Daily Mail

These Mormons are on a mission to spread the faith to ungodly Brits


THE Scottish missionary James Chalmers was known to the tribes of New Guinea, who struggled with his name, as ‘tamate’. to his friend, the author Robert Louis Stevenson, he was one of the ‘unreturnin­g brave’. the two men explored the South Seas together, and the writer described Chalmers as, ‘the most attractive, simple, brave and interestin­g man in the whole Pacific’.

In April 1901, tamate and his protege Oliver tomkins sailed in a steam launch to Goaribari Island in Papua New Guinea, to preach the Christian gospel. they were met on the shore by a war party, who promised them a feast.

As they walked to the village, the two Europeans were clubbed to death. A Papuan companion who survived said the men’s bodies were cooked with sago and eaten. tamate and tomkins were the main course of their own welcome feast.

Back then, being a missionary was a dangerous business. today, the worst fate awaiting a young evangelist is mortal embarrassm­ent.

It was hard not to cringe for Sister Cooper and Elder Cook, both barely out of their teens, as they accosted members of the public in shopping centres and tried to interest them in Mormon Bible studies. The Mormons Are Coming (BBC2)

followed a group of earnest youngsters, aged 18 to 25, as they prepared at a training centre — not in the u.S., where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded, but in Chorley, near Manchester.

their chances seemed doomed from the moment they attended a workshop on how to achieve ‘normal and natural interactio­ns’ with non-Mormons.

For most of them, this was their first time away from home on their own. there was so much to discover — the Americans among them had never slept under duvets before.

they were not permitted alcohol, tea, coffee or any unsupervis­ed contact with the opposite sex . . . not even ‘normal and natural interactio­ns’. And to ensure they blended in with the Chorley locals, the girls wore modest dresses and the boys were never seen without neatly knotted ties.

Long hair on males was also prohibited, except for Jesus, who smiled down from a portrait in every room. the Lord wasn’t wearing a tie either. I’m not convinced He was actually a Mormon.

All the young missionari­es were perfectly aware that their studied naivety made them easy targets for mockery, but they were armoured by their faith. And, really, it isn’t surprising to learn that their statistica­l chances of a good job and a happy marriage are far better than average.

the truth is that, if it’s so odd in Britain now for young people to stay sober, respect their parents and believe in marrying for life, perhaps society does need saving from itself.

Sarah Moore, presenter of Money For Nothing and winner of the Beeb’s Great Interior Design Challenge, was creating a bolthole for herself, far away from the ills of British society, on the island of Skiathos — where Mamma Mia was filmed.

Home Greek Home (More4) charts her sunny trials at a tiny seaside house that she bought, sight unseen, over the internet for £ 100,000 during lockdown. ‘Despite the fact it is not a very good idea,’ she said, ‘my heart is telling me it’s a fantastic opportunit­y.’

A platoon of local builders were helpfully tearing down walls and carting away the roof and doors. the worry is whether they’ll come back to install new ones.

With an outdoor toilet and a single room downstairs, the place is tiny. But one of the builders revealed his mother grew up there . . . with her parents and 12 brothers and sisters. Mamma mia, there they go again.

CUNNING PLAN OF THE NIGHT: Retired detectives on The Girl In The Box: The Kidnapping Of Stephanie Slater (C5) told how they smuggled a forensics team into a suburban house to search for clues. In white overalls, the investigat­ors carried ladders, to look like decorators. Crafty.

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