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I keep wondering when some videos of these guys are going to hit YouTube. It's really ugly stuff.

I was surprised at the vitriol and ranting that I witnessed and heard there myself some years ago.

How anyone could confuse that sort of behavior with following Jesus Christ is beyond me.

Seek and ye shall find ... I couldn't listen to these very well at work - but I imagine they give the viewer a sense of what these protesters are like:




I have never attended a General Conference. I have only watched it on television.

I was almost tempted to go this year. And for the express purpose of communicating with the street preachers.

Maybe, I will do this next year. And maybe, I might end up in next years SL Trib.

It will be me whipping some street preacher's butt with underwear. Could be quite a news picture.

A couple of years ago I attended a public event for kids and their families, where the gay and lesbian community was making a big effort to turn out in order to show that they have families too. I was a little apprehensive that they would turn it into a circus.

Turns out the ill-behaved ones were the Christian protesters. Why anyone thinks it is a good idea to make kids of both gay and straight families look at signs condemning "gay sex," etc, is beyond me. Unless you really paid attention, you would not otherwise have noticed the presence of gay families.

I agree that civility and respect should be the foundation for public discourse between religions. I used to live in Topeka, Kansas where we had a local preacher who has achieved some renown for the detestable way in which he targets those of other faiths, including Evangelical Christians and Mormons. These kind of antics are usually most attractive to those who are either insecure or suffering acute anxiety about their own religious views; yet it is still amazing how many people silently agree with the underlying current of religious intolerance.

On the other hand, I think that reacting in an overly defensive or personal way to this kind of provocation only plays into the hands of these kinds of agitators. The SLTribune article would seem to feed rather than mollify the protesters. It feels good to "get revenge" through words against someone who has caused you grief, but in the end more bad feelings are generated.

My personal belief is that evils such as this can be clearly opposed without resorting to vengeful comments like those posted by the Tribune. In fact, though we may salve our feelings by issuing an emotional rebuttal, we are in fact stirring up more evil than good by doing so.

I was in SLC for conference this year and I actually struck up a very nice conversation with one of the sign-bearers outside temple square. He was a more quiet sign-bearer named Doug. He (a "recovering" Jehovah's Witness) and his friend (a "recovering" mormon) were in the same Baptist congregation in Nevada and had come out to SLC on their own dime to "help" mormons see the "truth," and he made sure to mention that their trip was not supported or sanctioned by his local baptist church (in fact, his preacher had asked him not to go, if I recall correctly).

Doug was soft-spoken and kind, and we engaged in a very respectful conversation. I did not offer any opinions at all, but simply sought to understand his position expressed on the sign he carried and in the tracts he bore. It became clear to me that Doug really did love mormons, and really wanted to help people he saw as misguided.

As I was talking to Doug, several other conference-goers passed (I was dressed casually this day) and were not very kind to Doug, even though he said nothing to them (he was holding a sign that said something about believing in Jesus and not the "Mormon Jesus". These Latter-day Saints yelled things like "go home" and "taliban Christian" to Doug. Doug took it very well.

Not all of the "bible-thumping" evangelical types lurking around Temple Square during conference are obnoxious or insulting. Some, like Doug, are surprisingly soft-spoken and kind.

Jordan F. -- so I suppose if I show up outside Doug's Baptist congregation waving a sign encouraging those in the congregation to worship the true Jesus rather than the "Baptist Jesus" they will think that I am soft-spoken and kind? Hah! Hardly. Doug may be soft-spoken, but he's still a hypocrite. And if you gave him a pat on the back for what he's doing, you are too. But it sounds like his Baptist pastor has a good head on his shoulders. Maybe you should go talk to him.

Dave, if you did that at our church building, I would invite you out to dinner. I would enjoy talking about Christology. But I don't know, some of the men in my church might beat me to it for seeking a nice discussion sort of like what Jordan F. had.

What about this? Let's say I brought a group, dressed all in their Sunday best to Conference. We gained the permission to set up a handbell choir and instrumental ensemble somewhere on one of the sidewalks. We would have a small literature table. And if people asked questions, we would engage in polite conversations.

But I would need to tell some street preachers to stop bellowing so that people could enjoy the music.

Craig Foster and Steve Mayfield gave a presentation at the FAIR conference this year where they showed a bunch of photos of the protesters over the years. The funny part of their presentation was when they showed the anti-protester signs that some people brought.

There have been singing groups who stood next to preachers to drown them out. There were the "ya ya" guys who just stood next to the protesters saying "ya ya ya ya ya" so that nobody could understand them. There was the guy who dressed up as the devil and held up a sign saying, "Hi, my name is Satan, and these street preachers are my missionaries."

It was one of the funniest presentations at the conference, but it ultimately made the same point that Dave is making. These preachers are their own worst enemy since people can't take them seriously.

I'm afraid I agree with the other Dave regarding Doug, the recovering JW, but not enthusiastically. I can appreciate Doug's love and effort to save us lost sheep, but General Conference is our time, a sacred time, and in a showdown of spiritual messages poor Doug came unarmed. He should have listened to the preacher.

Here's the weird thing for me about shrill anti-mormonism. I myself left the LDS church after coming back from a full and honourable mission in Japan because I had very easily come to the conclusion - for myself -that it simply wasn't 'true' in the literal sense, and I wasn't interested in attending for 'family' or even just 'cultural' reasons.

Ever since then my stand has basically been that it's a pretty good institution, just not for me. I can find the Mormon thing irritating occasionally - as can some Mormons I suppose - but I can understand why people continue to be part of it. It's a good thing to be part of in its own way.

But I'm utterly bewildered by placard-carrying, insult-throwing, bile-publishing anti-mormonism. If Mormonism is a waste of time, then people who spend their time attacking it are completely pathetic. It honestly mystifies me why anyone would want to devote themselves so obsessively and angrily to attacking a church that doesn't hurt anyone and which encourages a pretty wholesome, decent way of life.

So I'm an ex-Mormon who thinks anti-mormons are absurd and tragic.

That's a refreshing and positive approach, bamboom. I wish you luck in finding something else about life that is both meaningful and true ... in the literal sense.

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