Anti-Mormon Protesters: Hate Speech


"We know that right-thinking people are not impressed by volume and vitriolic diatribes (as one counter-protester’s sign said, “I’m Louder So I Must Be Right!”). Such actions have always aroused curiosity about the Church rather than turning people away from it."[i]

Since the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ Mormons have been the victims of hate speech. Time and time again we find those who try to intimidate, threaten and browbeat the Mormons because of our various religious doctrines. U.S. constitutional laws do not prohibit hate speech. Hate speech is protected under the constitution under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The only time hate speech becomes unprotected and exposed to the law is when that speech incites violence, encouragement to riot, and use fighting words.[ii] 

Latter-Day Saints often find anti-Mormon protesters surrounding Temple Square and other areas during conferences held each April and October. "Their main purpose? To yell and scream terrible things about the leaders, the doctrine and the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in this way convince us we are wrong. The last time I checked, yelling profane assumptions at families who are minding their own business wasn’t the most effective teaching method. Yet, their posters and billboards get bigger, their voices louder..."[iii] Tiffany Wilde was an LDS missionary during the April General Conference of 2003. Her insights are invaluable to one who sympathizes with the Mormons. She posted her experience the, "Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research," (FAIR). The following is in her own words:

"The Church got smart last year and came up with a plan. Anti-Mormons can buy a permit from the city to stand in a specific spot and conduct their protest. The Church decided to purchase their own permits, as well. They purchased one permit on the Conference Center side of the street and one on the Temple Square side of the street, just outside the gates. The Church called a special meeting with those sisters in mission leadership positions and asked us to be brave and place ourselves smack dab in the middle of all the drama. Can you imagine two sets of young sisters standing at their designated posts in the midst of mobs of angry men holding posters, yelling, and blowing their noses in sacred garments and waving them in the air. We were a small force, but a mighty one. We had shifts, so we’d stand for two hours and then recharge back inside the Square before going back out to the lions."

According to two accounts, during the October 2003 Conference protesters mocked the Mormons by displaying temple garments by blowing their noses and pretending to wipe their butts with them.[iv] The irony is precious. The protesters used deceit in obtaining the use of garments to "rear and lead," those to the truth. Unfortunately two of the preachers were assaulted by some LDS church members which provoked Salt Lake City church leaders  to create speech regulations. Police quickly stepped in and designated speech zones, "which forbid anyone from standing on some parts of the sidewalk when pedestrian traffic peaks with up to 25,000 conference-goers entering the center... the no-standing rule applies to everyone - not just the preachers - and noted that protesters are allowed to walk through those zones with conference goers and spread their message by speaking, carrying signs and handing out pamphlets. They just can't stand still."[v] This was to the LDS church a little disappointing as they desired to completely remove the hate speech protesters from the sidewalks nearest to the LDS Conference Center.

According to Lance Starr's Fair Article, "these Street Preachers are so clownish, so over-the-top outrageous that nobody takes them seriously. Several local Christian churches in Salt Lake have apologized for the actions of the Street Preachers and claimed they do not represent a true version of Christianity. In fact, after viewing the photos of these pseudo-Christian preachers posted on the FAIR website, Richard Abanes, author of the book One Nation Under Gods12 (which is highly critical of the LDS Church) felt impressed to write a letter to Scott Gordon, the president of FAIR, apologizing for the actions of the Preachers. It seems even professional critics of the Church can readily identify how outrageous these people are and how poorly they reflect upon other Christians."[vi] At another time Lance says, "The Street Preacher’s activities were considered to be so degrading and outrageous that many of local evangelical ministers were personally disgusted. Two dozen of them held a press conference on the steps of the LDS Conference Center to issue an apology to the LDS members of Salt Lake City and express their heartfelt desire for a higher level of discourse when it comes to theological differences."[vii]




[i] http://www.fairlds.org/authors/starr-lance/why-we-should-love-the-street-preachers#enloc11
[ii] Schauer, Frederick (February 2005). "The Exceptional First Amendment". Working Paper Series from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. doi:10.2139/ssrn.668543.
[iii] Tiffany Wilde; missionary of Temple Square. April 2003 General Conference. http://www.fairlds.org/authors/wilde-tiffany/without-the-walls-of-temple-square
[iv] Why We Should Love the Street Preachers by Lance Starr http://www.fairlds.org/authors/starr-lance/why-we-should-love-the-street-preachers#enloc1 and Tiffany Wilde http://www.fairlds.org/authors/wilde-tiffany/without-the-walls-of-temple-square
[v] http://wwrn.org/articles/6105/?&place=united-states&section=other-groups
[vi] http://www.fairlds.org/authors/starr-lance/why-we-should-love-the-street-preachers#enloc11
[vii] http://www.fairlds.org/authors/starr-lance/why-we-should-love-the-street-preachers#enloc11

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