The Expanse may be purely fiction, but it still weaves a heavy dose of reality into its narrative in a way that makes it all the more intriguing. One of the most surprising of these additions is the inclusion of Mormonism. Mormons feature heavily in the original Expanse novels, and the show writers obviously thought them important enough to include in the show.
The Mormon religion is somewhat of an enigma, shrouded in intrigue and often the topic of both speculation and comedy in fiction. But how do Mormons fit into The Expanse? And what do actual Mormons think about their portrayal?
Mormonism In 'The Expanse' Explained
Funnily enough, the very first hint of a Mormon presence in #TheExpanse came in the form of an #EasterEgg. It was an advertisement for The Book of Mormon musical on Ceres. Besides demonstrating that Trey Parker and Matt Stone's comedic stylings really can stand the test of time, it was a sneaky introduction to a religion that had big plans for the episodes to come.
The Mormons on The Expanse have a much more important mission than converting strangers to their faith. They've recruited Fred Johnson to build them an enormous ship, the Nauvoo, that will eventually take them on a 100 year journey to their new home: Tau Ceti, a star orbited by potentially habitable planets.
But why are the Mormons on The Expanse going on this mission? Much like when their church was first established, the Mormons are escaping persecution. Earth and the Asteroid Belt alike have some serious overpopulation issues, which doesn't bode well with the Mormons' tendency towards large families. With strict limits on how many children each family is allowed to have — if any — they've no other choice than to pack up and find somewhere more accepting of their lifestyle.
Fortunately for them, the LDS church has plenty of cash to fund the construction of their enormous vessel— even if that does mean they have to get the OPA to help them out.
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The Connection Between Mormons And Space
While it may seem odd that Mormons would have such a big role in a sci-fi series, outer space actually plays a big part in their beliefs. In fact, Mormon scripture goes into some interesting cosmological detail; for example, the throne of God is said to be positioned close to the planet (or star) of Kolob. And then there's the debate of what the Book of Mormon says about the possibility of life on other planets.
It's pretty clear to see why Mormons would be a feature of an outer space sci-fi set 200 years in the future. Just ask original Expanse novels co-author Daniel Abraham:
We know the Mormons on The Expanse built the Nauvoo to take them to their new home, but did you realize both its name and design are a reference to the very early days of Mormonism?
Nauvoo was actually the name the Mormon church gave to a town they bought in Illinois. They relocated there after fleeing persecution in their former home of Missouri. It was also the site for the Nauvoo temple, second place of worship built by the church. The temple was destroyed by both fire and a tornado, and later rebuilt.
Atop the weather vane of both temples was a statue of an angel, which later became known as Angel Moroni, a common symbol in the Mormon religion. This same figure is also attached to the mast of the ship in The Expanse. Look familiar?
This isn't the first time we've seen the Mormons and their Angel Moroni in science fiction. Satirical sci-fi classic Starship Troopers also featured a new Mormon settlement on a distant planet with the same gold statue:
What Do Mormons Think About 'The Expanse'?
While sci-fi nerds may enjoy the way Mormonism is integrated into The Expanse, how do actual Mormons feel about the way their religion is depicted on the show? Is it offensive? Inaccurate? Realistic?
As stated by Daniel Abrahams above, both he and co-writer Ty Franck have Mormon friends, so they obviously went to some effort to try not to write anything that would deeply offend. In fact, in that same Reddit thread, Abraham said they "were hoping that it came through with respect". So did it?
One ex-Mormon Redditor thought that "the Mormon plot line is nothing short of genius. And Hilarious." Another Redditor had the following to say:
This Mormon also approved of Abraham's nod to their faith:
Some have expressed disappointment at the show's inaccuracies in depicting Mormon missionaries, though admits they weren't too far off the mark:
And then there's the matter of representation:
What do you think of The Expanse's portrayal of Mormons?