On Monday I blogged about a letter to the editor that appeared in USA Today. The Mormon author of that letter, Jeff Byrd, made some sweeping accusations regarding the ministry of Christian missionaries often conducted on the streets outside public LDS proselytizing events.
Keith Walker of Evidence Ministries has prepared a timely and articulate response to Mr. Byrd’s letter. I don’t know if USA Today will publish it, but I’ve been given Mr. Walker’s permission to publish it here on Mormon Coffee.
Mr. Walker has also blogged about Mr. Byrd’s comments on the Evidence Ministries blog. It’s worth taking a look.
Here is Mr. Walker’s response:
I read with great interest the article titled, “Reaction to Gibson is hypocritical” in the 8/3/06 editorial/opinion section. Jeff Byrd assumes that Christians who pass out literature in front of Mormon temples are somehow protesting the Mormon religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have participated in five such outreaches and will travel to Sacramento this week to do the same thing there. Byrd is wrong when he states that our goal is to deny Mormons their freedom to practice their religion. I would be interested in knowing how the act of passing out a paper on public property is denying Mr. Byrd of practicing his religion.
Our primary focus is to lovingly and peacefully distribute free Christian literature to the public that discusses some foundational doctrines of the Mormon faith in contrast to historic Christianity. Our position, which compels us to this action, is that Mormonism consistently misrepresents itself to the public as a Christian denomination by purposely withholding doctrinal information. We hope to provide the information needed to enable people to make better-informed choices about their future involvement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If the Mormon Church were more forthright about their teachings that men have the potential to become Gods, there would be no need for us to be there. The public has a right to know about the world view of Mormonism and since the Mormon Church will not provide that information, we will.
Mr. Walker has made some claims contrary to those asserted by Mr. Byrd. If you remember from Monday’s post, Mr. Byrd said the critics outside the Sacramento LDS Temple will be:
- Protesting the Mormon religion;
- Trying to deny Mormons their right to practice their religion;
- Protesting against people attending the LDS event; and
- Displaying anti-Mormon hate
Mr. Byrd’s ideas are pretty common. Many people, non-Mormons and Latter-day Saints alike, toss any and all public questioning of Mormon teachings into the category of “bigotry.” For instance, consider this.
Lighthouse Christian Fellowship is an evangelical church in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s affiliated with Calvary Chapel and is located in a community with a large Mormon population. Some time ago members of the church went door-to-door distributing the video DNA vs. the Book of Mormon produced by Living Hope Ministries. Fast-forward to today. The Times-News of Twin Falls reported that Lighthouse Christian Fellowship has purchased a large building in town which has stood mostly vacant since 2002. The church plans to remodel and move into that building by 2008.
The Times-News welcomes comments on their stories. Beginning with the second comment left by readers the discussion has moved from the topic of the article — the purchase of the building — into the supposed bigotry of Lighthouse Christian Fellowship.
Pam, a reader defending the Christian church wrote:
“I for one, appreciated the video that was placed on my door and hope they will do the same with the new video that has come out, regarding the same organization! Kudos Lighthouse and congrats on your potential purchase!”
To which a woman identifying herself as a non-Mormon replied:
“It’s bigotry. If you had received a video regarding race, creed, color, or sex you might have been offended. But religious freedom doesn’t fall under our constitutional right?? Yeah, the video is free speech and I respect that, but NOT when it is dropped on my doorstep. Funny how we can justify religious bigotry in this day and age. Nice, Pam. What makes you think YOU are so right? Not everyone believes as you do.”
Lighthouse Christian Fellowship distributed the DNA video for the same reasons Christians are distributing literature outside the Sacramento Temple. Lighthouse has provided a very thorough explanation on their web site. It’s right in line with Mr. Walker’s statement, “Our primary focus is to lovingly and peacefully distribute free Christian literature to the public that discusses some foundational doctrines of the Mormon faith in contrast to historic Christianity.”
I think the public is just uninformed about the issues. They seem to jump to conclusions, assume the worst possible motives, and condemn Christians without cause.
So let me encourage you to be different. Read the literature Christians are distributing outside the Sacramento Temple. Ask the questions:
- Is there anything disrespectful in this publication?
- Is it hateful?
- Are people being persecuted via the distribution of this newspaper?
- Is the paper bigoted?
- Are the contents comparable to anti-Semitism?
- Should Americans be outraged over the free and peaceful distribution of this material?
After becoming educated, take action. There are at least two things you can do.
1. Send a letter to the editor of USA Today expressing your informed opinion.
2. You’ll find a list of ministries on page 4 of the Sacramento Temple Outreach literature. Pray for and encourage a Christian missionary today.