Can 'Playboy Club' Unite Mormons and Evangelicals?

Yesterday, Utah’s NBC affiliate, KSL, decided it will not air the controversial yet critically acclaimed primetime television show, PLAYBOY CLUB, about the famed Chicago club in the 1960s.

In a statement, Mark Wiles, the station’s president and CEO, said, “The Playboy brand is known internationally … everyone is clear what it stands for. We want to be sure everyone is clear what the KSL brand stands for, which is completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand.”

The Mormon Church owns the television station and had not even seen af full pilot episode of the show that critics are saying may actually be as nuanced and sophisticated as MAD MEN. Of course, socially conservative groups such as the Parents Television Council have objected to the show, especially upon learning the actors signed “nudity clauses,” which conservative groups believe just gives the show’s producers license to film gratuitous sex scenes that potentially separates the provacative from the explicitly licentious.

One could also expect a similar backlash from the Bible Belt stations, which brings one to think why Mormons, who also heavily financed the opposition to same-sex marriage in California, and Evangelicals don’t find more common ground, particularly on social issues, on which to unite.

There are obvious fissures between Mormons and Evangelicals, particularly below the Mason-Dixon line, but they still remain the two most socially conservative segments of the population according to various surveys, with Mormons being the most conservative. Of course, recent surveys by Pew Research and Quinnipiac have shown there is still a segment of Americans who will not vote for a Mormon for President. 

With THE BOOK OF MORMON becoming mainstream with its TONY awards on Sunday, it seems like Mormons are also becoming more mainstream in the pop culture even as they remain extremely conservative.

Of course, Mormons, who make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, are getting heightened scrutiny and publicity because two Mormons – the more traditional Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman — who may be able to be crossover to non-Mormons and thus may be a better ambassador — are contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.