Religious Bigotry Evangelical Style
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God, according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship, how, where or what they may.Every six months, The Church, hosts either an annual (April), or semi-annual conference (October) in downtown Salt Lake City. At that conference Mormons from the world over flock to Salt Lake City to hear the leaders of their Church, whom they consider to be living prophets, seers, and revelators.
We attend conference to receive religious and practical instruction from these leaders. We attend for spiritual renewal and rebirth. As we attend, we exercise our rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, affording us the free exercise of our religious beliefs.
Before the conference attendees are able to partake of their spiritual feast, they are verbally assaulted and abused for their religious beliefs on the very conference center steps. Each conference scores of "protesters" line the designated areas outside the LDS Conference Center to shout their religious bigotry and hate at those attending conference.
Who are these religious bigots? For the most part they appear to be on the fringe of the Evangelical movement. They are members of a group called the Street Preacher Fellowship, and have links to Baptists in Pennsylvania. Here's another Christian web site for these folks.
This past October, was no exception. The fine folks over at FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, have documented in good detail some of these obnoxious displays. You can see some of them here, and other links here. Some of the more egregious I'm reposting here, with thanks to Scott Gordon at FAIR for his permission to republish.
This Book of Mormon was defaced by our Evangelical brothers, and waved at Mormons as they arrived outside the conference center. Can you imagine the the defacement of the Koran outside an Islamic Mosque? Who would do this? Why would you do this?
Another favorite tactic of our Christian Evangelical brothers is to wave what Mormons consider to be sacred clothing, in their faces as they enter the Conference Center. From the photo, and the original post at FAIR it appears the Street Preacher in the photo is waiving the temple garment, which if you are interested you can read about here.
Again, I ask, can you imagine defacing a yarmulke by using it as a frisbee outside a Jewish synagogue, because you didn't agree with Jewish religious beliefs and traditions?
As a practicing and believing Latter-day Saint, I am appalled by this "Christian" conduct by our Evangelical brothers. It is reminiscent of the mob mentality of the early 1800's resulting in murder and mayhem toward many early Latter-day Saints on the basis of their religious beliefs and practices. This same mob mentality culminated in the Prophet Joseph's murder in Carthage Jail in 1844.
Questionable Evangelical behavior is not limited to April and October General Conferences. Dave, over at Dave's Mormon Inquiry has two excellent posts on this theme here, and here; however, what prompted my post was yesterday's post over at FAIR with the publication of the newest round of Street Preacher photographs. Evangelical ridicule toward Latter-day Saints began with the Prophet Joseph's First Vision. It remains unabated to this day.
Even more troubling is the recent political clout of the far religious right. With the ascendency of George Bush to the Presidency, the Evangelical movement has unprecedented political power. The most recent manifestation of which is the recent withdrawal of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Before Harriet was the Terri Schiavo fiasco, in which the Evangelical right was up to its eyeballs.
To my Evangelical brothers who are so fond of Biblical citations, I refer you to John 13:34-35, Love one another . . .
To those not ecclesiastically inclined, I quote Joni Mitchell:
Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands