UPDATED [09/03/09 -- 2150 MDT]
There are now indications that the expulsion of LDS missionaries from Guyana may have been due to political and/or religious reasons, rather than visa problems as originally reported:
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Authorities in Guyana grew “uncomfortable” with the presence of Mormon missionaries who have been ordered to leave the South American country, a governing party leader said Thursday.
About 40 missionaries were briefly detained Wednesday and told to leave within a month as authorities said their travel documents were out of date.
Comments by Donald Ramotar of the governing People’s Progressive Party, however, suggested the crackdown went beyond immigration issues.
“While we tolerate all religions, it appears that some officials had become uncomfortable with them around,” said Ramotar, the party’s general secretary.
Ramotar declined to elaborate. But some government officials and party members said privately that leaders felt the Mormons were too close to opposition figures and also were wary of the church’s independent charity work in the interior.
Hey! It’s the Extermination Order all over again! Cool! I still want to find out if the missionaries really sang “We Shall Overcome” while in jail.
[END OF UPDATE]
At least 30 Latter-day Saint missionaries were detained Wednesday in the South American country of Guyana because they did not have updated travel documents, police said.
Most of them are U.S. citizens and will be given one month to leave before they are deported, Police Chief Henry Greene said. He declined further comment.
The missionaries were expected to be released late Wednesday to prepare for their departure, acting U.S. ambassador Karen Williams said.
Sounds like more visa problems. But here’s my favorite part:
It was unclear what prompted the arrests. No incidents involving the missionaries were reported prior to their detainment. They could be heard singing “We Shall Overcome” from their cells Wednesday night.
OK, what LDS missionary knows the words and tune to “We Shall Overcome”? I suspect what they were heard singing was “Come, Come Ye Saints”.
Then again, I could be wrong — all it would take is one of the missionaries, and s/he could teach it to the rest. We’re nothing if not quick studies on hymns, given how many times in Sacrament meeting we are confronted with a hymn that we would swear we have never heard nor sung before. And, of course, the missionaries would all think it was hilarious (just as I’m sure they’re amused about spending the night in jail — even in Guyana — and possibly being deported).
I do think all LDS missionaries (and members) should learn how to sing “We Shall Overcome“. It would make a great closing hymn for Sacrament meeting. ..bruce..