Waikato lecturer on Church hitlist

Waikato Times (New Zealand), June 27, 2003
http://www.stuff.co.nz/

A Waikato University lecturer has been named on a website for Latter-Day Saints as anti-mormon.

American history senior lecturer Dr Raymond Richards has accused the Mormon Church of irresponsible conduct after the site warns “if you don’t want the target shot at, don’t raise it”.

“I think the language is irresponsible, especially given the Mormon Church’s history of violence. They have a sordid history of polygamy and massacres.”

He said he was not anti-Mormon but the religion was aggressive, racist and sexist.

Dr Richards said the website was an attempt to intimidate people who didn’t accept what the Mormons thought of themselves.

“If the Mormons don’t want to be known as a cult they have to stop acting as a cult. This list of supposed enemies and the language they have used is irresponsible, but I’m flattered to be on it with others such as the New York Times.”

New Zealand Temple Visitors Centre director Paul Ashton said the Church did not have any response.

“Many people have called us a cult in the past, but we just tend to ignore it. We encourage people to read and study and find out for themselves. I feel sorry for people who tend to try and fault us.”

In 1998, Mormon students charged Dr Richards with harassment after he said the religion was started as a scam by convicted fraudster Joseph Smith. He said the religion didn’t allow freedom of thought and academics needed to be alerted to that danger.

Dr Richards will present a paper called The Mormon Challenge at the university’s Fulbright American Studies Conference in July.

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