Mormon Games | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Mormon Games 

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Mitt Romney, our main Olympic dude, is frustrated that news media insist upon referring to the upcoming Winter Olympics as “The Mormon Games.”

Romney, who strikes a pose so similar to Dudley Do-right that it can’t remain unspoken, says The Mormon Games moniker is “demeaning”—his word. Why he believes it’s demeaning is anyone’s guess but it may have roots in the now infamous press release sent out by top LDS brass saying they no longer wish media types to use the term “Mormon” when referring to their church.

From time to time, critics have argued that the LDS church appears to be running from its history. Whether or not that is true, that press release certainly provided them with ammunition. Why after 175 years they no longer want to be called Mormon is puzzling, unless like the manufacturers of Datsun automobiles 25 years ago, they believe another name is more marketable.

Romney seems to be on the same course. But we just have to ask, what’s wrong with the word “Mormon,” anyway?

The venting from Romney is curious for another reason. After the scandal broke, Salt Lake Olympic boosters went looking to put a different face on the 2002 Winter Games. They wanted someone squeaky-clean, someone they could trust. They selected the handsome and charismatic Bostonian. The fact that Romney is a member of the LDS church is just coincidence, he would have us believe.

If Romney truly is serious that he’s been confounded in attempts to reinforce the gala as Salt Lake City’s Olympics, rather than The Mormon Games, as Newsweek again called it this week, he has only the Mormon—oops—the LDS church to blame. It’s no secret that the LDS church has sent flashy press kits to tens of thousands of journalists in this country and abroad, providing information about the church/state, its founders, its beliefs etc. that reporters might find helpful when they arrive here—the seat of Mormondom—for the Games.

Recent revelations that LDS officials were in close contact with the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee in its efforts to capture the Games came as a surprise to no one. It’s common knowledge that church officials have seen the Olympics as an avenue to bolster their image in the public eye, if not as a wonderful missionary tool.

LDS officials have worked successfully to convince SLOC to use LDS property near 300 West and North Temple as the official Olympic Medals Plaza, where TV cameras and photographers would capture gold medal winners with the LDS Temple as the backdrop.

Romney’s protestations at this point are those of Johnny Come Lately. Or, perhaps he doth protest too much.

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More by Christopher Smart

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