Rock star Brandon Flowers defends Mormon faith against famous atheist

By Sarah Petersen

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 3:30 p.m. MDT

Brandon Flowers performs at The Depot in Salt Lake City.

Deseret News archives

After performing his 11th concert this month in Europe as a part of the iTunes Download 2012 festival, Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers appeared on “Skavlan,” a Norwegian TV show, to wrap up a European trip before the Sept. 17 release of the band's new album "Battle Born."

The show started out as a normal celebrity guest appearance, but host Fredrik Skavlan soon began inquiring about Flowers' Mormon faith. Skavlan asked Flowers to describe the "beauty of faith," and the international rock star spoke positively about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, Skavlan later welcomed Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," onto the stage. The famous atheist immediately was asked his opinion on faith, and began denouncing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the Mormon faith.

Flowers didn't concede to Dawkins' remarks, although he was obviously surprised the interview had taken this turn.

Talking directly to Flowers, Dawkins called the Book of Mormon "an obvious fake." He also referred to church founder Joseph Smith as a "charlatan."

After several statements by Dawkins, Flowers responded: "The book's been studied and torn apart and looked at — and I am not one of the professors that have done it — but to call this man a charlatan, I take offense to it."

Stephanie Nielson, author of the popular blog "Nie Nie Dialogues," sent out the following tweet in response to the program: "Listening to a Brandon Flowers interview. He's defending the Book of Mormon. Love this guy."

In the October 2009 general conference of the LDS Church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, addressed such criticism of the Book of Mormon.

"For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history — perhaps like no other book in any religious history," Elder Holland said. "And still it stands."

In describing the scene at Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered, Elder Holland said, "In their greatest — and last — hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth? ...

"Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death the two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."

According to a 2012 Pew Forum poll, 62 percent of Mormons say the American people are uninformed about Mormonism. When asked what the most important problems facing Mormons today are, 56 percent stated either misperceptions about their faith, discrimination or lack of acceptance.

Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a Communications major and editing minor.

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