FINAL UPDATE!!–Great news! The Catholics at the Sangre de Christo Catholic Church have asked law enforcement to drop charges against the erstwhile LDS missionaries. This, I think, concludes this blog. I will soon post a new blog entry detailing where I wanted to go with this in the first place. Many thanks to all those who posted comments–even the pans!
I must confess that I write this post with outrage, disgust, and profound sadness. I am reminded of this cliche’ from Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Earlier, I had posted about how an LDS Ward and Bishop were victimised by a non-LDS Christian preacher. The acts of that non-LDS preacher made me quite sympathetic to those who worship at a Roman Catholic shrine, the Sangre de Cristo Catholic Church, in San Luis, Colorado. Frankly, I am just as upset and horrified by news that LDS missionaries defiled it.
Quite candidly, this defilement is inexcusable. What would these hooligans have thought if Catholic Priests defiled, say, the Denver Temple? I have the urge to tell them: “Congratulations, punks! You’ve just given extreme anti-Mormons an excuse to defile our most sacred spots–and more! As if they needed more excuses!”
These vandals have ruined missionary efforts in Castillo, County, Colorado–for years, if not permanently. Moreover, since Roman Catholicism is more of a worldwide Church than we are, no doubt, this will damage both our missionary efforts among Catholics in general, it seriously undermines our humanitarian partnership with the Roman Catholic Church.
Some have accused the Sangre de Christo Catholic Church of being uncharitable in their response to this outrage. I disagree. Parishoners have every right to be irate and “unreasonable” at the violation of their Church and what they hold sacred. As the guilty party (after all, these goons were representing us!), we have no room to complain about “unreasonableness.” An apology that points out where the other guy was wrong (even when the other guy is partly–or even mostly–at fault!) is not a true apology.
Some time ago, while relaying a message (through a third party) from my Bishop, I had accidently offended somebody. The fact that the third party gave me the wrong message didn’t matter–at all. What did matter was that I offended that person, so I had to make it right–not the third party.
The Diocese of Colorado Springs has every right to demand the closure of the Colorado Denver South Mission–if not the Church as a whole within its boundaries (I am not saying that unreasonable demands should be met). But they aren’t; all they’re asking is to be made whole, and that justice would be served on the thugs who desecrated what is holy to them. This is a very reasonable request, and for that, we should be grateful, rather than angry.
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ credit, it has offered to recompense the Sangre de Christo Catholic Church for damages. Perhaps compensation for maintenance over the last two years would also be appropriate. Just because the full extent of the damages weren’t noticed for two years does not mean that workcrews weren’t subjected to extra work that they shouldn’t have had to do. The fact that the maintenance crew was subject to slightly more than the usual wear and tear is enough reason that they should be compensated for it! Maybe our Church can take it out of the hides of these vandals….
I am glad that the Church is cooperating in the prosecution–to the fullest extent of the law–of those thugs who messed with Catholic Church property. They deserve all the law has to throw at them.
I think that the third goon that was still on its mission should NEVER have been sent home, however; it sends a bad signal. Rather, that inDUHvidual should have been deposited at the police station for booking, then remanded to the county jail as an interstate flight risk until trial. As things stand now, the State of Colorado and Costilla County must spend money to extradite these low-lifes.
I do have a question, though: Where is the fourth reprobate? Missionaries have companions, and it is very rare for three of them to be companions with each other. Who took those pictures?!? That fourth guy should be prosecuted, as well.
I’m glad, though, that I’m part of a group that is outraged when one of ours is destructive rather than gleefully rewarding their destruction. I cannot imagine that God would be pleased with such cheap-shot destruction, and I am pleased that such low-lifes are a very small minority–and the Church moves to get rid of such.
UPDATE: While I don’t know the missionaries in question, and none of them are from my part of the country, it is my experience that Latter-day Saints aren’t all that different in their conduct from place to place. Thus, I cannot help wondering what part that *I* had in building a culture where it is OK to defile what is holy to others. These missionaries represent not only the Lord, but also us as members of the Church. What have we been teaching our people? When I taught Primary (My first calling was Nursury Leader!), when I was in Elders Quorum Presidencies, as a Home Teacher, in Bishoprics and Branch Presidencies, did I instill an ethos that it was better to suffer injustice than to inflict it–or did I contribute to a Hitlerjugend culture where others were “subhuman”–and thus, deserved maltreatment?
When I was a child, my dad caught me mistreating people for being “other”–once. Let me just say that he took effective action to ensure that I never behaved that way ever again.
There is a danger to the Evangelical view that we all are pathetic sinners. Those who hold that view too often tend to look at others that way–with no redeeming feature at all–and forget that it is just as true for themselves.
There is also a danger in the view that we all have the seeds of God within us. People in that paradigm tend to remember it about themselves–and forget it about others.
Actually, both views are true, but that leads–all too often–to the view that *I* have elements of God, while you are a pathetic sinner. In my case, it is better to reverse it: *I* am a sinner with no redeeming feature, while YOU have elements of God. It is MUCH nearer to the truth, and God is offended less often.
You’ve made some good points, NoS, so I’d like to address them:
1. You say that I was too emotive and not reasoned enough. Guilty as charged. Perhaps that was because several of my friends have been victimised (Forget about anything *I* might have suffered; I’m sure you’d agree that I got my just desserts!). While I am all for mercy for the sinner (since I am one myself–one who competes with Paul for being “chief of sinners” [See I Timothy 1:15]–see below), what about mercy for those who’ve been sinned against? You rightly assail the “liberalminded-double standard,” but how dare you deny the Catholics the right to complain about the way they’ve been treated–especially since they’ve done those missionaries no wrong?
2. You said, “I’ve not heard any catholics calling for such retribution, because Christians know that when they are offended they are to turn the other cheek (not necessarily ignore the legal consequences) but not try to get even.” I agree fully–but they could have. Don’t the Catholics get any credit for following the Lord’s injunction here? Moreover, just because I assert that they have a right to be “unreasonable,” I have NOT claimed that unreasonable demands should be met!
3. You said, “If Danderson thinks that missionaries who sin shouldn’t be sent home, he’s expressing his opinions on the wrong forum.” That is not what I think. What I do think is that people who commit felonies and who might be charged shouldn’t leave the jurisdiction; it inflicts undue expenses on the taxpayers of that jurisdiction. Or do you assert that taxpayers don’t deserve mercy?
4. You are right that Jesus “trie[d] to persuade ANY person acting unreasonably to repent and try humility and love,” but He did more than that: He roughed up the money changers who defiled the sacred [See Matthew 21:12-13]. Jesus followed D&C 121:43, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom [He hath] reproved, lest he esteem [Him] to be his enemy.” I do a lousy job of this, but I hope to get it right someday–through practice.
5. You said, “I am troubled by your assumption that one bad deed deserves another. “You’ve just given extreme anti-Mormons an excuse to defile our most sacred spots.” I made no such assumption. What I am assuming is that whenever people behave badly, others will take it as permission to do bad things to them. As the Saviour put it, “For … with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” [Matthew 7:2]. I’m not sure He’s saying we deserve it, but I am pretty sure He’s making an observation about what is.
6. You’re most definitely right that I “should become more aquainted with his New Testament.” I’ll go even further: I should become more acquainted with all the Scriptures! Even if I were to become as holy as Mother Teresa–or even as holy as you–that need will still exist. Moreover, I have a copy of Brother Millet’s book.
7. You rightly say that I “shouldn’t compare the stupid and disrespectful actions of these missionaries with what Hitler did. It denigrates everyone who’s family suffered through the holocaust.” Point taken–and I’ve already acknowledged where I was wrong in allowing my description of the event to spill over into describing the people. I remind you, though, that the Hitlerjugend didn’t operate the ovens. They WERE however, trained to hate other religions as subhuman; in their case, it was the Jews.
8. Your rant “‘My experience that LDS aren’t all that different in their conduct from place to place.’ Hm, very unsupportable statement. Just how much experience does Steven have judging how similar LDS are around the board. How much does Steven know about Statistics? While Danderson is claiming to have some sort of special knowledge about LDS distributions, I seriously doubt his ability to say anything of it,” is just as much namecalling as you accuse me of, but let me answer the question in it: I know enough statistics to teach it at the college level. However, I’m not making a statistical conclusion here; just an observation. I am also aware of your Y professor’s statistic about LDS tolerance, but thank you for citing it. It underlines why I was so upset at the horrid breaking with that norm.
9. You make an assumption that I am some left-wing nut. Actually, I am a libertarian-leaning CONSERVATIVE nut!
10. You say, “Steven: You’re lack of understanding the fall and repentance is bothersome, especially in one who claims to be an apologist. Your statment, “I am a sinner with no redeeming feature, while you have elements of God.” Is no nearer to the truth, it is exactly as far from the truth as any of the preceding statments. “We are all sinners, with good and bad. We will all ONLY be saved by Christ’s atonement, and all have access to the elements of God both from divine parentage and from the Savior’s grace.” That is Gospel truth. Don’t seek to defend the truth until you have it.” Obviously, from your tone, you mean everybody will be saved, except for me. You may be right. You ask where I live so you can avoid it. I have a better idea: If you wish, I’ll give you my exact location, so you may dispatch me to hell. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the trip!
NoS and others who may be concerned:
My very wise Bishop told me that, whenever people were angry with him, he would ask them to go over–in detail–EVERY aspect of why they’re angry with him. When they finish, Bishop asks them, “Do you feel better, having vented?” Invariably, they think for a moment, then answer, “Yes.” At that point, says my Bishop, he can work with them to solve the real source of their trouble.
I’ve already revealed the problem at the source of my rant: The pain that those at the Sangre de Christo Catholic Church felt when people betrayed a trust, and treated them and what they hold sacred with less than all due respect. You rant, “How about you bring one of your victimized friends and let them make a noise.” I ask, why should THEY face their enemies, since the New Testament makes it clear that WE should do it for them [See Acts 20:35, for example.]?
You ask, “Should we give the Catholics a sticker? Would that make you feel better?” How about giving the Catholics some courtesy? They don’t need a sticker; just some consideration as humans. What prevents you from giving it to them? I wonder if it is because you are feeling pain? Your labelling me a stupid, evil, non-Christian, seems to indicate that–in spite of your protests of the need for logic….
I wonder if you or somebody close to you did somebody wrong–and felt unforgiven (You DON’T need to answer that!!)? I had thought that forgiveness upon repentance is an entirely separate matter from assessing the damage done–and the pain inflicted by the sin itself. I can understand now, upon reflection, why you or others might think differently–and I should have made that distinction clear. I do so now:
1. Even though I used harsh words to describe them, based on their reported acts, I do NOT assert that they will remain so after repentance. President Spencer Kimball made it clear that an sinner who repents is no longer a sinner [Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 107].
2. I trust local and general authorities to provide the proper ecclesiatic remedy. I have enough experience with leaders at both levels to be secure that they know what they’re doing.
3. Consequently, once those remedies are in place, I can wholeheartedly sustain their return to full fellowship, quite confidently sustaining them in whatever calling the Lord sees fit to entrust them.
My view is the same as for anybody else. The Lord has done some WONDERFUL things with some very flaky characters–including ME!
If what I wrote gave any of you pain, I apologise. Have a good life!