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How I Became Friends with a Conference Protester [Mormons & street preachers dining, discussing]
LDSLiving.com ^ | Oct. 1, 2013 | Bryan Hall

Posted on 10/06/2013 8:20:48 AM PDT by Colofornian

One man's story of how he came to understand the true meaning of Christ's commandment to love your neighbor and turn the other cheek.

If you would have told me ten years ago that it was possible for me to form a genuine, lasting friendship with one of the protesters outside general conference, I would have questioned your testimony and standing in the Church.

Perhaps I would have nodded my head and agreed that Jesus would have us love our enemies, but it wouldn’t have registered in my mind that actually doing so was possible or even expected. Instead, I would have likely argued that it was a greater sign of righteousness to courageously stand against them and refute all their lies.

As a young boy, I vividly recall the protesters shouting at us as we tried to enter Temple Square during conference weekends. I remember seeing them at the Manti Pageant with all their propaganda, while many well-intended Mormons fruitlessly argued with them.

In hindsight, I now recognize how these people had a significant impact on my spiritual development. Their antics are legendary in Mormon folklore. I can’t bring to mind even one active Latter-day Saint who isn’t at least fairly aware of their reputation.

About six years ago, I found myself watching all sorts of YouTube videos that various Mormons had posted, documenting a number of these “Anti-Mormons” who were allegedly persecuting us during sessions of general conferences. I found myself furiously focusing on one particular protester: Ruben Israel. Ruben encompassed every negative memory and impression I had of these protesters growing up. He was loud. He was intentionally provocative. He was extremely in-your-face. And he was adamantly “Anti-Mormon.”

As I dwelt on this, the anger inside me swelled to an almost unbearable level. I began to hate these people—but in Ruben I found my nemesis. It is sad to relate just how deep this anger grew within me. Perhaps even sadder is how readily I lumped so many other Christians in with people like Ruben.

I’m not sure exactly what happened to jolt me out of this destructive cycle, but one day I was discussing this issue with a close friend, and the radical thought came to me that maybe I was the one in the wrong. Suddenly on that day, it was incredibly clear to me that the greater sin lay with me.

Here I was, a member of the Church, married in the temple, actively engaged in my callings, demanding that the world recognize me and other Mormons as Christians, and yet it was clear that if I died at that moment, I would not be completely clean.

Now, I would be lying to say what happened next was the natural result of my immediate repentance. Rather, it was born out of a sincere attempt to find closure and move on.

At the suggestion of my friend, I considered tracking Ruben down at the next general conference and offering to take him to lunch. I clung to this idea as an impossible possibility until it became clear that I would do it. As the day grew closer, I sensed much more of those warm tones swelling up inside me. I genuinely felt that such a gesture would be a sufficient offering to God.

But I forgot to leave room in my plans for God’s will.

To make a very long story short, Ruben accepted my nervous offer to buy him lunch and then offered to treat me (and a couple of my friends) to dinner that night, compliments of him and all his traveling street preacher friends.

To my utter astonishment, I didn’t just find closure that night, I found a friend. Like that impossible moment in middle school when your archenemy suddenly becomes cool, something happened that would be spiritually irresponsible to deny. I felt the love of God for this man, and I can only give credit to the grace of Christ.

I have absolutely no bad feelings towards these people anymore. I no longer refer to them as “Anti-Mormons.” They are street preachers who spend their time and money traveling the country trying to share their version of the gospel. I disagree with the approach and would argue against its effectiveness. But I admire their dedication and courage.

Now when Ruben travels to Utah at conference time, he stays at my home (yes, I still have a temple recommend). He prays with my family and me. He knows my kids, and my kids know him. We have lengthy, honest, and sincere conversations about the realities of our doctrinal differences, but we always show each other friendship and respect.


TOPICS: Current Events; Ministry/Outreach; Other non-Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: antimormon; conferenceprotestor; lds; mormonism
This weekend has been the biannual "General Conference" Mormons hold in Salt Lake City.

Various independent street preachers as well as bands of Christian witnesses (who usually hand out tracts and encourage discussions with Mormons) are always on hand at these times.

Some are confrontational; others don't seek to "impose" any given message -- simply expose Mormons to the Gospel and counter-claims to Mormonism's worldviews. (You can't fairly give all present a one-size-fits-all label)

What's interesting in this article is that this particular Mormon went from dishing out stereotypical labels -- "I no longer refer to them as “Anti-Mormons.” to recognizing many of them for what they are: "They are street preachers who spend their time and money traveling the country trying to share their version of the gospel...I admire their dedication and courage. Now when Ruben travels to Utah at conference time, he stays at my home (yes, I still have a temple recommend). He prays with my family and me. He knows my kids, and my kids know him. We have lengthy, honest, and sincere conversations about the realities of our doctrinal differences, but we always show each other friendship and respect."

What this in itself shows is that it has been easier for Mormons to simply "write off" those who oppose them with a mere sweep of a label, full of caricatures and stereotyping.

It's when they get to know many of them that a change of heart can take place (Note: I wouldn't even bother trying to excuse every word & action by given "outsiders" convening @ Lds General Conferences)

From the article: YouTube videos that various Mormons had posted, documenting a number of these “Anti-Mormons” who were allegedly persecuting us during sessions of general conferences. I found myself furiously focusing on one particular protester: Ruben Israel. Ruben encompassed every negative memory and impression I had of these protesters growing up. He was loud. He was intentionally provocative. He was extremely in-your-face. And he was adamantly “Anti-Mormon.” As I dwelt on this, the anger inside me swelled to an almost unbearable level. I began to hate these people—but in Ruben I found my nemesis. It is sad to relate just how deep this anger grew within me. Perhaps even sadder is how readily I lumped so many other Christians in with people like Ruben. I’m not sure exactly what happened to jolt me out of this destructive cycle, but one day I was discussing this issue with a close friend, and the radical thought came to me that maybe I was the one in the wrong. Suddenly on that day, it was incredibly clear to me that the greater sin lay with me. Here I was, a member of the Church, married in the temple, actively engaged in my callings, demanding that the world recognize me and other Mormons as Christians, and yet it was clear that if I died at that moment, I would not be completely clean.

1 posted on 10/06/2013 8:20:49 AM PDT by Colofornian
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To: All
********

From the article: Ruben accepted my nervous offer to buy him lunch and then offered to treat me (and a couple of my friends) to dinner that night, compliments of him and all his traveling street preacher friends. To my utter astonishment, I didn’t just find closure that night, I found a friend. Like that impossible moment in middle school when your archenemy suddenly becomes cool, something happened that would be spiritually irresponsible to deny. I felt the love of God for this man, and I can only give credit to the grace of Christ. I have absolutely no bad feelings towards these people anymore. I no longer refer to them as “Anti-Mormons.” They are street preachers who spend their time and money traveling the country trying to share their version of the gospel. I disagree with the approach and would argue against its effectiveness. But I admire their dedication and courage. Now when Ruben travels to Utah at conference time, he stays at my home (yes, I still have a temple recommend). He prays with my family and me. He knows my kids, and my kids know him. We have lengthy, honest, and sincere conversations about the realities of our doctrinal differences, but we always show each other friendship and respect.

2 posted on 10/06/2013 8:21:14 AM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

place marker


3 posted on 10/06/2013 8:34:49 AM PDT by svcw (obama lied my plan died)
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To: All
My own family background is from the Mountain West.

Though I've never been a Mormon, I descended from Mormons who came from far to settle in...they weren't the original pioneers, but they weren't far behind.

I have many Mormons in my family tree & current extended family.

I love to spend time with them. They are of great value to our Lord.

Many non-Mormon FREEPERS have said on various threads that we face greater enemies, and that therefore we should focus on attention and energies on them.

#1...We all multi-task in all we do. There's no need to present false dichotomies.

But #2 -- more importantly -- Mormons really aren't our enemies at all.

Over several years, I've cited several times on these threads this one verse from the apostle Paul -- Ephesians 6:12:

...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So, in a backhanded way, FREEPERs are right in that we all have a common enemy...but they are wrong in reducing those enemies to simply Obama, socialism, Islam, communism, liberals, Democrats, and the like.

Our great enemy is indeed the forces of darkness among the demonic realm.

We don't struggle against "flesh and blood," Paul says. Which means that the BEST way to truly share the Gospel with socialists, Muslims, communists, liberals, Democrats -- and yes, Mormons -- is to get to know them.

Befriend them.

Treat them as family as back-and-forth guests in our homes.

Love them.

Dialogue with them.

Reason with them from the scriptures -- as the apostle Paul did with religious people he disagreed with (Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4).

Even debate with them as long as you keep it respectful (Acts 17:18ff).

And yes, there's even times you "vigorously refute" your religious opponents on a street corner in Temple Square --as Apollo did with Jews (Acts 18:28). But those street corners can be the beginning of ongoing relationships; and not simply serve as "bash central" where "debate scoring points are sought"...

The souls of socialists, Muslims, communists, liberals, Democrats -- and yes, Mormons -- are too valuable to make it all about debate points.

4 posted on 10/06/2013 8:37:10 AM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

Colofornian .... As a LDS member (Mormon) it is generally easy for me to wave you off because you seem to offer so few christian traits of tolerance and understanding.

Why would I consider entertaining any ideas from someone who is so vehemently anti-christian in her attacks against my faith?

I get the distinct impression that were it 100 years ago you would be a leading proponent of the Missouri Mormon Extermination Order!


5 posted on 10/06/2013 8:59:01 AM PDT by teppe (... for my God ... for my Family ... for my Country ....)
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To: Colofornian

Dogs and cats living together.


6 posted on 10/06/2013 9:00:32 AM PDT by Hoodat (BENGHAZI - 4 KILLED, 2 MIA)
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To: teppe
Teppe...

First of all, as much as you like to "get personal" and make this thread about me -- it's not about me.

The first line of too many Mormon apologists is to get personal...and already with your post you've taken an accusatory stance of my level of Christian traits, being "vehemently anti-Christian", and serving as some exterminator!

(Kind of sounds like the Democrats labeling Repubs these days as terrorists holding bombs to the chests of the Dems and kidnappers holding Obama hostage...all extremist rhetoric)

If, Teppe, you continue to insist upon making such accusations, then please...please...please...be specific vs. generic/vague.

I've said it before to other posters: When you want to hold somebody "accountable" for something, the last thing in the world to do is to be vague/generic about what you object to.

For example, Teppe, were you to be a father who wanted to discipline your child, would you proceed to exact a discipline minus telling him or her what it's for?

How could a child learn to correct perceived misbehavior if nothing specific is ever cited?

understanding

So all I ask Teppe is please be civil with your accusations: Be specific. Cite something I've said -- in quotations.

You talk about some lack of "understanding" I have, but let's review one simple pattern that emerges in my posts -- vs. your pattern of posts:

When I discuss Mormonism, I constantly -- as in THOUSANDS of times -- respect Mormonism by quoting Mormons themselves! IoW, to some degree, I let them speak for themselves...and when I disagree with what they've said...and seek to hold them accountable for what they've said, I've still cited them. I've been SPECIFIC about what I object to.

Teppe, have you ever -- or done more than once or twice -- quoted me as to what you object to about me?

My experience with your responses is that they are usually hit & run...NOT of a dialogue nature...NOT quoting me at all...NOT relational at all.

So, please. From here on out: If you want to object to what I say -- quote me. Be specific. Avoid vagueness.

If you feel you need to "discipline" me -- or hold me accountable, I invite you to do so. But as in a court of law, just don't assume evidence that has yet to be introduced into the case.

I thank you ahead of time for such future consideration.

her

(How do you know I am not male? I mean, if you "write me off" as female -- which Mormons tend to treat as second class -- isn't it easier for you to simply write off anything I say? Why are you so presumptive?) give me just one "anti-Christian" example

7 posted on 10/06/2013 9:29:57 AM PDT by Colofornian
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To: Colofornian

Awesome post.


8 posted on 10/06/2013 9:54:38 AM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Power disintegrates when people withdraw their obedience and support)
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To: Colofornian

I once visited Temple Square when I was in SLC (about 10 years ago), and the only negative experience I recall was hearing the protesters screaming their hate-filled tirades as we approached the entrance.

Other than that, the tour was lovely.


9 posted on 10/06/2013 10:22:46 AM PDT by Kip Russell (Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss. ---Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: teppe

“Why would I consider entertaining any ideas from someone who is so vehemently anti-christian in her attacks against my faith?”


Technically it’s not anti-Christian, it’s anti-Mormonism. Mormons like to demand to be called Christians, but we don’t take them seriously. Ultimately it will have to be the Holy Spirit who will convert you from the evil religion of Joseph Smith. If all the facts proving horndog joey to be a fraud don’t work on you, why would a change in attitude work on you? Therefore, let us pray for you, and, perhaps, God will grant you repentance.


10 posted on 10/06/2013 11:20:42 AM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: teppe
Do not make this thread "about" another Freeper. That is also a form of "making it personal."

Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.

11 posted on 10/06/2013 11:37:14 AM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Greetings_Puny_Humans

Puny Human Greetor.

The difference between me and you is that I let Christ decide who is Christian and who is not ...

...while you like a medieval pope has wrestled that responsibility away from Christ.

I declare with full firmness of my heart that I love, accept and obey My Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ with all of my heart, might, mind and soul. And have dedicated my life to live by his precepts.

If you believe that make me a non-christian, it’s your problem not mine ..... however, I would commend to you a simple teaching of Christ’s that apparently are not aware of “....judge not that ye be not judged”

Somehow I suspect that Christs view of your self-appointed judgeship over who is acceptable to him and who is not ...is a little ..... non-christian.


12 posted on 10/06/2013 11:40:18 AM PDT by teppe (... for my God ... for my Family ... for my Country ....)
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To: teppe

“The difference between me and you is that I let Christ decide who is Christian and who is not ...”


Great! So that must mean you’re a monotheist who believes the Bible when it says: “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isa 43:10)?

“I declare with full firmness of my heart that I love, accept and obey My Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ with all of my heart, might, mind and soul.”


“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
(Mat 7:22-23)

Good luck with the whole “Joey the Pedophile prophet knows better than the word of God on how to get to heaven, but it doesn’t matter because I really fancy that I love the Lord!” thing. I’m sure it’ll work out just fine.


13 posted on 10/06/2013 11:43:44 AM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: Colofornian

Great response!

However it sounds like someone on this thread is running around like a Shiz with his head cut off.

;^)


14 posted on 10/06/2013 11:46:39 AM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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To: teppe
Hi,

As a Catholic I accept that we are miles apart theologically, but I can assure you that I have seen far more evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit from my LDS friends andneighborsthan I have from many of those who profess to be “bible believing Christians”.

As much as I have felt the anti-Catholic bias from the moderators and posters here in the Religion Forum I can honestly say it is far worse toward Mormons. The wording of your post that drew the warning was far tamer than many, many by Protestants that are actively defended by the religion Moderator. Please do not judge us all by the actions of a few.

Peace and Blessings

15 posted on 10/06/2013 12:13:30 PM PDT by Natural Law (Jesus did not leave us a book, He left us a Church.)
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To: Natural Law
Hi,
As a Catholic I accept that we are miles apart theologically, but I can assure you that I have seen far more evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit from my LDS friends andneighborsthan I have from many of those who profess to be “bible believing Christians”.

As much as I have felt the anti-Catholic bias from the moderators and posters here in the Religion Forum I can honestly say it is far worse toward Mormons. The wording of your post that drew the warning was far tamer than many, many by Protestants that are actively defended by the religion Moderator. Please do not judge us all by the actions of a few.

Peace and Blessings

Hell hath no fury like a Catholic slighted.

16 posted on 10/06/2013 12:34:01 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny.)
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To: Natural Law

“As much as I have felt the anti-Catholic bias from the moderators and posters here in the Religion Forum”


How ya been doing Natural Law? Long time no see! How goes the whole ‘there is a satanic conspiracy on FR so I’m not going to post in the religion forum anymore’ and “Polytheists have the Holy Spirit too” thing going for you lately?


17 posted on 10/06/2013 12:35:45 PM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: Natural Law; teppe; Greetings_Puny_Humans; Alex Murphy; All
...many of those who profess to be “bible believing Christians”. As much as I have felt the anti-Catholic bias from the moderators and posters here in the Religion Forum I can honestly say it is far worse toward Mormons. The wording of your post that drew the warning was far tamer than many, many by Protestants that are actively defended by the religion Moderator. Please do not judge us all by the actions of a few. [Natural Law]

Wow! Such tremendous irony, NL.

The very first words I had to Teppe in this thread (post #7)...I said:
"First of all, as much as you like to "get personal" and make this thread about me -- it's not about me. The first line of too many Mormon apologists is to get personal...and already with your post you've taken an accusatory stance of my level of Christian traits, being "vehemently anti-Christian", and serving as some exterminator!"

We only have to go back less than five months to a post you sent to Greetings_puny_humans when you said something very similar: "No, you and I are insignificant. This is about the Truth."
See Natural Law 5/13/2013 post to GPH, #625

So here I point to the same focus as you did back then -- that these threads are NOT REALLY about me or you or other posters here...it's about the truth...and what do you do?

You turn around & reinforce the personal attacks of Teppe by "high-fiving" him & then injecting your own on top of that!

You openly judge vague FR posters somewhere -- and by implication, posters in this thread --as...
...(1) not evidencing gifts of the Holy Spirit...as if many gifts of the Holy Spirit would come thru ONLY on a digital thread...[did it EVER dawn on you how incomplete it is to offer up spiritual diagnosis-by-distance on your part? Are you really openly judging people being utilized by the Holy Spirit based upon a slight observance of a mere sliver of their lives? Really?]
...(2) You then expand the "making it personal" by going after FR moderators -- judging them as "biased" [never mind offering ANY evidence whatsoever...what somebody's handcuffed you @ your keyboard from linking something? Is it just easy for you to cast apersions & everybody is just supposed to take your slant as "Gospel Truth"???];
...(3) and then even more ironically, after judging untold/unnamed posters & moderators...you ask Teppe -- who has also just made it personal -- not to judge Christians...all as you yourselfjudged Christians on very post!

Wowsy, NL!

Do you see how repeatedly -- and blatantly -- you've come across in your inconsistency here?

Do you see how one ill-advised post can sink an otherwise solid reputation?

You of all posters -- one who appeals to truth ...versus those who want to reduce all of this to mere poster personalities ... would be one of the last posters I would expect to come in here & reinforce the very person here who attacks the one appealing to truth by reinforcing personal judgments and personal attacks upon others!

Utter irony!

And then you expand the personal attacks! Even going after unnamed FR posters & moderators!?! Really?

You know I haven't taken much notice of your posts previously. After you posted today, I looked thru these past five months & most of them seemed at least reasoned out & thought-thru (even if I disagree with some of their content).

Your post today stands out in stark contrast as unlike you.

May I suggest you apologize to whoever you were attacking...and take the same counsel I gave Teppe in post #7...if you're going to attack people & attempt to hold them accountable for certain words/actions, start being specific...name posters...name posts...quote them...please reconsider these vague generic lambasts. They don't foster civil conversations.

18 posted on 10/06/2013 5:14:28 PM PDT by Colofornian
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To: teppe; Natural Law
The difference between me and you is that I let Christ decide who is Christian and who is not ... ...while you like a medieval pope has wrestled that responsibility away from Christ.

No Christian denomination, including the Pope's consider the Mormon religion Christian, they know that it is it's own religion created by it's founder Joseph Smith.

19 posted on 10/06/2013 8:12:39 PM PDT by ansel12 ( 'I'm on That New Obama Diet... Every Day I Let Vladimir Putin Eat My Lunch' .)
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To: teppe
Do not tinker with a Freeper's name in a derisive manner.

Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.

20 posted on 10/06/2013 8:30:38 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Colofornian

True Christianity preaches the cross of Christ.

21 posted on 10/07/2013 11:19:48 AM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: Colofornian

The lds-org denies that Jesus is the Creator, that everything was created THROUGH Him, BY Him and FOR Him.

They deny that Jesus created even the angels out of nothing.

They do NOT teach the truth about Jesus.

22 posted on 10/07/2013 11:21:01 AM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: fishtank

You’re the last person to judge another faith when it comes to telling the truth, eh nukular “engineer” Fishtank?


23 posted on 10/15/2013 10:42:12 AM PDT by R7 Rocket (The Cathedral is Sovereign, you're not. Unfortunately, the Cathedral is crazy.)
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