The OC Weekly, a liberal-leaning publication (and sister paper of The Village Voice), is on the receiving end of a concentrated Mormon Church backlash because of their Nov. 1 election-themed cover, which featured a cartoon of Mitt Romney as the Angel Moroni.
The Angel Moroni is an important part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints theology. Gold-plated statues of the figure -- horn pressed to his lips -- grace the tops of most of the church's 134 temples around the world.
According to the church's newsroom blog, "Moroni was a real person, an ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon who revealed the location of golden plates to the young Joseph Smith in 1823 from which the sacred book of scripture was translated." He is credited with helping to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The OC Weekly cover's depiction of Romney as Moroni, accompanied by the banner headline, "America's Angel Moron!" initially received favorable reviews, according to OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano. The backlash started last week, according to Arellano:
Starting on Wednesday and continuing ever since, Mormons from across the country but mostly centered around the Newport Beach LDS temple have called and written in to complain that our cover is offensive to their religion, that Romney is a good man, that Mormons have never hurt anyone (tell that to folks affected by Proposition 8), that they're going to stop their subscription to the Weekly, that we would never mock Muslims that way (we did, by printing an image of the Prophet Mohammed back in 2006, and Muslims didn't give a shit because they understood the context), that they're never going to read the "Register" again (please follow through on that!), and that they're going to start an advertiser boycott unless we apologize for the cover.
But critics shouldn't expect an apology from the publication. In his post, Arellano explained that he stood by his "beautiful pun," and that his magazine has always been an equal opportunity offender. Furthermore, he said the former presidential candidate should be happy that he "wasn't a Catholic or a Chuckie-bot from Calvary Chapel, as we would've been ruthless, and I would've responded to complaints from those faithful with a big HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
The OC Weekly is not alone in its cartoon ambitions, of course. NBCNews.com Cartoonist Daryl Cagle has drawn many cartoons featuring Romney during the course of the campaign cycle -- many of which addressed different aspects of the candidate's religion, including the special undergarments devout Mormons wear under their clothes.
However, Romney's religious affiliation was always something of touchy subject during the campaign, with much debate centered around whether or not his faith was "fair game."
According to The Washington Post, Obama strategist David Axelrod previously suggested that Mormonism was off limits, while outspoken Democratic super PAC donor Bill Maher was a continuous, if controversial, critic of the candidate's faith, calling it a "cult," Politico notes.
Click through the slideshow to see most and least Mormon states in the United States: