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Monday, August 07, 2006

One Mormon's Outrage

Most people aware of Mel Gibson's arrest last week for driving under the influence and his unfortunate behavior during that arrest (read the story). On August 3rd USA Today online posted an opinion (letter to the editor) titled Reaction to Gibson is hypocritical. The author, Jeff Byrd of Sacramento, California, wrote:
I am writing to point out that while actor/director Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks were wrong, America's reaction to them is hypocritical.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Without exception, at every public event that the Mormon Church sponsors, protesters are sure to be there. What are they protesting? Our religion.

They might be exercising their right to free speech, but their goal is to deny us our freedom to practice our religion. Shouldn't all Americans be as outraged over anti-Mormonism as over anti-Semitism?

Have the Jews been persecuted even to the point of attempted extermination? Yes, they have. Have the Mormons been persecuted to the point of death? Yes, we have. Even the governor of Missouri in 1838 signed our "extermination" order.

As I write this letter, I am preparing to attend a public open house of our new temple in Sacramento. There will be protesters against my actions. I would hope America feels the same way about their anti-Mormon hate as they do about anti-Semitism.

It's really unfortunate that Mr. Byrd's assertions have been so widely disseminated without challenge. His remarks are untenable and wholly ill-informed.

I have attended numerous public events sponsored by the Mormon Church at which no protestors or critics of any kind were "on the job." While I have witnessed (and sometimes participated in) Christian outreach at LDS events, I have not observed people protesting (for an exception see the June 20th Mormon Coffee post); Christians are there merely providing information from another perspective for those who are interested.

Mr. Byrd asserts that the goal of the so-called protestors is to deny Mormons their freedom to practice their religion. I'd like to know what makes him think so. How is distributing information an act that restricts someone else's freedom? When the LDS Church distributes the Joseph Smith Testimony, is the goal to deny people their freedom to practice the religion of their choice? Is that what LDS missionary work is all about? The very idea is ludicrous.

I can only think that Mr. Byrd has never bothered to read the information Christians hand out at Mormon proselytizing events. If he had, he would understand that his assumptions are way off base. Of course, I don't have exhaustive knowledge of the alleged "protests" about which Mr. Byrd writes; but all the material I have seen at these events has been respectful in its presentation while still critical of the doctrinal claims of Mormonism.

Is this a description of persecution? Should America be outraged over non-Mormons publicly questioning the theological claims of the LDS Church? Are the peaceful, respectful actions of LDS critics equivalent or comparable to anti-Semitism? Shame on Mr. Byrd for minimizing the historic and continuing hostility against the Jewish people in this way.

As Mr. Byrd attends the Sacramento Temple open house I hope he recognizes that nobody there is protesting his right to do as he pleases. He enjoys complete freedom to go to the Temple open house; he may accept or reject the information offered him by non-Mormons; he may practice the religion of his choice. This is made possible for Mr. Byrd by the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which not only guarantees him freedom to choose his religion, but also gives him the right and freedom to publicly condemn LDS critics.

Even if he chooses to do so in ignorance.

5 Comments:

  • At August 08, 2006 1:01 AM, Blogger Keith Walker said…

    Sharon, have you sent a response to the editor of the USATODAY? I am working on a short response. By the way, I will be in Sacramento Saturday, August 26th. I will be on the look out for protesters. If I see any, I'll just bet they'll be wearing badges on their white shirts and ties. ;-)

     
  • At August 08, 2006 2:06 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    I have to ask this question of Mr Byrd? Has he ever read the Bible? It tells us their are false Teachers spreading lies and they need to be exposed. I believe Mormonism is a false Gospel as Gal 1:8 states. I do not hate the LDS nor do I persucute them like he would like people to believe.

    My other question for Mr Byrd is this, Does he know what Mormon Prophets taught. Here is a list of things the Mormon Prophets have taught.


    Read pg 188 of
    Doctrines of Salvation vol 1

    Joseph F Smith. "CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS WITH JOSEPH SMITH. MORMONISM, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. Their is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed: his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false".



    In the LDS Scripture we read again,

    D and C 71:5-11 98:14,23-26 it says meet your enemy in public.
    D and C 66:7 68:1,9 go into the church's public or private to discuss this stuff.
    D and C 6:9-11 say convince us of our error if we have any.


    Orson Pratt,The Seer pg 15.
    "we ask from you the same generosity--protect us in the exercise of our religious rights--CONVINCE US of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of god, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds".

    Mormon President George A Smith said page 216 in volume 14 of the J.O.D.

    “If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if it’s preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.”


    We/I share the Gospel with the mormons and do as the Prophets taught and he feels I hate them and try and perscute them. I really wish he knew mormonism better. Rick B
    Mormonism reviewed

     
  • At August 08, 2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Keith Walker said…

  • At August 11, 2006 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am a "Mormon" living in the Sacramento area, and just wanted to comment that I have seen the folks participating in the outreach (as you describe it) and, for the most part, they have been circumspect and have not been disruptive to any large degree. I love the 1st Amendment and have no issue with people standing and offering free literature. And while I think some of the things written in the literature accurately reflect what is taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of the things do not. In any event, I appreciate the commitment (mentioned by Keith Walker in his blog) to not act shamefully or violently, and am sorry if anyone belonging to our Church acted that way.

     
  • At November 18, 2006 7:00 PM, Blogger Th. said…

    .

    If I may:

    I think it's a little paranoid to imagine that he was referring only to "outreaching" Christians in his comments. And if you have never seen ugliness against Mormons, then I can't imagine you've been in the outreach business that long.

    That said, although there are many historical parallels to treatment against Mormons and Jews, it is true that the scale of one does not compare with the other. It's the difference of a couple hundred years versus thousands.

    But all that aside, thanks for coming around. I'm sure you're an exception, but most literature I've seen handed out at temple open houses and the like are ludicrous and completely absurd. And I have known several people who ended up becoming Mormons because they saw that stuff and knew it couldn't possibly be true...and wondered what the truth might be.

     

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