior to win the Gatorade National Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year award.
  • Yeah Samake — founder of Mali Rising Foundation and a candidate for president in Mali in 2012 before a military coup and ethnic uprising postponed the elections.
  • Jon McNaughton — illustrator whose politically-themed paintings drew fire from national pundits and political shows.

The following were mentioned in the posts earlier this year, but have not received a second:

  • Gordon Moon, of Duchesne, Utah — LDS Bishop who was accused of failing to report a sexual assault. IMO, the case probably did more to publicize how local leaders should handle potential abuse cases than
  • Gay BYU students & Mormon parents of gays — For their viral videos attempting to reduce gay suicides.
  • Mia Love — black, conservative GOP politician who narrowly lost the election for a seat in the U. S. House of Reps.
  • Larry EchoHawk — former head of the U S Bureau of Indian Affairs who accepted a call as a General Authority at April Conference. [General Authorities are acceptable candidates — only members of the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency are ineligible.]
  • 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.
  • Orson Scott Card — supported defense of marriage act in North Carolina and released a novella version of Hamlet which portrayed Hamlet’s father as a pedophile.
  • Glenn Beck — Named to the Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power 50 and Forbes’ Celebrity 100.
  • Matt Bowman — Author of the highly regarded history The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
  • Randy Bott — BYU professor whose explanation of the reason for the obsolete priesthood ban caused national controversy because they were perceived as racist.
  • Mormon Tabernacle Choir — perhaps the most widely known Mormon group.
  • Imagine Dragons — Their debut album Night Visions charted at #2.
  • Manti Te’oNotre Dame football player who under consideration for the Heisman award.
  • 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.]
  • 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.

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.

40 Responses to Nominate the 2012 Mormon of the Year

  1. Publius on December 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I nominate whoever is the Mormon author on Ken Jennings reading list. Who is it, Kent?

  2. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 9:42 am

    John D. Fitzgerald, author of the Great Brain series of children’s books died in 1988. He is, unfortunately, ineligible.

  3. Last Lemming on December 7, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Back in the 80’s, the newspaper I was reading at the time (probably the Philadelphia Inquirer) wanted to recognize the best NHL player of the week. But it was always Wayne Gretzky, so they disqualified him and gave the recognition to somebody else under the name “Gretzky of the Week.”

    Now Mitt doesn’t win this every year, but he won in 2008 and probably would have won in 2002 for the Olympics and being elected Governor of Massachusetts. Furthermore, I have made the case for George as a plausible winner for 1959 and 1967. To put it bluntly, having Mitt win again would be boring, regardless of how deserving he might be. So I say disqualify him and name somebody else “Romney of the Year”.

  4. Steve Smith on December 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I nominate Yeah Samake.

  5. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Steve, Yeah as already been nominated and seconded.

  6. Snyderman on December 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Kent, have the five you nominate been seconded? If not, I second them.

  7. Dave K on December 7, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I would expand your description of Brandon Flowers. The Dawkins interview is important, but his influence goes way beyond that. Simply put, through his music, he is the most prominent member of the church outside the US, particularly among youth.

  8. Tim on December 7, 2012 at 10:28 am

    John D. Fitzgerald is also ineligible because he wasn’t Mormon (or am I mistaken?)…

  9. Publius on December 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    >8

    Exactly. Fitzgerald was Catholic. (And he didn’t convert to Mormonism like the Great Brain did.)

  10. Kevin Barney on December 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Second for Manti Te’o.

  11. rameumptom on December 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Second for Joanna Brooks, if she hasn’t already been seconded. While Mitt had most of the attention, Joanna was on all of the talk shows, NBC’s Mormon show, and quoted frequently, etc., on all things Mormon.

  12. Nancy Ross on December 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I would like to second the LGBT students and their straight allies at BYU who made the It Gets Better Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym0jXg-hKCI

    I think it was courageous for those involved to make the video and put it up on YouTube. I think that we are slowly getting better at dealing with LGTB members and issues. I was really touched by this video.

  13. Jay on December 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

    A second for Manti. That guy bears testimony pretty much every time he’s inTerviewed.

  14. Sharee on December 7, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I third Yeah Samake. For this Mormon man to run for president of a largely Muslim country, suffering under the presence of Al Quaida, takes a lot of courage. And he likely has a good chance of winning (when they get around to having elections)as he was already elected mayor of his town.

  15. queuno on December 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Manti’s only a candidate if he wins the Heisman.

  16. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Tim and Publius (8 & 9) — everything depends on your definitions. I tend to use very wide definitions of “Mormon,” so in my view Fitzgerald has “Mormon heritage” (His father was Irish Catholic and his mother Scandinavian Mormon) and therefore should be included in Mormon literature. In addition Mormonism is a significant presence in his work. On the other hand, I’ve never heard that he was a faithful Catholic either, so even there a lot depends on definition.

    But, let’s stop talking about this in any case — its kind of off topic on this post.

  17. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Sharee (14) wrote about Samake: “And he likely has a good chance of winning…”

    I have significant doubts about this. As far as I can tell, the only source in country that claims Samake has a good chance is Samake himself.

    Last spring I looked at Malian news sources online and had a hard time finding much about him in the news. IIRC there was just one interview with Samake in a Malian newspaper. To be honest, he has a bigger presence in the news in the U.S. and outside of Mali than he seems to inside Mali. [Likely because the vast majority of his funding comes from outside of Mali].

    In addition, he is NOT running with an established political party nor does he represent an established power base in the country.

    I don’t even see how anyone can suggest that he is a significant candidate. There are NO pre-election polls at all, nor really any way to reliably gather such information as far as I can tell. So I doubt even Samake really knows if he has a chance!!

    None of this is to suggest that it is impossible for Samake to win, just that we don’t have information to really tell us anything. Personally, I find his candidacy very compelling and interesting. Were he to win, I’d be very pleased. But I have strong doubts about how realistic that is.

  18. Publius on December 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    >16

    Okay, by that definition of “Mormon”, I nominate Jim McMahon.

  19. Robert G. on December 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I would add to Jun Huntsman’s bio something about his unique flavor of Mormonism. In interviews with reporters at the height of his popularity, he showed that he could be Mormon without being stereotypical. I think his stance went a long way in getting people to realize that Mormons don’t fit into a single mold.

  20. Sam Brunson on December 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Based on their being in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’ll second Neon Trees.

  21. Chris B on December 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I would second the nomination of Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China and presidential candidate. He is an amazing human being.

  22. queuno on December 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The problem with wide definitions of Mormonism is that outsiders think we’re silly for including “Mormons” who exhibit no signs of Mormonism in their lives or work. Christina Applegate, for instance. Or every athlete who maybe was baptized at age 8 but shows no outside signs of being Mormon (and in fact, appears to be outwardly NON-mormon in his habits).

    The qualification should be “publicly declared or active Mormon”, not “baptized Mormon”.

  23. queuno on December 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Margaret Young is probably best positioned to discuss Samake’s bio.

  24. queuno on December 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Romney deserves it this year. His candidacy put to bed for once and for all forced the Church to address the caffeine question!

    An athlete can be MVP twice. The problem is that Romney was given the award earlier, undeservingly (We give a prominent award like this to the third-place GOP candidate in a party that lost the White House? What? Who were the other candidates? My local bishop?).

  25. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Queuno (22), lets not get my own personal views confused with the qualification for Mormon of the Year, which says (in part):

    “Nominees must be Mormon somehow — nominees must have been baptized and must claim to be Mormon.”

    The whole reason for discussing Fitzgerald was because of Publius (1). As I said above, it really doesn’t have anything to do with this post.

  26. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Oh, and regarding 24, hindsight isn’t really 20/20, despite what they say. Its more like 20/200 or so…

  27. MC on December 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Terryl and Fiona Givens for publishing a book with DB that isn’t a typical Deseret Book.

  28. Kent Larsen on December 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Excellent suggestion, MC. I’ll second that one myself.

  29. Bryan in VA on December 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Romney ought to be the 2012 winner hands down. No Latter-day Saint has ever had the worldwide press he had as a US presidential candidate. He ought to be given the award now and then the contest for 2012 runner up can start in earnest.

  30. Cameron on December 8, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Impact, Romney hands down. My arbitrary vote goes to Flowers for his humble and mature yet bold example.

  31. Ronan on December 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Joanna Brooks.

  32. Kent Larsen on December 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

    You guys know that this thread is just for nominations, right? We’re not ready to vote yet.

  33. Guy Murray on December 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I agree with your nomination of Jon Huntsman,Jr. Unfortunately Romney clearly had far more impact because of his nomination and failed candidacy. And, I’m not certain the impact was necessarily positive at all . . .

  34. Jettboy on December 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I won’t be surprised if Mitt Romney lacks the win this year, but I will laugh my head off if he doesn’t. He ran for President of the United States of America as a major Party nominee. Someone like Joanna Brooks wouldn’t even be in the news without him. The only people who cared about John Huntsman who I would think comes in second to him (with his 15 minutes of fame) were liberal Democrats.

  35. Murilo Vicente on December 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Mitt Romney, sem mais comentários… Ele foi o que mais impactuou no anos de 2012.

  36. palerobber on December 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I would expand your description of Brandon Flowers. The Dawkins interview is important, but his influence goes way beyond that. Simply put, through his music, he is the most prominent member of the church outside the US, particularly among youth.

    yes, Flowers is a great ambassador for both mormonism and wuss rock.

    i nominate McKay Coppins, who was probably more widely read than Brooks.

  37. Stella on December 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

    […W]e ask that when you nominate someone you use your real name, rather than an online nickname or pseudonym.

    All you nominators above have issues with reading comprehension?

  38. fernanda on December 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Flavio Cooper

  39. Roger on December 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I guess to be a nominee you have to be either an entertainer, or sports figure, or writer, or politician. It’s too bad the LDS Church doesn’t have a worthy scientist, or doctor, or researcher, etc.

    Unless you espouse the theory that “all publicity is good publicity,” Mitt has done more to embarass the church than he has to further the gospel message.

  40. Kent Larsen on December 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    “It’s too bad the LDS Church doesn’t have a worthy scientist, or doctor, or researcher, etc.”

    Roger, just because no such person has made the news doesn’t mean that no such person exists.

    Perhaps Jani Radebaugh fits your desire?:

    http://www.tgdaily.com/space-features/68031-nile-river-discovered-on-titan

    I’m not sure why you want to bring “good” into this. No one is claiming that the news has to somehow be “good” — whatever that means. The Mormon of the Year is not necessarily a “good” person or “furthering the gospel message.” Its about who is in the news, not any value judgment on what they did.