Drat! They’re on to us!

From the informative and helpful New Zealand Cult List comes this entry on Mormons:

“Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this cult is well known for their door-knocking, and are easily recognised by their habit of riding bicycles in pairs while wearing suits.”

Hmm . . . I guess it’s time to switch to pogo sticks.

32 comments for “Drat! They’re on to us!

  1. Pogo sticks are “less effective”. Instead, we could switch to wearing jeans and t-shirts, and ring doorbells instead of knocking. That’ll confuse ’em.

  2. While in Japan, we conversed with a former Missionary (American) who served in Japan and returned there to work.

    Japanese houses are typically equipped with a doorbell attached to a voice speaker. We called these the “kekko boxes” because “kekko” was the only thing you heard from them (translation: that’s OK, we don’t want any). This old veteran pointed out that you just can’t get anywhere with these voice boxes. “So you make them think it’s broken.”

    He suggested ringing the doorbell, waiting for the voice response and then, while cupping your hand over your mouth, mumbling “whashfoshwss mfoshmzz seshoshmuzz” (don’t bother, that isn’t Japanese, or any language actually). Then after the confused reply, you take one of the paphlets from your pocket and crumple it up while repeating the same mumbled gibberish. Then you tap loudly on the receiver while repeating loudly “Moshi Moshi? Moshi Moshi?” (means Hello).

    Eventually, they have to come to the door because the kekko box is obviously busted.

    I never tried this tracting method (though in my eviler moments, I wish I had … maybe once …). But I knew a couple less scrupulous missionaries who did.

  3. kudos to Sheldon on the “less effective” nod. if you think missionaries stick out in New Zealand, try southern utah. there’s no experience quite as thrilling as teaching a polygamist that he’s been had by an apostate “prophet”

  4. In Japan, there are plenty of “civilians” who wear suits while riding bicycles. It’s easier to tell a missionary from a distance by the fact that he’s wearing a helmet.

  5. Derek, it’s the same here in Taiwan. They sometimes call LDS missionaries “the monks with the helmets.”

  6. The interesting bit is why the Church is considered to be a cult.If they applied those standards, there would be a major cult with a religion that started a bit earlier than the Latter Day Saint movement. It had a very charismatic leader who expected his followers to follow his authority. He asked them not to work a day a week and his teachings were different than those of the mainstream religions. Members of this cult develop close knit relations. They went against the established practices of the time. Their teachings were considered false and their leader was supposed to be a drunk. He hung out with the worst of society, often dinning with prostitutes. Let us not encounter this evil cult? Guesses any one. Yes, its the good old Christians. Some of Christ’s followers left him, does that make Christianity a cult? I guess that applying the standards of a cult can cut both ways. Incidently, have you seen the ‘what a cult is not?’ part. If you look up the defintion of the word cult is defined as a religion organisation. But apparently to this page, that is not a cult. Where, then, did they get their definition. Probably from the old ‘a cult is any other church but mine’.

    The quotes section is hilarious, they put no one in authority to present the Church doctrine. A stake president? Members of the Quorum of the Seventy? Orson Pratt made very dubious statements, especially on The Seer. Should we take this quotes as representatives? No. Maybe this quote would be more representative of what we actually believe.

    Sad, but this page only perpetuates claims that have been answered long time ago. It would be nice to respond to them, but I guess that they are not interested in a positive dialogue.

  7. You failed to point out the best part of this cult list website: In the list of all the cults, “Mormons” gets a flashing Danger sign and two flames, showing that we are particularly dangerous.

    On the other hand, I’m relieved that this Cult List is not a product of the government, unlike the lists that some European governments have produced.

  8. Thanks everyone. Made me laugh! First time I’ve copied blog comments and sent them to my missionary son.

  9. A thought I’d like some reaction to:

    One hundred years ago, the primary method for missionaries to preach the gospel was to literally preach the gospel — get up on a box in the town square or rent a hall and start preaching. Crowds would gather, and interested persons would receive a follow-up call at their homes. This went out of fashion when the general public began to see town-square public preachers as fanatics.

    More recently the primary method of preaching the gospel has been by going door to door. This may have been effective at one time, but now is widely seen as an uncomfortable intrusion into one’s privacy. I know how I feel when Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious organizations come around — it’s a lot like how I feel when salespeople come to the door. I don’t like it. I feel put upon to open the door and tell them, “No, thank you.” Sometimes I just do down to the basement and wait for them to go away. (And I myself did a lot of tracting on my own mission.)

    I suspect my feelings are pretty representative of the average American. It’s considered aggressive and in bad taste to bother people at their homes with a “cold call.” (Witness how many people have signed up for the national do-not-call registry.) My feeling is that tracting has gone the way of town-square preaching.

    I’m hearted that in my own mission (California Carlsbad) missionaries are not required to tract, so long as they are successfully teaching people.

    Question: Has the time come to do away with tracting as a standard missionary practice, at least in the U.S.?

  10. (Drat, I forgot to close the italics markup after “I”. Is there any way to get a “preview your post” function on T&S?)

  11. I think at this stage Mike, tracting is probably not worth the effort. Everyone has been tracted at least once. Of course that entails that members need be doing more work. (Which often they are not)

  12. (Fixed it for you, Mike. Sorry, no preview. But if you beg and send me baked goods, I might occasionally close a tag for you.)

  13. Thanks, Rosalynde. While you’re at it, how about a login option that would allow me delete duplicate posts? :-)

  14. Mark B (9): “On the other hand, I’m relieved that this Cult List is not a product of the government, unlike the lists that some European governments have produced.”

    Oh yes… Like in Belgium. Though funny as such, our (semi)identification with (weird) cults has a lot of consequences in some countries. No building permits (e.g. the temple in France…), difficult to get visa for the missionaries (various countries…), problems to rent facilities, and tragedies for individual members (employment, attribution of children in divorce cases…).

  15. Personally I thought the best little bit was in the History, where it says that Joseph Smith was killed in a gunfight, where ‘he killed two and wounded a third before he himself was killed.’ Funny, when you’re being held on charges of Treason, I didn’t know they let you keep guns with you. How odd, although you never know when that might come in handy.

  16. I think missionaries should be required to wear a cowbell to signify their presence.


    More cowbell.


  17. Well, from what I heard, someone in Joseph’s cell (I think it was Joseph) managed to smuggle in a personal firearm and discharged during the attack on the jail. The account I read said that shooting the gun frightened off those trying to break into the cell. It was then that Joseph stood at the window and was shot.

    I guess that qualifies as a “gunfight” if you define gunfight as a single armed man shooting in defense against about 100 armed men. Oh and lets not forget the cane, one of his cellmates used to beat away the rifle barrels.

    Yesir, Joseph and his comrads certainly were a violent bunch! You’d think they’d ambushed a wedding party in the woods or something!

  18. Queno,

    Is it fair to say that you have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell? Just wondering.

  19. Accusations that Joseph Smith was in some sort of “gunfight” are simply untrue.

    The pepperbox pistol had been slipped to him earlier that day by Cyrus Wheelock. At that time Hyrum said, “I hate to see such things used.” Joseph replied, “So do I, but we may have to, to defend ourselves.” (History of the Church 6:607–08.)

    Joseph only used the pistol after a musket ball fired by the mob had passed through the door and struck his brother in the face, killing him almost instantly. Joseph’s act was in defense of himself and his friends.

    The evidence that Joseph actually killed anyone is scant. John Taylor made the claim in his testimony of the events of that day (HC 7:99–108), but his report was based on hearsay. Three wounded men appeared at the trial of accused murderers of Joseph and Hyrum, and since the pepperbox only fired three rounds (the other three misfired), it’s logical to conclude that Joseph didn’t kill anyone that day.

  20. #20 One first-hand account (unsubstantiated) from a Carthage local says that she saw a wounded man come out of the jail, saying something like, “Smith shot me in the arm, but he didn’t survive the day!” I don’t begrudge Joseph having a gun (or using it) given the situation, but different accounts place actual casualties from the gun at 0, 2 wounded, and 2 killed 1 wounded. Take with a grain of salt, as always.

    #11 I’ve never been a fan of tracting. I’ve gone on splits with the missionaries numerous times back in the day, and as an outside observer (and convert) it always seemed to be a waste of time to me. Even if someone does open the door and listen for a bit, rarely will they commit to a discussion appointment–and then what do you do? If you’re a missionary (at least in ’94-95), you stand your ground and bear your testimony and watch as the person at the door gets a confused look on their face and desperately seeks an escape. [sigh]

    Two other thoughts on the matter: 1) in the U.S., as far as I know most multi-unit dwellings (apartments and condos) do not permit tracting. It just recently occurred to me that by being unable to tract many rented units, missionaries are kept away from huge demographics of people to instead concentrate on homeowners. Might this have an effect on successful contacts?

    2) AFAIK no evangelical church does tracting in the way that we do. They tend to sponor events/charities and rely on word of mouth. We have the Tabernacle Choir and, occasionally, the LDS Church actually bothers to draw some attention to the significant charity work we do, but otherwise we rely on member and missionary contacts. Maybe we should create more member/missionary-sponsored community events rather than trying to contact individuals/individual homes?

  21. I think any legal method, street-preaching, renting halls, tracting, events, that are not prohibited in the missionary manual, would be kosher.

    Tracting may bear little fruit in the US, but in densely populated areas of other countries, it has borne fruit, and is not that difficult depending on the area. Tracting was easy in South America, and you could easily generate appointments for discussions.

    I remember renting a little village’s theater and showing a 16mm church film. It wasn’t a bad turnout. It generated publicity, but I think few people actually had missionary discussions because of it.

    If the Spirit moves you to step up on a box or chair on the street and preach to the crowd, go for it! Whatever the Spirit tells you to do, by definition, is the right thing, as long as you know the source you’re listening to is the right source.

    One of my favorite stories from a companion was his older brother on his mission. His older brother and companion were walking along, and the Spirit prompted both of them to go into a bar and offer the customers to be taught the gospel. Both got the same prompting. They walked in, unplugged the jukebox, made a public announcement to the surprised patrons, and one of the customers in the bar took them up, was taught, and got baptized.

    Going into bars is not something missionaries are supposed to do, but since they were both prompted, and they both _knew_ it was the Spirit, they obeyed, and good resulted.

    I liked Elder Bednar’s talk at the last conference (Oct 2005), in which he said all members are to be missionaries at all times and in all places. We should all be ready to follow promptings about finding people to teach.

  22. I especially liked the story about Pres. Hinckley preaching in Hyde Park, London as a missionary. Apparently, that method was traditional in London at the time.

  23. You don’t have to go back 100 years ago for public preaching. I was baptised aged 14 in 1961 and it was quite a common method of spreading the gospel by the missionaries. About 4 missionaries would get together with interested members and newly-converted and tote along the soap-box to any busy corner and preach. (Members were there to provide the beginnings of a ready-made crowd). I was often called on to preach, I blush now to think I had the confidence and bravery. The theme for my preaching was usually ‘apostasy and restoration’. I still pass the two locations I preached at regularly during the first year of my conversion, and wonder where that brave girl went!

  24. The New Zealand cult site is a hoot! I think even our most devout critics would have to agree that this treatment of the church is superficial and vacuous. A short collection of one-liners.

    I particularly enjoyed the quotes. It would be nice to have a source for some of these. I mean, a source other than all the other cult sites that have the exact same quotations. A couple of the quotes scream, “I”VE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT!” But of course, nobody knows the source, so we can’t check on that. One does wonder what brothers Howard and Bushe might have said in the first half of the sentence that needed to be deleted, leaving us with a sentence fragment.

    And, not that it matters, but I’m pretty sure that the Joseph Smith qotation was actually made *after* the notoriously shocking “4,000 changes” were made in the Book of Mormon. It is a great one-liner, though.

  25. About “cult information”, a lot of nonsense on Mormons is available on the web in various languages. The cult-hunters spread their distorted info, which then in turn is picked up and freely adapted by e.g. high school students who need to do something about religions/cults for a class presentation and paper, which leads to further distortions. When those little schoolworks are then also placed on the web, you get funny (but also sad) results.

    Here are a few sentences of one I found on the web, translated from Dutch:

    “Joseph Smith, just like Moses, received stone tables with commandments. Everybody has to come to America where Jesus will also appear and create a new world but only for the Mormons. The rest of the world alas will be destroyed. Mormons live in families and the Church gives them a precise list of things to do during the day. They can only make love within their marriage. Every Mormon must make as many children as possible. If that does not work with the first wife, then a second one is given. In the U.S. the Mormons own their own COMPLETE State, Utah. They have malls where all the Mormons can shop without having to pay.”

    UKAnn (27), how wonderful those memories! I have them too… I know our missionaries and members in Belgium continue to do some form of public preaching. On Saturday they stand at the gate of a park, with a “streetboard” with large pictures. According to the level of interest, they may talk individually to people walking by or start a more public explanation using the board. Real “preaching” (more shouting to a larger crowd) is not really done. We need police permission to do so, but, as far as I know, it has been granted without too many problems.

  26. I think the main reason missionaries need to knock doors, street contact, etc. is that at some point that is a lot better than doing nothing. If I hadn’t knocked doors or done street contacting, I would have done an awful lot of nothing on my mission. I certainly would of wished for a different way. I definately wasn’t a fan of either. (I don’t have a salesman like personality)

  27. Quotes from the Book of Mormon:

    “…we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.” (Alma 31:16)

    “…ye should make slaves one of another…” (Mosiah 2:13)

    “…beat my people to pieces and grind the faces of the poor, saith the Lord God of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 13:15)

    Why resort to out-of-context quotes from stake presidents and obscure GAs when all the ammo you need is right there in the scriptures?

  28. 30.
    I agree that it’s better to do something than nothing.

    I’d like to offer, however, another possibility that missionaries need to knock on doors: growth and maturation of the missionaries through adversity. I believe that missionary work would produce more baptisms if we followed the old model of sending out grown men instead of 19-year-olds, but that we send who we do to develop these kids. Think Israel wandering 40 years, Zion’s camp, pioneers to SLC, etc.

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