LDS Missionaries Annoy Aussies

A newspaper story from Australia came across my desk this week. It seems that some students and staff at Melbourne’s Deakin University are being annoyed by LDS missionaries:

MORMON missionaries are “creepily” spruiking for new members in an underpass near Deakin University, an academic says.

Two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints are regularly found at an underpass that leads from Deakin University to the number 75 tram on Burwood Highway.

Deakin staff member Colleen Murrell said the pair had harassed students.

“It is just creepy to have two young men hanging around in an underpass all the time,” Ms Murrell said.

MS. Murrell later (in the comments section) relates that she has seen these missionaries follow a female student:

“He followed her right the way up the stairs and cornered her in the tram stop. I asked the woman if they were harrassing her and she said yes.”

I believe one man’s (or woman’s) harassment may merely be another’s attempt at friendliness (or proselytizing), so I don’t find fault with the LDS missionaries here; nor do the Mormons who left comments on the article’s web site. But some folks don’t like it, and I think it’s interesting that the Mormons seem unable to understand that.

I think back to the ’70s when “Hare Krishnas” were actively approaching people on street corners, in shopping malls, and (most notoriously) in airports. Selling flowers, literature, or ideology, though they were soft-spoken they succeeded in annoying Americans coast-to-coast.

I think of my own missionary activities. Are people happy to see me at LDS events with literature in hand? Do they enjoy being required to accept or decline the literature I offer as they walk by? I don’t think so. I am neatly dressed, friendly, and sensitive (I believe) in my approach, yet I am unwelcome by many. I get that.

And that’s what I find so interesting about a similar scenario with Mormons. They don’t get that. In the newspaper article about the Deakin University Underpass Missionaries, the local mission president, Corey Lindley, could not believe that the missionaries would harass anyone. Therefore, referring to the complaints that had been lodged against them, Mr. Lindley suggested, “Maybe it is people from another religion who are unhappy about us being there.” Is that it? Is persecution always the Mormon answer?

Personally, I don’t think people are necessarily upset with the Mormon aspect of these missionary encounters; they are merely annoyed at being interrupted and accosted — perhaps day after day — with something that doesn’t interest them. This classic scene from Airplane is a great illustration:

There is a difference between rejection and persecution. In the case of the Deakin University Underpass Missionaries, it appears that people just don’t want to be bothered. Is that so hard to understand?

This, of course, is neither here nor there when approaching the question of whether Mormonism is true. Again, I find no fault with the Deakin University Underpass Missionaries, or anyone else who publically approaches people with respect. The missionaries should keep doing their jobs, even if some are offended. I write about this merely as a curiosity–an interesting facet of Mormon culture.

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Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.

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About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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24 Responses to LDS Missionaries Annoy Aussies

  1. subgenius says:

    Sharon
    i thin k the knee-jerk reaction of ‘persecution’ is often, but not always, a Mormon social reaction…probably stems from that pesky little Missouri Extermination Order. My opinion, religious persecution is not something endured by only one faith….comes with the territory,right?

    I did find it interesting how you related your experience and conception of passing out materials at LDS events….it made me wonder, are you seeing Mormons doing likewise at Ev events?

  2. mobaby says:

    Loved the airplane clip!

    These folks are now gone from the airport; however, everything is a lot more annoying!

    I think Mormons see everything in terms of persecution because this is seen as a sign that their beliefs are true, otherwise, why would they be ignored, scoffed at, ridiculed, challenged, debated, told they are wrong, etc. etc. If we reclassify anything that causes us pain or doubt as persecution or the work of Satan it can easily lead to a complex. This is not unique to Mormons.

  3. Sub, though I’ve heard of it, I don’t recall ever seeing it. I don’t believe that method is part of the Mormon Church’s proselytizing model.

  4. subgenius says:

    I think Mormons see everything in terms of persecution because this is seen as a sign that their beliefs are true

    i think this is a unique or rare conception. Your assumption that “this is not unique” is an unsupported “opinion”.
    I do however, subscribe to the idea that, in the public forum, there is really no such thing as “bad press”…
    if i may quote Oscar Wilde:

    The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

    …a definite benefit of this website for sure.

    Sharon
    thank for the response.
    i may have to look into that “method”, both from an LDS and Ev application…it seems that there may be some depth to it….especially since the underlying thrust of this thread may well be construed as the respectful “intrusion of religion” 🙂

  5. setfree says:

    feeling that we were “persecuted” because outsiders did not agree with our church goes handinhand with my memories of mormon membership. anytime the going got tough (we ran out of answers we could make up) it was time to flee the persecution. seriously sub, even in denouncing what Sharon was saying, you proved her right. bringing up the extermination thing? wow

  6. subgenius says:

    setfree
    personally, even here, i have never felt “persecuted” for being Mormon. So we have one vote for and one vote against…btw, when and how did i denounce what Sharon was saying?

  7. Ralph says:

    I think the main problem that these missionaries should look at is the fact that they are there very regularly from what the article says. This would mean that they would most likely see the same people and since they see many people a day, they would not likely remember each person, but the person would remember them. So how would you like it if every second day you had someone (most likely the same person) from the same organisation, be it LDS missionaries, JW, Pentacostal, Cancer Council, AIDS research foundation, etc, approach you at the same place in the park because that is where you go through to your place of work?

    Yes, the missionaries have a work to do, but there are other places for them to go. Why not visit each area once a fortnight or month? This would give the regulars/locals a break for a while and stop these complaints.

    The other thing was about following the girl. If they were talking to her then fine. If they had approached her at the park and she said ‘no’ then they should not have followed her. If they followed her without any initial discussion then it would depend on how fast she was walking and how far it was to the tram station as to whether they should have persued her or not.

    But these are young men who really have no common sense social skills, so to an extent one shouldn’t really expect them to think along the lines of harrasment and stalking in these situations. Missionaries aren’t allowed to go onto uni campuses unless invited by someone and then only for that purpose (ie they cannot approach people), as far as I know. So these missionaries could just be trying to approach the uni students and staff in a legal fashion – just off campus. Same with shopping centres, again as far as I know.

  8. falcon says:

    I wish I’d get approached more by Mormon missionaries but in my entire life its happened only once. I was on my way across a college campus to teach a class. I’d given anything to have had the time to interact with the boys. It would have been a great time to witness to them of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I could think of nothing better than a couple of these boys getting saved while on their mission. What a tremendous testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and God’s work in reaching out and snatching these boys out of the dark and into the light of the Gospel.
    I always stop and talk to anyone who’s out on the street handing out tracks, preaching or in a couple of cases, holding up pictures of aborted babies. The last one was kind of gruesome but the scene around it was too much too pass by. Here we had the picture people on one corner, a crowd of gays and feminists on the opposite corner yelling at the picture people and then some sort of street preacher with the most graphic puppet show depicting homosexual male intercourse on another corner. Then in the yeller-chanter crowd was a woman crying and carrying on as her female friend consoled her. She was really enjoying being “persecuted”, and feeling bad I could tell.
    I asked one of the picture people who appeared to be a reasonable sort about what was going on. He said, “Well whenever we show up, the gays and lesbians show up. And when the gays and lesbians show up the guy with the puppets shows up. He’s not with us but comes because of the other group.”
    I would guess that all of these folks went home that night all having received their emotional reward for the experience. I bet a lot of minds were changed that day!

  9. Andy Watson says:

    Sub said: “…it made me wonder, are you seeing Mormons doing likewise at Ev events?”

    Not in all cases, but I wish they would. The new approach, and a gutsy one it is, is to walk into a evangelical pastor’s office and try to convert the pastor. Isn’t this what the ex-Mormon boys from that Christian rock band did with that Baptist pastor in Florida when they were on their mission? Obviously, that didn’t work out too well for the LDS Church and this new approach being pushed at MTC. Here in my city they do the same thing. They did it with one of the Baptist pastors that I know repeatedly until they realized that he wasn’t ignorant of what Mormonism teaches and then at that point they scrammed.

    Here where I live there is a very large non-denomination Christian church that is very popular. The LDS missionaries love attending and strategically place themselves throughout the sanctuary. The missionaries tell them that they worship the same God, same Jesus, read the same Bible, blah blah that they do and that it’s all the same in an attempt at gaining possible recruits. Nobody throws them out or tells them to get out. Conversely, when I attend a LDS ward Gospel Essentials class and attempt to ask a question of the teacher related to the teaching text I am suddenly surrounded after the class by a group of angry men wanting to know who I am and why I am there. Hypocrisy.

    Sub said: “a Mormon social reaction…probably stems from that pesky little Missouri Extermination Order.”

    I see your still getting your history from LDS sources. Wise up, read up and get over it. I drive by the Mountain Meadows Massacre area twice a day. I then go to Beaver, Utah and have coffee with all the Mormons and listen as they take the Lord’s name in vain, brag about their LDS roots, their ward callings and the last thing on my mind is bringing up Mountain Meadows. That’s the least of their problems.

    Get ready, get set…spin it.

  10. falcon says:

    Andy,
    Your report about the Mormon missionaries going to the non-denominational church, hanging around trolling for prospects and lying about what Mormonism believes is kind of interesting. I think that’s one thing that really angers me about Mormonism is their obfuscation and lying about their religion. I wonder if the originators of Mormonism did the same thing? Why can’t Mormons just lay it out up front. It’s because they know people would be turned off by it if they did. Kevin, who posts here occasionally, told me that when he joined the Mormon church he thought it was just another form of Christianity. Once he found out what it was all about he resigned. This is not untypical.
    It’s the two gospel approach that is so dishonest but Mormons have convinced themselves that it’s alright to have a preparation type gospel and then once a person is sucked in, to give them the “other” gospel. It’s like the “flirty fishing” that the gals in the Children of God cult used to use in the 60s and 70s only they used blatant sex to hook their prospects.
    One of the themes we hear from exMormons, even those brought up in the religion, is that they feel they were lied to; either about the doctrine or the history of the religion. People get ugly when they feel they’ve been taken advantage of.
    This is a constant theme of those who leave. With two-thirds of those on the rolls “inactive” and with the number of people needed to process resignations going from two to ten in the last few years, I’d say the LDS needs some type of reformation. Telling the truth would be a good place to start!

  11. subgenius says:

    Andy W
    ….why I am there. Hypocrisy

    not at all, for your story reveals that the motives for attending the respective ‘services’ between the missionaries and yourself is actually quite different…and implemented quite differently.
    You seel you go to antagonize, to challenge….by your own admission and implication it is quite clear that while the LDS missionaries attend the one service to persuade you attend the other service to dissuade
    …so, you are correct at the claim of “Hypocrisy”, but unfortunately, it is you that are guilty of it.
    Additionally, surely you have read enough of my posts to realize that anecdotal evidence carries no weight here ( i actually think it is a degradation of one’s thesis)….for every story you tell about LDS ‘complaining’ i can tell one about LDS ‘rejoicing’ and then we exchange stories about a Baptist pervert, or a Methodist tyrant, or a Catholic pedophile, or a Lutheran heretic, or a Prebyterian adulterer, or a charitable atheist..blah blah blah

    as a clarification, that sort of “mud” can’t be “spun” it can only be “slung”

  12. falcon says:

    Sub,
    That’s kind of interesting because in Mormonism, the heart of the program, is the personal testimony or burning in the bosom as a test for something being true. This “I know” is an anecdotal report and by your own premise, is worthless. I can come-up with a “burning in the bosom” story myself as can just about any other born again Christian. So you can’t have it both ways.
    I also don’t know how you know how Andy conducts himself when he visits the Mormon wards. He relates to me the accounts and he always emphasizes that he is polite in terms of his approach. Your disaude/persuade spin may seem clever to you but it’s all the same thing. In order to pull someone into Mormonism, Mormons have to pull the person from the current religion.
    I went through a pamphlet “Enticing Words of Man’s Wisdom” which outlines the Mormon sales approach in seducing someone into Mormonism. It’s all about emotion and getting the prospect to “feel” something and than flipping that to conclude that it is a spiritual confirmation. Very manipulative and typical of Mormons whose approach is to stir confusion and doubt in the process of seducing someone into Mormonism.
    The goal of Christianity is to provide information so that someone can make an informed decision on coming to faith in Jesus. The point of the Mormon pitch is to get someone to join the LDS religion. Big difference!

  13. falcon says:

    Now we know that Mormons use a pretty clever, field tested sales approach to seducing someone into taking the Mormon plunge. We also know that they are instructed to target emotionally vulnerable people. I don’t know about their other means of prospecting. Chasing folks down in a railway station day after day doesn’t seem to me to be very effective in terms of snagging a prospect.
    I had heard of a Christian ev who stood on a street and would repeatedly ask people if they knew where they’d go if they were to die that day, spiritual destination of course. One man reported that this bothered him so much that he began to seek after God. He found new life in Christ because that question kept bothering him. So in terms of effectiveness, I don’t know how many came to Christ by this man’s asking the question but we do know that the Holy Spirit draws those to Jesus who are his. Again, I don’t know how “election” works but technique isn’t going to matter much if someone is appointed to eternal life.

  14. grindael says:

    I’ll chime in on this topic only to say I was never persecuted as a Mormon until the Mormons themselves persecuted me for questioning the Church.

    Their history on treatment of those who scholarly attempt to present the Church in it’s true light is abysmal.

    They seem a lot ‘kinder’ after the person has died, (in some cases) returning ‘blessings’ to those who have apostatized. But it is a selective process, and for most of those, the apostate was a former GA or a ‘prominent’ Mormon.

    Out of this attitude sprang the ‘Blood Atonement’ doctrine & the inclusion of it in Temple Rituals.

  15. mobaby says:

    Sub asked an interesting question about Mormons going to Evangelical events and proselytizing. I watched the PBS special “The Mormons” and one of the spokespeople for the Mormon Church relayed his testimony of when he knew for sure, for sure, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet. On his mission trip he had gone to a Lutheran Church service – and he and his buddy stood up and proclaimed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Lutheran service, but I cannot help but think this was very disruptive. If this meeting was similar to the ones I have experienced, people bear testimony in Lutheran Churches, but it is done in unison as one recites the Apostles Creed or Nicene Creed or prays the Lords Prayer together. Prayer requests are brought before the Lord together in unison as well as the pastor updates the prayer requests. There is not a free for all with people getting up and bearing testimony to this and that.

    So yes, Mormons apparently do go into Christian services, meetings, etc. and try to win converts. If the Lutheran service was true to it’s Lutheran roots, I cannot imagine going into the service as a non-Christian Mormon and not feeling you are missing out on something. I find it interesting that in this environment is where this Mormon PR Director (or something like that, can’t remember his exact title) got his testimony for Joseph Smith. I remembered this from the show because I was miffed that someone would go into a service and disrupt it like that. I cannot imagine going to any Church and standing up and saying – hey, what you all believe, what’s going on here is all wrong – I’ve got the truth. It’s not the right place. Sure, Jesus did it in His temple, but He is God in the flesh and it is His temple – if I did it, it would just be in the flesh. On the street at a Christian or Mormon event, fine, it’s a place where dialog can be engaged and people can talk. It’s a judgment call we each have to make.

  16. Free says:

    Hi everybody. I don’t mean to get off topic but how in the world (and this is the “former First Counselor to the MP” in me resurfacing) do those poor missionaries expect to make any kind of a serious contact at a tram station where people are most always going to be in a hurry?

    When I was on my mission, we always had more positive results just meeting with people at their door step, handing them a pc of paper with my companion’s and my name and phone number and just asked the person to call us if they ever needed help with anything (cutting the grass, trimming the hedge, cleaning the gutters, moving boxes, putting in a lightbulb in a high place, or whatever – no gimmicks – asked for nothing in return). Somehow or another we always got better results by doing that than any other method.

    After a while, the families in the neighborhoods we would go to used to smile at us and wave us down and “want to” chat with us. I’m sure they were thinking “there go those crazy missionaries”.

    Boy oh boy …those were the days…was i ever brainwashed….but the heart and the intent was pure.

    Much Love and Peace to you all – In the name of Jesus Our Lord.

  17. subgenius says:

    …those were the days…was i ever brainwashed….but the heart and the intent was pure.

    Heart and intent being “pure”..what an interesting “brainwash”…i can see why no one would want their son or daughter in such a ‘condition’…whew!, thank goodness for apostasy.

  18. pallathu says:

    Australians are very vocal and expressive when it comes to sects that don’t belong there. They take their expression to barbaric acts. The racial attacks against Indians are happening in Australia for an year almost. Close to 75 Indian students were attacked. Recently two Indians were killed, one businessman few months back.

    Beware Mormon Missionaries!

  19. I wasn’t going to post on this thread; I live in Australia (I’ve got dual Australian and British citizenship), and I’ve never been “annoyed” by Mormon Missionaries. As far as missionary protocol is concerned, there are better and worse ways of carrying out business, and I’m probably as guilty of doing some “annoying” stuff as anyone else (though I do try not to be bothersome).

    However, pallathu’s remarks require a response.

    Pallathu is referring to a recent fatal attack on Nitin Garg, an Indian graduate in Melbourne (see http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/04/2785239.htm). At present the motives are unclear, but police do not regard the attack as racially motivated. Understandably, the Indian population in Australia and in India may not be satisfied with the police’s initial appraisal.

    From what I have seen here, the Australian media and Government take this attack seriously. The Australian consul in India even attended Mr Garg’s funeral and assured his family that everything would be done to bring the perpetrators to justice. I understand that pallathu may not take much comfort from such assurances, but I urge him or her to consider that when representatives of the Australian Government make such assurances, they generally do so with the intentions of carrying them out.

    As for the other attacks that pallathu mentions, I have seen nothing in our media of this scale. Though the attacks might be real, they may not have been serious enough to warrant nationwide media coverage.

    I think this hurts Australians too. We want to be regarded as a friendly nation. Pallathu’s summary dismissal of Australian culture as an expression of barbaric acts against people who don’t belong here is grossly unfair.

    I, like all the Australians I know, consider Mr Garg’s murder to be an evil, unjustifiable act. I mourn for Mr Garg’s family.

    I understand pallathu’s frustrations, but this rhetoric is more likely to fuel racial prejudices than to heal them.

  20. pallathu says:

    Hello Martin, you can read about the attacks on Indians by Australians on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_against_Indians_in_Australia_controversy). Another place you can read about the attacks is Times Of India Newspaper or BBC.

    I don’t think any kind of healing would come out after numerous attacks have happened.

  21. Enki says:

    I have seen some LDS missionaries in CA that routinely hung out around the “BART” stations. (bay area rapid transit) It was SO annyoing. You just want to get on the train, don’t want to be bothered. The woman looked like she was so pained by the number of people rejecting her. Why so clueless?….most people are there for one thing, to get on the train to go somewhere else, time is of the essence.

    In all fairness I have had NON-LDS christians approach me about accepting Jesus in places that were not so great. Like at a bus stop. I just wanted to catch a bus, and not be bothered. Also in the WORK break room. That wasn’t so cool, given that most employers have policies against that.

  22. Ralph says:

    Pallathu,

    This might interest you about the racism against the Indian people in Australia. There was an Indian student who was stabbed and burned to death a few months ago in Griffith (outback NSW). The two people who committed this crime have been found and charged. They were INDIAN as well. Here is the link to the news article.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/two-charged-over-slashing-and-burning-death-of-student-20100128-n1sh.html

    So it appears that the Indian population is racist against itself. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks ago quoted a prominant Indian Nationalist in the Australian community saying that the majority of the incidents were not racially influenced, just crimes of opportunity – NOTE not all but the majority, so there are some that are racially motivated. Many Indian students get a job to help pay for their stay here in Australia. They come home late at night by themselves instead of in groups or other safer methods. So they are prime targets for thieves. He also said that the statistics of crimes against Indian people have not increased against crimes against other races. I would love to reference this but I can’t find the story at this point in time. But it just shows that you can’t believe all that you read in the paper.

  23. byuheather says:

    I just discovered this site on a recommendation from a friend & it’s great. I’m definitely gonna read more here.

    Anyways, this post reminded me, I’ve been reading this blog about a girl’s experience on a mission, and it sounds like not all missionaries were “unaware” of other people’s bad reactions to them. And some of my guy friends who went on missions have shared some stories w/me, & alot of them say that things they did made them uncomfortable (when they’re really honest w/me, but I can’t retell their stories) but anyway they never feel okay admitting that kind of thing in public, you know? Anyway, here’s the link to an that blog about being a missionary: http://momonomo.wordpress.com/tag/chapter-1/

    It just makes me wonder, how many of us aren’t really telling our true stories?

    Peace,

    H.

  24. pallathu says:

    Ralph, are there any more stories of Indians killing other Indians in Australia?

    Here is a quote from an Australian Police Officer:

    “I have said all along that some of what we’re seeing here is racist. There is no question of that.” Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Simon Overland said on January 20, 2010 in ABC News

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