Evangelicals to join crowds on sidewalks

The street preachers will have some company at this weekend’s general conference.

Standing Together Ministries, a group of Christian evangelical churches, is planning to bring some 40 people to the sidewalks in front of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‘ Conference Center during the church’s general conference.

The Mormon Church

Given that the theology and practice of the Mormon Church violates essential Christian doctrines, Mormonism does not represent historical, Biblical Christianity, is not a Christian denomination, and is not in any way part of the Christian church.

But Standing Together president Gregory Johnson said he doesn’t want his group to be seen as either anti-street preacher or anti-LDS. Instead, they just want to spread some loving kindness.

“I want to make it real clear we are not protesting, we are not counter-demonstrating,” Johnson said. “Our whole purpose of being there is to express love and kindness to whoever passes us by.”

The LDS Church is expected to have the same presence on the sidewalk as it has had in recent years there.

Johnson said that since the 2002 Winter Olympics, street preachers from the Worldwide Street Preachers Fellowship have become more aggressive while preaching to Salt Lake City’s LDS faithful. The Main Street Plaza fray only increased the aggressiveness, Johnson said, and recent city plans to buffer conference attendees from street preachers have brought the issue to a boiling point.

Lonnie Pursifull, state director of the Street Preachers Fellowship, said his group has stepped up its preaching against the LDS Church because of the LDS Church’s efforts to be recognized as a Christian church.

“That is a very hostile environment down there,” Johnson said. “It’s just been getting more and more hostile, so our mission is to bring loving kindness.”

Standing Together Ministries has reserved public space on both the south and north sides of North Temple near Main Street. In those reserved areas, Johnson said his group will pray for peace and smile and express kindness to whoever passes by.

Johnson said his group does not support LDS theology and is more in tune with traditional Christian theology.

“A gesture of kindness does not mean we don’t have concern with Mormon doctrine,” Johnson said.

So far the city has only received requests for conference demonstration permits from Standing Together, a man named Michael Bingham who is critical about perceived changes in the LDS Church stance on abortion and a person seeking to make a documentary film, said Shawn McDonough, the city’s special events coordinator.

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said she will rule today on whether Salt Lake City’s plans to create buffer zones for street preachers during conference are legal. The Street Preachers Fellowship filed a request for a temporary restraining order blocking the city from enforcing the buffer zone plan.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Deseret Morning News, USA
Apr. 1, 2004
Brady Snyder

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday April 1, 2004.
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