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LDS mission misconceptions addressed by Real Clear Religion author

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  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    June 7, 2013 8:31 p.m.

    If Joseph Smith's accounts of his experiences with God are true, then what the missionaries are doing is absolutely the right thing. I am convinced they are true.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    June 7, 2013 12:22 p.m.

    It's kind of ridiculous that there are actually people who believe these sorts of things about LDS missions. Then again, most things that people believe about Mormons are ridiculous.

  • Frantic & Emotional philadelphia , PA
    June 7, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    @skeptic

    Proselyting will always be a goal but the fundamental principle is the charge given by the Savior to His disciples, "feed my sheep." Following the Savior's example, He did that many times through service (healing the sick) and other times through preaching His word (the woman at the well, Sermon on the Mount, etc).

    The 2nd great commandment is to Love your neighbor as yourself and I have seen missionaries do that very well.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 7, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    @Big Cougar

    If that is true what you say, then I think that is great; and the Mormon church needs to change the core mission of their missionary plan to a volunteer community development plan. That makes a lot more sense than going around knocking on doors telling people they need to be Mormons and not Catholics, Atheist, or what not.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    June 7, 2013 4:16 a.m.

    @skeptic
    "The time and money would be better spend serving in the military or doing volunteer work with the Peace Corps, etc. Most places the Mormon missionaries go the people already have a religion so what do they need Mormonism for. Most of them need help with social, political and economic needs. Help them build a school, plow a field; or something useful."

    Their time would be better spent in the Military? So instead of going to foreign countries to share some brotherly or sisterly love they should go over with guns blazing?

    Missionaries do a TON of volunteer work, helping to build schools, digging wells, etc. In some areas that's all they do.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    June 6, 2013 1:53 p.m.

    @ "Chris B, Salt Lake City, UT - ...... 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."

    "Inspiring" people who have "left" the LDS faith?

    What kind of "inspiration" are you seeking for? The kind of inspiration the Lord wants us to seek and receive only comes from those who are wise.

    That's strike one for you.

    I am disappointed, Chris B....I've read your comments on here for months and months and though 99% of your comments are pro-U of U / anti-BYU, every now and then you write something that defends the LDS church and it's members.

    Have you now made your decision, one permanently against the LDS faith?

    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

    Good luck.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    June 6, 2013 12:51 p.m.

    @MapleDon

    You make a good point. Missionaries are called to 'preach and teach and baptize'. But many of us struggle before and after a mission with the concept of 'every member a mssionary'. What full time missionaries learn - through developing skills of surviving a glued-at-the-hip companion 24/7, is that this skill translates into the calling of a missionary, to work with others, be they investigators, 'less actives', etc. This further more reaches the heart of every member - if only we can learn that sharing the gospel has as much to do with getting along with others as it does knowing how to find key scriptures and recite them.

    Again, my mission taught me how to live the gospel -- in such a way that my very existence can become the most effective missionary tool that I possess. We can teach and preach all we want to the world and even convince many of how much the gospel makes sense, but what people need too is knowing that this gospel translates into every day living - and that living brings us true and lasting joy.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 6, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    All in all, Mormon missionaries and there travels are most probably a waste of money and time. The time and money would be better spend serving in the military or doing volunteer work with the Peace Corps, etc. Most places the Mormon missionaries go the people already have a religion so what do they need Mormonism for. Most of them need help with social, political and economic needs. Help them build a school, plow a field; or something useful. If for some reason they want to be Mormon they will go look for the Mormons, they are not hard to find.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    June 6, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    Wasn't this article an attempt to cover both sides of the issue? I thought it did a pretty good job.

  • donn layton, UT
    June 5, 2013 7:27 p.m.

    RE:LDS mission misconceptions addressed:

    Biblical Elder qualificaton,… appoint elders=( G., presbuterpous/presbuterians) in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of One Wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. (Titus 1:5-6)

    RE: MapleDon, He said "Go ye into all the world, and preach the (1)gospel to every (2)creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...… “but he that believeth not shall be *damned.”(3) (Mark 16:15-16). A few things that you missed.

    1.Gospel, Mormon church system of doctrines. Bible (Evangelion) Message of Christ’s death and resurrection reconciliation for our sins(1Cor 15:1-4; Gal 1:8). 2. All creation, Black or White. 3.*No second chances.

    And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment’(Hebrews 9:27 AMP),

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    June 5, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    @Shazandra
    "Big Coug has no idea or experience (per the comment) on "across the board shunning". That disussion is not on topic here and those facts will not see the light of day. Read the books, go to the seminars, have a support group for 23 years."

    OK...you lost me there. You brought up the topic.

    Shunning is shunning whether by an individual or group. Anytime there's a break up of any kind there is an amount of awkwardness directly proportionate to the degree of feelings both parties had invested into the relationship that is breaking up.

    A marriage breaking up creates those feelings of awkwardness in the people closest to the affected couple. It can be pretty darn awkward for both sides when you run into the ex-spouse of a sibling or friend. Who knows what to say.

    When it comes to leaving a church on bad terms you just multiplied that same awkwardness several times because of the number of people you are now disaffected with. There are ALWAYS 2 viewpoints in every situation. While you might feel shunned by someone, you may have also made them feel shunned by you.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    June 5, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    Ernest T. I hope you are happy living up there in "mythical Bountiful".

    My mission was not a particularly big baptizing one. England. I heard that when my mission president was sent, he was told by President Kimball to send him back Priesthood leaders. He knew there would not be a lot of new converts from there. A mission is a valuable experience for the missionary as well as the ones who are found and want to be baptized. I'm sure the Apostle Paul would agree.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    June 5, 2013 2:52 p.m.

    Chris B

    You sure seem to be denied posts by DN a lot. I've been denied, but it has always been because I've written a personal attack, or used language that they thought not appropriate. I've never been denied because of a political, or any other kind of opinion. There are many DN critics, and or anti-Mormon posters regularly read here, so you must be doing something wrong with wording.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 5, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    1- I enjoyed the article and appreciated the honesty and clarification. Anyone or family who's had mission experience knows the diffuculties in the areas of companions, etc. We have many friends who are in full-time missionary service in other denominations. Many request almost as much prayer for their fellow missionaries as for the people whom they serve! It's just life.

    2- I actually don't feel that Chris B's comment re the DN doing stories from the 'other side' were on topic, or should have been posted, even though I answered his question from my experience. It only added fuel for a totally different topic, a reaction the editors seem to relish here.

    3- Big Coug has no idea or experience (per the comment) on "across the board shunning". (Thank you for overlooking my type-O.) That disussion is not on topic here and those facts will not see the light of day. Read the books, go to the seminars, have a support group for 23 years. Then you'll have enough evidence for compassion and understanding.

    4- Being trufhful about any life situation does not mean you are being negative.

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    June 5, 2013 11:49 a.m.

    I read the article referenced in this Deseret News article. I went to Argentina on my mission and it brought back lots of memories. The author summed up my mission in Argentina accurately.

    I remember in my last area of Argentina after being in the country about 20 months someone asked me if I was from a specific part of Argentina. They thought I was a native Argentine and I couldn't have been happier. I loved the people while I was there. It was a huge culture shock at first, but it was about the same culture shock coming home as well. I even had luxury anxiety about the green grass at my parent's house when I got home.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    June 5, 2013 8:59 a.m.

    The whole thing is a myth

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    June 5, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    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.

  • G L W8 SPRINGVILLE, UT
    June 5, 2013 6:08 a.m.

    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.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    June 5, 2013 6:05 a.m.

    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.

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:21 p.m.

    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.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    June 4, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    @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.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    June 4, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    @Shazandra
    "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.

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 4, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    "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.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 4, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    "....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.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    June 4, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    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"....

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    June 4, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    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.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 4, 2013 3:11 p.m.

    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.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    June 4, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    @Chrisb

    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.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 4, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    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.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    June 4, 2013 2:34 p.m.

    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.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    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.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    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.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    June 4, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    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.

  • Samuel B Martineau Bountiful, UT
    June 4, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    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.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Moderators,

    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?

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    June 4, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    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.