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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Mormon Missionaries Vandalize Catholic Shrine (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Mormon Missionaries Vandalize Catholic Shrine
TL
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The Story

This is a shocking and disappointing story... My take is predictable: young people of any religion can be knuckleheads. Still -- what a poor way to represent their faith. They should be prosecuted in Colorado and the church should take some action against them as well. Clearly, they do not share the values of the LDS church. If, in some cases, ex-communication is considered to be called for on subjects like public disagreement with the church on controversial issues, what should the punishment be for something _really_ outrageous, such as what these three men did?

I have to wonder why not one of these clowns had the good sense to say "Wait a minute guys, I know wrong when I see it. We need to not do this."

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Lyrhawn
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What an amazing way to not only break the law, but show an amazing amount of contempt and disrespect for another religion. I hope they are punished mightily, and at the same time, I really hope there is no backlash against the LDS church for this.
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Mucus
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I'm wondering what was going through the mind of the photographer.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
I'm wondering what was going through the mind of the photographer.

I had the same thought about that puppy video from last week. Why in the world do people photograph themselves doing things that can get them into trouble?

--j_k

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Dagonee
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I think the Church should ask for compensation for any physical damage, publicly forgive them, and not seek to file charges.

I appreciate the response of the LDS official in this.

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advice for robots
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Oh, man. What idiots. I am ashamed for them.
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Puffy Treat
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This saddens and sickens me. However, from the things said in the article, it sounds like the young men will be facing consequences. A good overview of what usually happens in such situations can be found in this article here.
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Uprooted
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[Frown]

Man. I'm glad they got caught, although I'm sorry for the negative image that this gives to the LDS church in the minds of all who live in that community, attend that church or read about this act.

I seem to recall that Pres. Monson was known for giving a "don't be stupid" talk to young missionaries in the MTC; don't know if he's done that in recent years. This goes beyond stupid, though.

So much for raising the bar.

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BlackBlade
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Utterly ridiculous. Were I in charge of those elders and I felt the community was not seeking to harm the missionaries I would make them clean up what they disfigured, as well as make them all apologize in person to the church heads. I'd also use LDS church funds to monetarily compensate the church for repairs.

I'd probably send all three missionaries home as well.

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aspectre
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This part
quote:
Robert Fotheringham...in charge of the...missionary program in....the San Luis Valley, declined to release names of the missionaries.
I really don't understand. Are their daddys big muckety-mucks being protected from embarrassment, or what? If kiddies screw up, grown-ups make their kids fess up and apologize as well. Not say "Sorry. We know who did it and we'll pay ya off."

Is Fotheringham trying to pick a fight with Catholics by forcing them to turn to the law in order to find out who's responsible?

[ March 10, 2008, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Dagonee
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I interpreted that as not releasing the names to the press, not to the Catholic Church, but it's not clear what was meant.
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aspectre
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ahhh... Not releasing the names to the press makes sense. I hope your interpretation is correct.
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Puffy Treat
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I read it as not releasing the names to the press.
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Elmer's Glue
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That's what everyone except aspectre read it as.
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Threads
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It's unfortunate that nasty events like this are generally the ones to make it into the news. I'm surprised that individuals like this would volunteer for missionary work in the first place.
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aspectre
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"That's what everyone except aspectre read it as."

Comes from reading and hearing too many statements from too many politicians, spin doctors, and political commentators.
Then misusing that mindset when reading stuff coming from regular folks.

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TL
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quote:
That's what everyone except aspectre read it as.
Untrue. It isn't clear from the text, but my initial assumption was that he wouldn't release the identities, period. It can be interpreted either way, and to come to a conclusion either way, based on what was written, requires a small assumption on the part of the reader.
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MattP
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quote:
I'm surprised that individuals like this would volunteer for missionary work in the first place.
There is a lot of pressure for young LDS males to serve a mission. They sing songs about it when they are children and are supposed to save money for it from a very young age. It's just What You Do.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
"That's what everyone except aspectre read it as."

Comes from reading and hearing too many statements from too many politicians, spin doctors, and political commentators.
Then misusing that mindset when reading stuff coming from regular folks.

You should also note that this maybe a sensitive religious issue requiring confidentiality. If these missionaries confessed their misdeeds to a church leader and/or if they are involved in church disciplinary hearings on this issue, then many of the details may be covered by the same sort of rules of secrecy that apply to Catholic confessionals. Please recognize that there are legitimate religious reasons for refusing to divulge confidential information that may have nothing in common with the typical public cover up of misdeeds.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by James Tiberius Kirk:
Why in the world do people photograph themselves doing things that can get them into trouble?

True that.
On further examination, not only did they photograph themselves but they put the pictures on photobucket (from context, I would assume a photo-sharing service like Picasa or Flickr). That somewhat implies that they felt that there might be a larger audience to share their moment with.

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Eaquae Legit
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
I'm surprised that individuals like this would volunteer for missionary work in the first place.
There is a lot of pressure for young LDS males to serve a mission. They sing songs about it when they are children and are supposed to save money for it from a very young age. It's just What You Do.
I've wondered about that in the past. It's not just What You Do, you do it at such a young age. I know there's lots of reasons to go on a mission at 18, but for me it was very difficult to have a very good conversation with missionaries so young. They were honest and well-informed about their beliefs, but the older missionaries I spoke to had a greater "normal" education and greater life experience, and were able to answer my questions in a far more satisfying way.

Anyway, I'm not sure how much sense that made, but I often wonder what benefits there might be to sending missionaries out even 2 or 3 years older.

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MEC
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I had to look up where this took place, as I just returned several months ago from the Denver South Mission. Luckily it was in the Colorado Springs Mission and didn't involve anyone I knew.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Anyway, I'm not sure how much sense that made, but I often wonder what benefits there might be to sending missionaries out even 2 or 3 years older.
There would be lots of benefits for the missionary effort but it would be much more difficult for the missionaries. The way it is now, young men leave for their missions in the year following their high school graduation. Many leave before they start college, most leave before they are significantly involved in a particular course of study. If they left 2 to 3 years later (as the young women do) it would be a much big disruption in their education. More of them would be romatically involved and considering marriage. More of them would have responsible jobs that were harder to leave. All in all, its much easier and less disruptive for the missionaries to go when they are 19 than it would be 2 or 3 years later.
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Juxtapose
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Why do the young women leave later then?
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Eaquae Legit
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
There would be lots of benefits for the missionary effort but it would be much more difficult for the missionaries. The way it is now, young men leave for their missions in the year following their high school graduation. Many leave before they start college, most leave before they are significantly involved in a particular course of study. If they left 2 to 3 years later (as the young women do) it would be a much big disruption in their education. More of them would be romatically involved and considering marriage. More of them would have responsible jobs that were harder to leave. All in all, its much easier and less disruptive for the missionaries to go when they are 19 than it would be 2 or 3 years later.

But the women manage somehow. They suffer a disrupted education or romantic/family commitments. If it's so important a thing to do, shouldn't having the best and most effective missionaries possible be a vital concern?

I do understand that it's easier. (And thank you for the gentle correction about the age missionaries leave. [Smile] ) But it's those exact "difficult" experiences that would make them more effective missionaries. In my case, the women who visited made the men seem almost childish by comparison. It's easier to talk to someone who's been where you've been, or at least visited the metaphorical neighbourhood. Or maybe I'm just a tough crowd. I don't go out of my way to be so, but it seems to end up that way most of the time.

Haha, listen to the Catholic voicing concerns over the effectiveness of Mormon missionaries! [Wink]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
But the women manage somehow. They suffer a disrupted education or romantic/family commitments.
And far far fewer of them go missions.

quote:
If it's so important a thing to do, shouldn't having the best and most effective missionaries possible be a vital concern?
But we also believe that education is important, marriage and family are important, being a productive contributing citizen is important as are many other things in life. We have to strike a balance between those things and the balance we have chosen is to send young men on missions at a point in which it is least disruptive to their education, career and family life.

We might have more effective missionaries if we sent them out at 30 after they'd studied religion for a decade, but would we have as effective husbands, fathers, wives and mothers? Would we be productive members of our communities? Would we have qualified contributing lay ministers in our congregations?

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
Why do the young women leave later then?

Tradition!

But seriously that's a difficult question and I've never got a fully satisfactory answer to it.

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Juxtapose
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Ah, I see.
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777
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As a young man preparing for a mission, I am utterly sickened by this. What better way to prepare to field than to make people misinterpret our beliefs, our motives, our inter-religious relations... It boggles the mind. The idiots! That single act of stupidity has probably screwed over the entire missionary effort in that town.

Boredom is no excuse. From what I've heard from returned missionaries, they don't get a lot of down time while out on the field; any spare time should be used to stretch out and find more contacts to work with, or fortify/strengthen relationships that are already in progress. If someone pleads boredom and restlessness as an excuse for vandalism, it merely means that the missionaries in question didn't work their butts hard enough to have a full schedule--which says more about them than anything else.

And the question of maturity: I think you'll find that while many missionaries are sent due to pressure from others, you'll also find some simply astounding young men out on missions. Their enthusiasm is hard to rival--most missionaries serve as the primary drive for the ward to stretch out to new individuals. If you sent out guys that have to leave full families behind for a couple of years, then they'd be far less enthusiastic about it--we need to get out there before we attain any sort of serious attachment to anyone or anything in particular. Otherwise, we'll just be distracted.

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Eaquae Legit
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I'm genuinely not trying to be antagonistic, Rabbit. I hope I don't come off that way!

I understand, and it's a difficult balance to strike. I'm still glad most of my visits were with the young women, though. [Smile]

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Eisenoxyde
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MEC - Where did you serve? I live in the Golden stake.
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kmbboots
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I agree that, should the people involved apologize and make restitution for any damages, I would hope that no charges would need to be filed.
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Javert Hugo
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I'm horrified by this. Stupid missionaries. [Frown]

I'm tempted to share other stupid missionaries stories from my mission, but nothing like this happened. There was the occasional missionary who broke mission rules concerning dating and got sent home, and there was this one braniac district leader of mine who got a tatoo from a sleazy part of town (calling your mother to tell her you need insurance information so you can get a full battery of blood tests is not fun), but nothing like this. I'm so sad that it happened.

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Farmgirl
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As far as not releasing their names to the press -- I imagine that won't last long.

Since they are missionaries, I assume they are all over 18. Since they will probably be charged with vandalism, then their names will appear in police documents as such, and will not be protected by laws covering the releasing of juvenile names.

It will be a great shame to their families. [Frown]

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
You should also note that this maybe a sensitive religious issue requiring confidentiality. If these missionaries confessed their misdeeds to a church leader and/or if they are involved in church disciplinary hearings on this issue, then many of the details may be covered by the same sort of rules of secrecy that apply to Catholic confessionals. Please recognize that there are legitimate religious reasons for refusing to divulge confidential information that may have nothing in common with the typical public cover up of misdeeds.

If church leaders are being asked to identify people from a photograph priviledge of the confessional does not apply. (And wouldn't for a Catholic priest or other denominational clergy that hears confessions either.) It would only apply if they were asked if they knew who did it and the only way they knew was through a confession or counseling relationship. Being asked if you recognize a person in a photo has nothing to do with whether or not you've heard their confession.

Edit to note: this is something I have been trained in as a clergyperson. The legal line can be blurred in places, but this is no where close to it.

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advice for robots
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I'm sure church officials are cooperating fully with law enforcement in this matter. However, they probably won't be too open-mouthed to the press beyond some prepared statements.

I am glad I do not have to sit through the dressing down these young men are going to get. They were representing the church's good name and instead gave the church a black eye, and not just at the PR level.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Anybody have any idea what the statute of limitations is for these guys?
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MEC
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quote:
Originally posted by Eisenoxyde:
MEC - Where did you serve? I live in the Golden stake.

I never got to serve in the Golden stake, I served predominantly in Denver and Aurora. I also spent six months in Craig and the surrounding area.
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pooka
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quote:
If church leaders are being asked to identify people from a photograph priviledge of the confessional does not apply.
To the press, though? I can certainly see doing so to officials, and if I ran the zoo, to the injured parties themselves rather than being compelled by the state.

I think cutting the head off a statue should carry some kind of criminal charge.

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Occasional
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So much for the religious Christian belief in repentance and forgiveness. All I see right now is retribution and shame - that goes for the Catholic Church in this case who did vote for legal action.

Really, what did these missionaries do? From the information I have gathered they might have broken the head off of a statue and perhaps (I can't confirm) some graffiti. That is serious. However, from the looks of the statue I am not sure they did it; even if one of the photos said they did. What did they do it with, a tote bag? The cut is pretty clean for a swift kick to the marble head.

What these missionaries did was not becoming a missionary, but there is something fishy going on. I sense a witch hunt.

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pooka
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Try putting the shoe on the other foot, Occasional. Also, the church had never taught that forgiveness obviates the need for reparations. Reparations are as much for the sinner as the injured.
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Scott R
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I sense nothing but some idiot missionaries.

Sometimes when people criticize Mormons, we actually deserve it. Case in point...

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advice for robots
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I suppose investigation will have to show whether the missionaries had a role in the vandalism of the shrine, but that doesn't discount the severe disrespect they showed to what others consider sacred. I don't blame the community for being hurt and offended at their actions. They didn't prove to be any better than whoever did the vandalism, if it were indeed somebody else.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
quote:
If church leaders are being asked to identify people from a photograph priviledge of the confessional does not apply.
To the press, though? I can certainly see doing so to officials, and if I ran the zoo, to the injured parties themselves rather than being compelled by the state.

The priviledge of the confessional is not necessary to decide not to talk to the press. Anyone can choose not to answer their questions in any circumstances.
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ClaudiaTherese
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If the culprits are charged, it may well be based on the identification of them from video by the church officials (to police, not privileged by confessional under contexts noted above by dkw).

Once formally charged, that would be a matter of public record. The press would not need to speak to church officials to establish identity, as that would already be done. Should the press ask for a statement from church officials, of course -- as dkw notes -- they could decline to speak to them.

But the identification would likely have been separate, assuming charges are made formally in the criminal justice system. (If not, then another context applies.) In that case, the connection for identification from press to church officials is indirect through the police, and mere identification from video would not be privileged.

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MrSquicky
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Were I in the position of the missionary leader, I think my response to being asked to identify the people in the picture by the press would be something along the lines of "Why would you think I would ever tell you that?" Actually, it would probably just be a flat refusal, but I'd certainly think that.

I think they'd have a responsibility to give that information to the people wronged, though.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
If church leaders are being asked to identify people from a photograph priviledge of the confessional does not apply. (And wouldn't for a Catholic priest or other denominational clergy that hears confessions either.) It would only apply if they were asked if they knew who did it and the only way they knew was through a confession or counseling relationship. Being asked if you recognize a person in a photo has nothing to do with whether or not you've heard their confession.

Edit to note: this is something I have been trained in as a clergyperson. The legal line can be blurred in places, but this is no where close to it.

Thanks for the clarification. But several confounding factors might make the line in this case more blurred than it seems. They did not identify the church office of the official they interviewed. If it was a local authority, it is unlikely that he would recognize the missionaries from the photos although he might know their identity through confidential church sources. Its also possible that he might not know the identity of the missionaries at all even though he was familiar with the events.

If it was the mission president, things get more complicated. Mission Presidents normally rotate every 3 years so there is a reasonable chance that the person they interviewed wasn't present in Colorado in 2006 when the incident occurred and would not recognize the missionaries involved from their photos.

Since most LDS church leaders aren't professional clergy, they probably haven't had the specific training in these issues you have. As a result, I can understand that they might be cautious about what they tell the media or the police and would likely seek counsel from higher authorities or even legal authorities before releasing information.

I don't know if any of those scenarios are true. All I know is that the official in question wouldn't tell the press the names of the missionaries involved. I only wanted to point out that when a church is involved with an incident like this there are considerations that wouldn't apply if this were a business or other organization. As a result, when ever I hear of church officials refusing to provide information to the media or the police, I give them a benefit of a doubt because I respect their special obligations.

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I am not saying what they did was innocent. What I am saying is that there is still too many questions everyone seems to think have already been answered. Even if they did do the vandalism, I think what they are facing is going to make repentance (making them "better citizens") almost impossible. Have you seen the charges on top of LDS Church discipline?

As a comment at "Deseret News" said:

quote:

Also, though I say to forgive, I don't say that because they are LDS. And I understand fully that what they did was wrong. I'm only worrying about the boys and their futures. That should matter more than anything to everyone. Human life is more important than ANY statue. Don't dare say otherwise! I worry for them. The town will eventually heal. These boys may pay for more than they took.

We will be measured by how we measure others.

Their future is in the towns hands. So far I've read that they want to charge them with felony, conspiracy, and 4 more.

Another good point made previously is that if we pursued everything like this online, there would be no end. I can see some validity. This is an issue of hurt feelings.

I understand the other opinions here and respect them. The religion-to-blame arguments are irrelevant.

I feel sorry for the town and church but I would ask that they forgive these boys.

The question is if this has been blown out of proportion. I think at this point it has. That isn't to say my mind is made up, but the visciousness of the attacks on these former missionaries is as staggering as what they are accused of doing.
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According to the Deseret News article, "charges could include desecration of a venerated object, criminal trespass, defacing property and bias-motivated crime." Which of these crimes is it wrong to charge them with?

As I said above, I don't think the Church should seek criminal charges. But I'm concerned by the attitude that the existence of LDS punishment or the difficulty criminal charges will add to repentance is a reason for the civil authority to treat them lightly.

If the roles were reversed, I would not call on the LDS Church not to press charges - I wouldn't feel it appropriate for me to do so. I would call on the Catholic Church to apologize, assist in the investigation, and see that restitution is paid. I would call on the missionaries to submit to civil authority on this matter. I would also call on the Church to make sure the missionaries were protected and given good legal counsel.

Because the roles are not reversed, I call on my Church to seek restitution, to forgive, and to not advocate for criminal charges. It should be noted that the prosecutors can prosecute whether the Church wants them to or not.

There do seem to be some vicious attacks elsewhere aimed at the missionaries. I haven't seen such attacks here, though. Moreover, I don't see why other people behaving badly should lessen the consequences for these men.

Edit: it's hard to see how this qualifies as blown out of proportion. What happened was staggeringly disrespectful. The LDS Church has forthrightly acknowledged this. Do you disagree with their assessment?

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Boris
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So, stupidity of these missionaries has been established for sure. Having known many many missionaries I can tell you that stupid photo ops are standard missionary procedure. However, we really don't know all the facts around this thing. I mean, there is little knowledge of what actually happened here aside from what was seen in the pictures (which was quite obviously wrong), and everyone automatically assumes that the missionaries cut the head off the statue. What if the statue's head was already loose or had been cut off previously without the knowledge of anyone? Unless there was also a picture of one of the missionaries taking a baseball bat or a hacksaw to the statue, there really isn't much more than circumstantial evidence. I'd be perfectly happy to see these missionaries having to defend themselves in court and tell the whole story of what happened here. I think we should be a little more willing to give the missionaries some leeway here. Without a complete knowledge of what happened with these missionaries, the only thing we can say they are guilty of is stupidity and poor taste in photo opportunities. And probably trespassing.
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