Criminal, arrogant, and stupid

Ah, Mormons. Utah is a lovely state, but one thing I don’t miss at all are inhabitants who make a mess of it — I recall a camping trip in the Stansburys in which we found a campsite totally trashed by the previous visitors. That just took a little clean up, but here’s a story of a group of enthusiastic Mormon missionaries visiting a designated wilderness area, climbing up a mountain, and using concrete to mount a flagpole so they could leave their ugly mission flag flapping over the area. Not cool, dudes, not cool at all.

But just to further tarnish the reputation of Mormon missionaries everywhere, they did one thing further: they signed the flag.

They signed the evidence of their crime.

I know. It sounds so…Mormon.


  1. Dick the Damned says

    That “flag” ain’t actually their underwear, is it? I mean, this was a juvenile prank, eh?

  2. militantagnostic says

    In 1987 a Mormon Missionary in Calgary called in a bomb threat to prevent a flight from taking off with another missionary who was abandoning his mission on board. He thought the plane was on the ground at the time, but it was in the air between Calgary and Edmonton which made his bomb threat air piracy. The missionary who abandoned his mission had been denied leave to visit his mother who was about to have her leg amputated. William Shun pled guilty to a reduced charge of mischief and was fined $2000. He was under extreme pressure to prevent the other missionary from absconding and ended up doing something stupid, so the reduced charge was reasonable. However, the low fine was probably the result of a gross underestimate of the cost to the affected airline supplied by a Mormon employee. His fine was paid by a local Mormon and there was no condemnation from the Mission hierarchy.

    He is now an atheist and a published science fiction author. I discovered his account of his mission and the incident via Pharyngula and I highly recommend listening to . He was a legend among Mormon Missionaries for many years after the event. His account is good description of the life of a Mormon Missionary as well as of the incident that made him (in)famous.

  3. carlie says

    Of course they signed it, because to them it was an act of political/religious protest and they want to get to be the martyrs when the big bad government takes their flag down.

  4. lorn says

    Mormons are typically very proud of their missions and very sure they are doing the right thing. The pairs of Mormons going door-to-door are completely oblivious to the no solicitation signs. When I pointed them out I was told that what they were doing wasn’t solicitation because they were not selling anything in return for money.

  5. says

    Thanks for posting that link militantagnostic. I know what I am going to be listening to while working this evening. It seems to be very interesting and I enjoyed the prologue quite a bit.

  6. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    When I pointed them out I was told that what they were doing wasn’t solicitation because they were not selling anything in return for money.

    Oooh I’d love for them to use that one. Time is money. You’re soliciting my time. You are thus soliciting my money. QED, you lose, good day, and may every spoke get bent and your gears break manyfold.

  7. militantagnostic says

    Travis – I am currently listening to the My Book of Mormon podcast.

    This is a guy reading The Book of Mormon for the first time and making comments as he goes. If you value your liver, do not play the drinking game. Periodically he will have a special podcast with a couple of ex Mormons (ExMos) explaining what some of the goofier parts are supposed to mean.

  8. microraptor says

    One of my mom’s friends is a Mormon who just went down to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to do the Mormon missionary thing.

    My mom can’t stop gushing about how wonderful it is that the Mormons do that sort of thing to help people, even though she can’t actually name a single thing that her friend is actually doing there.

    So anyway: Mormons- they’re just like other religions in the way that they muddle around places, fuck things up, then pat themselves on the back for being such great people.

  9. Kristof says

    When I pointed them out I was told that what they were doing wasn’t solicitation because they were not selling anything in return for money.
    Promise of happy afterlife in exchange for tithe – sounds like selling to me.

  10. ekwhite says

    When Mormons came to my nephew’s door, he would talk to them about the Mountain Meadows massacre. That got them to leave quickly.

  11. devnll says

    “But just to further tarnish the reputation of Mormon missionaries everywhere…”

    Wait what? Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear every day. It’s right up there with “But just to make their poop smell bad…”

  12. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    Mormons: is there anything they can’t ruin?

    I mean, sure, I guess there are a few hikers who would like wilderness areas free of swear words and caffeinated beverages, but a flagpole embedded in concrete is taking things too far. But who knows, maybe one day they’ll just figure a way out to buy mountains for themselves, seeing as they have enough in the bank/wherever to spend a couple billion to build a mall.

  13. mildlymagnificent says

    When Mormons came to my nephew’s door, he would talk to them about the Mountain Meadows massacre.

    My husband had a very bad habit (back in the 60s and 70s). He’d invite them in!!

    Remember I said how long ago it was …

    First question he’d put to them would be about why (sweet innocent wide-eyed naive as he was) he had never seen a black Mormon missionary. That was good for a few splutters. Not such a gotcha since the black “problem” was written out of their history.

    Second question. Why did they use bikes rather than cars? The line they ran was pretty pathetic …

    … because it always left them wide open to Third Question. How did you get to Australia?

    I tend to the view that wherever he was living at those times (I didn’t agree with it so no invites once we were living together) he must have been dealing with fairly new arrivals who hadn’t got their lines rehearsed.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    When did the slogan change to “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but flagpoles”?

  15. says

    If you want missionaries to leave just bring up the fact that Joseph Smith was caught at the age of 19 committing fraud and at the trial admitted he saw nothing with the seer stones in hat. If their still persistent bring up the fact that there are only three valid eye witnesses and two of them have recanted their statements. And if this doesn’t drive em out bring out the big guns. Joseph Smith owned and operated a bar to help pay for the church and his buddy and bestest friend Brigham Young owned a brothel that also funded the church. (What to do with all those wives.) Still nothing? They should have run by now but there is the final piece of kriptonite. The letter he wrote to his 13 year old bride explaining that he didn’t want anything bad to happen to her parents souls and god wanted her to be his wife. (Wouldn’t want to anger God would you?) He also in the letter asked her to destroy it so there wouldn’t be any evidence against him. (Strangely and best of all for us, she didn’t.)

    If you need anything from hard evidence including his trial records there is two very reliable sources that are more than happy to show you where to confirm these allegations. Mormons Smormons, and recovery from mormonism I live in Utah so this has been a big part of my life.

    And on the article, well this it just like a Mormon not leave people be. The Mormon church was the main backer that reversed gay marriages in California. I have heard they have done the same elsewhere but don’t have the specifics. But if you want to know just how much they love freedom of speech try to protest them anywhere near the temple in SLC. Even within a block of their supposed property people have been arrested and removed for protesting.

  16. busterggi says

    Well they’re Mormons, its not as if they could just plop down a cross and people would know it was them.

  17. anteprepro says

    Huh. Not until I viewed this as a very potent metaphor did I come to realize: conversion-centric religions like Christianity are pretty damn similar to imperialism.

  18. skevans1963 says

    The missionaries obviously failed to understand the concept of a “wilderness area”. They were probably just trying to do something more fun on their P-day than laundry and writing letters. Also, the frontal lobes of 18 or 19 year old young men usually haven’t descended yet. The intriguing part of the story for me is the mission flag. When did this become a thing? I’m going to have to canvas my LDS friends and family about it.

  19. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    The missionaries obviously failed to understand the concept of a “wilderness area”.

    Keep in mind, the official stance of the government of Utah (which just might be influenced by the Mormons — not 100% sure on that one), and quite a few other western US states, is that any land that has, at any time in history, seen a wheeled vehicle — such as a wagon — is not a Wilderness Area as that track made by the wagon is a State Highway. So, yeah, a lot of people fail to understand the concept of “wilderness area.”

  20. tubi says

    From the linked article:

    “The mission is looking into this and will address it appropriately,” Jessica Moody said.

    If they’ve learned anything from the Catholics, they’ll just transfer these missionaries to a different ward and not tell anyone about it.

  21. says

    Here are some comments from the Readers Comments section of the Salt Lake Tribune:

    The Islamist gets away with many things, like having terror camps in the U.S.A. sleeper cells; yet we persecute Americas Church (Mormon Church) what a shame! The Elders were only spreading Righteousness, leave them alone!
    I would hope that no young person, mormon or not, would be prosecuted for something like this. Prosecutors have discretion in bringing charges. They are supposed to do so to dispense justice–not to enforce technicalities or grind axes. How would charging these guys bring any sort of justice? Make them haul the flag pole back down the mountain on a hot day–harm remedied, justice done.
    […] you can’t look past the fact that they are official representatives of the church, called to their positions through direct revelation from God given to the 1st presidency of the church. […]

    I don’t think that the organization should be held completely at fault… but they most assuredly deserve a fair portion of it… this happened because this is the way Mormons are taught to think and behave… Mormons have this notion that when they do good, they get to wear the Mormon hat and when they do bad they get to wear the regular person hat, and that simply isn’t a legitimate excuse.
    Elders and their poles. It’s a perennial problem.

  22. Cinzia La Strega says

    Those pesky young men in their starched white shirts have their uses, however. Last time a pair of missionaries rang my girlfriend’s bell, she asked them if they would mind bringing a king size mattress down to the first floor. They were more than willing to oblige. Right now I need to have a piano moved, and I’m scouring the neighborhood for a couple of sturdy missionaries…

  23. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    From Lynna’s quotes from the comments:

    The Islamist gets away with many things, like having terror camps in the U.S.A. sleeper cells;

    I know right? Why, it’s preposterous that they are allowed to sleep, while the rest of us are on high alert and never-ending vigilance against them! It would be nice if those sleeper cells pitched in once in a while and panicked right along with us about non-white and non-Christian furr’ners! All they’re doing is wearing us down to the point where WE will be the ones asleep while they comb the webs from their beards and don their niqabs to perpetrate their ninja-esque, so-hidden-there-have-been-no-reports-about-them attacks!

  24. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    And what’s all this noise about terror camps? Every halloween there are at least 10 churches per square foot participating in on of them there Heck-houses. If you ask me, they are definitely campy and I am terrified of dying from fatal eye rolls and uncontrollable laughter!