Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Poisoning Mormon Missionaries

William A. Wilson, "Mormon Narratives: The Lore of Faith," Western Folklore, vol. 64, no. 4 (1995), p. 316.

[Informant:] This is a story about two South American missionaries -- I don't remember who told it to me. As the story goes, the two missionaries were in a place where the people didn't like them very well at all. And...[these people] decided that they'd get rid of 'em quick and had some kind of poison food that they fed them. I don't remember what it was, but I think it was some kind of poison meat. And the missionaries blessed it and ate it and didn't die from it. And all the people were very impressed, ya know, and told 'em what happened and said, "Truly, you must be men of God," ya know; and they got a lot of converts from it. They went to another town and decided that they would try the same thing. And so they said, "See now we can eat poison meat, and we won't die." And they ate it, and they died. And the moral that I got from it, from the person who told me, was that "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

Wilson, The Marrow of Human Experience, pp. 215, 217. From the essay, "On Being Human: The Folklore of Mormon Missionaries," which originally appeared in a booklet published by Utah State U.P. in 1981.

[Informant:] There were two elders who were tracting, and one woman invited them into her home and said she was looking for a true church. And she fed them. They made an appointment to come back and teach her some time later. As soon as they came back, and she saw who they were at the door, she invited them in and said, "I want to be baptized," without even talking to them. And they asked her why, and she said that she had read that the true servants of the Lord could eat poison things and they would not be harmed. And then she told them that what she had fed them last week had been poison.


In one instance that recalls the story in which missionaries were poisoned as a test of their power, two missionaries called on a Protestant minister.

[Informant:] He said, "Gentleman, I have here a glass of poison. If you will drink this poison and remain alive, I will join your church, not only myself but my entire congregation." And he said, "If you won't drink this poison, well, then I'll conclude that you are false ministers of the gospel, because surely your Lord wouldn't let you perish." And so this put the missionaries in a kind of a bind, so they went off in a corner and got their heads together, and they thought, "What on earth are we going to do?" So finally, after they decided, they went back over and approached the minister and said, "Tell you what -- we've got a plan." They said, "You drink the poison, and we'll raise you from the dead."

J. Michael Hunter, Mormon Myth-ellaneous (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2008), p. 148.

[T]wo missionaries were invited in by a woman who accepted the first discussion. Since it was such a hot day, she gave the missionaries some lemonade. She then invited them back for a second visit. Before leaving, they admonished her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. When the missionaries returned for the second visit, the woman acted surprised and demanded to be baptized. Why? She had never expected to see the missionaries again: she had poisoned their lemonade.

Eric A. Eliason, The J. Golden Kimball Stories (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), p. 121.

Once when two missionaries were tracting, they came across a smart aleck who said, "Hey it says here in the Bible that true believers will drink poison and not die. Tell you what, I have got some poison here, if you drink it and don't die I'll get baptized in your church."

The missionaries thought for a second and then one said, "I've got a better idea. Why don't you drink the poison, then we'll raise you from the dead and baptize you if you are interested."

[Informant: Professor, male, Provo, Utah, 1995.]