Why Hollywood Should Convert to Mormonism

Hawkgrrrlchristianity, Culture, faith, inter-faith, LDS, missionary, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, movies, religion, sexuality 41 Comments

Very few famous Hollywood actors are Mormon, even fewer are practicing Mormons.  While there are some obvious disconnects (e.g. law of chastity, modesty, time commitments), there are some equally compelling connections between some of the basic values of Hollywood and Mormonism and other values that are close, if not quite aligned.

aaron.jpgI was giving this topic some thought as we prepared to host our second semi-annual General Conference After Party.  This is like the parties actors host after the Oscars; we convene with other ward members to have desserts and talk about our favorite conference talks and any big “reveals” that we sniffed out during conference.  It is a seething bed of hot Mormon (doctrinal) gossip!  There’s always a ripple of Uchdorff admiration amongst the women in attendance–he’s sort of the George Clooney of the apostles.  But I digress.

Why aren’t there any successful practicing Mormon Hollywood actors?  My definition of “sucessful” for this purpose is those cast in leading roles in major motion pictures.  There are several non-practicing Mormons who have broken through that tier:

  • Katherine Heigl’s family converted when she was seven, but she is not practicing
  • Aaron Eckhart served a full-time mission in France, attended BYU, and admires the church, but he no longer practices.
  • Amy Adams quit attending when her parents divorced (she was 11).
  • Paul Walker – now refers to himself as non-denominational Christian, but fond of Mormonism.
  • Matthew Modine – actually not sure about his status either as a practicing Mormon (I don’t think so) or whether he qualifies on the name recognition scale either.

A few practicing LDS actors have become pretty successful and could buck the trend:  Rick Schroeder (TV) and Jon Heder who may not have leading man appeal but has developed a certain cachet since Blades of Glory.

So, why aren’t more Hollywood actors Mormons?  What values do Hollywood actors espouse and how do those values match up to Mormonism?  Here are a few of the Hollywood-touted values that seem particularly well suited to Mormonism:

  • An open-mindedness toward non-traditional religions.  Many famous actors are affiliated with more controversial religions or new religious movements (Scientology, anyone?).  Unusual religious movements seem to hold an appeal, especially those with a new age bent.  There are many aspects of Mormonism, especially the theoretical, that could be described as new age.
  • Focus on a physically healthy lifestyle.  Actors are committed to physical regimens that are very rigorous to stay in “castable” shape.
  • Belief in the power of love.  This might be a little like trying to justify the Song of Solomon as being an allegory for Christ’s love for the church, but there is no question that in Hollywood “loooove” conquers all.  With a Barry White (or Mariah Carey) soundtrack.
  • A focus on family.  Notice I said “focus” vs. what actually happens in practice.  But for every Brittany Spears, there’s a Tom Hanks.  Of course, marriage is optional, but kids are at least in vogue. 
  • A desire to promote causes.  Mormons, like Hollywood actors, are constantly involved in humanitarian aid, and what could be better PR than that?
  • An understanding of the importance of branding & PR.  The church has a clear image to portray, one that downplays contraversy and embodies clean living.  While this image may not be totally consistent with a Hollywood image, it is not totally contradictory either.  Frankly, Lindsey Lohan could use a little LDS imaging.

So, the main conflicts would be:

  • Unwillingness to take direction.  This applies to those actors who are of the Prima Dona variety, for all actors must take direction in their craft.  However, there is a desire to individual expression that goes against the grain of being told what to do or being asked to conform.
  • Image vs. Authenticity.  As a believer, putting oneself out in the public eye has to be done with a thought to how one’s image impacts the church’s mission.  And to keep that positive PR for the church can stifle one’s creativity or make one want to white-wash elements of one’s personality that contradict with the church’s image.
  • The Commandments. Let’s just call this the restrictive LDS lifestyle.  Those who cite a Mormon upbringing but are no longer practicing usually refer to the fact that they are not “living the lifestyle” or are “too lazy” although they respect the values.
  • Enduring to the End.  In reviewing a list of actors of non-traditional religions, many do not practice those faiths for their entire lifetime (even Scientology which can apparently put a hurt on you when you decide to leave).  Perhaps this is due to the drive for variety that actors feel that leads them to that career in the first place.
  • LDS focus on positive and uplifting.  Actors prize being able to inhabit a full range of characters, which includes exploring all human emotion:  evil, depression, sexuality, perversion, etc.  Being type-cast as a “boy scout” can be limiting to an actor (although one could argue all the aforementioned things exist in Boy Scouts–now there’s a movie pitch!).  Restricting oneself as an actor is fine if you want to be a character actor (e.g. perhaps where Jon Heder is heading), but not all actors want to be.

So, what do you think?  Can the church be reconciled with a Hollywood career?  Anyone want to hit the Oscars with some Books of Mormon?

Comments 41

  1. Well, at least its not impossible that some holywood types will ultimately join because at least we already know that what the rest of the world sees is a “cult” is in vogue. So it isn’t impossible.

  2. It is possible. “But with God, all things are possible….” But not likely. The pluses you stated like Tom Hank’s marriage are the clear exception to the rule. But, for those who are or have been members of the church, they seem to acknowledge the good part of the church, but are not willing to live the lifestyle.

    Take Katherine Heigl, for example. I read an interview where she said she would like to raise her children in the church. That is a good idea, but first, Kathrine, dear, you’ve got some “s’plaining to do.”

    On the other hand, you have the Osmonds, who were in Hollywood for a while, but actually lived in the Valley and a few attended my old high school. They made out ok, other than Marie, who seems a bit off.

    Then you have Loraine Day. She was in Hollywood during the “bombshell” heyday. But she remained a faithful member and was a Temple worker in the LA Temple until her recent death.

    The most faithful members of the Church, who happened to have jobs and careers in Hollywood, are never heard from. They just live their life and their faith and don’t make a big deal about either.

    It is we, the public, who look for trouble.

  3. Please bear with this story; it has a point:

    I had a wonderful boss once who had been a TV movie exec at a major network in a former life. One day, he was going over the budget for a made-for-TV movie and something jumped out at him in a way that he simply couldn’t deny any longer. He told me that he had ignored (overlooked) it up until that moment, but that as he looked at the budget numbers this time he simply couldn’t do so any longer. He put down the budget, walked out of his office and changed industries the next week.

    The issue: Many of the line-items in the budget had been padded just enough to provide “perks” for the lead actors (male and female). Those perks included drugs and “escorts”. At that moment, he simply couldn’t deny his place in funding those activities – of enabling and even encouraging that lifestyle.

    There are plenty of actors who avoid the worst of the Hollywood “perks” and live good, moral lives, but they are so prevalent that I doubt practicing Mormons ever will be a significant portion of the population. Musicians, perhaps, might become a disproportionately large percentage, but actors – not likely.

    (On a personal note, one of our “sons” is an actor in college, and the lure of the lifestyle is hard for him to resist – even at that level. It’s hard for him to feel the Spirit, particularly since he wasn’t raised with it, amid what goes on around him.)

  4. FUN post. Clarification on Rick Schroeder, who I’ve met a few times and know through his wife. He joined the church a long time after he was famous. (Married a member, several rounds of the discussions, etc.) When he finally did join the church, he rapidly became less “successful” in Hollywood terms. The NYPD Blue stint ended when he decided he wasn’t comfortable with some of the things he wanted them to do with his character, coupled with his desire to spend more time with his family. This also coincided with his adherence to other standards which made “schmoozing” a little more difficult. He’s had other roles since, but mostly works in production and direction now when he’s involved at all. Spends more time ranching than anything else.

    So does that mean that you have to abandon your upbringing like Ryan Gosling and others listed above to make it in that industry? If you decide to “become” really mormon, is the demise of your level of fame imminent?

  5. Hollywood has Scientology and the “Green” (Save the Enviroment) church. ..what more do they need? Was Ricky Schroeder always a Mormon, or a later convert? Anyone know the story?

  6. Kevin Barney – “If I were in Aaron Eckhart’s shoes, I wouldn’t be practicing either…” Cuz he’s a total hottie, you mean? There’s something to that as well. It’s got to be difficult to be a sex symbol with women throwing themselves at you while trying to maintain your chastity. I’m sure it’s a problem many would like to have; I guess that’s why they call it “a curse.”

    The scientology angle is interesting. Obviously, it’s popular in Hollywood, but there is also a very high attrition rate, even though scientology will (apparently) blackball you if you say anything negative about them. Many leave scientology but don’t do so publicly. Since it’s not really a church, it’s easy enough to leave. But there are several crossover links from scientology to Mormonism: 1) if they can pay for these $15K audits to cleanse themselves, they won’t find tithing that hard to swallow, 2) scientology is about progression in seven key life aspects, so it’s kinda like perfecting the saints and our principles of progression, 3) there’s a lot of open-mindedness for “out there” thinking like the nature of the universe and spirit matter.

    jjackson – very interesting about Rick Schroeder. Frankly, that actually really bolsters my faith to hear that. I love it when people stand for their principles. So few do.

    I’m interested to see what’s next for Jon Heder. We just watched Blades of Glory again last night (HBO), and it’s pretty close to the line. Now that gross-out comedies are back in style, there will be more pressure to get even raunchier. Blades of Glory crossed over a few times into “oh, I probably shouldn’t be laughing at this” territory.” A movie starring Will Ferrell and a Mormon. Strange combo.

  7. Ok, I’ll throw this out there. Maybe judgmental and prideful attitudes of members push wavering LDS actors farther to the less active categories. I remember a professional football player visiting our ward one time and giving an impromptu fireside during the 3rd block hour. One bold youth asked how he felt about playing football on Sunday. Granted, that is a fair question, but I’m sure it must take a toll hearing it and answering it over and over again. I’m sure that it is asked, sometimes, with more tone of judgment than others. I remember reading a blog about whether or not Paul Walker was LDS and there was one comment that he couldn’t be because of the lifestyle or actions that this blogger observed. Well, if that was in reference to characters he plays, it is acting. Actors are not mirror images of the characters they play. If it is in reference to choices he has made in life, then who are we to judge. The church is not for the perfect and should be open to anyone who is in need of communion with the spirit. I remember reading the Diary of Anne Frank as an English class in high school and being assigned a part that require use of the word “damn”. I chuckle now that it caused some internal conflict within me at the time. I laud actors who turn down roles because they are required to do something morally unacceptable to them. Let’s not be too quick to judge some who do take those roles.

  8. “The church is not for the perfect and should be open to anyone who is in need of communion with the spirit.”

    Well said! I wish we could be more inclusive.

  9. Rigel – You always bring in good points. Over time, I’ve developed a dislike for things that are less uplifting (most R rated movies don’t appeal to me at this point), but only doing things that are uplifting all the time is just bland. I certainly don’t get the same level of scrutiny working in business that a Hollywood actor does, and sometimes I do get scrutiny (being the only non-drinker at work events, having family- or church-related obligations during the week). The PR pressure you describe is probably very difficult to reconcile. I also hold hope that some of the actors listed above will return to the church as their lives progress. Different phases of life bring different priorities and insights.

  10. I guess that as an aspiring author, the world of writing in many ways mirrors that of acting. It’s not quite as public for most (you can ONLY DREAM of that most of the time), but the scrutiny of being damned for writing something that doesn’t quite match your supposed standards gets tiring. Just ask Orson Scott Card, whose works are generally quite good, but occasionally he writes something that makes a person really wonder what’s going on…

    But then he stops you in your tracks with his insight and say, yes, this guy is very spiritual. He knows the gospel, and he’s really making things happen. I’m pretty certain that becoming a good actor is tough, but becoming a great actor is, like everything else, more than just ability–it’s connections, which happen not just by being good, but also by meeting the right people, and that means hanging out in the right places, and whatnot. Generally, that means drinking together, being social in ways that Mormons generally won’t or can’t do, and frequenting parties that members often have trouble with.

    Is it possible to make those connections happen without all that? Certainly. Is it possible to be so good that you don’t need all that lifestyle? Absolutely, but even looking at someone like Jennifer Garner, who isn’t Mormon (that I know of), but simply decided to spend more time with family. She had a lot of great roles, was doing well, but the moment she decides to spend time with family, she’s forgotten. I respect her for that, but she’s going to have a hard time getting back into the business, I suspect. I hope not, because I find her VERY watchable. But Hollywood doesn’t like people who aren’t constantly on the ‘in’ scene. They want people who are ‘hot’ and ‘fresh’ and they want ‘new’. They have a perception that people are always changing and fickle, so they hope to grab attention with something new–glitz and glam.

    What they fail to grasp is the power of role-models that have morals, and people that are stable. They power of an actor whose personal life is admirable. There are so few, and have been so few, that they don’t have much of a sample size. Therefore they count it as a fluke. But I think they would find that if they had more that those actors who were more stable would be a bigger draw. I know I tend to put more stock in actors whose lives are more stable. I do the same with politicians. Why? Because I like that. I respect it. I like talent, and I like talent even more when it’s managed effectively by someone who is managing other areas of their life as well.

    Anyone can manage ONE area of their life, but to balance their entire life is what makes you a successful human being, which is what I want to see on screen (or the Oval Office, for that matter).

  11. the Scientology angle is interesting (BTW, the hospital I was born in in Hollywood, the Old Cedars of Lebanon, is now the WW HQ for the Church of Scientology). It kind of demonstrates that those folks are looking for something more meaningful in their lives, but are looking in the wrong places.

    We require a major lifestyle adjustment that is not compatible with the standard Hollywood lifestyle among the rich and famous. BTW, that represents a small minority of those that actually work in the industry.

    The behind the scenes folks can be perfectly happy and comfortable as a Mormon in Hollywood.

  12. TT – You’re joking, right? Love Steve Martin, tho, and he’s developed enough cachet to do what he wants at this point in his career, which is probably a prerequisite to becoming LDS.

    Benjamin O. – I agree that the writing angle is interesting and similar. I admire Orson Scott Card for being as successful as he has been, although I find some of his stuff not to my liking (I do like some, though). He lost me in Rebekah of his Women of Genesis series. It started feeling too anachronistic and formulaic. The journey we make in life/the plan of salvation can be a little repetitive when fictionalized. This is one reason I have always considered “LDS Literature” to be an oxymoron.

    Contrast that with an Ian McEwan or even a Frank O’Connor. Writers have to look into the abyss with great courage, and to some extent, you just can’t write about what you don’t know firsthand. It’s very hard to live as a writer anyway, but very difficult to reconcile with living LDS principles. As LDS, we don’t spend a lot of time staring into the abyss. In many ways, we don’t live as full a life as someone who is free-falling through it. We are far happier for that life we choose, but it’s not the full range of human experience. Did I just tick off every aspiring LDS writer out there?

  13. I think that the lifestyle of the theatre is in many ways at odds with Gospel teaching. It really seems to emphasize a self-centerdness and vanity that are unhealthy, annoying, and easily overdone. I just don’t see it jiving well with living Christ’s teachings. (I am sure there are exceptions).

    That said, I think a Christian Entertainment industry, like Christian Rock, where people use their talents to “uplift” would be deplorable. Bad art, bad religion.

  14. ESO – have to agree with you there. If you can’t create art because it’s incompatible with LDS living, then don’t create total crap as a substitute.

  15. Derek,

    Since I am unable to post to you further about the Joseph Smith/Gaelic Bard connection that you claim on the other thread, please email me at ufoskeptic@gmail.com, and explain to me this thing and what you think is your evidence for it.

  16. UFO Skeptic :—

    I have explained some of these connections to you in this thread:


    The Smiths and the Moores are members of Clan King, so I have discovered this information while studying my own genealogy. The Smiths are a bardic family, and the Moores are a princely family. The Smiths are really M’Gowans. Both families can trace their patrilineal descent to Adam through Japheth and Magog. Along the way to Ireland there are Scythian kings and Egyptian princesses.

    Read about the Ó Maolconaire “Ollamh Síl Muireadaigh” families as another example of a more well documented bardic/ollam family.

    The Smiths were ollamhs for the O’Connor family. The MacCrossanes (Macrossane/M’Crossane) and Cosbys were ollamhs for the Moore family.

    Some of these families have maintained their pre-Christian oral traditions up until today. And in some of these families, the knowledge they maintained has died out. Those families which continue the practice are “underground” and most certainly wish not to be identified.

    I will be happy to continue correspondence with you on these and other topics via email (I can be reached at derek.p.moore@gmail.com).

  17. UFO Skeptic :—

    To bring our threadjacking back around to the Hollywood aspect of this discussion, Tom Cruise (a Hollywood Scientologist) is Thomas Cruise Mapoðer IV (Maypower). He descends from a branch of the Árpád dynasty that settled in Co. Roscommon, Connaught, Ireland, in the 17th century. Tom Cruise recently bought his “ancestral” home and much land in the fifth of Connaught (not very ancestral if they only go back some 200 years, but, of course, the Arpads originally came from Ireland in the first place before going to continental Europe and Hungary in particular).

  18. Wow, that’s something to describe Christian entertainment, Rock specifically, along the lines of “total crap.” I agree, like most pop music, much in and out of religious musical entertainment is formulaic, not original — but this is driven predominantly by commerce and trying to appeal to the biggest niche within niche markets. (That’s what the music industry is: a cacophony of niche markets.)

    If there is anything less-than-artful to the genre/industry of Christian Rock it more likely reflects on the culture that rewards it. I think it is distasteful to question the value and intent of the whole genre. Worship and uplifting entertainment can be accomplished with all sorts of instrumentation, vocal stylings, tempo, etc. And many performers, composers and artists strive to have a lyrical bent that is praiseworthy and sincere. (Now anything goes when it gets to their management, labels and agents *smile*) Remember, most Christian artists are coming from a worship tradition where praise is exactly that: it’s energetic, upbeat and more emotionally open and “out there” to either accept or reject. In other words, much of it is very “evangelical.” Much of the American Christian faith worship tradition is core to the roots of American gospel, R&B and rock from which much art has sprung.

    There are many young artists like One Republic, some young really cool Christian kids, whose faith informs their art — though they’re not deliberately marketed as “Christian artists” — to established artists like John Legend, U2, Creed and Nickelback, whose faith really informs their art. There are all kinds of deliberate Christian artists, too, like balladeer Chris Tomlin or Jars of Clay, who produce uplifting, positive music that speaks to the listeners who embrace it — indeed I’d argue many of them create art, even if we consent it is commercialized.

  19. JfQ – I was writing hastily. I am not generally a fan of Christian Rock, which is not to me the same thing as faith informing one’s art (a la U2). I’m sure it is not all total crap. But I have encountered some that has been of that ilk.

  20. There was an article in 2000 in BYU’s student newspaper, The Daily Universe that researched about LDS folklore about stars who were LDS ( http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/12627/ ). Here are the conclusions:

    Keri Russell (from the TV show Felicity and Mission Impossible: III) used to be LDS and attended church as a young woman.

    Christina Aguilera: her parents were LDS and met at BYU (no info on whether they were active after she was born and if she was raised in the church).

    Jewel: raised Mormon until she was eight (she was even born in Payson, Utah).

    Alice Cooper: not LDS, but was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite), the Mormon church that Sidney Rigdon founded after Joseph Smith was killed. Alice’s grandfather was even an apostle. (I supplemented the info in the BYU article with info from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Cooper & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Jesus_Christ_%28Bickertonite%29)

    Elvis Presley: No, he wasn’t LDS, but he participated in missionary discussions. From the article: “Of all stories, though, my personal favorite was when I heard that the King himself Elvis Presely, though he never was a member, did receive the discussions from Bobby Kauo, who is a high councilman for the BYU 9th Stake. Kauo confirmed that while Elvis was at the Polynesian Cultural Center filming “Blue Hawaii” (I knew there was a reason that was Elvis’ best film) Kauo taught him the discussions.”

  21. I was just behind Alice Cooper in airport security a couple months ago! I should have chatted him up about our common backgrounds.

  22. Correction about Schroder. He left NYPD Blue in part because his family suffered a terrible tragedy that year. But ALSO because he, like nearly 100% of the show’s outraged fans, thought his character veered WAY off course after David Milch left. Something he admitted years later. Which explains why his exit story was so shoddy. It’s widely speculated that he and Bochco did NOT part on the best of terms. As for his career otherwise… eh, Bochco shows never really advance careers much. Well, maybe with the exception of David Caruso… ironically.

  23. #1. Because Hollywood is not easily brainwashed – however, they will pretend to be just for the publicity (see Katie Holmes)
    #2. Because Chastity and MODEST DRESS (can we say Taliban?) is irrelevant in todays society and no one wants to go back and live in the 1950’s.
    #3. Because actors already have to give 10% to their agents, 15% to their managers, 15% to their publicists and pay a hefty retainer to their lawyers and also support their charities. Good luck with the collection of your mandatory 10% tithing necessary to buy themselves a ticket to your temple in order to attend family weddings (or wait outside and miss their loved ones wedding) and endowment ceremonies…
    #4. Because the people who are PRACTICING Christians already, will not switch over to a cult that denies the Trinity, claimes that the second coming happened in Utah in the 1800’s (as told to me by an Elder!), states that satan and Jesus were brothers, that women need to be submissive and obey their husbands, that your god came down from your celestial kingdom and had sex with mary, AND that there is a VIP level in your celestial kingdom that they do not have an automatic pass to.

  24. re 30

    working actor,

    your four points might cut it somewhere…but you neglect the fact that the popular religion around Hollywood these days is SCIENTOLOGY. C’mon now, seriously.

  25. working actor

    Just so you are aware – all scripture is up for interpretation. That is why we have so many religious denominations. The way you interpret it at your church is different than all other churches or we wouldn’t have the need for more than one denomination. Mormon beliefs are based upon many bible versus (see, we interpret them too) you should recognize if you are a Christian.

    1. Us not believing in the trinity is not all that odd. There are many scriptures in the bible that reinforce this belief. Matthew 3:17 “this is my beloved son in whom i am well pleased”, Luke 23:34 “father forgive them for they know not what they do”, etc.
    2. Tithing is in the bible. It is in several places, but one is Malachi 3:8. 3. We do not believe that God had sex with Mary.
    4. Like the rest of the Christian believers, we are waiting for the second coming.

    I am sorry someone gave you wrong information. I had a Catholic friend tell me she did not believe that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit were one. I told her that the Catholic religion holds that belief. She said oh, well I guess I do then. If I used your way of forming an opinion, I should have decided that all Catholics do not believe in the trinity just because my friend was not so sure. The elder you spoke to was wrong. Just as we are all at times.

  26. Please don’t feed the trolls – even if they aren’t aware of their trollishness (and I’m not sure about this one). Feeding them only makes them hungrier – and it’s way too late for me to be nice if we get another ridiculous drive-by belching.

  27. Pingback: Ty

  28. I am Mormon and work in the Motion Picture Industry. I have found just the opposite. My co-workers (actors, crew and producers) are very accepting of my beliefs and high standards. I am very well trusted and have a great reputation. I find though that most of the criticism I get is from other church members thinking I am going to be corrupted working in the industry. I find this reverse discrimination very disheartening and have found more acceptance from my industry friends than my church friends. I feel like I am making a difference in the world with folks around me showing them love, respect, values, hard work, accountability and kindness. I feel the reason why many Mormons in Hollywood may live their lives quietly is the judgmental eyes they receive from other members in the church who don’t know them and how they live their life.

  29. working actor is
    1. surprisingly funny
    2. ridiculously pitiful
    both for lack of knowledge
    Second hand opinion wont make you smarter, ‘man!

    thanks for attempting to explain, but people with that kind of attitude normally dont have ears :
    peace out

  30. Rose,
    good for you.
    forget about your so-called church friends who judge you that way.
    Wow they feel so “righteous” because they’re not in Hollywood or Hollywood-related job.
    Lemme tell you–have you heard the word ENVY? ask your “church-friends”
    they would probably say, “dont know!”

    peace out

  31. The key that Hollywood is missing is living a Jesus-centered life.  It’s hard to state the obvious, but Mormons generally do that a lot better than Hollywood does.  Jesus had a moral side to him.  He had charity. He also had
    virtue, patience, long-suffering, meekness, cleanliness, self-respect, SELF-MASTERY, self-control, verbal-control, vocabulary, edifying, need I go on.  All qualities that Hollywood and Satan have a tough time with.

  32. I find it hard to believe that working in Hollywood could be a conflict over values for LDS folks. After all, LDS predominate in the casino industry in Vegas and that apparently poses no conflict for them, despite the gambling, boozing, smoking, 24/7 lifestyle that it entails.

    1. Are there statistics to back this up? I think an active Mormon would have a hard time justifying this career choice, without some serious sorting of personal life and professional life. Interesting (and kind of sad) if this is true, but I would have to see the numbers. There are certainly some kinds of Mormons who believe in the gospel of wealth, so who knows? But Joseph Smith did run a hotel with a bar attached (before the Word of Wisdom was enforced in the Church), so it’s not unprecedented.

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