Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Two Evenings at the LDS Easter Pageant: Mormonism Has Changed
04/04/2010 - James WhiteTwenty seven years ago yesterday my wife and I, newlyweds, hopped on my Kawasaki 440 and drove out to the Mesa Temple in Mesa, Arizona. We stood in amazement at the large crowds attending the LDS Easter Pageant. We stood next to the now long-gone Arby's and pondered the ministry possibilities. The next year we were back, this time with the late Wally Tope, passing out tracts and witnessing to folks. Then in 1985 we started the full-bore work, all six nights of the event, continuing that until the advent of the KJV Only Street Screechers just a few years ago.
We could have done the entirety of this year's event, if we had looked closely at the calendar. The Street Screechers did not show up this year, and once we got out there on Friday night, we realized why: they were all up in Salt Lake City (where they get a lot more press coverage, which they crave). I should have seen the conjunction between General Conference and the Easter Pageant, but I had a few other things on my mind (like the Michael Brown debate), so it never crossed my mind.
In any case, I was struck once again by how much Mormonism has changed since those first encounters in the mid 1980s. The vast majority of Mormons simply do not have the slightest interest in defending their faith any longer, if they even know its particular points of uniqueness. When we would talk to Mormons in the 1980s, they knew their faith, and cared about proclaiming it to others, and defending it as well. In other words, they tended to actually believe it is true. But things have changed over the past decades. Mormonism has been so deeply infiltrated by post-modern thinking that, combined with its predisposition to subjectivism, has led to a tremendous decline in its apologetic ferver. A general apathy in the face of challenge now marks the large majority of Mormons.
In the first years we engaged in that work in Mesa I would come home hoarse from speaking all night long. Hours of fruitful conversations, especially with young people. Where have all the young people gone? I honestly wonder if we are also seeing the result of the "electronic" generation. Kids used to get bored (they had seen the Pageant many times before), and would come and talk to us. Now they sit there and play video games on their iPhones. I suppose if we made it possible to text with us they would talk to us, but the idea of actually looking someone in the eye and talking to them is becoming a oddity of the past. Who saw that coming?
I do not know what the future will hold, but one thing is for sure: I sensed a real "hardness" on the part of most we encountered, not a hardness marked by a zeal for falsehood, but a hardness marked by apathy engendered by spiritual deception joined with cultural decay. It was truly sobering.