I have Mormon Coffee on my Google Reader list. I am not a fan of their approach, but I do find some of the posts interesting and pertinent to life here in Utah.
They recently did a post on their trip to the Manti pageant this year. The pageant is an outdoor theatrical re-enactment of parts of the book of Mormon and the life of Joseph Smith.
When Mormons gather in large groups, organizations like Mormon Coffee take the opportunity to evangelize. Contrary to typical evangelism, these street preachers carry signs designed to provoke and belittle Mormons, while yelling similar slogans.
On their blog, Mormon Coffee was inviting Christians to come down next year and join them in sign carrying and yelling (Click here to see the post). In the comments section I tried to post my experience at the pageant. Since it is a moderated blog, it has to be cleared. My comment was not posted, so I am going to try to recall it as best I can here.
I had the opportunity to attend the Manti pageant last year with some neighbors who had invited my family. We were sitting outside the fenced area since we had some dogs with us. A street preacher was making his way down our row. He was yelling out to the small crowd behind the fence about deception, Mormons going to Hell, etc. When he got to our area, he singled me out declaring that I was blind and needed to be open to the truth. I couldn't get a word in to tell the guy I wasn't Mormon. My neighbors snickered at the irony of his choosing the one non-Mormon in the group to yell at. This reaction made him angrier. He shouted at us a little louder, then stomped off.
It is said on the Mormon Coffee blog that if one person comes to Christ, all of this (yelling and sign carrying) is worth it. Therefore, it is considered that the methodology works. I think there is a difference between something working, and something being efficient and effective. My neighbors saw the shouting as confirmation that their beliefs are correct (after all, why all the persecution if Mormons aren't right?). From that view, I don't think you have forward momentum if you take one step forward followed by four steps back.
I am sure there were some good hearted and sincere street preachers out there. For the most part however, I observed only frustration and anger. When the totals are tallied, I think the street preachers do more harm than good.
I am disappointed that my original post was deleted. I know it was better than the above (I was in the groove that night).
Seeing the street preachers out there makes me realize how careful I have to be when I open scripture. They are a living testament that you can get scripture to justify almost anything. If they truly feel that Mormons need converting, I think they can engage in a way that does not destroy community.
A wise woman once told me, "Don't pull weeds unless you are willing to stay and tend the garden". These street preachers come in... do enormous damage with their verbal violence... and then leave the scene in a wake of destruction - that those of us who live here have to clean up.