Mormon Missionary Hypocrisy


Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - A Circuit Court in Accra on Friday sentenced two missionaries of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) to various jail terms after finding them guilty on charges of conspiracy and defilement.

The convicts Omale Ojonugwnuwa, alias Elder Omale, a 25-year-old Nigerian and Thatayaone Keeng, 20, from Botswana, were evangelising on behalf of the church popularly called Mormons in Ghana.

They pleaded not guilty to defiling a 14-year-old house help of a next door neighbour, who runs errands for them.

The court sentenced Elder Omale to 10 years imprisonment for conspiracy and defilement while Keeng was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for defilement by the court presided over by Mrs Georgina Mensah Datsa.   

It said that the prosecution had established the essential ingredients of the offences preferred against them, pointing out how the victim gave a detailed account of the sequence of sex the convicts had with her.

The court ordered that diaries belonging to the convicts tendered in evidence should be returned to them. 

Defence counsel prayed the court to exercise utmost mercy on the accused persons because they are young, and would advise themselves on what action to take.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sarah Ekua Acquah told the court that the complainant was a dressmaker who lived with the victim as her house help in Accra, and the accused persons had been sending the victim occasionally.

She said on February 1, 2010, Elder Omale after calling the victim under the pretext of sending her on an errand, asked her whether she had ever been kissed, to which she responded in the negative.

ASP Acquah said Elder Omale called the victim to his room and defiled her after which Keeng, who was in the room and witnessed the act, also took his turn.   

After satisfying themselves, they warned the victim not to disclose the ordeal to her mistress otherwise she would be sent back to the village. 

ASP Acquah said on another occasion, March 10, the complainant asked the victim to fetch some water from a polytank in the compound.

But the victim could not find key to the polytank and went to the accused persons for their key but they denied it was in their possession.

ASP Acquah said that in the process, the accused persons defiled the victim again but a friend of the complainant saw the victim enter the accused persons' room.   

The prosecution said the complainant asked the victim what the accused persons invited her for.

ASP Acquah said that the victim said she had been defiled by the accused persons.

The prosecution said the case was reported to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.

ASP Acquah said that medical examination indicated that the girl' hymen had been broken.

Mormons lure Korean converts with English lessons

Missionaries offer language lessons — if students also learn about the Book of Mormon.

By Teke Wiggin — Special to GlobalPost
Published: June 1, 2010 06:57 ET in Asia

SEOUL, South Korea — After a long day of seeking out new students on the drab and grimy, windswept streets of Geumcheon, one of Seoul’s poorest areas, English teachers Jared Turley and Spencer Gunnel sit inside an empty classroom, waiting for a shy 12-year-old student nicknamed Superstar.

A thin boy with glasses, he finally arrives and sits down in a single chair opposite the two teachers. Despite Superstar’s tardiness, the instructors appear thrilled to see him and inflect their voices generously when speaking to him. In a mix of English and Korean (a language Gunnel and Turley have spent countless hours studying) the lesson begins.

Superstar is a stellar student with a passion for English. But that’s not how he earned his name.

He never misses class and usually brings along friends, some of whom are interested in sticking around for the second part of the private lesson — learning the Mormon gospel. Superstar converted to the faith in late 2009.

Turley and Gunnel are on a mission that’s part rote learning and part religion. For the pair of strait-laced missionaries known as elders, who are on a two-year assignment in South Korea, the English classes are a way to attract new sheep to their flock.

South Korea is home to 80,000 Mormons and 500 missionaries, according to church literature, representing one of the Mormon’s Asian strongholds. It ranks third in overall population, behind Japan and the Philippines.

Unlike in those countries, proselytizers here have a special tool to lure converts — offering classes to a citizenry that views English proficiency as a prerequisite to success.

On many days, these pious peddlers stand on crowded Seoul street-corners hawking a sure-fire come on. In a city where language schools are expensive and private lesson rates run as high as $65 an hour, their classes are free.

But there’s a catch. Most lessons require students to remain for a second session discussing the Book of Mormon.

“A lot of people think we’re English teachers,” said Gunnel, a slim blond college freshman who, like all Mormon missionaries, is required to wear a conservative dark suit, white shirt and nametag.

Added missionary Brian Booth: “Probably most people drop out [of the bible lessons] because they’re in it for the English.”

The missionaries say they don’t consider the ploy to be any false advertising. They’ll do whatever it takes to promote their religious cause.

But not all Koreans see it that way.

Some students have complained that the teaching sessions take on the tone of a pushy time-share pitch.

“They say ‘Oh, we can teach English’ but the truth is that only if we go to church can we learn English, and we have to believe in their God,” said Shin Ayeong, 22, who went to a few classes before dropping out.

Still, the missionaries sent her telephone texts for months, imploring her to return, she said.

The street solicitations are known as “boarding,” when missionaries use placards and fliers to stop passersby. But their tactics are not exactly forthcoming as neither the missionaries nor their advertisements usually mention the religious requirements of the free language lessons.

“You can’t put everything on a billboard,” said Korea Seoul West Mission President Craig Burton.

Every one of the 15 or so private English lessons Turley and Gunnel teach each week has a religious requirement. Students must show interest in the faith or they’re shown the door.

“If they’re not showing any interest [in the religious aspect] probably by the sixth week, you’d ask them about it.” Depending on the answer, lessons would stop or continue, Turley said.

For Gunnel and Turley, a tall, handsome Utah native with mission-regulation cropped hair and a rich, sonorous voice, the Mormon regimen here is rigorous.

Each day, they study Korean and the Mormon gospel from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Then, until at least 9:00 at night, the “companions” must proselytize by wandering the streets, knocking on doors and teaching English and religion lessons to students.

They also visit members and “less-active members,” who sometimes have not heard from the church in 35 to 40 years, Turley said.

Known in church lexicon as “companions,” the pair does everything together — literally.

Their missionary handbook stresses that while soliciting they shouldn’t even be on different floors of the same building. Separations are allowed only “in an interview with the mission president, on a companion exchange, or in the bathroom,” the manual says.

The duo said they understand why. “There are lots of temptations on the street,” said Gunnel.

“Hey, don’t look at the ground,” they tell each other when roaming streets littered with adult entertainment and prostitution leaflets, he said.

Other rules forbid them from watching TV, going to movies, listening to the radio or using the internet “except to communicate with your family or your mission president or as otherwise authorized,” the handbook says.

Wolfing down a dinner of Korean omelets, Turley and Gunnel admitted that they knew little about the U.S. war in Afghanistan or even the 2008 global financial crisis.

Instead, the missionaries spend their days looking for new language students — and converts like Superstar. But they’re not the only ones with a game plan.

One Korean mother sent her teenage son to English classes for five months, all the while delaying her child’s baptism.

Finally, after giving about $1,500 worth of free English tutoring, the missionaries put their foot down.

They canceled the lessons.


US Mormon missionaries to be deported from Guyana

9/2/2009, 7:19 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press

(AP) — GEORGETOWN, Guyana - At least 30 Mormon missionaries were detained Wednesday in the South American country of Guyana because they did not have updated travel documents, police said.

Most of them are U.S. citizens and will be deported, Police Chief Henry Greene said. He declined further comment.

U.S. Embassy officials met with government leaders after the arrests and were not immediately available for comment.

It was unclear what prompted the arrests. No incidents involving the missionaries were reported prior to their detainment. They could be heard singing "We Shall Overcome" from their cells Wednesday night.

Some 100 missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are estimated to work in Guyana. A spokeswoman for the Utah-based church said she did not yet have any details on the situation. She declined to give her name.

U.S. citizens traveling to Guyana need a valid U.S. passport, and immigration officials usually grant visitors a 30-day stay, according to the U.S. Department of State.


Former Mormon missionary spared prison in Vegas child sex case


LAS VEGAS (AP) - A former Mormon missionary accused of molesting two children at a church has agreed to a plea deal sparing him prison time.

John Misseldine will have his convictions dismissed if he completes five years of probation under terms of his plea agreement Thursday in Clark County District Court. He would not have to register as a sex offender.

Misseldine pleaded the equivalent of no contest to one count of attempted lewdness with a child under 14 and one count of coercion.

Prosecutor Stacy Kollins told District Judge Donald Mosley the deal "strikes a balance between justice and community protection."

Defense lawyer Robert Draskovich called the case against Misseldine flawed.

Misseldine, then 21, a Utah college student from Little Rock, Ark., was arrested in October 2003 after he was accused of fondling two girls, ages 4 and 7, in a classroom at a Las Vegas-area Mormon church.


Eastern Kentucky lawsuit accuses Mormon missionary of sex abuse

Associated Press

Jan 30, 2007

(BEATTYVILLE, Ky.) -- A Mormon missionary who was accused of sexually abusing three people in 2005 during a missionary trip in Kentucky and Indiana has been sued along with the church by the mother of one of the accusers.

The eastern Kentucky woman contends that Jason Stark's conduct damaged her son psychologically, socially and mentally. The lawsuit says the boy, who is younger than 18, has suffered public scorn, ridicule and embarrassment because of Stark, who is from Idaho.

The case was filed in Lee County Circuit Court in December. The Mormon church asked last week that the case be moved to federal court.

Stark was charged in Lee County with two counts of sodomy and one count of attempted sodomy last February. He is scheduled for trial July 16th.

The church said in March that Stark had "been released from his missionary duties" pending the outcome of the trial. He is out on bond.

The church has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, saying some of the claims might be barred by statute of limitations and that it cannot be held responsible for actions of someone not necessarily under its control.


Missionary charged with abusing 12-year-old convert

By Stephen Hunt
The Salt Lake Tribune


A Mormon missionary has been charged with fondling a 12-year-old boy he had recently baptized, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in 3rd District Court.
    Kyle Saucier, 20, is charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child, which is punishable by six-, 10 or 15 years to life in prison.
    One factor elevating the seriousness of the alleged crime is that Saucier "occupied a position of special trust in relation to the victim," according to the complaint.
    The boy told a Salt Lake County sheriff's detective that on Dec. 24, 2006, he and his mother went to Saucier's residence to give him a Christmas present, according to the complaint. Saucier "gave him a hug, then reached into his pants, and touched his penis," the boy told investigators.
    A $50,000 warrant has been issued for Saucier's arrest.

Mormon men strip for the faith

November 15, 2007
Sidney Morning Herald

The 2008 Men On A Mission calendar.

A group of Mormon missionaries are the latest in line to strip for the photographer's lens.

A calendar called Men On A Mission is part of a project called Mormons Exposed, which aims to demystify the religion.

The calendar constitutes a significant break with tradition for a faith more commonly associated with straight-laced young men in white shirts, black ties and odd underwear.

The website contains a remarkably racy promotion for the 2008 calendar, the first of its kind.

"Usually seen riding their bicycles and preaching door-to-door, these hunky young men of faith explode with sexuality on each calendar page," it reads.

"Hand-selected for their striking appearances and powerful spiritual commitment, the 'devout dozen' are stepping away from the Mormon traditions of modest dress, and 'baring their testimony' to demonstrate that they can have strong faith and be proud of who they are, both with a sense of individualism and a sense of humor.

According to Chad Hardy, the producer and co-founder of Mormons Exposed, "the calendar is intended to help debunk common misperceptions and dispel some myths about the Mormon religion - encouraging people of every belief system to be more tolerant of one another."

The website makes no mention of the Mormons' history of polygamy.

LDS conundrum: A few bad seeds or a need for more missionary training?

By Jessica Ravitz
The Salt Lake Tribune



    Robert Fotheringham had seen these missionaries at their best. He can speak to how they assisted the elderly, dug cars out of snowbanks and hauled firewood to people who were stranded.

    So the news that broke earlier this week, after photographs revealed three LDS Church missionaries allegedly mocking Catholicism and vandalizing a shrine in San Luis, Colo., has left the Colorado Springs mission president more than shocked.

    "I can tell you story after story that's noble and uplifting and, of course, this is just the opposite," said Fotheringham, who's served this mission for about 2 1/2 years. The behavior depicted in these pictures, taken in August 2006 and discovered on the Internet by a Sangre de Cristo parishoner late last week, is "so counter to the regular pattern that it's just stunning."

    Two former missionaries, and one whose call has now been terminated, reportedly snapped pictures of themselves preaching behind a church altar, while waving a Book of Mormon, pretending to sacrifice one another and holding the head of a Mexican saint whom one missionary claimed to have decapitated. The photos, taken at the Stations of the Cross, the Chapel of All Saints and the Shrine of the Mexican Martyrs - all located on a mesa overlooking San Luis - were found on Photobucket, a Web site. They have since been taken down, but their discovery and their impact continue to rock the small southern Colorado town and have set online chatrooms ablaze.

    Many entries, including those on The Salt Lake Tribune Web site, are cries of outrage and dismay, sentiments echoed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has issued an apology, promised disciplinary action and vowed to seek ways to restore goodwill. But handfuls of writers are swapping stories of similar behavior from their own mission experiences.

    Though people may chalk the behavior up to immaturity, typical of the age, this explanation doesn't fly for Fotheringham.

    "It's not enough for people to say they're just 19 years of age," the mission president said. "They're held to a much higher standard, and that's part of the disappointment."

    The events in Colorado raise the question: Are Mormon missionaries properly equipped, through training, to go out into the field and uphold this higher standard?

    Mark Tuttle, spokesman for the LDS Church, said in a written statement that Missionary Training Centers teach missionaries "to respect people of all faiths, to be sensitive to doctrines and beliefs that other religions hold sacred, and to obey the law. Once in the mission field, mission presidents provide additional training on local customs and traditions."

    A former Provo MTC Finnish teacher, Anthony John, said he wasn't aware of a "regimented senstivity training" and believed the responsibility rested primarily on individual teachers. He, for instance, remembered offering do-and-don't tips to his students and discussing the predominance of the Lutheran faith in Finland, a tradition that needed to be respected. His own mission president, he added, encouraged him and the other missionaries to visit and simply take in other churches on their free, or preparation, days.

    "A lot of them were very impressive," said John, 27, who's working on a master's in organizational psychology in Missouri. "Even as a Mormon person," visiting other houses of worship "doesn't mean I can't have a religious experience."

    It's one thing, however, to be heading to a foreign country, where obvious cultural differences are fodder for discussion and where missionaries spend many more weeks in training, in large part because they're learning new languages. John had his students for 11 weeks; missionaries who don't need language training, he said, only attend the MTC for three weeks. But Fotheringham was quick to recite from the missionary handbook a line oft-repeated and meant to guide behavior for the more than 53,000 full-time Mormon missionaries who span the globe: "Respect the culture, customs, traditions, religious beliefs and practices, and sacred sites in the area where you serve."

    Perhaps nowhere have the repercussions of ignoring these guidelines been more salient than they were in Thailand in 1972.

    Only four years after the Thailand Mission was established, two LDS Church missionaries touring an ancient and famous Buddhist temple area whipped out cameras and snapped photos that sparked an international incident and landed them in jail for six months.

    R. Lanier Britsch, a retired Brigham Young University history professor and author of From the East: The History of the Latter-Day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996, recounted the story of what happened.

    He said the young men were walking through the ruins, "a highly venerated place," when they came upon a large Buddha statue that was easily accessible. One elder climbed onto the statue, straddled the Buddha's neck, placed his hands on the Buddha's head (the top of which "represents the Buddha's enlightenment, his expanded capability,. . .thus making the head the most sacred part of his body," Britsch explained) and smiled for the camera.

    The Thai store proprietor who was later asked to develop the film was so upset when he saw the images that he submitted them to a newspaper. The two young men "paid a rather severe price for the indiscretion," serving six months in a Thai jail, and the incident "set the church back for many years" in that part of the world, Britsch said. And this, he added, wasn't an event that left anything broken.

    What happened in Colorado, he said, "sounds like zealous antagonism," worse than the "momentary cultural insensitivity" that happened in southeast Asia.

    "I find it unconscionable and extremely difficult to explain," Britsch said.

    As for what punishment seems appropriate for these three missionaries who served in Colorado, the historian speculated that that will take care of itself.

    "Their souls are going to be roasted for years over this. I don't think anyone else is going to have to put their feet to the fire.. . . They're going to feel so stupid."