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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Religious Bigotry Evangelical Style

The Eleventh Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( Mormons, or LDS Church) states:

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


Blogger Caroline said...

These actions by Evangelicals are disturbing, inconsiderate, and insensitive. Basically they are telling us LDS people that we have been completely deceived and are idiots for being members of this faith.

But, I have to ask myself if Mormons themselves ever act like this towards people of other faiths. No we don't host meetings that talk about the evils of Islam, etc. We don't protest in front of others' churches. This is all to Mormons' credit.

But I have to admit that I am sometimes uncomfortable with our heavy emphasis on missionary work. When we send missionaries out to preach the gospel, are we not implying, however gently, that they have it all wrong, that we have the truth and they don't?

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I want missionaries to find honest seekers for whom Mormonism will truly enhance their lives and expand their visions. On the other hand, I want to affirm others' faith traditions and the diverse practices that bring them closer to God.

Perhaps I'm unusual for a Mormon, but I tend to think there are a number of paths to God. That there are wonderful faith traditions in the world that teach many truths that we LDS people tend to choose to not focus upon. That these faith traditions do indeed bring people to God and help the feel the Spirit. That ultimately the whole grand goal for us as human beings is to treat each other with Christ-like kindness and respect. If a person has these things, I really don't know if they need a young 20 year old knocking on their door and inferring to them that they've been mistaken their whole lives.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Hi Caroline, Thanks for stopping by. I don't know if that is the implication of missionary work. I think people can infer that from our missionary work; however, I think one can just as easily make the argument that missionary work today is no more or less than missionary work than when the orginal Quorum of the Tweleve, i.e., Peter, James, John, Paul, etc. went out as missionaries preaching the Gospel.

In the final analysis I believe that the restored Church has Priesthood keys and authority that was once lost and now restored. I also believe the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, i.e., another Witness for Jesus Christ. When viewed through this lens I see the importance of missionary work. Not to tell people, hey you are wrong, or we are right. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to share what we have with others, and allow them the opportunity to do with that knowledge what they will. I think that is how the orignal Twelve went about their missionary labors, and that is how we should likewise go about ours. I also know personally that a mission can be a life altering experience for the missionary if he or she allows it to be.

I agree with you that people, LDS included, can be quite self-righteous, and un Christ like. The "chosen people" syndrome can be quite dangerous. But we have been counseled over and over again by President Hinckley against this mentality. Whether we properly heed that counsel may be something else altogether.

I think you are right there are many paths to God; however, I do believe there also is ultimately only one Priesthood authority to perform certain ordinances, i.e., baptisms, eternal sealings, etc., etc. That's not to say we, or anyone else for that matter is a better person or are a better people collectively than another. I think Peter, James, and John held that power, and had authority to act in Christ's name after His Resurrection and departure from the earth. That doesn't necessarly mean that they were better than the Gentiles to whom they were preaching. It did, however, I believe mean they had the actual power and authority from Christ to perform the functions and ordinances they did. I look to the current Church and missionary program through that lens.

That doesn't mean, however, that other people in other faiths don't or can't feel Christ's Spirit. I believe all women and men are blessed with the light of Christ in this life.

You are also right that our charge is to treat each other as Christ treated others, and as He would treat us. We could all use more of that, than less. The world would be a much better place if we lived that simple commandment; however, I don't think that makes missionary work any less important.

Thanks again for stopping by.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I think most Mormons would agree with you about the importance of priesthood ordinances. It's hard for me, however, to justify missionary work using that argument because I firmly believe that God will make all those ordinances available to people in the next life. So I don't see the urgency of missionary work towards people who are already leading Chirst-like, service-oriented lives.

I feel different, of course, about missionary work towards people who are searching for God and a better way to live.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Very nice post Guy, very well written.

There is a HUGE difference between what the missionaries do and what these "street preachers" do. Missionaries go out and respectfully share the gospel. Yes, I have met some missionaries that lack respect, but that is the exception and not the rule.

I have no problems with Jehovah's Witnesses showing up at my door, or any other religion for that matter. I beleive they are just doing what they feel is their duty for the Lord.

I also feel it's important that we share the Gospel with all faiths, including those that are already following Christ. I don't think that we baptized a single person on my mission that didn't already beleive in Christ, or weren't in some other way following the lord.

The LDS Church is the true Church and we contain more truths than any other church. Many true seekers of Christ will want to learn more about Christ, even though they associate themselves with another church. I don't think that we should deny these people the oppurtunity to hear the restored gospel.

Not only that, but it's too difficult to differintiate between who is ready to accept the gospel and who is not.

Also, think of all the early converts of the Church that were already associated with other churches. Imagine if the brethren were content to only preach to the non-christians. The church would not be in existence today. Most if not all of the early converts were already Christian!

"Gordon B. Hinckley: I say this to other people: you develop all the good you can. We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches. We say to people: you bring all the good that you have, and let us see if we can add to it."

10:33 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Ian, Yes. There is a hugh difference between what the missionaries do and what the street preacher crowd does. It really should go without saying . . .but thank you for saying it so well.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Connor Boyack said...

Persecution has always been the lot of the true follower of Christ. In this dispensation, it all started with Satan trying to bind Joseph right before his marvelous First Vision. The opposition has never ceased since. It is always present before any spiritual experience.

I think most RMs can also tell stories of how some of their investigators would have huge trials to go through shortly before their baptism. Satan doesn't want us having those faith-promoting, spiritually-advancing experiences. And so, he attacks just before it happens.

For me, it is like a refiner's fire. Seeing these pathetic protestors attempt to tear down the sacred only makes me realize the truthfulness of this work. Indeed, as Joseph said, no unhallowed hand will stop the progress of this work. Let them protest all they want, for Jesus said that we will be blessed when persecuted for righteousness' sake.

9:56 AM  

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