Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mormons Stir Christiana: A Near-Riot in 1914

I live a bit over twenty miles from a town called Christiana, and thus I was quite intrigued when, looking through the 25 July 1914 issue of the New Holland Clarion, I saw a front-page article titled "Mormons Stir Christiana: Two Visitors Almost Start Riot When They Attack Other Religions". Since the issue of Protestant-Mormon dialogue is of course an interest of mine, and this hits fairly close to home (geographically!), I can't help but share:
A riot almost occurred at Christiana on Saturday evening when two men who claimed they were Mormon elders from the State of Utah assailed the various religions other than their own. The two men, who were about twenty five years of age, had spent Friday evening at Gap and on Saturday they arrived at Christiana and stopped at the hotel until in the evening when they went to the corner of Bridge street and Slokum avenue. They sang several selections until a crowd gathered and then each spoke for about an hour. They were particularly bitter against the Methodist religion and called it "a man's religion." They said that they would educate the people in the Mormon religion.

Rev. William May, pastor of the Methodist Church in Christiana, was one of the listeners to the men's abuse and after they were through he took exception to the remarks made by the visitors and related the history of the Methodist religion and also the Mormon faith.

The large crowd that had gathered cheered Rev. May at the close of his speech and the Mormon elders were forced to retract. The crowd that had gathered was further increased by a large number of persons returning from a festival at Gap. The Mormons, after people had refused to buy their literature, started for their hotel and a crowd of boys followed, threatening to do the visitors harm. They got to the hotel in safety and on Sunday left for other points.

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