Comments about ‘LDS mission misconceptions addressed by Real Clear Religion author’

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Published: Tuesday, June 4 2013 11:20 a.m. MDT

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Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

Every missionary knows the author is absolutely right. I would like to point out with regards to exposure to the world in particular. A good missionary talks to everyone. He will go into areas that most people would avoid and find the people that society as a whole thinks do not even exist. He will develop Thomas Edison's perseverance as he deals with constant rejection in his search for that pearl of great price - the "golden" convert. He searches for that convert with more zeal than FBI searches for the most wanted criminal with a multi-million dollar bounty. There is a joke that missionaries can find people that FBI cannot. I do not think it is possible to describe the level of depth with which a missionary that does what he is supposed to gets immersed into the culture of the people he is trying to teach - you have to experience it.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT


I have broken none of your rules and yet you still block my posts.

I repeat:

It would be nice if the Des News tried to be a little unbiased in the religious articles. If you tried half as hard to push stories of those who have joined your faith, you would find countless of stories of inspiring people who have found good reasons to leave your faith.

And yes, these people are inspiring to me and others as they break free from the grasp of an organization that has such a stranglehold on their lives.

Is that too much to ask that a newspaper cover both sides of an issue?

Samuel B Martineau
Bountiful, UT

Chris B

Your characterization of the LDS church having a stranglehold on its members lives is extreme. Membership is at will. There is no no punishment for leaving the church. Obedience to commandments is entirely a matter of choice. Personally, I am a member and try to be obedient because I find great fulfillment. Perhaps we could foster more understanding and mutual respect without extreme and inaccurate claims.

Danbury, CT

Chris B,

What is the "stranglehold" you speak of?? People are free to leave the LDS church and do every day. It may be culturally complicated if your family are members, but many of my relatives have left nonetheless.

What do you mean by "unbiased"? Do you not grant that we who believe in our faith have a right to publish "Why" we believe as we do? Are the only "unbiased" stories ones that say something negative about Mormons? I see articles about other faiths as well.

If you want an outlet that publishes negative stuff on the Mormons, you will find that the MAJORITY of publications out there do so regularly. We who know this faith feel that we are fighting against a barrage of misinformation (like the link from the above article about the guy in Georgia being fired - said that Mormons aren't allowed to swim - one of the more harmless falsehoods).

You are an interesting person, Chris. One given to frequent rants about your sports team, but so intolerant of others who think differently. It must be frustrating to live in the middle of a culture that is so different than your own POV.

Salt Lake City, UT

I think the standard rule when it comes to trying to identify the experience of thousands of people is that generalizing is simplistic and inaccurate in many cases whether the generalizations made are negative or positive.

American Fork, UT

For those of us who served in areas with low amounts of converts, we quickly learned that a mission is as much about transforming us as it is about converting others.

I never thought it was the best 2 years of my life, the 2 years before, and the 2 years after were infinitely easier and more enjoyable. It probably was however the best 2 years for personal growth. While I can't honestly say I enjoyed my mission much, I am very grateful for the lessons that it taught me and the people I had the blessing to meet.

Medical Lake, Washington

I realize this will date me a bit, but one of my favorite sitcoms pre-mission was 'Hogan's Heroes'. After serving a mission to Germany I could never watch the show again. My mission didn't teach me to be biased, it taught me to see good in others I had been raised to believe were our enemies. I was never able to see the world the same after my mission. Instead of seeing corrupt governments everywhere; which there are, I tend to see more of the people who are struggling where ever they are living and that they are good and decent people, in spite of who runs their country.

A mission is hard work, but if I had it all to do again, I'd go on my mission -- and this time work harder and worry less about so many trivial things.

Good article.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Chris B,

"....these people are inspiring to me and others as they break free from the grasp of an organization that has such a stranglehold on their lives...."

Any real or imagined 'stranglehold' the LDS Church has on a Church member is only as strong as that member allows it to be. As uncommonly authoritarian as the LDS Church may be for a church in modern times, its ability to martial members into marching to one tune is not absolute.

Uncle Rico
Sandy, UT


Honestly, I have tried to avoid engaging with Chris B as I sense he regularly seeks for attention. In regards to his statement above, I agree with eastcoastcoug, there are plenty of forums to tear down other people. This article is about the sacrifice and reality of those who serve missions. It's about realizing and sometimes challenging ones own beliefs and culture on the world stage - literally. The easiest thing to do is NOT serve a mission, blend in and follow the crowd. Chris now seems to infer that sharing this position is somehow unfair, that we should also focus on why people leave the Mormon Church, common methodology used by those who typically tear down rather than create.

Bakersfield, CA

1- Chris B, there is a downside to leaving that obviously none of these posters have experienced. But those comments are not welcome and when they sneak through, you will see similar attacks from threatened members. They don't know how former members feel because they don't listen. I was born into/and active for 35 years. I was proud of and loved every minute of being a Mormon. Not in a million years could I have guessed how "ex-Mormons" were treated by even the best members, until I experienced it first-hand. 27 years later nothing has changed.

2- We have had a support group since '90 for former Mormons because of the treatment given to them upon their leaving. The more active and influential you were, the more drastic your treatment. No exceptions, acriss the board shunning.

3- I really enjoyed this article. I found it truthful and well-written. I love the missionary heart and I always defend and explain this dedication and sacrifice to evangelicals and non-LDS. The non-religious world can't understand. Christians should.

Springville, UT

It seems the misconceptions are even found in this book.

"The first myth VanDenBerghe addressed is, 'it’s all about converting.' Actually, a huge chunk of mission mental energy consists of learning to live with a mission companion..."

Um, a missionary is called to preach the gospel and baptize. Pure and simple. This is consistent with the charge Christ gave before his final ascension. His instruction wasn't to learn to live with others, to go through self-awareness, or even to perform disaster cleanup.

He said "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..." (Mark 16:15-16) I missed the part where He said we need to do some soul searching.

Some missionaries (and others) are so focused on themselves that they find it difficult to "lose themselves" in missionary work. Life presents challenges that are real, can humble us, or cause us to do some soul searching. An effective missionary, however, isn't thinking of himself/herself. Not all missionaries get past the ego.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

Chris, for an organization that has such a "stranglehold" on people as you claim, why is it harder to join the LDS church than it is to leave it?

To join the church, you have to complete hours of missionary discussions, complete "homework" (reading, praying, etc.), attend church, repent of your sins, and be interviewed for your worthiness.
To leave the church, all you have to do is walk away. No homework, no interview.

Now tell me more about that "stranglehold"....

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....The first myth VanDenBerghe addressed is, “it’s all about converting....."

No, it’s not all about converting but don’t tell that to the missionaries out there putting in twelve hours a day knocking on doors. It will come as a shock to them.

The mission field is also a screening ground for potential Church leaders of the future. Data compiled on a missionary during his mission is available years after his release to return home. Thirty years later when his name is brought up as a possible Bishop or Stake President, records from his mission include observations his Mission President entered having to with character, leadership qualities, unique abilities, interaction with fellow missionaries, etc.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

"Thirty years later when his name is brought up as a possible Bishop or Stake President, records from his mission include observations his Mission President entered . . ."

Sorry Craig. If there is such a thing, it isn't made available to stake presidents who consider who should be called as a bishop. When considering that calling, it's all about who is available, worthy, humble, honest and teachable--and that includes their wives.

Bountiful, UT

"The more active and influential you were, the more drastic your treatment. No exceptions, acriss the board shunning."

I'm not sure about the "across the board" part but like when a marriage breaks up, I'm sure leaving the church is equally painful.

The shunning, I suspect, isn't an institutional thing, rather a side effect of a failed relationship that is similar to the same feelings of awkwardness a person might feel when they bump into the ex-spouse of a close friend or family member when a marriage ended painfully. Sometimes in equal measures, both sides struggle with what to say in those moments but will only see the situation from their own viewpoint and assume they were shunned by the other party.

I've learned in life that what I assumed others thought of me in a given situation was rarely the case and often times it was my projecting my own feelings of inadequacies onto others. I learned from some painful moments that when dealing with people, more times than not, I get out of other people or relationships what I put into them.

I truly hope your journey ends with joy and peace.

Bountiful, UT

@Chris B
"Is that too much to ask that a newspaper cover both sides of an issue?"

Aren't there innumerable blogs on the internet now that accomplish that? The DNews writes to an audience. Readers who object are free to find other sources for news that fit their viewpoints.

You complain yet I see you constantly posting comments on DNews articles. It's surprising that you continue to return to the Dnews instead of breaking free from the grasp of a newspaper that has such a stranglehold on your life instead of finding a news outlet that fits you better. Deep down, what is the real reason that keeps you returning and seeking it out day after day? It's curious.

Salt Lake City, UT

Chris B,

I don't see you ranting about the "biased" Tribune viewpoints. I think the owners of this paper feel a need to present a viewpoint different from that at the Trib. If you consider the two papers in tandem, I think a balanced view is presented.

Also consider that you may not understand the definition of inflammatory. Rarely do you post a comment that is not at least borderline inflammatory, whether the comment be about sports, immigration or gun control.

Harwich, MA

During my mission experience the conversion rate was 1/2 a baptism per elder per mission.
Conversion had very little to do with anything. Surviving companions, rain, tracting endlessly and keeping a positive attitude was the day to day struggle. I had a sensational time, many didn't fair so well.

G L W8

One more comment to "Chris B"--believe it or not, some of us who are attempting to be objective in our comments have had stories blocked when we've become careless in our wording. If you're getting huge numbers blocked, you might take the responsibility to review reasons why, and not blame some unseen moderator. You don't know them or their own personal opinions and I suspect you have a number of misconceptions on Deseret News editorial policy. I don't believe they've singled out any of us.
As to the question of balance--how carefully do you read the comments on controversial issues? There are many times when those critical of LDS doctrine and people, or those with liberal political viewpoints hugely outnumber the other side. It seems to me the DN is quite balanced and fair in their treatment--as long as the commentators make some attempt to be rational and inoffensive.


Living in a couple of Central American countries for a couple of years taught me that I don't need to live in a McMansion or drive a Porsche or a Lexus. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy it, but what I learned is that if I have a bit of surplus it's much more gratifying to share it with others less fortunate.

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