pesky Mormon missionaries

Mission

I caught this article today about a Christian Orthodox priest trying to get Mormon missionaries kicked out of Bulgaria for, get this, proselytizing in an Orthodox Church during Easter services. There’s “zealous evanglism” and then there’s over-the-top, in-your-face, you-are-all-going-to-hell-unless-you-convert evangelism. If the account of the priest is accurate, wow, those missionaries should be kicked out of the country.

I was a go-getter missionary, but I never tried proselytizing in another church. I bashed with a few JWs in my time in Central America, but otherwise never went out of my way to garner contacts. What was the most zealous evangelizing you ever did?

16 thoughts on “pesky Mormon missionaries

  1. Some LDS just don’t know ‘any’ boundaries.
    (sorry for such a general stmnt).
    I was a mish in MI/IN many, many yrs ago.I would have done a lot of things different (wow!)had I not seen the world thru only my LDS lens.
    The incredible part about these discussion is that the Ubers, the Nazi-Mos survive (and have offspring!) down to today; not exactly an endangered species, are they?

    IMHO, this speaks mostly to the top-heavy, authoritarian nature of the LDS church. ‘Other’ Christians just don’t need to be so heavy-handed.

  2. I hope the one-sided account is inaccurate, but it may well be what happened. Never did anything like that in the South of France, but I was a pagan, albeit a hard working one who got in the water more than any arrow I can recall. What pisses me off is how little the program has changed since I served in the late 1970s. It was an anachronism then, it’s a sick joke now with bike riding missionaries wearing 1920s period clothing. My son had a bummer mission, is now in a funk, and I don’t know what to do about it short of getting drunk together.

  3. What was the most zealous evangelizing you ever did?

    Told a Jehovah’s Witness his religion is a fraud. Didn’t help our cause much. I did have a companion who used to put his foot in the door when uninterested people tried to turn us away. I told him I didn’t like this, because one day someone might call the police, and it was wrong. I also had a companion who taught the first discussion to a cat, because he wanted to fill up the quota of weekly discussions. I guess he couldn’t live with a lie. The cat looked bored and uninterested, pretty much like most of our investigators.

  4. I didn’t do zealous evangelizing. That sounds self-serving, but really it was because I was just too self-conscious and scared to ever get confrontational with people. My contacting numbers were absolutely wretched and I even got chewed-out by my MP in front of 100 missionaries for it. But I was more scared of accosting an uninterested or hostile guy on the street than I was of getting lectured in front of the mission.

    I heard of some missionaries however who would deliberately wait, after the first three normal knocks, until the peephole went dark, and then pound on the door as loudly as they could. With those steel apartment complex doors, the noise must have been deafening for the unwary person on the other side.

    The missionaries’ justification for this behavior was that anyone who bothered to use a peephole before answering the door was never going to open the door anyway, so a bit of “payback” was in order.

  5. Seth,

    That’s a troubling tale. I hope the hearsay wasn’t true. People have condemn me for not rating out a guy under my first DL assignment we nicknamed Elder Fornicator, when behavior such as you heard about would be far more damaging to the church.

  6. The missionary who did it bragged about it to me personally. He may have exaggerated his exploits (which we all know missionaries NEVER do…).

    I wish I could say I was horrified by it as I am now. But I recall finding it pretty funny at the time – albeit in the nervous, “I can’t believe you did that” sort of way.

  7. Richard, here’s the actual link:
    http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/the-incident-with-mormons-in-bourgas-was-not-an-invasion-church-statement/id_29821/catid_66

    Also, just because the LDS religion says they didn’t do it doesn’t mean it’s true:

    “Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not invade in SS Cyril and Methodius temple in Bourgas,” the statement said. “Missionaries and members of the church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] are brought up to show respect and tolerance to the doctrines and members of other religions and this respect is reflected in the doctrine of the church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints].”

    There is a now classic picture of a missionary in Colorado holding the severed head of a statue at a Catholic shrine (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/ppmormona240308.jpg). There’s also the case of the missionary climbing on a Buddha statue in Thailand. Mormons are not taught to respect other religions: they are taught that other religions are the religion of Satan, and that often comes out in mockery of those religions (it definitely did in my experience on my mission), though probably not for all Mormons.

    There isn’t anything currently on LDS.org about the incident, but there is this article in the sltrib: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_9532153
    Note, they also mention the Colorado incident. Given my experiences as a missionary and those of everyone who has already posted, I could see this happening. I’m not going to say it did, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

    I noticed this discussion, too:
    http://www.bulgariasofiamission.org/forum/index.php/topic,93.0.html

    Intriguing… Who is blindspot?

  8. At present, I’m inclined to believe either way.

    A bigoted eastern European priest trying to score xenophobic points?

    A couple of dumb 19 year olds pushing their zeal a bit too far?

    Honestly, from what I know of missionaries, and from what I know of eastern Europe, both sound equally likely.

  9. Of course, the LDS religion has every right to determine the age and makeup of its missionaries. I disagree with evangelical preaching – I believe it is disrespectful (for any religion). I’m not saying it should be illegal (it should be a human right of free speech), but I disagree with it personally.

    With that said, there are advantages and disadvantages to sending out 19 and 21 year olds.

    I’m not too many years past 19 myself, but I can state for sure that nineteen year olds are not the most mature and respectful of people. Many are developing their own value systems after leaving high school and their parents’ homes. They don’t have the responsibilities that older people (usually) have. Obviously not all. I’ve met many, many responsible people who are this age.

    But many just want to have a good time and a sense of humor. They don’t understand (sometimes) the impact of their actions – they are still learning. They aren’t shielded by their parents any longer (for some).

    I’m speaking also from personal experience, I was learning at ton at 19. While I wouldn’t consider myself at that age a child, there are also some things that I look back and think I was naive for thinking, idealistic and just plain lucky for not getting into trouble for. I think this is the nature of that young adult age. It’s a part of developing personal identity and boundaries.

    Anyway, I’m saying the LDS missionary age is an advantage because the greater LDS church can distance itself from these incidents as “oh, they’re just young kids who don’t know any better”. It would be pretty damaging to have a forty year old father of four accused of the same thing.

    It’s a disadvantage because since these 19/20 year olds don’t have that same restraint/frame of reference they are at times more likely to be disrespectful.

    BTW – I remember seeing the LDS Missionaries in a St. Petersburg (Russia) orthodox cathedral. It wasn’t a place of worship any longer but a state museum. (Many Russian churches/cathedrals were destroyed/converted to museums during Communist rule). If it had been a current place of worship, that would have been different…

  10. I am currently doing fieldwork among Mormon missionaries for a book on the mormon mission experience. I am a scholar of comparative religion at University of Vienna, Austria, never have been a Mormon or even had LDS relatives or friends.
    please contact me, anybody who has mission memories: hans.hoedl@univie.ac.at

    One thing to add on the Orthodox Curches: as they are organised in a “national” way (so you have serbian orthodox, bulgarian orthodox, greek orthodox and so on), they tend to be nationalists (and in slavic countries sometimes panslavic), and therefore also principally more offensive towards missionaries than some other churches; so it could be possible, that the story of the priest is kind of exaggerated stuff

  11. Hi H. Gerald Hoedl — If you’re still reading this, a good place to start would be Runtu’s Rincón: he has written extensive mission memoirs. After that, many people here and on our blogroll have posted stories from their missions. Just poke around and you’ll find plenty! 😀

  12. It’s perfectly acceptable for missionaries to attend another church, especially, if the building is a cultural icon.

    I am with Seth. It is plausible that an eager priest is blowing something completely innocent out of proportion. It is also plausible that a missionary was less than respectful.

    I guess the best thing to do is to reserve judgment.

  13. good to know that I already made contact with hellmut (didn’t know it was you, had a time off mormon topics); and, dear chanson, yes, i have already discovered Runtu’s Rincon and also letters from a broad and exmormon, now playing temple wedding; currently UI btry to flood FLAK with my postings; in order to bring all of that to an end, I will have to take a sabbatical 🙂

  14. Hello Latterdaymainstreet,
    Thanks you for your post, I mean, think of the benefits; all those crazy Muslims would no longer be able to procreate, neither will those wacko Christians who protest outside abortion clinics and no more of those pesky Mormons banging on doors trying to sell their ridiculous beliefs. It would be a beautiful world with rainbows and fluffy bunnies jumping happily around. The fears of global warming and pollution would dissipate because the human population would be much less and only decent, sane people would be contributing to the human gene pool. It truly would be a wonderful world, don’t you think?

    Oh, and deciding who can and can’t procreate via a democratic process would take far too long and there would be too much emphasis on political correctness, so the decision should be made by just one person. I could be that person; I mean, I did have plans but I can put them on hold…
    Good Job!

  15. @15 I have deleted your URL links because it looks like your remarks are largely motivated by a desire to advertise your website.

    In accordance with our usual policy on deletions (that we only delete under extreme circumstances) I have not deleted your comment. However, I would ask that you read (and stick to) our commenting policy.

    To everyone else, the usual friendly service announcement not to feed the trolls. 😉

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