Man on a mission

Front of Mormon flyer On my way to the post office the other day, I was approached by a young man on a bike. He was wearing a helmet and a dark blue suit jacket. Pinned to his jacket was a name tag in both English and Chinese. The young man wanted to tell me about his mission: Espousing the virtues of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints and the Book of Mormon. The young man, with facial hair just barely visible, seemed a bit nervous. I thought I might have been the first person he approached. Maybe I was the first soul he was trying to save.

I did not want to disappoint him. I took the flier he offered me, wondering to myself what his reaction would be if I told him I come from the Holy Land. I put the flier in my purse and headed to the post office. I mailed my package and headed back home.

Page 2 of flyerThen, in the comfort of my own room, I gave the flier a closer look. I kept looking at the image on the front side of the flier trying to decipher what kind of message it was trying to convey. Flipping the flier over, I found an invitation to receive another testament of Jesus Christ. I paused, looking at the word "another" in disbelief. As someone who believes that the Bible is the only testimony of Jesus Christ, I could not buy the young man’s mission.

But the incident stayed with me for a few days. Eventually I decided to let it go. As I currently live in a country where freedom of religion and freedom of speech are safeguarded, I should expect more similar encounters. The next time, though, I will proclaim that I come from the Holy Land.

By Natasha Tynes

Iโ€™m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.


  1. Be ready for the word Wow when you do that, probably accompanied by big eyes, changing facial expressions. It’ll be an interesting experienc(s).

  2. What??? Don’t tell me that you didn’t know that the native inhabitants of the Americas are actually the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. How ignorant. Mormons would love the fact that you are from the Holy Land, until they find out that you are not Jewish. The Mormon church is one of the largest organized groups that is unwavering in their support of racist state of Israel.

  3. The premise for these people is that some gold tablets where found that “only” their prophet could decifer, and then “only” while locked in a room alone with them. Later the “original” text was lost, he found the magic tablets again and made a “new” and “better” translation, then God took them back, so no one could check his work.. Its hardly sillier than the belief that people 150 year after the fact could describe things Christ did, *when there was no one else around to witness it*, or that the OT is infallible, despite the fact that entire sections are selectively ignored, often with one tiny bit, like the anti-gay issue, being taken out of a section that is otherwise full of stuff that “good Christians” would demand immediate jail time for commiting, and I mean stuff it says in that part that you “should” do, like beating your child to death for getting uppity. Personally, I don’t find it any less annoying when some non-Mormon shows up with the same salvation speel, but a more “accepted” set of wacky claims. The first assumption they “all” have is that, if you are not three blocks away doing the same thing to someone else, you are unsaved, going to hell and need their pamphlets.

    As for calling Israel racist… Is there any state over there that “isn’t”? Just saying, because I don’t see the difference myself, never mind what ever other excuse you use for your racist claims of them being the only racist ones involved.

  4. I don’t personally know any Mormons. The closest I’ve come is the governor of Massachusetts — Mitt Romney. What I know about him is that he is one of the most ignorant, prejudiced, hateful people I’ve seen, and he uses his religion to back such hatred.

  5. A timely discussion of Mormon beliefs and practices can be found on Andrew Sullivan’s blog at (Check out the Mormon underwear.)

  6. Yep, you should expect lots of encounters! It’s messy…and interesting! All this struggling for the divine in so many different ways. I say, “Viva la difference!”

  7. What a coincidence Natasha !

    I just spent the most religiously diverse weekend ever… attending this event —>, where I met Mormons,Muslims, Christians, Jews , Bahais, Budhists, Hindus and even a person who beleives in extrateresterial life and UFO’s. It was wonderful to be able to freely speak about one’s points of view opinions and for some even beliefs without having to look over one’s shoulder,risk getting spat at, screamed at or fear persecution for being an unGodly infidel. I will blog on my 4 day experience as soon as I get the pictures.

  8. Mitt Romney is supposedly preparing to run for president. The controversy around here in Utah is that was allegedly endorsed by the LDS church and that he is trying to use BYU’s alumni chapters for his political campaign.

  9. Jameed, evanglicals have been blogging about this…some can’t decide to vote for him as we share moral values but don’t agree with the theology. I’m sure the pockets of BYU alumni are deep.

    Business Week had an issue devoted to competition a while back, and LDS won for most competitive religion…beating Islam as the fastest growing religion by converts (as opposed to birthrate).

  10. Marhaban ya Natasha! Funny to run into this on your blog…I happen to be a Mormon. I see by the comments, some people have quite strong opinions about us; most of it based on false information or prejudice.

    Some people here would describe my religion as a simplistic “we’re right, you’re wrong” kind of thing, and we’re out to zealously “save” others whether or not they want anything to do with it. This is a gross mischaracterization and I doubt very much that anyone here has been terribly discomfited by a Mormon (or by any other Christian). Anyway, this is not the forum to correct all the errors written here about Mormonism or to tell you all about it. You can ask Sandmonkey for my contact info if you are curious.

    I do commend the state of Jordan for being the only Muslim country to officially recognize the Mormon church and to allow people in Jordan to worship in the open. And while it is true the Church supports Israel’s right to exist, it is in no way anti-Palestinian. The former executive director of United Palestinian Appeal and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Omar Kader, actually IS a Mormon himself. The Church regularly sends humanitarian aid to Palestine and to other Islamic nations. Recently the Mormon church and Islamic Relief Worldwide collaborated to send 110 tons of aid to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. I just came across some blog posts from a young, Palestinian Mormon woman from Bethlehem who feels her faith has deepened her appreciation for her home in the Holy Land.

    Anyway, Natasha, sorry for the length…when I saw this post, I felt something akin to how you felt watching recent events in Jordan from your Maryland apartment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Actually, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), has no official position on Israel. When they speak of Israel, it is more in terms of the House of Israel, but that doesn’t mean political Israelis, but decendants of Jacob, which is more of a doctrinal belief that has to do with all the tribes of Israel that have been scattered.

    As for Mormons being racist, The Book of Mormon teaches against that, and constantly says that all people are equal before God. In fact an official scripture, Article of Faith 1:3 says “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind can be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

    Also, we believe all people will be judged according to the knowledge they receive, meaning that man is not responsible for being ignorant of those laws and ordinances.

    So in summary, we don’t limit anyone from receiving all the blessings of Heaven, nor do we hate anyone (though we despise evil practices), at least, if we practice our religion.

  12. “As for Mormons being racist, The Book of Mormon teaches against that, and constantly says that all people are equal before God”

    Yes David, that is one major difference between Islam and Mormons. The final updates to the Qur’an were done during the 8th century leaving quite a few portions that are embarrassing today, while the updates to the Mormon holy books to remove some of the (shall we say) “politically awkward” parts have been much more recent.


  13. Hmm… I think you misunderstood my comment, which is okay. I’ll be honest, I don’t quite understand your comment Jo. Thanks for your discussion though. I like to hear what others have to say ๐Ÿ™‚

    First, what I have read of the Qur’an, I wouldn’t say that it teaches racism. Sure, there are verses which describe war against people, but war does not equate to hatred. Muhammad had much hatred working against him and his people, and he had legitimate reasons to lead people to fight against those who fought against him and the worshippers of God. His situation was dangerous.

    As far as the Book of Mormon goes, I know it has gone through some editing (but I believe that they were the weakness of men corrected by inspiration, and that it is still of God), but the only change I can think of that was more recent is this: “In future editions the words ‘principal ancestors’ will be changed to ‘among the ancestors.'”
    This is not in the scripture itself, but in an introduction, and it historically makes more sense in my mind. The way people intermingle and become part of a nation and not necessarily mix with other tribes and nations has nothing to do with doctrine and doesn’t change the original truth of the narrative, but rather gives a more correct historical context to it.

    Also, The Book of Mormon constantly uses the language “all nations, kindred, tongues and people,” predominately speaking of them receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is clear that we are not an exclusionary church.

    I wouldn’t call Islam nor the LDS church racist as a whole or in their teachings. Individuals may decide to be so, or taking the teachings out of context may make it appear so, but in context of all the teachings and circumstances, neither teaches hatred. Islam comes from the same root as Salaam, which means peace. the LDS Church teaches peace as well.

    I do have a question. What do you mean about final updates in the 8th century? I am curious about this.

  14. Thanks David for all your interesting comments.
    I have replied, but I put a few hrefs in, in answer to your question, and got snagged by Natashas spam filter. So you may have to wait a while.

  15. (reposted without so many links to avoid the spam filter)

    Thanks David for all your comments.
    Interesting stuff. I am no expert at all on the Mormons so it is good to get your point of view. I still get the impression though that in yet another parallel to Islam, that Mormons believe in the “human typewriter” model of prophesy. What I mean is that Prophet Smith got his magic glasses which translated what he saw word for word – ie no human involvement in the process (While I think Jewish and Christian theology understands prophesy more as Spirit-inspired writing – help me out here someone!) Anyway, if that is the case you can’t go changing your holy book anytime it makes you uncomfortable (see ). The Mormon church does not have the magic glasses or the gold plates anymore so how can anyone “adjust” what was written? If God said “white” then you just have to live with that in my opinion. Otherwise you fall into the mess called abrogation or “naskh” where the eternal gold plates in heaven seem to be changed to suit the times or even a prophet’s whim. How do Mormons avoid this problem? Do the current Mormon prophets believe the earlier prophets are fallible or do they believe in “naskh”?

    “I do have a question. What do you mean about final updates in the 8th century? I am curious about this”

    Thats a BIG question. Here’s a few leads to get you going (I had more but the spam filter stopped them):

    Here is a good start: New York Times Article, “Radical New Views of Islam and the Origins of the Koran”

    I am really enjoying an absolutely fascinating book (in the ACOR library in Amman)called “Seeing Islam as others saw it”. A lot of this is now available on Wiki too I just noticed:

    Well I hope that is enough to get you going

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