An evangelical Christian accused of harassing the Mormon church spent nearly three hours knocking on an elder’s door, the High Court was told yesterday.
Andrew Price, a preacher with the Church of England (Continuing) visited Elder Dustin Shaver at his home in Walthamstow, north London in September as part of his campaign against the Mormons.
Elder Shaver was not the only reluctant recipient of Mr Price’s evangelising, Fenner Moeran, the Mormons’ counsel, told Mr Justice Beatson.
On one night in August Mr Price bombarded Mormons – members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – with phone calls. He made 90 in less than four hours.
Mr Price also sent more than 80 evangelical texts from his mobile phone to a handset belonging to Elder Daniel Pitt over a period of two months.
The court was shown several videos of Mr Price in action. In one he was preaching in stentorian tones from behind metal railings at one of the Mormon church’s London chapels.
In a second he was “evangelising” outside a metal gate to a garage at the Mormons’ chapel in Hyde Park and in the third, he was at the door of the Mormons’ offices in South Kensington.
The court heard how on Oct 28 Mr Price pursued three Mormons from their London headquarters in Exhibition Road, South Kensington to the Tube station.
He followed them on the Circle Line and Victoria Line until they finished their journey at Blackhorse Road in north London.
Throughout the journey Mr Price was trying to show them the error of their ways.
“I was addressing them and they were listening” he said. “In one sense I was preaching in so far as one Christian was speaking to them about the gospel.”
The Mormon church has argued that Mr Price has taken evangelising too far and has asked the High Court to grant it an injunction to prevent him from continuing his protests outside its properties. It wants him kept at least 30 yards from any of its churches throughout the country. It also wants him banned from making calls to Mormons’ mobile phones unless invited to do so.
But giving evidence yesterday Mr Price, 44, of Chiswick, west London said he believed it was his duty to inform people of what the religion stood for.
“I would describe Mormonism in its presentation as being like the Venus fly trap.
“There is something attractive which lures an insect into the body of the plant. Then it closes and the plant is happy because it has its prey.”
Mr Price, who admitted he often spent six days a week preaching outside Mormon churches, denied he had shouted or screamed at worshippers.
“I have some experience of the effect talking and preaching has on the human voice,” he said.
“It is simply not possible for a person to be shouting, screaming and ranting for a long period of time. The voice would go.”
Admitting that his voice was stronger than most, Mr Price insisted that he was not addressing those inside the Mormon buildings but passers-by and visitors.
“It was my intention to bring to the public attention the nature of this body. It is a cult.”
Cross-examined by Mr Moeran, he admitted that he spent considerable amounts of time preaching his message.
“I could be outside their buildings for eight hours a day, maybe longer,” said Mr Price who describes himself as Britain’s leading critic of the Mormon church.
Challenged why he had persisted in trying to contact Mormon missionaries, despite their pleas to be left alone, Mr Price said many had been brainwashed.
Asked whether he would abide by the terms of an injunction, Mr Price said: “My wife and I will have to make a lot of decisions.
“As far as I am concerned the Mormon people need help.”
The hearing continues.
Church of the Latter day Saints
Joseph Smith founded the Mormon church in 1830 in Nauvoo, Illinois. He was murdered in 1844 and the new leader, Brigham Young, guided his followers out of the state to Utah, where the church now has its headquarters in Salt Lake City
The Church has 12 million members, more than 50 per cent are women and more than half live outside the United States
Famous members include Alan, Wayne, Jay, Marie and Donny Osmond, and Alvino Rey (father of the pedal steel guitar)
Core beliefs include abstinence from alcohol. Members contribute one tenth of income to church
More than 30,000 “fundamentalists” in Utah still live in polygamous relationships
The Church is led by a president and prophet, currently Gordon B Hinckley
Church of England (continuing)
The church is a group of Anglican congregations outside the Church of England, seeking to preach the Gospel and uphold the biblical teaching of the Protestant and Reformed Church of England, as expressed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
The church was founded in 1994 and has 300 members
The church believes in maintaining the authority of scripture and is opposed to the ordination of women
It believes only the authorised version of the Bible should be read from lectern and adheres to Thomas Cramner’s 39 Articles of Religion
New churches may apply for membership of the Continuing Church on the basis of their agreement with the doctrine, worship and discipline of that body