Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Hope They Call Them on a Mission. . .

I'm impressed by the courage and faith of the street preachers that put their lives on the line at General Conference time in Salt Lake City to try to save a few Mormons. Only the bravest Christians would dare stand before crowds of Mormons going to their place of worship and loudly denounce their religion with accusations, tauntings, and the occasional waving of Mormon underwear in the faces of passers-by to get their attention and perhaps save a soul. What faith this must take, knowing that bands of Mormon "Danites" may fall about them at any moment and slit their throats or do whatever mad marauding Mormons are wont to do. So far, the street preachers have been lucky - or perhaps miraculously preserved - because their lives have been spared year after year. In fact, the throngs of Mormons generally just ignore them and move on. Other fearless preachers have been blessed to survive bold ministries at LDS temple open houses, Church pageants, and other LDS events.

As much as I admire what they are trying to do, I think their efforts are misguided and could be better put to use elsewhere. You see, the Mormons already believe in Jesus and in the Bible, and if belief in Jesus is what it takes to be saved, then the preachers need not worry so much. Oh, you can argue that some of our doctrines are inferior to theirs or complain that we don't accept some of the post-biblical metaphysical details about the nature of Jesus that inform the doctrine of the street preachers, but we at least have some form of Christianity - while millions have never heard of Christ and hundreds of millions live in lands where they have no opportunity to hear the good news of the Gospel. So, for the bold and loving street preachers who risk their all to help us Mormons, I've got an inspired little suggestion to make even better use of your talents and courage.

It's going to cost some money, but I'm sure many Latter-day Saints would be happy to chip in and help pay for this ecumenical project of goodwill. You see, it's time someone called the street preachers on a mission - not a mission to Salt Lake, but to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other nations where Christianity is persecuted. The street preachers could then stand in front of major mosques during times of worship and, in the same spirit of love and courage, greet the crowds with loud insults about the Muslim faith to help bring souls to Christ. Perhaps they could wave cartoons of Mohammed, or perhaps women's underwear, or rip up and trample upon pages of the Koran - whatever it takes to bring the message of Christlike love to lost souls.

I hope they all get called on a mission. And with your financial support, we can make it possible. Travel and living expenses will need to be provided. But it won't be as much as you think. For travel, one-way tickets should suffice. And for living expenses, I think enough cash to live one or two days ought to do it, including taxi fare to the mosque.

Let's put that courage to good use!

19 comments:

Brad Haas said...

Are there LDS missions in the countries you named?

ltbugaf said...

When the day comes that there are LDS missionaries in said countries, they won't be using the hate tactics that are used against Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake, as described above.

John said...

Last I looked Salt Lake was still part of the USA...preachers, would-be messiahs, assorted crazies, and their like adorn street corners in virtually every large city in the nation. I hope you're not arguing that those preachers should be removed...

While it can be in poor taste to mock another's religion, being able to practice that religion is directly dependent upon ensuring the rights of those citizens who wish to express their opinions in ways that may not be of your choosing. Self-confident groups can accept those types of criticism.

Meanwhile thousands of LDS missionaries are banging on strangers'doors uninvited; I'd hope you'd see the parallel.

Brad Haas said...

I'm just saying, as long as it's peachy that Christians have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit, and remain faithful, then there's no need for most of the missions here in the U.S., or somewhere like Poland, so maybe LDS missionaries should go to Saudi Arabia.

But what do I know, I'm just a Catholic.

Ezra Child said...

I have seen missionaries in Iraq firsthand, baptisms and all. They dress is a little different than what we are used to here, but the Spirit is the same. I saw Iraqis listening to the discussions and even commit to baptism.

This isn't the first time that a war was needed to bring the gospel into a country.

Walker said...

I think that what these street preachers are doing and saying is QUITE different from what missionaries in general (certainly those my mission) did. Do we hold up signs at people's doorsteps, telling them that the fires of hell will engulf them if they reject us? Do we burn the priest's collars in front of Catholic churchs? When someone turned us away, we politely thanked them for their time and moved on, saying to myself that they were simply not ready for the gospel (of course, I'm not perfect; I had my days of frustration too ;)

Yes, these preachers have the "right" to express their beliefs. However, the more helpful question is: are they right in doing so? There is a hierarchy of values, and civility ought to be valued over the right to inflame. Not saying that we ought to enforce this through any state apparatus--simply that this path of civility certainly is preferable to demagoguery and hateful speech.

Shawn said...

The world would be so much happier if people simply walked the walk and followed Christ.

In general, I don't think God will be to thrilled with those who use the name of Christ (or Mohammad for that matter) to spit in someone's eye. Only seems to help those with little or no faith to simply write off religion.

The nuts have to be the worst of the bunch... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12071434/

Shawn

Mormanity said...

I'm not saying that police or LDS people should do anything to the street preachers, but I would agree that they should remove themselves or that their congregations - if they have any self-respect - should encourage them to stop. And if calling them on a mission to Iran is what it takes, so be it. I think it would be interesting to see how their message of hate and mockery is received in other lands. And they would quickly get some of the publicity that they hunger for. Sounds like a win-win opportunity!

John said...

Just so everyone knows, there seems to be two Johns. I didn't make the earlier post.

Ryan said...

Some people seem to confuse the right to express their views with the right to a captive audience. People have the right to not listen.

The issue is not whether a person is "self-confident enough to accept... criticism" but whether people are required to accept abuse and disruption of their activities in the name of "free speech."

Most spiteful and deliberately offensive protests are simply an attempt to subvert a public forum. Find a place people have strong reasons not to leave, then do your absolute best to interfere with their activities and drive them away. Make everyone there ask, "do I want to stop doing this important thing just to avoid having dirty underwear/burning flag/etc shoved in my face?"

Sure, people can act like the protester isn't there, but who do we really think we're fooling here? If you have to be blind, deaf and have no pulse to tune it out, it's gone too far.

Note: I've been at Temple Square and the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and most of the protestors were perfectly within their rights. Sure, they had big signs up about who would burn where, but they did not interfere with what people had come there to do.

Mateo said...

There seems to be either a lack of education among other christians sects in what LDS members believe and/or a disregard for those beliefs. I frequently have candid conversations with members of the Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic faiths, and I always end up retracing and repeating the fact that I AM A CHRISTIAN, that I believe in BAPTISM, REPENTANCE, REVELATION and (as that priceless astonishment falls upon their faces) THE BIBLE. Why do I feel the need to justify my beleifs to those who misinterpret or blatantly mangle the principles of my religion? Because, with Mormons, the stakes are higher; we believe that God the Father and His Son established this church. Therefore, we will continue to bare these stripes, as we, and all other saints that have lived have done in the past, suffering for the Kingdom. There is so much venom in the words of those professing to "save" Mormons from the error of our ways that it appears as a serpent instead of the hand of Christian Fellowship.

Bookslinger said...

"Most spiteful and deliberately offensive protests are simply an attempt to subvert a public forum."

Determining whether a protest is spiteful and deliberately offensive is a judgement call. In some cases it is obvious.

But the sword is two-edged, or the pendulum swings both ways (I'm not sure which metaphor I want).

What yard-stick we give police or judicial authorities can be used against us too, and not just "those others.". Whatever hammer we give police or judicial authorities can be used against us too.

If the Temple Square protesters are within the bounds of the laws regarding public assemblies, then we need to leave them alone.

I've heard they've toned down recently, but within as little as 3 or 4 years ago, they were literally screaming in the face of many saints who walked by. In my opinion, screaming in someone's face is behavior that rises to the level of intimidation, making a threat or uttering "fighting words."

Bookslinger said...

Jeff,
One downside to having in-your-face type preachers going to countries where Christianity has made very little inroad, is that they might "poison the well" so to speak.

There is a tendency for most non-Christians or non-believers to lump all Christians together. So that by the time our missionaries get there, Christians might have a bad name.

In order to keep the in-your-face confrontational style preachers from giving Christianity a bad name world-wide, I suggest we collect funds to send all the angry preachers to places where they can't do any harm. Places that are already strong in the faith, where the people would take pity on them, and shake their head and utter "tsk tsk" as they walk by. Or maybe set up anger-management classes for them. Places like Utah, or Appleton Wisconsin.

Mateo said...

Not to put word's into Jeff's mouth, but from the tone of "I hope they call them on a mission" I believe that Jeff is making the point that Bookslinger has just made, that they "poison the well" for those who also profess to follow the teachings of Christ. I doubt seriously that the point of this topic is to contemplate the possible demise of the street preachers at the hands of even more religiously intolerant people. Does someone have the right to file assault charges if a street preacher is screaming in their face? Sure, if they feel threatened, as mentioned previously. We have the right to be offeneded by such as these. But something that everyone DOES NOT HAVE is the right to NOT BE OFFENDED.

For example, We recently saw this concept misunderstood with the cartoons depicting the Muslsim Prophet as a violent warmonger. Does every Muslim have the right to be appauled by the cartoons? Yes, but did the protests of violence that ensued vindicate the offense, our verify it? To every witness of news reports, the situation was saturated by the irony: Muslims burning down embassies and attacking westerners for horrible cartoons depicting their prophet as a violent man. Being offended does not excuse such extreme behavior.

I am sure Jeff's comments are satirical, or that's what I got out of it. If street preachers are offended by what any other church believes, so be it. They have that right. But to verbally threaten or intimidate someone with different beliefs - not to mention disturbing the peace - is not only wrong-headed, it's illegal.

Walker said...

Again, the best question isn't: What are my RIGHTS?

The best question is: Am I RIGHT in doing such-and-such activity?

Mateo said...

Unfortunately, there are different measuring sticks for rightness or wrongness, depending on individual points of view. I bring legalitity into the discussion because either something is a lawful activity or it it not - there is no wiggle room (depending on your lawyer). If a lawful line is crossed by the street preachers or the offended members, then local authoriries are within their bounds to exercise their power.

I don't think it is right for anyone to condemn someone else to burn in hell for eternity. But others obviously have a different point of view. I only wonder if the street preachers who do this know that out of all the possible first encounters they could make with people who have not heard the gospel (or their version of it) so many turn away with a bitter taste toward organized or any religion. The ones that they do attract and convert are scared to death by the threats hurled at them. I've heard of preachers saying, "You'll get STD's if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior." How quick do you think a line formed of teenagers wanting to be saved from STD's. I'm not sure this tactic is illegal, but it should be, and I am ashamed for them.

Walker said...

Certainly. I would agree--legality is the most accessible standard.

Just being the idealist.

Anonymous said...

What I like about using comparisons such as street preachers preaching like this outside of Muslim places of worship is that it points out how absurd they are being. It allows us the opportunity to view their actions in a different light, and maybe part the veil of our personal biases.

Street Preacher said...

Read D&C 71
A simple review of the posted comments, shows who it is that is confounded!