Missionary Tip: Don’t Let Yourself Be Videotaped By Enemies

It is increasingly popular for critics of the Church to engage Mormon missionaries in a debate while a videocamera is running. The critics will then find some unflattering excerpts and post it on YouTube for thousands to see. I would suggest that missionaries should be trained to politely walk away in such cases. No good will come from that.

Has this issue been addressed in guidelines for mission presidents? I think it would be helpful.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

15 thoughts on “Missionary Tip: Don’t Let Yourself Be Videotaped By Enemies

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Yeah, I’ve seen a youtube video of a ‘fundamentalist’ Christian, who basically lays into two unsuspecting mormon elders. Whilst the non-LDS Christian had some intelligent points, I couldn’t help but think that this guy was up-himself, so to speak…

    I couldn’t help but think the non-LDS Christian somehow used his over-bearing stature to bully the two mormon elders…

  2. Was that the Georgia preacher one, NM? Talk about attitude…

    There really are some stupid videos on Youtube. I find it so annoying how those “Christian” street preacher types will tape themselves provoking someone and publish it. It reflects really badly on believers. Nasty as it sounds, I don’t want to call them my brothers and sisters…kinda throws doubt on whether they ARE true believers.

  3. I attempted to film a historical site missionary (Fayette, NY) doing their monologue when I was interrupted and asked to put the camera away. He explained that this was policy (mission?) and he feared that unscrupulous folk would produce the same type of job you describe.

  4. I have a question to any LDS reader. If street preachers should stop videotaping missionaries for their own purposes, then do you think that the people from FAIR should therefore not videotape street preachers during conference and post them on their website?

    Any thoughts?

  5. If street preachers should stop videotaping missionaries for their own purposes, then do you think that the people from FAIR should therefore not videotape street preachers during conference and post them on their website?

    Can you see the difference between setting up a couple of missionaries to humiliate them and their faith, and taping people who are intentionally going out of their way to offend — and unintentially making total idiots of themselves — to show others what Conference attendees have to put up with?

  6. do you think that the people from FAIR should therefore not videotape street preachers during conference

    Yes! How dare they assemble the 5% flattering material from the video and post it online </sarcasm>

    Seriously, if they’re using sneaky underhanded tactics like taking things out of context and deliberately suppressing content that goes against the spin, yes.

    That said, I see some major differences here:

    1. The street preachers *want* attention and are probably happy with any airtime they can get, even if it comes from FAIR.

    2. I doubt (but can’t verify) that the FAIR folks are egging the street preachers on and trying to make them slip up and do/say something stupid on film (the cynic in me says they don’t need to).

    3. The sidewalks around the Conference Center are public forum where you can’t really expect any privacy. Most people expect the inside of a house to be just a tad bit more private (I wonder how long until it’s a hidden camera filming the missionaries?)

  7. To erelis and Ryan,

    I do see the difference between the tactics and intentions of the street preachers who videotape missionaries and FAIR individuals who videotape street preachers. And I do understand that really, you can’t compare the two as the same basic thing. (please do not think that I was trying to compare the two.) After all, as you two pointed out, the street preachers do indeed want the attention and to be exposed while the missionaries are usually not intentially trying to be videotaped.

    So really, I agree with your postions. I just asked the question to play devil’s advocate and see some perspectives on this issue.


    Steve Smoot

  8. One of the first things that a full-time LDS missionary needs to learn is how to disengage when you find out that the person is not sincere about their interaction with you.

    When I was a green missionary, I remember my companion and I getting sucked into a group setting in which a devout member of another Christian faith appeared to want to discuss religion with us, and there were at least 6 of his friends who wanted to sit in and observe.

    Well, it turned out that the “investigator” just wanted to argue, and show off to his friends how he could one-up the missionaries, and “prove” us wrong.

    In my enthusiasm, I wanted to stay and show how we could answer his questions. It didn’t seem like “bashing” at first.

    But my trainer correctly judged his intentions, and got us out of there.

    If the investigator is a devout member of another faith/church, even a minister, you can still have a pleasant discussion or teaching session, even when there’s no indication of them actually seeking to convert.

    As long as they _sincerely_ want to hear the information the LDS church presents, and they are _polite_ about it, and non-confrontational, then LDS missionaries are sort of honor-bound to present the information.

    But as soon as there is contention or confrontation, the LDS missionaries are under a scriptural mandate (as well as church policy) to break off contact.

    I remember a very pleasant lunch and a polite discussion that a later companion and I had with a nice pastor and his wife. They were sincere in wanting to know what we believed, and politely engaged us in discussion. I kept wondering if he was going to use it against us. But, I felt duty-bound to answer his sincere questions that he asked in such a polite manner.

    LDS church leaders know that our full-time missionaries can get suckered in occasionally. Hey, they’re just 19/20/21 year-old kids, and usually not wise in the ways of the world. Such encounters can give missionaries real-world experience. This is what trainers and senior-companions are for, to pass along the skills needed to handle these kinds of encounters.

  9. Youtube is full on anti-LDS internet trolls. I’ve posted some LDS oriented videos of Glenn Beck – radio and TV personality – that have to do with his conversion to the church. I have to block many trolls from commenting, some will even go to the trouble of making a new identity just so they can continue being abusive.

    It’s interesting to note that the church is now using Youtube to post videos. I may have to start doing as they do and disable commenting.

  10. Just use professional actors to make up your own Youtube video to get the church point across. You don’t have to lie or have a real debate but it could come out positive. Then at the end the bad preacher could have a melt down like the Wicked Witch of the West. I would put the college video production team in charge of this.

  11. The good goes with the bad. You Tube has lots of great things. Remember that the missionaries are “set apart” to teach.

    Just warn them of the “pitfalls” out there.

    RE: General conference. The protesters need to be warmly welcomed. It is their right to be there.

  12. I think we need to train our Elders better. I have had discussions with some that do not know the answer to many questions but rather than politely say they don’t know, they make something up. I had one Elder tell me that the Word of Wisdom was followed by all the Prophets since Joseph Smith. This of course is not accurate as even Brigham Young was famous for his private wine cellar. He liked his wine.

  13. Why would you expect anyone to listen your presentation of the Mormon beliefs if you are not willing to listen to a presentation of the Christian beliefs as presented in the Bible. Sounds kind of arrogant or insecure. Incidentally, I don’t think the street preachers are tryign to get attention they are simply trying to communicate a message and they do it in a different way.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.