December 6, 2014

How to Deal with Mormon Missionaries

I saw this video on Facebook months ago [should show up above, if not click this link], but it has since reappeared on my newsfeed. I'll come right out and say that I am not a fan. It's not a win for the black guy, it was quite frankly rude and unnecessary. I'm writing this post because I have been seeing a lot of social media stuff related to Mormon missionaries, and most of the things I've seen are not positive.

In case you don't know what Mormon missionaries are, let me briefly explain. First and foremost Mormons are Christians, as they represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Missionaries are people who travel to preach the teachings of their respective religion, they don't have to be Christian, but in America most of them are. Mormons are allowed to go on missions once they turn 18 years old, which is quite young. For many young Mormons it marks the beginning of adulthood and the beginning of an enlightening spiritual trip.

There are millions of Mormons across the world, therefore they can come from (or be sent to) any part of world to serve their mission. Males (Elders) serve for 2 years, while females (Sisters) serve for 18 months. As I said previously, missionaries can be as young as 18 which is a huge deal, at least in my opinion. When I was 18, the thought of moving away from home scared me, even if it was to go to college and have fun. Being a missionary is a huge responsibility as well as a serious duty. The missionaries believe they have been called upon by Jesus Christ to spread his word, as well as the doctrines that their Church teaches. They go around on bicycles, by car, or on foot to discuss their faith with various people. Keep in mind, I'm not making excuses for the missionaries, but I want people to see things from their perspective. I'm not Mormon and I have never been a missionary, but I respect them for doing what they do, even if our religious beliefs differ. My religion teaches compassion, hospitality, empathy, and care for all humankind and that's why I'm writing this. Missionaries have a tough job because it's a transition from everything they're used to.

Now back to the video. The caption underneath the video says, "never judge a book by it's cover" because the person who posted the video seemed to believe that the missionaries were targeting the guy because they thought he didn't know the word of Jesus Christ. But it's obvious that that's not true. The missionaries saw the guys standing out there and simply approached them, like they would anyone. There was no one else standing out there except them, and they saw an opportunity to speak with them. Now maybe I could see that as a valid point if there were other groups of people standing outside, but from what I could see they were the only ones out there. If you have missionaries in your town, you probably see them going from door to door, or speaking to random people in the street, because that's what they do.

Next, after the missionaries start talking about scripture and the Priesthood, the man begins to talk about what he knows about scripture, sort of 'showing off' that he does in fact know the scripture as well as some history about biblical times. The missionaries seem respective, but then the guy starts to become condescending and haughty. He starts to speak really quickly, and nit-picks at what the missionaries say and it does seem to fluster the missionaries. Wouldn't anyone get flustered if someone starts attacking their every word? So after he kind of shows off he asks "Well i thought you guys were here to teach?" They were trying to, but kept getting cut down, how can you teach someone who appears to know everything?

The missionary then offers the man a pamphlet, and the guy completely rejects it because it's the 'Book of Mormon'. First of all, that was not the Book of Mormon it was a simple pamphlet. The guy seems to become more agitated, and pompous. One of the missionaries tries to sort of diffuse the situation and the guy just laughs in their face. At this point, it becomes really hard for me to continue to watch it's just so rude and I know Jesus wouldn't want any of his followers to treat people in such a way. He was being so antagonizing, and I believe the fact that the camera was on him, made him act out even more. He even accuses them of of being angry and not capable of holding an intelligent conversation. Seriously? He's the one getting angry and not even giving them a chance to speak.

The last minute or so is of the guy saying that the missionaries are lying about believing in the bible. His accusations are baseless, probably because of his own biases and presumptions about Mormons because they didn't even get to say much to him before he started attacking them. The missionaries try to depart peacefully and try to shake the man's hand even though he blatantly disrespected them, but what does he do? He doesn't want to shake their hands and even puts his hand in their faces. It was purely an act of intimidation.

There are a lot of truly sad things captured on video, and this is one of them. And this is only one instance of what missionaries deal with, I'm sure they have to deal with much worse. At the end of the day we are all people, and all people deserve respect. If he wanted to discuss the bible with them, he could've did it in a much more respectful way. If he couldn't be respectful, he could've just said he was not interested in hearing what they had to say, and I'm sure they would've moved on. I think this is a lesson for all of us on how to not treat missionaries. These are young people just getting out into the world, and no they don't know everything and they aren't perfect, embarrassing and alienating them out in public is not the way to go, and if you want to get biblical, it's not the way of Christ. Even if you aren't religious/spiritual, what would it hurt to be kind to someone who's different? Someone who doesn't believe in what you believe in? I don't understand people who can quote the bible cover to cover, but won't honor the basic tenants of being Christian. You deal with missionaries just like you would deal with anyone who deserves compassion, respect, and hospitality. I just think about them being so far from home, trying to do what they believe is right, trying to make God proud as well as their families, how could you not respect that?


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