4 LDS Mexican missionaries detained after father said they tried to baptize kids without permission

Police in Anáhuac, Chihuahua, Mexico, have planned to attend Sunday services at a local branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to ensure the safety of church members after residents expressed outrage about the actions of four LDS missionaries.

The four young men, all from other states in Mexico, allegedly had planned on baptizing three brothers — a 9-year-old and two 11-year-olds — without parental permission Thursday night, said Commander César Estrada Ruiz with the Policía Seccional de Anáhuac.

Their father told police the missionaries promised the boys food to persuade them to go to a church, where they asked the boys to change into baptismal clothing. The boys became afraid, left the area and told their parents what had happened, Estrada Ruiz said in Spanish in a telephone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.

Their father was upset and contacted police, who took the missionaries into custody. The four men were released in a matter of hours because they committed no crime, Estrada Ruiz said.

Estrada Ruiz said he had spoken with a local representative from the church who told him the missionaries had failed to communicate with their leaders about the baptism, and that baptizing children requires parental permission. He added that the representative told him that the missionaries would be taken out of the area.

The news traveled fast on the internet, Estrada Ruiz said, and members of the community seemed bothered by what had happened. He said police officers planned on going to Sunday church services to ensure that members of the LDS Church would not be harassed.

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins did not have a comment Saturday, noting that it would take some time for him to contact local church leaders to hear their side of the matter.