Anti-Mormon religious bigotry has officially returned to Nauvoo. Today’s Chicago Tribune reports on a couple, described as Christian evangelists from Chicago, proclaiming an anti-Mormon message. They are Rocky and Helen Hulse, who operate their anti-Mormon propaganda mission from a small store front called the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center. A quick check of their website reveals the typical anti-Mormon diatribe, complete with borrowed (from other anti-Mormon sites) reproductions of the Temple endowment ceremony:
Operating from a white stucco storefront called the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center, ex-Mormon Rocky Hulse and his wife Helen are bent on portraying Mormonism as a false religion with fabricated histories.
And though the Christian Visitors Center predates their arrival, the Hulses have taken its confrontational message to a new level, with an active public presence and a weekly television show broadcast internationally on a Christian network.
Unfortunately not everyone was pleased with their ministry. Even more unfortunate were the apparent threats they received from alleged Mormons back in Utah:
It’s no wonder, locals say, the Hulses are facing blowback.
The couple reported they had received two veiled written threats late last year. Then, two days before Christmas, the couple received an e-mail that was traced to an address in Utah.
The reaction from the Nauvoo Mormon population has been more restrained, yet still negative:
Mormon leaders scoff at any suggestion of conspiracy. Still, they have a dim view of the Hulses’ work.
“It ought to be called a non-Christian center or anti-Mormon center,” said Bishop David Wright, a top Mormon Church leader in Nauvoo. “I don’t see anything Christian about it.”
Bishop Wright is exactly right. This pair and their defamatory bigotry is nothing more than a modern day online version of the Nauvoo Expositor.
The article chronicles the recent influence the Church has had on Nauvoo, an otherwise small sleepy country town, some 270 miles southwest of Chicago:
In the last decade, the church began buying up property in Nauvoo and its $30 million temple opened in 2002.
Today, the town’s Chamber of Commerce and Nauvoo’s aldermanic government have a Mormon majority. Some locals say Mormons tend to hire from among their own, leaving others feeling left out.
“It’s like Microsoft or Disney coming in and taking over the place,” said Marilyn Candido, who recently lost a Web-consulting contract with the local chamber, which replaced her with a Mormon operator. Chamber officials say the move had to do with performance, not religion.
But many residents said the different factions in town have maintained a detente, one threatened by the Hulses’ stance.
To their credit, the local Christian community for the most part have ignored or denounced the Hulses’ antics:
This month the Hulses decried an annual non-denominational Passion play held at a Mormon-owned auditorium. The Mormon site is inappropriate because Mormons do not subscribe to Christian beliefs of Jesus Christ dying on the cross of Calvary for their sins, Rocky Hulse said, calling it a heresy for other denominations to join the event.
Nonetheless, several local Christian churches encouraged their congregations to participate, not only to promote harmony in town but also to spread the Gospel message of Christ.
“We live with the Mormon people and work alongside them,” said Pastor Gayle Pope of the Christ Lutheran Church who participated in the play. “We have differences with the Mormon belief but choose to do our evangelism by living out our faith.”
Not surprisingly Rocky Hulse’s anti-Mormon hatred stems from his own history of once having been a faithful member of the Church. He is as Elder Maxwell described one of those who has left the Church, but, just can’t leave it alone. I have never understood this impulse, and likely never will.
Coming from a Mormon family of six generations, Rocky Hulse met his wife, Helen, while serving in the Navy in California. At first he tried to convert her to Mormonism, and she looked into it, though she held off joining the church.
The couple married in 1980 against his family’s wishes. Later, Helen Hulse became an evangelical Christian, enraging her husband.
But on New Year’s Day 1986, after hearing a cowboy preacher at a rodeo, Rocky Hulse says he became a Christian. The Lord put a burden on his heart, he says, to teach Christians about the ills of Mormonism and convert Mormons.
That’s wonderful that Rocky found his true God from a cowboy preacher at a rodeo; but, he should go in peace and leave those of us less enlightened souls to do the same–remain in peace. I am heartened though to see some of our true Christian brothers and sisters of differing denominations in Nauvoo denounce these types of anti-Mormon antics.