By Kent Larsen
LDS San Antonio Nativity Exhibit Draws Anti-Mormon Protest
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- The seven-year-old annual exhibit of nearly 1,000
Christmas creches at the San Antonio North Stake Center drew a small group
of anti-Mormon protesters along with the approximately 10,000 visitors to
the exhibit. As many as 20 protesters from the nondenominational group
Evidence Ministries distributed brochures warning visitors against the LDS
Church, but not discouraging them from seeing the exhibit. The protesters
say they have seen the exhibit themselves and think its' beautiful.
The Evidence Ministry protesters say they are simply trying to raise
awareness of how LDS beliefs differ from those of "traditional"
Christianity. "Many Christians in this neighborhood have been concerned
about Christians coming here for the past seven years. The Mormons are using
Christmas -- a Christian holiday -- to draw people into their church, which
we don't believe is a Christian denomination." They say that the LDS Church
doesn't believe in the virgin birth and the eternal nature of God.
Stone Oak Ward Bishop Jim Bratt says he's heard this before, and that these
protesters are twisting LDS beliefs. "Misinterpretation of unofficial and
out-of-context writings is not a reliable source for establishing a church's
official beliefs," he said. Bishop Bratt confirmed LDS beliefs about Mary
and about the eternal nature of God. "The (LDS) church believes that Mary
was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus."
Bratt added that the Church isn't using this exhibit for proselyting; its
only purpose is to celebrate Christmas. "About half the visitors who sign
the book identify themselves as nonmembers. I'm not aware of any who have
expressed an interest in joining the church," he said. Lutheran Linda Bean
said she hadn't been proselyted, nor had she seen the protests, "The people
here have been very welcoming," she said. "Nobody's tried to proselytize me.
I feel very comfortable here, and the Nativities are absolutely gorgeous."
Mormon Nativity show draws protest
San Antonio TX Express-News 8Dec00 D1
By J. Michael Parker: Express-News Religion Writer