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Picture is worth a thousand slurs? Magazine cover riles Mormons

Published July 12, 2012 1:40 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The cover of Businessweek hitting the newsstands Friday is bound to offend many Mormons as well as other religious people.It features an illustration of John the Baptist with his hands on the heads of LDS founder Joseph Smith and his assistant, Oliver Cowdery, and a quote bubble which reads: "And thou shalt build a shopping mall, own stock in Burger King and open a Polynesian theme park in Hawaii that shall be largely exempt from the frustrations of tax..."Another bubble has Smith responding, "Hallelujah."The cover, which has been posted repeatedly on Facebook, is real, Patti Straus, Bloomberg Businessweek spokeswoman told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.It is meant to illustrate a probing article about LDS Church finances titled "How the Mormons Make Money," written by Caroline Winter.

When asked if the magazine was getting any angry reactions to the cover, Straus wrote in an email, "The story speaks for itself."

But those reactions are out there — starting with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself.

"The Businessweek cover is in such poor taste it is difficult to even find the words to comment on it," church spokesman Michael Purdy wrote Thursday in an email. "Sadly, the cover is a reflection of the bias and speculative nature of the article itself. It is narrow and incomplete, omitting, for instance, a good deal of information given on how church resources are used. "The article misses the mark and the cover is obviously meant to be offensive to many, including millions of Latter-day Saints."

Even one of the sources quoted in the piece popped off about the cover.

"The Bloomberg cover is just absurd, and insulting," wrote Daymon Smith, a Mormon anthropologist. "It undermines the quality of Winter's article, and gives the whole thing the appearance of some sophomoric homemade evangelical broadside."

Said a Facebook post by Blain Nelson: "The cover is intentionally insulting of something held sacred by people considered safe to be insulted by pretty much everybody. It shows all the courage of roughing up grade-school kids to steal their game systems and lunch money."

Peggy Fletcher Stack