Last week my Mom told me about a comment that she read in the USATODAY about the Mormon temple opening in Sacramento. I went online and found it here. I thought the timing of the comment was pretty interesting because I leave to minister at the Sacramento temple this weekend.
As you read the comments from Jeff Byrd, notice that he uses extremely flammatory language. Words like, “protesters, out-raged, anti-Mormonism, anti-Semitism, persecuted, extermination and hate” do not give the impression that Mr. Byrd is a happy camper. Indeed a great number of Mormons are not happy about our presence at temple openings. It is obvious that because Byrd misunderstands our motives, he is attempting to incite an inhospitable attitude towards our presence.
Contrary to Byrd’s opinions about our motives, the primary focus of Christians is to lovingly and peacefully distribute free Christian literature to the public that will discuss some foundational doctrines of the Mormon faith in contrast to historic Christianity. We are not targeting Mormons nor will we be persecuting anyone. Our purpose is to quietly and respectfully exercise our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion as we distribute this information. This is not a protest of the Temple.
Our position, which compels us to this action, is that Mormonism consistently misrepresents itself to the public as a Christian denomination by withholding important 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.
Undoubtedly, Mormons will not be happy about our presence outside of the Temple. We realize the sacredness of this time and place to Mormons and will work very carefully to be sensitive to the feelings of Latter-Day Saints while conducting our outreach. We are appalled at the reported actions of some protesters during General Conference. We distance ourselves from that kind “outreach.” We have every intent of conducting ourselves in a manner that is, not only within the law, but above reproach in every way. For that reason we ask that we are not referred to as “anti-Mormon” or “protesters.” We desire to be referred to simply as Christians.
If you would like to write to the USATODAY and voice your opinion about Mr. Byrd’s misunderstanding of our actions, please contact them here and share your thoughts. Also, check out Sharon Lindbloom’s blog for another angle on the story.
Personally, I pray that Jeff Byrd’s attempt to incite unfriendly attitudes towards us does not succeed. The last time I was in California for a Mormon temple opening, three young men physically “protested” my presence there. I wonder what Mr. Byrd thinks of that?